Dust mites are members of the spider family. They live in carpet, upholstery, and fabric, and they thrive on human skin scale, animal dander, and trace nutrients. They need humidity to live, but they cannot drink water. The ideal temperature range for dust mites to live is 59-95ºF (15-35ºC) with relative humidity ranging from 55%-85%. Generally, the more humid an area, the more dust mites you’ll find.
It is the fecal matter of the dust mites that causes allergy problems. Common reactions to high levels of dust mite fecal matter include asthma and rhinitis. The approximate number of people in the United States suffering from allergies (not necessarily caused by dust mites) is 50 million and continuing to rise.
There are many products sold to reduce mite population in homes. Although many products do reduce the level of dust mite population, these products do not reduce it enough to have an effect on the clinical symptoms of allergies. The real reduction of clinical symptoms of allergies can be attributed to reduction in humidity, not the products available on the market.
A study was done in Dayton, Ohio in 1995, which tested home humidity levels on dust mite populations. It was discovered that the homes with the air conditioning on and dehumidification set up were the homes with the least amount of dust mites (after 4 weeks, there were zero live mites counted). The second best were the homes with only air conditioning and no dehumidification. The third of course were the homes without any air conditioning and no dehumidification; these homes had the highest levels of dust mites.
The conclusion is that when indoor humidity is kept below 50% Rh, evidence indicates that the mite population does not grow on significant levels. Constant dehumidification is needed to keep Rh below 50%.
The lower the humidity, the drier the air. This may cause severe stuffiness and cold symptoms in many adults and children, which is not necessarily good. However, it is preferred to allergies caused by dust mite fecal matter.
To eradicate dust mites you will need to do the following:
- Maintain a relative humidity below 50%
- Clean all soft goods (upholstery, bedding, clothing) in hot water. Use dryer set at the highest setting possible to dry clothes.
In criminal investigations fingerprints are one of the oldest and most common types of physical evidence found at a crime scene. One of the primary goals of the investigation deals with identification. Whether the identification is that of an unknown victim (body found at the side of the road) or that of the perpetrator of a crime. The ridge detail developed and recovered at a crime scene and later identified by a fingerprint examiner becomes an investigative lead (starting point) for the detectives assigned to the investigation. A fingerprint is simply defined as friction ridge detail of the hands and the feet.
Conventional powders, applied with a fiber or hair brush, are the most common type of powders used at crime scenes. They are generally inexpensive, cover a large area when applied with a brush and readily develop prints on most non-porous surfaces. The main drawback is that conventional powders are generally very light and airy and can become airborne at the slightest flick of the brush, creating a mess.
After the scene has been processed, home and business owners can be left with the clean up. Laws and policies differ from one jurisdiction to the next. Sometimes, the home or business owner can get estimates and file a claim for reimbursement with the law enforcement agency who made the mess. Homeowners, renters or business interruption insurance policies may cover the amount that exceeds the deductible. In other cases, the entire cleaning and resulting financial burden falls to the occupant of the property who may become even more-so the victim of the crime.
The key to cleaning this mess is to remove all loose particles without introducing water into the equation, and to complete the process as quickly as possible. Specific chemicals and graphite removing agents are used to lift the surface in a fashion as not to spread the powder while also protecting the surface from discoloration. Tackling this type of cleanup without the help of professionals can certainly lead to more damage by deeply embedding it into the surface and/or spreading airborne. Individuals partaking in this type of remediation should be trained, certified and have vast experience to limit damage and clean the surface in a timely and cost effective manner.
MRSA, also known as “The Super Bug,” is a form of staph infection that is resistant common antibiotics, making it exceptionally difficult to treat. Staph infections, including MRSA, used to be almost exclusively hospital-borne infections. But in the 1990s, however, a type of MRSA began showing up in the wider community known as Community-Associated MRSA (CA-MRSA). Both MRSA and CA-MRSA cause skin and soft tissue infections and can lead to pneumonia or even death. The virus can progress substantially in as little as 24-48 hours after initial topical symptoms are detected. After just 72 hours, MRSA can take significant hold in human tissues and resist treatment.
Like other staph infections, MRSA is passed from person to person through direct contact with skin or through contact with contaminated items. The bacteria may live in people’s noses and on their skin, and usually don’t cause any problems. However, young children, the elderly, and individuals with immune deficiencies are at particular risk. Building service contractors and janitorial crews should use a high-quality, EPA-registered disinfectant/cleaner/sanitizer to clean any surfaces that may potentially be contaminated with MRSA. Areas of the facility where people share close quarters (such as locker rooms, athletic areas, or community showers) or areas that people touch frequently (such as handrails, light switches, drinking fountains, tables, and desks) should be thoroughly disinfected on a daily basis.
Preventing MRSA Infections
Using commonsense personal hygiene practices and limiting contact with other persons, you can help prevent the spread of MRSA. The following are suggestions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Personal Hygiene Tips
- Wash hands using liquid soap and water frequently, especially after using the toilet and after any hands-on contact with other persons. Alternatively, an alcohol-based hand rub can be used according to label instructions. Visibly soiled hands should be washed with soap and water rather than an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Dry hands with disposable paper towels or air blowers. Avoid sharing towels.
- Limit sharing of personal items (e.g., towels clothing and soap).
- Keep skin lesions (e.g., boils, insect bites, open sores or cuts) covered with a clean, dry dressing.
- Use a barrier (e.g., a towel or a layer of clothing) between the skin and shared equipment
- Shower if there has been substantial skin-on-skin contact with another person.
- Athletes with active skin and soft tissue infections should not participate in wrestling until wounds are completely healed. Consider using this rule for all contact sports.
Here’s a set of photos of a home which was left in gross filth conditions. The items which weren’t salvageable were discarded and all the rooms were cleaned and decontaminated.
In the homes of people who have hoarding disorder, the countertops, sinks, stoves, desks, stairways and virtually all other surfaces are usually stacked with stuff. And when there’s no more room inside, the clutter may spread to the garage, vehicles and yard.
Clutter and difficulty discarding things are usually the first signs and symptoms of hoarding disorder, which often surfaces during the teenage years. As the person grows older, he or she typically starts acquiring things for which there is no need or space. By middle age, symptoms are often severe and may be harder to treat.
Hoarding disorder affects emotions, thoughts and behavior. Signs and symptoms may include:
- Persistent inability to part with any possession, regardless of its value
- Excessive attachment to possessions, including discomfort letting others touch or borrow them or distress at the idea of letting an item go
- Cluttered living spaces, making areas of the home unusable for the intended purpose, such as not being able to cook in the kitchen or use the bathroom to bathe
- Keeping stacks of newspapers, magazines or junk mail
- Letting food or trash build up to unusually excessive, unsanitary levels
- Acquiring unneeded or seemingly useless items, such as trash or napkins from a restaurant
- Difficulty managing daily activities because of procrastination and trouble making decisions
- Moving items from one pile to another, without discarding anything
- Difficulty organizing items, sometimes losing important items in the clutter
- Shame or embarrassment
- Limited or no social interactions
People with hoarding disorder typically save items because:
- They believe these items will be needed or have value in the future
- The items have important emotional significance — serving as a reminder of happier times or representing beloved people or pets
- They feel safer when surrounded by the things they save
Hoarding disorder is different from collecting. People who have collections, such as stamps or model cars, deliberately search out specific items, categorize them and carefully display their collections. Although collections can be large, they aren’t usually cluttered and they don’t cause the distress and impairments that are part of hoarding disorder.
Frequent hand-washing is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading illness. Hand-washing requires only soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer — a cleanser that doesn’t require water. As you touch people, surfaces and objects throughout the day, you accumulate germs on your hands. In turn, you can infect yourself with these germs by touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Although it’s impossible to keep your hands germ-free, washing your hands frequently can help limit the transfer of bacteria, viruses and other microbes.
Always wash your hands before:
- Preparing food or eating
- Treating wounds, giving medicine, or caring for a sick or injured person
- Inserting or removing contact lenses
Always wash your hands after:
- Preparing food, especially raw meat or poultry
- Using the toilet or changing a diaper
- Touching an animal or animal toys, leashes or waste
- Blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing into your hands
- Treating wounds or caring for a sick or injured person
- Handling garbage, household or garden chemicals, or anything that could be contaminated — such as a cleaning cloth or soiled shoes
- Shaking hands with others
In addition, wash your hands whenever they look dirty.
Compulsive hoarding, also known as hoarding disorder, is a pattern of behavior that is characterized by excessive acquisition and an inability or unwillingness to discard large quantities of objects that cover the living areas of the home and cause significant distress or impairment. Here’s a video showing some before and after photos of a hoarding home we mitigated.
For simple patch up jobs, a carpet repair kit may seem like a good choice to a homeowner, but as with anything else, buyers beware. Over the counter or as-seen-on-TV products often lure people with exaggerated claims, failing to mention the problems with do-it-yourself techniques. Do-it-yourself carpet patching uses inferior materials and equipment to produce a seal, and a professional can be more precise and fix any other problems that might be affecting the flooring.
A carpet repair kit uses a patching process that is similar to what professionals employ, but the quality doesn’t’ compare. During patching, a small piece of carpet is cut out of the closet or utility room and placed where the damaged flooring was. Sealing the patch in place requires a heat activated adhesive and an iron. The problem with do-it-yourself products is that the adhesive is inferior and the iron used in the process is typically a flat iron. Together, these materials are not capable of producing the same secure seal that a professional can get with an industrial glue gun and seam iron. As a result, homeowners who eschew professional assistance will have a patch that is poorly secured. Any heavy foot traffic or active play time with the family dog will quickly rip the seal up and cause the flooring to bunch.
Skilled professionals can also remove odors, stains or other structural issues with the carpeting so a homeowner can resolve several problems at once with professional help.
Did you know that we are the 2011, 2012, 2013 & 2014 Angie’s List Award Winner for Mold Testing, Mold Remediation, Water Damage Restoration, Fire & Smoke Restoration and Bio-Hazard Cleaning. We are also the 2013, 2014 & 2015 Best of Philadelphia Award Winner. We recently won the 2014 Best Philadelphia Contractors Award from Philadelphia Life Magazine, and we’ve been inducted in the Philadelphia Business Hall of Fame for 2014.
Late summer and fall is the season for weed allergies, with pollen levels usually peaking in mid-September. Pollen counts for weeds are at their highest in the morning, usually between 5 and 10 a.m. Weed pollens are the most prolific allergens of all. A single ragweed plant, for instance, can produce a billion pollen grains in a single season. Not only that, but wind-carried grains may travel for hundreds of miles. Weeds responsible for the most allergies include:
- English plantain
- Lamb’s Quarters,
- Ragweed (which affects nearly one in five Americans)
- Redroot Pigweed
- Tumbleweed (Russian thistle)
For more information, visit our website at Biowashing.com
Many homeowners consider having the ductwork in their homes cleaned. Mailers often tout the benefits of this service and warn of the potential hazards that could be lurking inside uncleaned vents and ducts. But whether or not air ducts need to be cleaned remains open for debate. A quick review of air duct cleaning can help homeowners make a more informed decision.
What is duct cleaning? Before looking into the advantages and disadvantages to duct cleaning, it is advantageous to examine the process involved when cleaning air ducts. There are two ways to have the ducts cleaned in a home:rotary vacuum brushing or high-pressure air washing. Vacuum brushing utilizes a spinning brush to scrub dust and debris off the air vents and a vacuum to capture whatever is dislodged. High-pressure air washing uses pressurized air blown through the air ducts. A truck-mounted industrial vacuum is attached to the furnace, and all of the air register vents in the home are covered. Once all the air ducts have been blown clear, another air wand is fed into the end of the hot and cold air supply lines. Dust and debris is then drawn backward into the vacuum.
One of the more obvious advantages of air duct cleaning is improved health and hygiene in the home. Those prone to allergies may find that routine cleaning helps ameliorate the problems of sneezing and watery eyes. Duct cleaning can remove allergens and dust. The Environmental Protection Agency said air duct cleaning is handy if there is a noticeable accumulation of dust and debris in ducts or if particles are actually released into the home from supply registers. If ducts are infested with rodents or insects, cleaning will make indoor air much safer.
Mold is another factor to consider when determining if ducts need to be cleaned. Mold spores floating in the air can lead to illness. Professional cleaning may be the only way to remove mold and mildew from the system. Homeowners who have fireplaces may find the air becomes dirtier faster. That’s because of the residue put into the air from burning wood and other fuel. This residue not only builds up inside of the chimney in the form of creosote, but also can form a sticky, sooty layer inside of ductwork. Cleaning the ducts can remove this soot.
The EPA advises that no research has definitively shown that duct cleaning prevents health problems. Neither do studies conclusively demonstrate that particle (e.g., dust) levels in homes increase because of dirty air ducts. This is because much of the dirt in air ducts adheres to duct surfaces and does not necessarily enter the living space. What’s more, dirty air that enters the home from outdoors or indoor activities, such as smoking or cleaning, can actually cause greater exposure to contaminants than dirty air ducts.
There also is no evidence that cleaning ducts and components of the heating/cooling system will make the furnace or air conditioner work any more efficiently. Air duct cleaning is an expensive undertaking. On average the cost of such a service can range from $400 to $1,000, depending on the extent of the cleaning and the size of the home. Cleaning the ducts also can be dirty and time-consuming. Cleaning may spread contaminants that were lodged inside of the vents throughout the air more readily. Some cleaning services will advise the use of chemical biocides to treat the interior of vents. These are designed to kill microbiological contaminants.
The EPA warns chemical biocides have yet to be fully researched, and homeowners should be fully informed before deciding to permit the use of biocides or chemical treatments in air ducts. Homeowners should never attempt to clean air ducts themselves. If the decision is made to have the cleaning done, it should only be on an as-needed basis and completed by a reputable cleaning service.