Long & Short Term Effects of Mold

The type and severity of health effects that result from mold exposure is widely variable among different locations, from person to person and over time. Although difficult to predict, exposure to molds growing indoors is most often associated with the following allergy symptoms:

  • Nasal and sinus congestion
  • Cough/sore throat
  • Chest tightness
  • Dyspnea (breathing difficulty)
  • Asthma (or exacerbation of it)
  • Epistaxis (nosebleed)
  • Upper respiratory tract infections
  • Headache
  • Skin and eye irritation

Long-term exposure to indoor molds is certainly unhealthy to anyone, but some groups will develop more severe symptoms sooner than others, including:

  • Infants and children
  • Elderly people
  • Individuals with respiratory conditions, allergies and/or asthma

Some indoor molds are capable of producing extremely potent toxins (mycotoxins) that are lipid-soluble and readily absorbed by the intestinal lining, airways, and skin. These agents, usually contained in the fungal spores, have toxic effects ranging from short-term irritation to immunosuppression and cancer.

More severe symptoms that could result from continuous human exposure to indoor mycotoxigenic molds include:

  • Cancer (aflatoxin best characterized as potential human carcinogen)
  • Hypersensitivity pneumonitis/pulmonary fibrosis
  • Pulmonary injury/hemosiderosis (bleeding)
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Hematologic and immunologic disorders
  • Hepatic, endocrine and/or renal toxicities
  • Pregnancy, gastrointestinal and/or cardiac conditions

It is important to notice that the clinical relevance of mycotoxins under realistic airborne exposure levels is not fully established. Further, some or much of the supporting evidence for these other health effects is based on case studies rather than controlled studies, studies that have not yet been reproduced or involve symptoms that are subjective.

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Cigarette Smoke Damage

Much of the discussion around traditional cigarettes centers on the dangers they pose to our health. The list of risks smoking poses to your health and the health of those around you is almost endless – there’s risk to your lungs and heart, and risks to your teeth in terms of staining, as well as your appearance. However, we don’t hear as much about the effects cigarette smoking can have on the inside of your home. Just like your body and health, long-term cigarette smoking inside your home can cause sometimes irreparable damage. Effects like clinging odor can be unpleasant for non-smoking guests, and damages caused by smoking can reduce the resale value of your home.

Fire Hazard
When left unattended, a burning cigarette can lead to a full-blown fire whose effects can range from smoke damage to a complete loss. These fires can sometimes be fatal for the smoker and other occupants in the house. The U.S. Fire Administration estimates that nearly 1000 smokers and non-smokers are killed each year by fires caused by cigarettes.

Ceilings, Walls, Furniture and Floors
Cigarette smoke contains a variety of chemicals, some of which cling and build up on surfaces that are exposed to it. In your home, cigarette smoke can build up and stain walls and cause wallpaper to curl. Walls too can see nicotine stains build up and discolor them. If the smoking goes on for long enough, the particles can literally embed themselves in sheetrock and be impossible to remove. If you’ve ever used the smoking huts at Atlanta’s airport, you can’t help but notice how discolored the ceiling tiles and walls are.

Electronics
Besides clinging to walls, curtains and other household items, cigarette smoke can also cling to electronic components (especially computers) and have disastrous effects over time. For example, with computers, the smoke will cling to anything that’s emitting heat (i.e. fans, capacitors, processors, etc.). This heat attracts a good bit of “dust” already, but the dust just magnifies when you add cigarette smoke to the mix. Also, cigarette smoke carries moisture with it and can lead to both a corrosion of parts and a dangerous build-up of dust.  Dust and chemicals can even work their way through your walls and coat the inside of your electrical outlets.

Air Conditioning System
Your home’s A/C and heating system is critical to keeping your home comfortable, especially if you live in the Deep South or in a really cold region. The system(s) work by pulling in outside air through a filter. Every so often, these filters require changing.
Smoking in your home adds to all the dust, pet hair and other particulate matter in the air. These particulates have to be caught by the filter. As you can imagine, cigarette smoke will dramatically shorten the time between filter changes. Not changing the filter(s) more frequently while smoking in your home can cause your A/C system to overwork and possibly break down.

Cigarette smoking can have immediate effects that are noticed right away, especially by guests or anyone else living in the home. But over time, the smoke can literally embed itself in everything and even destroy things beyond repair.

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What is Fusarium?

Fusarium species are ubiquitous and may be found in the soil, air and on plants. Fusarium species can cause mycotoxicosis in humans following ingestion of food that has been colonized by the fungal organism. In humans, Fusarium species can also cause disease that is localized, focally invasive or disseminated. The pathogen generally affects immunocompromised individuals with infection of immunocompetent persons being rarely reported. Localized infection includes septic arthritis, endophthalmitis, osteomyelitis, cystitis and brain abscess. In these situations relatively good response may be expected following appropriate surgery and oral antifungal therapy. Disseminated infection occurs when two or more noncontiguous sites are involved. Over eighty cases have been reported, many of which had a hematologic malignancy including neutropenia. The species most commonly involved include Fusarium solani, Fusarium oxysporum, and Fusarium moniliforme (also termed F. verticillioides). The diagnosis of Fusarium infection may be made on histopathology, gram stain, mycology, blood culture, or serology. Portals of entry of disseminated infection include the respiratory tract, the gastrointestinal tract, and cutaneous sites.

The skin can be an important and an early clue to diagnosis since cutaneous lesions may be observed at an early stage of the disease and in about seventy-five cases of disseminated Fusarium infection. Typical skin lesions may be painful red or violaceous nodules, the center of which often becomes ulcerated and covered by a black eschar. The multiple necrotizing lesions are often observed on the trunk and the extremities. Onychomycosis most commonly due to F. oxysporum or F. solani has been reported. The onychomycosis may be of several types: distal and lateral subungual (DLSO), white superficial (WSO), and proximal subungual (PSO). In proximal subungual onychomycosis there may be associated leukonychia and/or periungual inflammation. Patients with Fusarium onychomycosis have been cured following therapy with itraconazole, terbinafine, ciclopirox olamine lacquer, or topical antifungal agent. In other instances nail avulsion plus antifungal therapy has been successful. In patients with hematologic malignancy or bone marrow transplant, who may experience prolonged or severe neutropenia during the course of therapy, the skin and nails should be carefully examined and consideration given to treating potential infection sites that may serve as portals for systemic dissemination. When disseminated Fusarium infection is present therapy with antifungal agents has generally been disappointing with the chances of a successful resolution being enhanced if the neutropenia can be corrected in a timely manner.

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National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast Cancer Awareness month is an annual international health campaign organized by major breast cancer charities every October to increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure. The campaign also offers information and support to those affected by breast cancer.

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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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Water Damage Dangers

The amount of damage water can cause is amazing, and often underestimated by homeowners. Excess moisture is bad enough, but when a home is flooded or hit with a plumbing disaster (like a burst pipe), the situation can quickly get out of hand. There’s a reason why these incidents are among the most expensive problems a homeowner can face. Contaminated water not only creates immediate structural problems, it can leave serious biological threats behind after it has been removed.

Floods, sewage backflows, and other sources of contaminated fluid usually cause the worst damage. Dirty water is filled with all kinds of deadly substances, ranging from chemical residues to animal feces to parasites. Bacteria, viruses and fungi grow explosively in contaminated fluid, and severe health risks, like salmonella and hepatitis, are common in flood waters.

This problem is compounded by the composition of most homes, which are filled with organic materials. Drywall, wood and the matter that is trapped in carpet fibers are just a few examples, and they can give pathogens room to grow. Within 48 hours, mold may begin creeping behind the walls and releasing spores, and any organic materials that have been soaked through by contaminated fluid will usually have to be destroyed.

That’s why restoration firms, in addition to surveying the home for structural problems, will dry the home quickly and apply antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal agents to all surfaces that had contact with the water. This ensures the family can return to a safe home, and not one harboring a collection of deadly pathogens.

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Carbon Monoxide Prevention

You can take several precautions to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

  1. Install a carbon monoxide alarm in the hallway near every area of your home that is used for sleeping. Make sure furniture or draperies do not cover the alarm. Travel carbon monoxide alarms are also available for use elsewhere.
    However, in your home, an alarm is not a substitute for making sure that appliances that can produce carbon monoxide are in good repair and safe.
  2. Check to see that your appliances are installed and comply with building codes and manufacturer’s instructions. Qualified professionals should install most appliances.
  3. Get your heating system professionally inspected and serviced every year, as well as chimneys and flues.
  4. Do not use charcoal inside your house or your garage, vehicle or tent.
  5. In an attached garage, even if the door is open, do not leave a car running.
  6. Do not operate unvented fuel-burning appliances in a room where people are sleeping
  7. Do not operate a portable generator or any other gasoline engine-powered tool in or near any house, garage or other enclosed space.
  8. If a carbon monoxide alarm sounds, go outside and call 911 immediately. Do not return to the building until emergency services personnel gives you the all-clear.

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