Health Tip: Keeping Mold at Bay, It could be making you sick

December 14, 2010

U.S. News http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/allergy-and-asthma/articles/2010/12/03/health-tip-keeping-mold-at-bay.html

(HealthDay News) — Indoor mold can lead to allergy and respiratory problems that can prove deadly.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) offer these suggestions for keeping mold growth in your home under control:

•Keep the indoor humidity level at less than 40 percent. A hygrometer can help you monitor indoor humidity. A dehumidifier and/or air conditioner may be needed, especially in damp areas of the home.Fix the source of any water leaks that allow mold spores to grow on windowsills or in refrigerator drip pans.

•Identify areas where molds and mildew reside on hard surfaces, and clean these areas with a bleach-based product.

•Make sure your home has adequate ventilation. Use exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathroom, and ventilate clothes dryers to the outside.

•Clean your shower curtain frequently.

•Minimize the number of live indoor plants.

•Keep windows closed, if possible.

•Do not carpet bathrooms and basements, especially if there are mildew problems in these rooms.

•John P. Lapotaire, CIEC
•Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant
•Microshield Environmental Services, LLC
www.Microshield-ES.com www.CFL-IAQ.com


ALLERGY & ASTHMA TRIGGERS Handling the Holidays

December 14, 2010

Do asthma and allergies threaten to be the Grinch in your holidays? The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) offers these tips to help keep your season merry:

* The holidays are fi lled with hustle and bustle, but stress can trigger an asthma attack. Shop early or late in the day to avoid crowds. If “quiet time” isn’t a part of your normal routine, now is the time to start. Practice deep breathing and relaxation techniques to calm your nerves.

* Fires burning in the hearth bring warmth and ambiance to a holiday get-together. However, the smoke and ash can smother the spirit for some, provoking breathing difficulties or triggering an asthma attack. Request the Yule log remain unlit.

* Prepare for visits to homes with pets by taking your allergy or asthma medication before the visit. The medication may help reduce your reaction. You can also ask party hosts to keep Fido in a separate room.

* Food is a central fixture in most holiday gatherings. Remember that homemade items don’t come with ingredients lists. If you or your child has food allergies, be cautious, especially around homemade treats. Foods can become tainted through cross-contamination in the baker’s kitchen or food storage containers – and even a trace amount can trigger a reaction.

•John P. Lapotaire, CIEC
•Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant
•Microshield Environmental Services, LLC
www.Microshield-ES.com www.CFL-IAQ.com


Tips to Remember: Traveling with Allergies and Asthma

December 14, 2010

If you have allergies or asthma, you know that allergens travel with you wherever you go.

Whether you are planning a visit to family or have vacation plans far from home, think about where you are going, what you will be doing and how you will get there. PACK right to stay safe.

Plan ahead. If you are traveling by air, train or boat, you may need to go through security. Keep medications in their original packaging. Carry your medications with you, or a lost suitcase could become a health crisis.

Anticipate problems and hidden allergens. If you have asthma, be sure it is under control before you travel. If you have food allergies, let people at your destination know before you get there. Take precautions and always have your rescue medicines available.

Continue taking your medications on schedule. Your allergies don’t take a break just because you are on vacation. In fact, traveling may mean you are exposed to different (and more) triggers than normal. If possible, talk to your allergist/immunologist, often referred to as an allergist, before traveling to decide if any short-term adjustments are needed.

Keep your allergist’s phone number and other emergency contact information on-hand. Locate an allergist or medical center in the area you are visiting in case you need an urgent appointment. Call ahead to verify they accept your insurance.

Getting There
By car
Common allergens such as mites and molds lurk in carpeting, upholstery and ventilation systems. If you have pollen or mold allergies, and are traveling by car, close your windows and turn on the air conditioning to “do not re-circulate” mode.

Outdoor air pollution can make your symptoms worse. If traveling by car, think about driving during early morning or late evening when the air quality is often better and you can avoid heavy traffic. Don’t travel in a car with someone who is smoking. If you use a nebulizer for your asthma, get a portable nebulizer.

By plane
If you have food or pet allergies, you may benefit by checking airline policies before traveling. Some have “nut free” flights. Some allow pets to travel as passengers, others do not. Make sure to carry two doses of portable, injectable epinephrine, in case you have a severe allergic reaction while in flight.

If you have severe asthma or other respiratory illnesses, your physician may tell you to take supplemental oxygen. No one can be refused travel for needing supplemental oxygen; however, this has to be arranged in advance.

If you have sinusitis or an ear infection, the changes in air pressure in the plane could cause significant pain. If possible, try to delay your travel until your symptoms improve.

The air in planes is very dry. You will feel much more comfortable if you use saline nasal spray once every hour to keep the membranes in your nose moist.

Enjoy Your Stay
Hotel rooms often have a lot of dust mites and molds in carpeting, mattresses and upholstered furniture. Fumes from cleaning products may also cause problems. Ask for a “green” room if available. If you are allergic to dust mites, you may want to bring your own dust-proof, zippered covers.

If you are sensitive to molds, request a sunny, dry room away from areas near indoor pools. Also, if you have allergies to any animals, ask about the hotel’s pet policy, and request a room that has been pet-free.

Visiting family and friends in their homes can be risky if you have allergies or asthma. For instance, during the holidays, dust mites on ornaments and decorations, molds on Christmas trees, wet leaves and logs for wood-burning stoves and perfumes from scented candles can all trigger allergy or asthma symptoms.

If you have pet allergies, your trip may be more enjoyable if you avoid staying in the homes of family or friends with pets.

People with food allergies should be careful about eating home-cooked foods that may contain hidden food allergens.

New Experiences
Activities like camping can be fun, but they can also expose you to outdoor pollen as well as to stinging insects like bees, yellow jackets and wasps. If you have these allergies, avoid camping during high pollen seasons, take your medications with you and carry injectable epinephrine to treat reactions to stinging insects. If you have a severe insect-allergic reaction, get immediate emergency medical treatment.

Walking, leisure biking and hiking are typically good activities for people with asthma or allergies. If you enjoy the mountains and have asthma, be careful if you are thinking of going above 5,000 feet, as oxygen levels decrease.

Cold weather sports such as cross-country skiing and ice hockey are more likely to make symptoms worse. Also, snorkeling is much safer than scuba diving.

An asthma treatment plan can help you keep your symptoms under control so that you can enjoy exercising or sports activities while traveling.

Bon voyage and safe travels!

Healthy Tips

* If your allergies or asthma are causing problems, have a pre-trip physical.
* Pack all medications, a peak flow meter and a copy of your physician’s phone number.
* Before traveling, get the name of an allergist practicing in your destination area from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology’s Physician Referral Directory at http://www.aaaai.org.
* Consider buying travel medical insurance.

Feel Better. Live Better.
An allergist/immunologist, often referred to as an allergist, is a pediatrician or internist with at least two additional years of specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of problems such as allergies, asthma, autoimmune diseases and the evaluation and treatment of patients with recurrent infections, such as immunodeficiency diseases.

The right care can make the difference between suffering with an allergic disease and feeling better. By visiting the office of an allergist, you can expect an accurate diagnosis, a treatment plan that works and educational information to help you manage your disease.

Find an allergist near you at:
http://www.aaaai.org/physref

The contents of this brochure are for informational purposes only. It is not intended to replace evaluation by a physician. If you have questions or medical concerns, please contact your allergist/immunologist.

A Trusted Resource
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) represents allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic disease.

Ordering Information
To order copies of this brochure, please see the Public Education Materials Online Store.

•John P. Lapotaire, CIEC
•Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant
•Microshield Environmental Services, LLC
www.Microshield-ES.com www.CFL-IAQ.com


Tips to Remember: Indoor Allergens

December 14, 2010

Millions of people suffer from allergy symptoms caused by indoor allergens, such as house dust mite droppings, animal dander, cockroach droppings and molds. The symptoms are the result of a chain reaction that starts in the genes and is expressed in the immune system.

Your immune system controls how your body defends itself. For instance, if you have an allergy to dust mites, your immune system identifies dust mites as an invader or allergen. Your immune system overreacts by producing antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). These antibodies travel to cells that release chemicals, causing an allergic reaction. This reaction usually causes symptoms in the nose, lungs, throat, sinuses, ears, lining of the stomach or on the skin.

With the help of an allergist/immunologist, often referred to as an allergist, you can learn what indoor allergens cause your symptoms and make environmental changes to avoid them.

Controlling Dust Mites
Dust mite allergens-the most common trigger of allergy and asthma symptoms-are found throughout the house, but thrive in bedding and soft furnishings. Because so much time is spent in the bedroom, it is essential to reduce mite levels there.

Encase mattresses, box springs and pillows in special allergen-proof fabric covers or airtight, zippered plastic covers. Bedding should be washed weekly in hot water (130° F) and dried in a hot dryer. Cover comforters and pillows that can’t be regularly washed with allergen-proof covers.

Keep humidity low by using a dehumidifier or air conditioning. Wall-to-wall carpeting should be removed as much as possible. Instead, throw rugs may be used if they are regularly washed or dry cleaned.

People with allergies should use a vacuum with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate) filter or a double-layered bag, and wear a dust mask-or ask someone else to vacuum.

Controlling Pet Allergens
People are not allergic to an animal’s hair, but to an allergen found in the saliva, dander (dead skin flakes) or urine of an animal with fur. Usually, symptoms occur within minutes.

For some people, symptoms build and become most severe eight to 12 hours after contact with the animal. People with severe allergies can experience reactions in public places if dander has been transported on pet owners’ clothing.

There are no “hypoallergenic” breeds of cats or dogs. The same is true for any animal with fur, so it’s best to remove the pet from the home and avoid contact if you’re highly allergic. Keeping an animal outdoors is only a partial solution, since homes with pets in the yard still have higher concentrations of animal allergens. Before getting a pet, ask your allergist to determine if you are allergic to animals.

If you cannot avoid exposure, try to minimize contact and keep the pet out of the bedroom and other rooms where you spend a great deal of time. While dander and saliva are the source of cat and dog allergens, urine is the source of allergens from rabbits, hamsters, mice and guinea pigs; ask a non-allergic family member to clean the animal’s cage.

As with dust mites, vacuum carpets often or replace carpet with a hardwood floor, tile or linoleum. Some studies have found that using a HEPA air cleaner may reduce animal allergen exposure.

Controlling Cockroaches
An allergen in cockroach droppings is a main trigger of asthma symptoms, especially for children living in densely populated, urban neighborhoods.

Block all areas where roaches could enter the home, including crevices, wall cracks and windows. Cockroaches need water to survive, so fix and seal all leaky faucets and pipes. Have an exterminator go through the house when your family and pets are gone to eliminate any remaining roaches.

Keep food in lidded containers and put pet food dishes away after your pets are done eating. Vacuum and sweep the floor after meals, and take out garbage and recyclables. Use lidded garbage containers in the kitchen. Wash dishes immediately after use and clean under stoves, refrigerators or toasters where crumbs can accumulate. Wipe off the stove and other kitchen surfaces and cupboards regularly.

Controlling Indoor Molds
Indoor molds and mildew need dampness, such as found in basements, bathrooms or anywhere with leaks. Clean up mold growth on hard surfaces with water, detergent and, if necessary, 5% bleach (do not mix with other cleaners). Then dry the area completely. If mold covers an area more than 10 square feet, consider hiring an indoor environmental professional. For clothing, washing with soap and water is best. If moldy items cannot be cleaned and dried, throw them away.

Promptly repair and seal leaking roofs or pipes. Using dehumidifiers in damp basements may be helpful, but empty the water and clean units regularly to prevent mildew from forming. All rooms, especially basements, bathrooms and kitchens, require ventilation and cleaning to deter mold and mildew growth. Avoid carpeting on concrete or damp floors, and storing items in damp areas.

See your allergist for more suggestions.

Healthy Tips

* Your allergist can help you identify things in your home, workplace or school that may be making your asthma or allergies worse.
* Keep your home clean and dry to help make it “allergen-free.”
* Focus on sites where allergens accumulate-bedding, carpet and upholstered furniture.
* Weekly vacuuming can help. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter or double bags.
* Keep humidity low by using an air conditioner or dehumidifier.
* Fix leaks to avoid mold, and clean or remove moldy materials promptly.
* Avoid pests by keeping food in sealed containers and using covered garbage cans.

Feel Better. Live Better.
An allergist/immunologist, often referred to as an allergist, is a pediatrician or internist with at least two additional years of specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of problems such as allergies, asthma, autoimmune diseases and the evaluation and treatment of patients with recurrent infections, such as immunodeficiency diseases.

The right care can make the difference between suffering with an allergic disease and feeling better. By visiting the office of an allergist, you can expect an accurate diagnosis, a treatment plan that works and educational information to help you manage your disease.

Find an allergist near you at:
http://www.aaaai.org/physref

The contents of this brochure are for informational purposes only. It is not intended to replace evaluation by a physician. If you have questions or medical concerns, please contact your allergist/immunologist.

A Trusted Resource
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) represents allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic disease.

Ordering Information
To order copies of this brochure, please see the Public Education Materials Online Store.

•John P. Lapotaire, CIEC
•Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant
•Microshield Environmental Services, LLC
www.Microshield-ES.com www.CFL-IAQ.com


Dusty decorations, Christmas trees and cold weather can touch off allergies, asthma

December 14, 2010

By Irene Maher, Times Staff Writer
In Print: Thursday, December 2, 2010

Time to pull the boxes out of the attic, hang up the wreath and wrap your house in lights and garland. Holiday decorations are making their annual debut, to the delight of children of all ages — and to the misery of many who suffer from asthma and allergies.

“You disturb dust and other debris that hasn’t been touched for a year,” says Dr. Richard Lockey, director of the division of allergy and immunology at USF Health, “and it can certainly cause problems.”

And, as if right on cue, colder temperatures have arrived in the bay area, another potential trigger for asthma.

If your symptoms have been under good control but lately you are short of breath, sneezing, wheezing, coughing, have itchy watery eyes, or a runny or stuffy nose, the problem may be seasonal in the fullest sense of the word.

On top of stored decorations, bringing fresh Christmas trees, wreaths, garlands and holiday plants inside can also trigger symptoms. Some people are allergic to a substance called terpene in the sap of evergreens that is released when the trunk or branches are cut. “We’re not sure it’s a true response to evergreens, but there’s no question that some people feel cut Christmas trees make their asthma worse,” says Lockey.

Sometimes trees and plants carry mold or pollen indoors on their branches. Artificial trees can become covered in sneeze-inducing dust if not stored in airtight containers. The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology suggests going over your tree with a leaf blower in a well-ventilated place outside to remove some of the accumulated allergens. Or spray your holiday tree, live or artificial, with a garden hose and allow it to dry in a garage or on a covered porch before bringing it inside.

By the same token, take dusty boxes of decorations outside to clean them off before bringing them into living areas.

As if all those seasonal hazards weren’t enough, consider this: According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development most of us spend 90 percent of our time indoors — and indoor air can be more harmful than what’s outdoors.
From things you can smell, like oven cleaners and bathroom mold, to those that are odorless, like carbon monoxide and radon, indoor air can be hazardous to your health.

Finding the problems

Annette Douglas, 48, of Largo recently requested an inspection from the Pinellas County Health Department’s Indoor Air Quality Program. She was concerned after a messy plumbing problem left a foul smell in her apartment for weeks, even after professional carpet cleaning. Having just had surgery, she worried that an environmental problem might affect her healing.

Stan Stoudenmire, one of two environmental specialists who cover Pinellas, says most of the calls he gets are over concerns about mold. In addition to common allergens, cigarette smoke, wood smoke, carbon monoxide, off-gassing from new carpets and furniture, sewer gases, household pesticides and cleaning supplies can cause symptoms such as headaches, eye, nose and throat irritation, breathing problems, fatigue, reduced productivity, even memory problems, he said.

“We get anywhere from five to 20 calls a day. Physicians will recommend us if a medical approach doesn’t seem to help a patient with symptoms,” he says.

After visiting Douglas’ home Wednesday, Stoudenmire says he found a very moldy air handler and old carpeting, which can harbor dust mites. Both can aggravate allergies and asthma, and Douglas told him that when her grandchildren come to visit, their asthma symptoms do worsen. He took some dust samples back to the office for further checking; it usually takes a week to get a full report.

A home inspection costs $75; many people qualify for a reduced or no-fee visit. Inspections at businesses start at $350.

Most people notice improvement after a good housecleaning and changing air filters, Stoudenmire says. Sometimes plumbing and roof work are needed to repair leaks, or air handlers need professional cleaning to remove mold. In extreme cases, damp or moldy drywall may have to be replaced.

But Stoudenmire cautions consumers against private companies that offer inspections and then try to sell you a long list of repair services.

“They’ll come in and tell you to tear out walls, cabinets, plumbing fixtures. If it sounds like you suddenly have an enormous problem and lots of costly repairs, beware,” he says. He advises getting a second opinion before doing anything drastic.

•John P. Lapotaire, CIEC
•Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant
•Microshield Environmental Services, LLC
www.Microshield-ES.com www.CFL-IAQ.com


Orlando Mold Inspections

December 12, 2010

Molds would perhaps be one in all the very first annoying things to have inside the house. There would be times when you would just want these things to be gone from the house but things such as mold removal or mold inspection or infrared inspections are not as easy as it might sound. If you feel that you want to enhance your indoor air quality, you need to go for either indoor allergen testing or thermal imaging inspections. Doing these things all by yourself might mean risking your own self. For that reason it would be a better option to consult Orlando Mold inspection companies. The professionals of those companies are expert at these and have a lot of experience.

There are in fact a number of different Orlando Mold inspections Companies in the city. But out of those which is the one that you would like? There are a few reputed companies which had been serving the city of Orlando for years in helping to fight those annoying organisms. It is undoubtedly true that when it concerns mold inspections Orlando Mold inspection companies of the city have appeared to be the first and the last choice of the majority of people. The companies make sure that they provide and do the suitable steps to fight as well as prevent those toxic and annoying molds.

Orlando Mold inspection companies are concerned about the health of people, and moreover the companies are also concerned with the dangers which their employees tend to face each time they conduct Orlando Mold inspections. The companies make certain that their employees are completely equipped with everything that is required as well as all data. Their employees are properly trained as well. In addition, the workers follow a specific guide to inspecting mold. These Orlando Mold inspection company professionals would work in a manner as you would want them to.

1. The companies send certified technicians for examining the mold affected area thoroughly. These professionals are people who do the inspection and investigation.

2. As soon as the technicians have taken a note and diagnosed some area having black mold growth, they would immediately take a sample from that surface as well as from the air around mold. That way, they are able to compare whether the amount of mold exist enormously on the surfaces of your house or not.

3. Apart from their visual assessment as well as taking samples, the technicians would in addition make use of infrared cameras which would be helpful in evaluating and diagnosing the source of moisture inside the house. This is one of the very essential steps in mold inspection, and without doing this, it could be extremely difficult to understand how to take care of mold properly.

4. Since, nowadays, technicians have samples; they might get their comparisons and assessments done. This could be the time when the mold inspection companies of Orlando would be sending those samples to the laboratory for inspection.

5. At the end the technicians come up with suitable action on how to keep these toxic organisms from growing in the house again.

•John P. Lapotaire, CIEC
•Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant
•Microshield Environmental Services, LLC
www.Microshield-ES.com


Thermal Imaging Inspection Over Home Inspection

December 9, 2010

If you ever have purchased a house or are planning to purchase your very first home, no doubt you know it already that it is sensible in having a home inspection as one of the many conditions in the agreement of purchase and sale. You could as well wish to consider adding thermal imaging inspections also. One of the prime things which is required to be borne in mind during the purchase of a house is the atmosphere around the house. If it is a humid atmosphere, then be sure of the growth of molds within the house.

These are extremely toxic organisms and could turn out to be fatal in severe cases. There must be a control to their growth. Where mold growth control is concerned, there could be nothing better than Orlando mold inspection companies. These companies utilize several methods in keeping the indoor air quality of the house clean and fresh. Some of their methods include infrared inspections, indoor allergen testing and last but not the least, thermal imaging inspections.

Rather new to residential real estate market, the thermal imaging inspections might turn out to be a stable fixture for every real estate transaction in nearly the similar fashion as that of what traditional home inspections had been for a long time.

What are Thermal Imaging Inspections?
Unlike the traditional home inspection that could be seen, thermal imaging inspections are able to debunk problems which remain hidden to the naked eye. Thermal imaging inspections make use of infrared cameras that provide very useful information with problems like those of energy loss, water leakage in the basements, wood destroying influx as well as electrical faults.

Mold Growth
Traditional home inspectors would generally inform you that they are unaware of any mold issues beyond what could be found on the surface. In case there has been mold growth behind tiles or paneling for instance it might not be clearly visible on the surface and has every reason for going undetected. Thermal imaging inspections would show up the issue to you.

Water Leaks
Often traditional home inspectors would find water leaks in ceilings or basements which could be seen on the surface. Thermal imaging inspections would reveal if the problem continues to exist as well as the source of the problem.

Energy Loss
The effective use of energy tends to be the main concern for home buyers these days. Thermal inspections reveal where heat loss is taking place around doors, windows, attics and ceilings.

Thermal imaging inspections are able to detect the following problems which are not visible through some surface inspection:

• Congested electrical circuits
• Hidden electrical faults which could cause fire
• Unseen leaks in the roof
• Un-insulated wires
• Hidden leaks in plumbing setup
• Any structural defect or problem
• Leaks in Air conditioner compressor

If you’re close to purchasing a home of your own, it is possibly a great idea to consider adding thermal imaging inspections. For the majority of people, this could be the sole largest lifetime investment. This is very useful in knowing the actual condition of the home where a person intends to live for the rest of his life.

•John P. Lapotaire, CIEC
•Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant
•Microshield Environmental Services, LLC
www.Microshield-ES.com


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