Mold Chemicals

There are a slew of chemicals that claim to remove mold, some even say they’ll prevent it from ever growing back again.  Yet, many people do not read the disclaimers to see that they don’t live up to their hype.  But what about the chemicals being used by companies you’re considering to hire for a mold remediation project?  You should always ask to know what products are being used and even ask to be supplied with MSDS sheets if you can not find the appropriate information you’re looking for on the internet.  Chemicals being used by some mold companies can be very harmful and have severe health effects, mainly because they’re cheap and the contractor does not want to spend money on higher priced natural chemicals, or they just don’t know any better.  Methods being used today in the mold remediation business can not only effect you, but also your pets.  The easiest way to think about this is to realize that pets lungs are much smaller than human beings, and hence, harsh smelling chemicals will do more damage when inhaling.  So, prior to hiring any mold remediation contractor, ask for a chemical list and also be sure when they arrive you see these chemicals first hand clearly marked on untouched labels.

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Asthma & Allergies

The symptoms you may feel during an asthma attack are due to the inflammation of the lungs and airways. This inflammation causes the simple act of breathing to become painful. Not only do the airways become tighter and narrower, the walls of those airways release extra mucus, adding additional barriers to breathing. The body responds to this excess mucus by coughing, in attempts to expel it rapidly. Currently, there is no explanation of why asthma occurs or what triggers your lungs to be so sensitive.

Allergy Can Trigger Asthmatic Reactions

There are many irritants that can trigger an asthmatic reaction. These are the most common:

  • Airborne Allergens (pollen, mold, animal dander, and dust)
  • Allergic Rhinitis (hay fever)
  • Viral infections of the respiratory system
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Pollution
  • Strong odors (paint, house cleaners, etc)
  • Exercise (Note: asthmatic people can and should exercise, with care, when they are feeling well. Ask your doctor about exercise and asthma).
  • Drug sensitivity (for example, to aspirin)
  • Stress and emotional anxiety
  • Pollen season (Airborne pollens in the air during periods of high allergy levels can cause an asthmatic reaction)

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Window Well Leaks

Basement window wells that are unprotected or poorly constructed can leak into a basement causing flooding and mold growth.  Windows which are sub-level to the soil on the exterior need to be protected with window well guards or have drainage systems installed.  Windows, like the one shown below, which are above grade but have cracking and are long past their life span, should be replaced.  When water leaks into the basement behind drywall, you can replace the window to stop the water intrusion, but the interior walls will still need to be removed adding to the repair cost.  It is wise to inspect the surrounding areas of your home every month or at least every other month to avoid such damages, and do whatever is needed to prevent an occurrence such as this one show here.

 

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Reducing Indoor Humidity

A water leak or high humidity can lead to mold, mildew, or other biological growth. Depending on the severity, conditions can lead to rot, structural damage, premature paint failure, and a variety of health problems. Water can seep into your house from the outside through a leak in your roof, foundation, or small gaps around windows or doors. Water can also come from inside your house from a leaking water pipe, toilet, shower or bathtub. High indoor humidity caused by normal activities of everyday living such as showering, cooking, and drying clothes, can also be a source of mold, mildew or musty odors. Indoor humidity levels between 30% and 50% are ideal.

  • Do you have a crawlspace under your house? A dirt floor in a crawlspace should be covered with plastic (vapor barrier) to prevent moisture from the soil increasing humidity levels in your home. If there is standing water or the soil is wet, dry it out with fans before covering the floor.
  • Use ventilation fans in kitchens and baths to control moisture. Check to make sure ventilation fans venting directly outside. In some cases the vent fan may have been installed to vent into the attic or become disconnected or blocked.
  • Your clothes dryer should be vented directly to the outside. Inspect the vent duct. Make sure it is attached securely to the dryer. Check that it is clear of obstructions (e.g. lint). Check for holes that leak air. If vent duct is damaged replace it with a metal duct. The vent duct should be cleaned at least once a year. The Consumer Products Safety Commission additional safety tips for dryer vents
  • Keep air conditioning drip pans clean and the drain lines unobstructed and flowing properly.
  • Ask a heating and cooling contractor to check your heating and cooling system to make sure it is sized and operating properly to remove humidity. If you system is too big or the airflow incorrect your air conditioner will not remove humidity like it should. Also, ask the contractor to check your duct system for air leaks, and proper size and air flow to each room.
  • Sealing air leaks (Home Sealing) and sealing duct air leaks can help to prevent high humidity levels in your home.

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How to Check For Bed Bugs

If you have an infestation, it is best to find it early, before the infestation becomes established or spreads. Treating a minor infestation, while an inconvenience, is far less costly and easier than treating the same infestation after it becomes more widespread.
However, low-level infestations are also much more challenging to find and correctly identify. Other insects, such as carpet beetles, can be easily mistaken for bed bugs. If you misidentify a bed bug infestation, it gives the bugs more time to spread to other areas of the house or hitchhike a ride to someone else’s house to start a new infestation.A more accurate way to identify a possible infestation is to look for physical signs of bed bugs.

When cleaning, changing bedding, or staying away from home, look for:

  • Rusty or reddish stains on bed sheets or mattresses caused by bed bugs being crushed.
  • Dark spots, which are bed bug excrement and may bleed on the fabric like a marker would.
  • Eggs and eggshells, which are tiny (about 1mm) and pale yellow skins that nymphs shed as they grow larger.
  • Live bed bugs.

Where Bed Bugs Hide

Bed bug adults, skin castings, feces, eggs on a box spring. Canvas strap of old box spring covering that is housing adults, skin castings, feces, and eggs. When not feeding, bed bugs hide in a variety of places. Around the bed, they can be found near the piping, seams and tags of the mattress and box spring, and in cracks on the bed frame and headboard.
If the room is heavily infested, you may find bed bugs:

  • In the seams of chairs and couches, between cushions, in the folds of curtains.
  • In drawer joints.
  • In electrical receptacles and appliances.
  • Under loose wall paper and wall hangings.
  • At the junction where the wall and the ceiling meet.
  • Even in the head of a screw.

Since bed bugs are only about the width of a credit card, they can squeeze into really small hiding spots. If a crack will hold a credit card, it could hide a bed bug.

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Extreme Mold Damage

This is a set of photos from a home which sustained water damage from the second floor that was overlooked for some weeks.  The water traveled down to the first floor, and then heavily damaging the basement.  The basement photos show extreme mold growth everywhere, making many wonder, how can anyone live in such conditions

Dust Allergies & It’s Triggers

Dust allergies also make it difficult to breathe and may trigger asthma symptoms, such as wheezing, coughing, tightness in the chest and shortness of breath. Dust also just makes some people itchy. People with dust allergies often suffer the most inside their own homes or in other people’s homes. Oddly enough, their symptoms often worsen during or immediately after vacuuming, sweeping and dusting. The process of cleaning can stir up dust particles, making them easier to inhale.

Dust mites—sometimes called bed mites—are the most common cause of allergy from house dust. Dust mites live and multiply easily in warm, humid places. They prefer temperatures at or above 70 degrees Fahrenheit with humidity of 75 to 80 percent. They die when the humidity falls below 50 percent. They are not usually found in dry climates. Dust mite particles are often found in pillows, mattresses, carpeting and upholstered furniture. They float into the air when anyone vacuums, walks on a carpet or disturbs bedding and they settle once the disturbance is over. Dust mites are a common cause of asthma in children.

A house does not need to be visibly dirty to trigger a dust mite allergy reaction. The particles are too tiny to be seen and often cannot be removed using normal cleaning procedures. In fact, a vigorous cleaning can make an allergic person’s symptoms worse.

Cockroaches live in all types of buildings and neighborhoods. Some people develop allergy symptoms when they are around cockroaches. Tiny particles from the cockroach are a common component of household dust and may be the true cause of a dust allergy.

Mold is a fungus that makes spores that float in the air. When people with a mold allergy inhale the spores, they get allergy symptoms. There are many different kinds of mold—some kinds you can see, others you can’t. Molds live everywhere—on logs and on fallen leaves, and in moist places like bathrooms and kitchens. Tiny mold particles and spores are a common component of household dust and may be the true cause of a dust allergy.

Pollen comes from trees, grasses, flowers and weeds. People can be allergic to different types of pollen. For instance, some people are allergic to pollen from only beech trees; others are allergic to pollen from only certain kinds of grasses. Pollen is a common component of household dust and may be the true cause of a dust allergy.

Animal hair, fur and feathers. Pets can cause problems for allergic patients in several ways. Their dander (skin flakes), saliva and urine can cause an allergic reaction, especially when combined with household dust. In households with birds, feathers and bird droppings can also become embedded in household dust and cause problems for people who are allergic to them.

Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

Childhood obesity is a serious medical condition that affects children and adolescents. It occurs when a child is well above the normal weight for his or her age and height. Childhood obesity is particularly troubling because the extra pounds often start children on the path to health problems that were once confined to adults, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Childhood obesity can also lead to poor self-esteem and depression. One of the best strategies to reduce childhood obesity is to improve the diet and exercise habits of your entire family. Treating and preventing childhood obesity helps protect the health of your child now and in the future.

Symptoms

Not all children carrying extra pounds are overweight or obese. Some children have larger than average body frames. And children normally carry different amounts of body fat at the various stages of development. So you might not know just by looking at your child if his or her weight is a health concern. Your child’s doctor can help you figure out if your child’s weight could pose health problems using growth charts and, if necessary, other tests.

Causes

Lifestyle issues — too little activity and too many calories from food and drinks — are the main contributors to childhood obesity. But genetic and hormonal factors may play a role as well. For example, recent research has found that changes in digestive hormones can affect the signals that let you know you’re full. Though not common, there are also genetic diseases and hormonal disorders that can make a child prone to obesity.

Risk Factors

Many factors — usually working in combination — increase your child’s risk of becoming overweight:

  • Diet. Regularly eating high-calorie foods, such as fast foods, baked goods and vending machine snacks, can easily cause your child to gain weight. Soft drinks, candy and desserts also can cause weight gain.
  • Lack of exercise. Children who don’t exercise much are more likely to gain weight because they don’t burn as many calories. Too much time spent in sedentary activities, such as watching television or playing video games, also contribute to the problem.
  • Family factors. If your child comes from a family of overweight people, he or she may be more likely to put on weight. This is especially true in an environment where high-calorie foods are always available and physical activity isn’t encouraged.
  • Psychological factors. Some children overeat to cope with problems or to deal with emotions, such as stress, or to fight boredom. Their parents may have similar tendencies.
  • Socioeconomic factors. People in some communities have limited resources and little access to supermarkets. As a result, they may opt for convenience foods that don’t spoil quickly, such as frozen meals, crackers and cookies. In addition, people who live in lower income neighborhoods may not have access to safe places to exercise.

Parents play a crucial role in helping children who are obese feel loved and in control of their weight. Take advantage of every opportunity to build your child’s self-esteem. Don’t be afraid to bring up the topic of health and fitness but do be sensitive that a child may view your concern as an insult. Talk to your kids directly, openly, and without being critical or judgmental.

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What is Hantavirus?

Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome is an infectious disease characterized by flu-like symptoms that can progress rapidly to potentially life-threatening breathing problems. Several types of hantaviruses can cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. They are carried by several types of rodents, particularly the deer mouse. You become infected primarily by breathing air infected with hantaviruses that are shed in rodent urine and droppings. Because treatment options are limited, the best protection against hantavirus pulmonary syndrome is to avoid rodents and their habitats.

Symptoms

Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome advances through two distinct stages. In the first stage, you may experience flu-like signs and symptoms that may include

  • Fever and chills
  • Headaches and muscle aches
  • Vomiting, diarrhea or abdominal pain

In its early stages, hantavirus infection is difficult to distinguish from influenza, pneumonia or other viral conditions. After four to 10 days, more-serious signs and symptoms begin. They typically include:

  • A cough that produces secretions
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fluid accumulating within the lungs
  • Low blood pressure
  • Reduced heart efficiency

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