Control the Allergens in Your Home

April 16, 2013

Florida Indoor Air Quality Solutions, IAQS

Florida Indoor Air Quality Solutions, IAQS

Reviewed by Robert Falk, MD,158,1.html

Allergy sufferers, to ensure as little suffering as possible, must make certain that their home is as free of allergens as they can make it. Stop external allergens from entering and clean all of the internal allergens if you want to avoid the trigger, say experts. If you are unlucky then the trigger can cause all of the normal symptoms such as sneezing, runny and sore eyes, itchy skin and coughing, additionally it could bring on an asthma attack or a bout of eczema. If you are suffering from ‘hay fever’ then take your medications as advised and try to avoid any known triggers.

The impact of allergy

A study commissioned by Allergy UK Research identified that 41% of allergy sufferers would not visit a friend or family member because they believed that their home had triggers that would start an allergic reaction. In the UK the most common allergens are house dust mites and pets. Pollen can also be found depending on the weather and the season. Research is now identifying the serious impact that these allergies have on the lives of the sufferers.

Parents often comment on how their children miss the normal things in life such as sleepovers or visits to friends where the friends have a pet for example. One lady even commented on how the frequency of visits to her mother had to be curtailed because her son was allergic to pets and her mother had two dogs. It also affected her household because she had four children who all wanted a dog but because one was allergic then it was not possible.

Allergy Awareness

Allergens are present in every home. In the UK the most common allergens are house dust mites, pet allergens, from cats and dogs and moulds. In the summer pollen can get in because of open windows and doors. This affects hay fever sufferers. Normally people think of the bedroom being the abode of the house dust mite allergen but that is not totally true. These mites can be found anywhere in the house although the bedroom is probably where most of them are.

The allergens found externally, such as pollen, can stick to your clothes or hair and enter the home that way. The allergens are then transferred to the furniture that you have sat on. In the summer, when the pollen is the highest many people feel the need to open windows because of the heat. This exposes the home to external allergens too.

Removing the allergens

To remove the allergens requires lots of frequent cleaning. It is the same action whether they are external or internal allergens. Dust mites are likely to be everywhere so you must dust everywhere with a damp duster, this means window sills, on top of the TV, all hard surfaces, on top of picture frames and book cases. Vacuum all the floors daily, whether carpeted or not, do the soft furnishings twice a week and don’t forget the curtains. Under the bed should get extra attention as that is a favourite for the house dust mites.

Barrier mattress covers are a good idea and you can get them for duvets and pillows too. Spend time cleaning your bed, wipe down any hard surfaces and vacuum the mattress and wash bedding at above 55ºC. Another option which kills the mites is to put bedding into a plastic bag and then put it into the freezer for 24 hours.

If you have pets then keep them away from the bedrooms. Some people do not allow them into the living room either. Make sure that your pets are washed once or twice a week. And whenever they have been outside give their coats a wipe down before coming in.

Keep your windows closed whenever possible as this helps keep pollen out. Keep your dirty washing in a plastic bag or sealable washing bin because there will be pollen and other allergens stuck to your clothes. Remember that pollen may be on your arms and face and hair. Have a quick shower as soon as you get home.

Your House Might Be Making You Sick

April 16, 2013

Florida Indoor Air Quality Solutions, IAQS

Florida Indoor Air Quality Solutions, IAQS

Special To The Washington Post
April 14, 2013 12:00 AM

It was a chronic thing: Almost every time Erma Taylor’s great-grandson caught a cold, he also ended up having a severe asthma attack. Taylor, a retired nurse, spent many hours at a hospital, helping to hold the toddler for tests and breathing treatments, and wondering what was causing the attacks.

The one thing Taylor never suspected was that something inside the Falls Church, Va., Cape Cod that she shares with her granddaughter and great-grandson was a source of the 3-year-old’s medical problems.

It turned out that mold and mildew from years of shampooing the decades-old carpet were aggravating the little boy’s respiratory system.

The carpeting was replaced with wood flooring through a nonprofit group called Rebuilding Together, and Taylor says she has seen marked improvement. “We haven’t been back to the hospital since then,” Taylor says.

Many homeowners may be unsuspecting victims of medical problems, from asthma attacks to lung cancer, caused by components and conditions in their houses, according to a new federal report.

More than 30 million homes have significant health issues, according to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. More than 20 million housing units have a lead-based paint hazard. And more than 6.8 million homes have radon exposures above the level at which remedial action should be taken, as determined by the EPA.

The trouble is that many homeowners and renters aren’t aware of the link between their housing and their health. Radon exposure, for example, has no immediate symptoms. Carbon monoxide poisoning can initially resemble the flu. And exposure to some toxins may be confused with seasonal allergies.

“In our cars, we have oil and check engine lights,” says Rebecca Morley, executive director of the National Center for Healthy Housing. “There’s no such light for a house.”
A federal interagency body called the Healthy Homes Work Group released a report, “Advancing Healthy Housing: A Strategy for Action,” in February, with the goal of reducing the number of homes with health and safety hazards over the next five years.
But, federal officials and experts say, a reduction in illness and accidents depends heavily on consumers being vigilant about the dangers in their homes.

“People spend more time looking at the kitchen countertops than they do at issues that can cause serious health problems,” says Nancy Harvey Steorts, a realty agent in Virginia and author of “Your Home Safe Home.”

“There are so many elements to having a home that’s truly safe,” says Steorts, former chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. “Many consumers think that they don’t have anything to worry about.”

Even Steorts, an expert in home safety, had a problem when she lived in Dallas. It started with a sore throat and escalated to symptoms of a heart attack. The problem stemmed from glue in the padding of carpet that had been recently installed, she says.
“Here, this happened in my own home,” Steorts says.

Could your house be making you sick? Visit for some common household hazards and some tips on how you can address them.

Building materials
Asbestos and arsenic have been removed from most new building materials, but Morley and other health advocates are wary of the lack of testing and regulation of building materials.

In recent years, VOCs, short for volatile organic compounds — found in paints and formaldehyde and in the glue used to make some furniture, cabinets and wood paneling — have been been a focus of health concerns.

In 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law a measure limiting formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products. But the rules haven’t taken effect yet.
Exposure to formaldehyde can cause burning sensations in the eyes and throat, and difficulty in breathing. It can also cause cancer, according to government scientists. Exposure to VOCs can cause headaches, loss of coordination, nausea, and damage to the liver, kidneys and central nervous system.

Experts recommend choosing low-VOC paints, carpet and flooring and removing paint thinners and other chemicals from homes. A qualified home inspector can point out possible dangers in building materials, including the presence of asbestos in insulation, lead in plumbing fixtures and formaldehyde in paneling or cabinets. While it may not be possible to identify all materials visually, an inspector can tell you what was common, based on the age of your home.

Except for secondhand smoke, radon is the single most prevalent and deadly home health issue for children, Paulson says.

About 21,000 lung cancer deaths — more than the number of drunken-driving deaths — can be linked to radon exposure, according to the EPA.

A radon test — ranging from about $13 for a do-it-yourself kit to $150 for a professional test — should be part of a home inspection, experts say.

If radon levels are elevated, the problem is easily corrected with a pressurized system that keeps radon from seeping through the home’s foundation.

Mold and pests
Plumbing leaks and poor insulation are the main cause of mold and pests, says Steorts.
Some materials, such as synthetic stucco, are easy to puncture and may allow moisture to seep in, says Vimal Kapoor, president of the Building Inspector of America, based in Germantown.

An alarm should go off, he says, “if you feel better when you’re out of the house.”
Mold tends to worsen respiratory illnesses, induce asthma attacks and irritate eyes and nasal passages, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some studies also suggest more severe effects, including flu-like symptoms.

More surprisingly, cockroaches can be potential triggers of asthma symptoms among children allergic to them, says Stephen Teach, an emergency room physician at Children’s National Medical Center who also runs the asthma clinic.

Decomposing cockroach bodies and their excrement easily become airborne, and can be inhaled into the bronchial tubes.

Other household allergens include dust mites and grease.
Every six months, look for signs of pests and mold and mildew. If you are suspicious about toxins or mold, have an air quality test, experts say.

Carbon monoxide
When the carbon monoxide detector went off in her Arlington, Va., rental, Morley and her roommates unplugged it. Like many, they assumed the problem was with the detector.
They were wrong.

Because carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, too often, homeowners don’t realize there’s a problem.

After comparing symptoms of headaches and nausea, Morley and her roommates plugged back in the detector, which sounded a piercing alarm. The fire department confirmed high carbon monoxide levels. Faulty appliances were to blame.

“It was scary,” says Morley, who was treated with oxygen at the hospital.
Exposure can cause a range of flu-like symptoms, including headaches, dizziness and nausea. But carbon monoxide exposure also can be fatal. Each year, more than 400 deaths are blamed on CO poisoning, according to the CDC.

Gas fireplaces, furnaces, generators and appliances cause most carbon monoxide leaks, says Steorts. She recommends that her clients check whether appliances have been recalled, and that appliances and heating and cooling systems be inspected annually.
In addition to installing CO detectors, examine all seals around doors and windows annually, paying close attention to the door between house and garage, because CO can leak into homes from cars, Steorts says.

Paint companies began phasing out lead-based paint in 1951 and then banned it in 1978. Because it’s no longer used, says Barbara Moore, manager of the Mount Washington Pediatric Hospital Lead Clinic in Baltimore, Md., “most people think it’s a thing of the past.”
However, because there are so many older homes in the Washington area, “we still have a problem with lead poisoning,” says Jerome A. Paulson, a physician who is director of the Mid-Atlantic Center for Children’s Health and the Environment at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington.

Specks of dust flaking from window sills and doors get on floors and toys. Young children ingest the lead particles when they put their hands in their mouths.

Owen Gray, a software engineer in Baltimore, and his wife were cautious about painted surfaces possibly containing lead in their 1890s rowhouse. But they were surprised when a stripped fireplace mantel tested positive for the toxic metal.

“It never occurred to us that would be a problem,” says Gray, whose toddler is being treated for elevated levels of lead.

Lead exposure has been linked to loss of IQ, learning difficulties and developmental delays.

And while many homeowners are warned about lead paint when they buy a home (or rent one), they may not take the risk seriously if they don’t have children at the time, Paulson says.

In addition to painted — and previously painted — surfaces, lead may also be found in some vinyl tiles, window blinds and plumbing fixtures, including chrome-plated brass faucets.

In houses built before 1978, get a lead test by certified inspector.
Contractors doing work that could disturb lead paint such as sanding or replacing windows should be certified by EPA-approved trainers.
Lead is among the issues that the workgroup continues to make a priority. But more than that, says Matthew Ammon, deputy director of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office on Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control, “What it represents is a change in mind-set, in how we think about housing.”
The report doesn’t propose regulations, but it calls for federal agencies — and there are more than nine involved — to work with each other and with local governments, nonprofit groups and communities, Ammon says.
“This coordinated strategy is a big first step,” says Morley, adding that she believes regulations are necessary.
The reason that 90 percent of homes have smoke detectors is that they’re required by local codes, she says. “If you rely solely on the voluntary action of property owners,” says Morley, “the consequences are lost lives.”

AIHA Position Statement on Mold and Dampness in the Built Environment

April 7, 2013

AIHA Position Statement on Mold and Dampness in the Built Environment - Florida Indoor Air Quality Solutions, IAQ

AIHA Position Statement on Mold and Dampness in the Built Environment – Florida Indoor Air Quality Solutions, IAQ

The approximately 10,000 members of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) serve in the occupational and environmental health and safety profession, practicing industrial hygiene in industry, government, labor, academic institutions, and independent organizations, primarily in the United States and Canada. The AIHA is a cognizant authority on all aspects of the profession. AIHA Technical Committees endeavor to ensure that reliable information is provided to all those concerned with the health and safety of people in the workplace and, in some cases, homes.  AIHA members often play the unique role of working with other professionals, as risk managers and risk communicators, to solve problems and to protect the health and wellbeing of workers and the general public.

Since 1996, the AIHA has been a leader in the development of information and best practices on the management of mold and dampness problems in the build environment. This information has been relied upon by officials who develop and
enforce public policy on indoor environmental quality (IEQ) for the non-industrial workplace, including schools. AIHA has also provided accessible information for individuals to enable more informed choices. It is appropriate to make clear the
Association’s positions with respect to reducing the risks associated with indoor microbial growth, and to define and explain the role of AIHA members in such endeavors, to all parties.

Modest wetting and drying in buildings and in ventilation systems is normal and generally poses little risk for occupant health. Similarly, very brief episodes of wetting are not usually a problem provided that steps are taken to rapidly dry all materials.(1) “Dampness” is the presence of unwanted and excessive moisture in buildings.(2) This can lead to the growth of mold, fungi, environmental bacteria, and, in homes, house dust mites.

The term “mold” is a colloquial term for a group of filamentous fungi that are common on food or wet materials. Most of these are Ascomycetes that produce a lot of spores. The molds that grow on damp building materials are normally found in the soil and are adapted to grow on a wide variety of materials. Outdoors, molds live in the soil, on plants, and on dead or decaying matter. There are thousands of species of mold and they can be any color. Different mold species are adapted to different moisture conditions, ranging from just damp to very wet. Many times, mold can be detected by a musty odor. Live spores act like seeds, forming new mold growths (colonies) under the right conditions.(3)

Well conducted epidemiology studies in several countries have consistently shown that exposures from building/house dampness and mold have been associated with increased risks for respiratory symptoms, asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, rhinosinusitis, bronchitis, and respiratory infections.(4,5) In studies conducted in the nonindustrial
workplace, individuals with asthma or hypersensitivity pneumonitis were found to be at risk for progression to more severe disease if the relationship between illness and exposure to the damp building was not recognized and exposures continued.(6)

Three recent, high quality, systematic reviews of the available evidence concluded that the implementation of interventions that combine elimination of moisture intrusion and leaks and removal of moldy items help to reduce mold exposure and respiratory symptoms and new onset asthma.(4,5,7) This position has also been taken by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and many State governments (8), Health Canada(9,10) and internationally by the World Health Organization(11).

Based on this evidence, the position of AIHA is that persistent dampness and mold damage in the non-industrial workplace, including schools and residential housing, requires prevention, management and effective remediation. If visible mold is present, it should be remediated, regardless of what species are present. Such actions are likely to reduce new onset asthma, lead to savings in health care costs, and improve public health.

1. While the design and location of a building have the greatest impact on the onset of serious mold damage, maintenance and effective management of mold and dampness requires an ongoing strategy involving occupants, building owners and managers, ventilation experts and occupational hygiene professionals.(1,2)

Owners and occupants should take action to detect and correct leaks, condensation problems and floods as soon as they are discovered. The potential for building structural damage, microbial growth and increased adverse health effects can, and
should, be reduced by limiting the buildup of indoor moisture. A formal mold/water prevention program with clear actions and responsibilities is required for an effective response to signs of moisture.(12,13) The actions taken by all stakeholders, including designers, contractors, owners, and occupants of buildings, are critical to effective management of prolonged dampness in buildings. An effective prevention program is evidence of appropriate due diligence to protect both the health of occupants and visitors, and to preserve the building fabric. As new buildings are constructed, or older buildings are subject to major renovation, consistent effort is needed on the part of the architects and engineers involved in the design and construction of the structure, cladding, roof and HVAC system to make the building durable.(1,14)

2. It has long been recognized that, based on the application of existing methods to analyze air or dust samples, there are no quantitative, health-based microbial exposure guidelines or thresholds.(8,10) Sampling data that may be developed during an investigation must be comprehensive and communicated in a form useful to physicians and allied professionals, building occupants and decisionmakers.(15,16)

AIHA recognizes that there are a number of audiences for the reports that are provided pursuant to a mold investigation. Regardless of the nature of the client (homeowner, insurance agent, large property company, government), reports must provide information that can (a) be translated into an action plan for repair and rehabilitation of the space, (b) provide a basis for protecting occupants and remediation workers health and, in certain situations (c) be useful for the personal physician and/or public health officials.

Investigators should provide clear and consistent field notes with sufficient detail to allow the field work and sampling data, if any, to be interpreted, verified, and repeated. The report should include, at a minimum, appropriate documentation of sample handling and reporting results. Ideal documentation should be thorough, detailed, readable, and focused. Additionally, it should present sufficient information to allow the work to be verified and repeated, and it should describe all quality assurance procedures.(17,18)

AIHA recommends that clients verify that the consultant has suitable training and project experience, as well as appropriate and related references.(19) Almost all industrial hygienists (IHs) have college degrees in engineering or the natural sciences, such as biology, chemistry, biochemistry or microbiology. Additionally, 42% have master’s degrees, and 12% have doctoral degrees. Industrial hygienists also have specialized training in ventilation engineering, environmental health, toxicology and microbiology.

Unless this is waived by the client, investigators should be independent of the remediation contractor and testing laboratory associated with the project.(16,19,20) Basic competencies that should be assessed by clients include knowledge and education in exposure characterization, microbiological assessment and remediation, general knowledge of the ecology of fungi and bacteria associated with damp or flooded buildings, building science and problem areas in Heating Ventilation and Air-Conditioning systems.(19,20) If samples are collected, laboratory analytical staff should have specific training and experience in the identification of environmental mold and bacteria, and be able to demonstrate successful participation in an external proficiency testing program.(2,21) Some States have certification requirements and other regulations regarding mold-related activities or remediation. A number of Canadian municipalities have regulations that cover mold damage in residences from illegal marijuana grow operations.

Recent guidelines from the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology focus on factors that promote allergen and contaminant production (‘facilitating factors’, in this case moisture) and reservoirs.(15) In this context, properly conducted building inspections, which depend on the training and experience of the investigator(s), are essential to physician evaluation. Physicians reviewing such reports should find clearly described key elements and be able to judge the quality of a report. At a minimum, reports should include a statement of purpose and limitations, observations, results of any testing, conclusions, and recommendations. Such reports should not include any speculation or conclusions concerning medical causation.(2,16)

Since current analytical methods do not provide information on the health risks associated with mold exposures in the built environment(8,10), health assessment is primarily based on the nature and extent of the mold and water/moisture damage and the type of reservoirs present (e.g. carpets, soft furniture). In most studies and a recent meta-analysis on the subject, semi-quantitative estimates of the extent of visible mold/dampness has been identified as being the best predictor of long and short-term health outcomes.(5,9,22,23) The investigator’s report needs to present this information in a clear fashion according to methods discussed in the AIHA publication Recognition, Evaluation and Control of Indoor Mold (“The Green Book”).(2) Air and/or settled dust sampling can be used to defend hypotheses about the nature of the contamination, ‘hidden’ sources of contamination, and whether or not the indoor air is similar to outdoor air.(16,24)

3. Investigation and remediation of mold and moisture damage in buildings must be based on an informed inspection augmented by the judicious use of existing sampling methods, primarily for the purpose of detecting any hidden damage.(2,9) The protection of remediation workers and occupants during renovations is essential.(2,9) In case of occupants with more serious pre-existing respiratory conditions, relocation may be appropriate.(25,26)

If mold is suspected, but not visibly detected after a thorough inspection, then microbial air sampling conducted in accordance with guidance documents can be useful.(2,3,24) This sampling may reveal evidence of indoor mold amplification or reservoirs,
particularly of mold that is considered “hidden” behind walls and other building structures. If mold is being removed and there is a question about how far the colonization extends, then surface or bulk sampling, in combination with moisture measurements from affected building materials, may be useful. Sampling for airborne mold spores can indicate whether the mix of indoor molds is “typical” of the outdoor mix or, conversely, “atypical” or unusual at the time of sampling.

Any mold sampling that does occur must be performed by qualified and experienced investigators familiar with current guidelines and, if applicable, local regulations. Samples should not be taken without a clear purpose (i.e., testing a hypothesis) and a sufficient number of samples must be taken to reliably assess the existing conditions. Laboratories vary in experience and proficiency; using an AIHA-LAP, LLC EMLA Paccredited lab or ISO 17025 equivalent is recommended.(3)

4. It is not unusual for buildings to have a number of concurrent problems that affect IEQ or the perception of IEQ. Water and moisture damage can result in the release of gasses from some building materials.(8) Investigations of apparent or suspected mold-related health complaints must consider all possibilities. While mold damage comprises a large percentage of problem situations, studies of occupant complaints find that a high percentage have an outdoor air make up below the American Society for Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standard, inappropriate and inadequate temperature and
humidity levels, inadequate control of contaminants from outdoor air (including ozone, traffic pollutants, etc.), contaminants arising from equipment or activities within the building or house (including cooking activities), and poor air distribution.(22,27,28)

IHs and other IEQ practitioners should approach mold, water intrusion, and IEQ investigations with the same mindset they use when they approach all investigations. The process includes three of the five key industrial hygiene elements: anticipation, recognition, and evaluation. While the IH can reasonably anticipate that there will be mold exposures associated with water intrusion, mold may or may not be the primary cause of any health effect(s) that may be experienced by the occupants. The IH should ensure that, while investigating mold-related complaints, whether apparent or reported, active consideration of other possibilities affecting IEQ in the space is an essential part of the investigation.(29)

In addition to mold-related exposures, contaminants that are both directly and indirectly associated with water-related damages may also be affecting the occupants. These contaminants may include, but are not limited to:

  • particulate and gas/vapor contaminants associated with improper combustion ventilation or improperly operating utilities, such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen and sulfur compounds, soot and other fine particles, fuel and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs), etc.;
  • VOCs from construction product degradation and/or off gassing, such as formaldehyde and other aldehydes, phenolics, and amines;
  • organisms that proliferate under damp conditions or when maintenance is substandard, such as bacteria, amoeba, dust mites, cockroaches, and rodents; and,
  • animal and chemical-based allergens already present and/or exacerbated by the water damage.

Many potential contaminants may be present along with mold damage that can affect health or the safety of investigators, remediation workers, and occupants. For example, failure to recognize the presence of asbestos, radon, or lead-based paint could lead to their disturbance during investigative or remedial activities, unnecessarily creating a new hazard. Finally, there is a need to recognize the potential hazards associated with remedial alternatives that may lead to the introduction of pesticides, ozone, chlorine dioxide, and other chemicals that could exacerbate existing health conditions or lead to new health issues.

Florida Sewage Damage – The Health Risks it Poses to People

April 7, 2013

Florida Sewage Floods - Florida Indoor Air Quality Solutions, IAQ

Florida Sewage Floods – Florida Indoor Air Quality Solutions, IAQ

By Leo Nov
When we hear of the term sewage, we really have a very clear idea of what it looks like. We know what sewage is and where it comes from. We are so grossed just having to think that it came from our bodies’ excretory system, but then, despite its gross nature, we are still being careless in terms of its disposal.
Sewage can cause health risks to people. It is well-known that sewage is the accumulation of human wastes such as feces and urine. Because of its characteristic, it is indeed true enough that it has various pathogens and allergens that can be very harmful to people’s health.
There are several diseases are caused by sewage damage. It is important to have an idea of these diseases and the effects of these to our health.
The Dangers of Sewage damage to people’s health
The people are at great risk of acquiring infectious diseases due to exposure to sewage. Not only are the general public affected, sewage damage also poses risks to workers who usually venture in the remediation process, sewage treatment and other sewage-damage related activities. There is a big possibility for them to acquire chronic respiratory illnesses and other chronic illnesses whether it could be viral, fungal, bacterial and parasitic.
There are several diseases that are brought by sewage damage. It is important to have an idea of these diseases and the their effects to our health.
Public health
The general public is the one being at risk of sewage damage. It is ordinary to hear and read news about cases of hepatitis, cholera and other diseases due to exposure to untreated sewage. Take for example the case of epidemic Hepatitis A in Ocee, Florida on 1988-1989. In the said epidemic, statistics showed that 18 cases had a history of exposure to sewage-contaminated storm water.
Over 120 variants of viruses can be seen in human feces, urine and sewage damage which can lead their way to sewage. The 120 viruses can include the following:
Rotavirus-causes severe diarrhea in children
Norwalk virus- causes gastroenteritis
Adenoviruses- cause of respiratory and eye infections
Parasitic agents such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium can cause chronic intestinal illnesses in children and adults.
Bacterial pathogens abound in places with sewage damage can consist of strains of gram-negative organisms like Campylobacter, Salmonella and E. coli. Aside from the strains of gram-negative bacteria, gram-negative bacteria also produce endotoxins which occur at the point of cell’s death and elimination. Endotoxins can manifest in the air through remediation, take for example the cleaning and drying of infected carpets.
Public health risks can also be incurred through improper sewage damage disposal and transport from hospitals and other industrial companies. These could leaf to public health’s declining status due to unscrupulous manner of managing their wastes.
However, workers from sewage damage remediation and other sewage-related activities are not free from health risks. They are prone to infectious illnesses due to exposure to certain chemicals, allergens, toxic gases, fumes, vapors and endotoxins as well as mycotovins and other infectious agents.

Leo Nov is an editorial staff member of, a leading service provider for water damage cleanups.

Article Source:

Meth in Florida: A growing problem both statewide and locally

April 7, 2013

Florida Meth Lab - Florida Indoor Air Quality Solutions, IAQ

Florida Meth Lab – Florida Indoor Air Quality Solutions, IAQ

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Methamphetamine use is growing across Florida, and that trend is reflected in St. Johns County where the number of meth busts has increased for the past few years.
St. Johns County’s first meth bust came in the 1970s, and meth labs weren’t discovered regularly again until the early 2000s, according to previous stories.
Deputies started finding a few meth labs a year in 2008, said St. Johns County Sheriff’s Cpl. Mike Hartsell. In 2011 and 2012, the Sheriff’s Office found more than three dozen meth labs.
“It’s not gonna slow down,” Hartsell said.
Meth labs have been found across the county in hotel rooms, homes, backpacks and cars. Many of them are clustered in and around the city limits, but labs have also been found in Hastings, Elkton, Ponte Vedra Beach and off County Road 210 and 208, according to Sheriff’s Office records.
Most of them are small-scale, one pot labs, that are highly mobile and produce enough meth for personal use.
The same is true statewide. Most labs fit in a Gatorade bottle, small enough so that someone could “start making meth in one county and drive through three counties before it’s done,” said David Gross, special agent supervisor with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which monitors trends in drug use.
The increase in meth lab discoveries is also happening across the state, but meth is already a nationwide problem, Gross said. Meth has been in Florida since the late 80s or early 90s, but use and production started to pick up in 2008.
In 2008, law enforcement agencies across the state reported 180 meth labs, Gross said. That number rose steadily. In 2011, 676 meth labs were found. There were probably more since multiple areas in the state did not file reports. Reporting is on a voluntary basis.
In 2012, 930 meth labs were reported statewide.
In May 2011, the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office Clandestine Laboratory Enforcement Team formed to better respond to the growing problem. The team is made up of deputies trained in handling meth labs. Hartsell supervises one of those teams.
When the Sheriff’s Office meth team arrives at a scene, officials suit up and remove the lab from the home. That takes four to six hours and costs from $500 to $2,000 depending on the size of the lab, Hartsell said.
Meth cooks endanger not only the people cooking them, but surrounding communities. The gases used in the cook are toxic and highly flammable and explosive. In 2010, a Sheriff’s deputy had to be taken to the hospital for an inhalation injury after breathing in the toxic fumes during an investigation, Hartsell said.
Meth use also increases criminal activity, affects surrounding communities and costs the county money. As with other drugs, people often steal to support their habit, Hartsell said.
Meth labs are toxic to people and homes.
Cooking meth or smoking it creates gases that seep into walls, carpets and furniture, he said. If a building is not cleaned properly, the residual gases are still there, and it’s a health risk.
Depending on the extent of meth use, decontaminating a building could mean ripping out walls and throwing away furniture, costing thousands to tens of thousands of dollars. Sometimes houses are so badly contaminated that they need to be demolished.
St. Johns County Code Enforcement officials recently demolished a mobile home at 1990 Powell Road because meth had been cooked in the home. Two labs had been found there over the past few years. The property owner opted to have the building torn down instead of paying for the clean-up.
Officials said meth use will continue to be a problem in the state and the county despite efforts to fight its spread.
“Right now that’s the future of narcotics in our county,” Hartsell said. “At least for the time being.”

A few facts about meth
Methamphetamine facts from the Drug Enforcement Administration:
Street names: Batu, Bikers Coffee, Black Beauties, Chalk, Chicken Feed, Crank, Crystal, Glass, Go-Fast, Hiropon, Ice, Meth, Methlies Quick, Poor Man’s Cocaine, Shabu, Shards, Speed, Stove Top, Tina, Trash, Tweak, Uppers, Ventana, Vidrio, Yaba and Yellow BamLooks.
■ How it’s done: Meth can be swallowed, snorted, injected or smoked.
■ Affects: Meth creates an intense rush with highs that can last for half a day. The drug releases high levels of dompamine into the pleasure areas of the brain. Long-term abuse can cause addiction, violence, anxiety, confusion, insomnia, paranoia, hallucinations, delusions. Dopamine-producing brain cells and serotonin-containing nerve cells can be damaged by exposure to meth.
■ Overdose: Taking too much meth can cause a heart attack, stroke and multiple organ problems as the body temperature is raised to dangerous levels. Overdosing also can cause convulsions.
■ Legal: Meth is a Schedule II controlled substance and is prescribed, in very limited use, to treat obesity and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
■ Where it all started: Mexico produces most of the meth that is imported into cities in the US. Many meth labs found in the U.S. are small scale labs.
■ What’s been done: The Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005 requires businesses that sell non-prescription products that contain major ingredients in meth — pseudoephedrine, ephedrine or phenylpropanolamine — to make customers show ID and sign a logbook to purchase the products. They must also keep the products in a locked cabinet.
■ Florida has its own laws regarding the sale and purchase of ephedrine and its related compounds. The State Legislature passed a law in 2010 that controls the sale and purchase of the chemical, and created an electronic database for sellers and law enforcement to keep track of who is buying and selling, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

IAQ and Humidity

April 5, 2013

Florida Indoor Air Quality Humidity & IAQ

Florida Indoor Air Quality Humidity & IAQ

Maintaining relative humidity below 50% inhibits mold and mildew growth, dust mite infestations, and bacteria. This lower relative humidity also reduces the out-gassing of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s). Molds are incapable of obtaining the moisture needed for their development directly from the atmosphere, but they can obtain it from a substrate, which has absorbed moisture from moist air (60% to 100% relative humidity).

The relative humidity of the air has an indirect effect on fungal growth, and the more hygroscopic a material is, the more susceptible it is to mold growth. The minimum moisture content at which mold growth occurs depends on the material and usually ranges from 10% to 14%. Suitable substrates include carpet fibers, gypsum, concrete, bricks, etc.
Mold spores are everywhere all the time, entering from outdoor air as well as on pets and clothing. A mold spore landing on an indoor surface is likely to be insignificant and amount to little more than a common component of indoor dust, until such a mold spore lands on a moist organic surface (such as drywall.) High indoor humidity causes the surface moisture level to be sufficient for mold sporulation.  Since a mold spore requires moisture to propagate and grow, the indoor humidity level is a key gating factor in the control of indoor mold (and dust mites) in buildings.
Certain common mold genera and species, such as some members of the Aspergillus sp. and others grow readily on common building materials if they also have enough moisture. While there are fungal species that are able to grow under a remarkably wide range of environmental conditions, keeping indoor humidity at the appropriate level will reduce the chances of growth of the most common indoor problem molds.
High indoor humidity can encourage more issues than indoor mold. The same moisture conditions that support growth of problematic indoor molds also encourage the development of bacterial hazards, dust mite populations, mite fecal allergen problem, and possibly other insect problems in buildings.
The same measures of humidity control to prevent mold growth are needed to discourage the dust mite population that exists in all living areas. Measures discussed in this article including choosing and maintaining the proper humidity level to avoid indoor mold will also work to minimize the level of dust mites and dust mite allergens.
Keep the indoor humidity level in the mid-comfort range. A maximum indoor relative humidity of 50% RH may be acceptable, 45% RH better. At 60% indoor RH, we’re entering the indoor mold-formation risk zone of high interior moisture in building wall or ceiling cavities or on wall and floor surfaces, possibly conducive to mold growth.


John Lapotaire

Florida Indoor Air Quality Solutions

IAQ and Airborne Particulate Matter PM

April 3, 2013

Particle pollution, also called particulate matter or PM, is a complex mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets in the air. When breathed in, these particles can reach the deepest regions of the lungs.  Exposure to particle pollution is linked to a variety of significant health problems such as asthma.

Particulates are a mixture of organic and inorganic substances suspended in the air. They can be solids and/or liquids and exist in a range of sizes. Particulate size is measured in micrometers (µm), one millionth of a meter. The EPA refers to different groups of particulates that include:

  1. Total suspended particulates (TSP) – representing the range of particulate matter normally found in the urban atmosphere. TSP generally includes from 1µm to 50µm.
  2. PM10 – refers to particulate matter of less than 10m m in diameter. PM10 is generally considered the most useful particulate measure. Particles less than 10µm in diameter can be inhaled and have the potential to reach the tracheo-bronchial region of the lung.
  3. PM2.5 – comprises of fine particulate matter less than 2.5µm in diameter. Particles of this size are capable of deep lung penetration.
  4. Total suspended particulates (TSP) – representing the range of particulate matter normally found in the urban atmosphere. TSP generally includes from 1µm to 50µm.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration have a recommendation for 8 hour exposure for particles in the .3 µm size which is a recommended 0-40,000 particles/cc this is found in the OSHA Technical Manual.

Particulate Reduction;

The goal of improving the Indoor Air Quality is going to begin with particulate reduction.  Particulate matter (PM) is the name for a wide range of particles that are small enough to be carried by the air, therefore; breathed in by people. They can be solid or liquid, or a mixture of both.

The size of particles may range from 0.005 µm to 100 µm in diameter. In comparison, the average size of a human hair is 60 µm. PM10 are particles that are 10 µm or less in diameter.  PM2.5 are particles of 2.5 µm or less in diameter.  The finer particles pose the greatest threat to human health because they can travel deepest into the lungs.

Indoor particulate matter is a mixture of substances like these:

  • Carbon (soot) emitted by combustion sources;
  • Tiny liquid or solid particles in aerosols;
  • Fungal spores;
  • Pollen; and
  • A toxin present in bacteria (endotoxin).

Indoor Particulate Matter Florida Indoor Air Quality Solutions IAQS II


In a properly-maintained home, most of the airborne particulate matter comes from the outside. However, some homes do have significant sources of indoor particulate matter which come from the following sources:

  • Cigarette smoking is the greatest single source of particulate matter in homes and buildings where people smoke;
  • Cooking: especially frying and sautéing;
  • Malfunctioning combustion appliances: for example, furnaces without a proper air filter;
  • Non-vented combustion appliances like gas stoves;
  • Wood-burning appliances like wood stoves and fireplaces: especially if the smoke leaks or back drafts into the home; and
  • Mold growth.

Reducing concentrations of particulate matter in your home;

  1. Furnaces and ventilation systems: Make sure that furnaces and ventilation systems are properly maintained, and that you replace filter screens as often as recommended by the manufacturer. All combustion appliances, including furnaces, should be inspected by a qualified technician yearly.
  2. Cooking: Turn your exhaust fan on when you are cooking, and especially when frying.
  3. Woodstoves: Choose properly sized woodstoves and make sure that the doors close tightly. Have your chimney cleaned yearly, too.
  4. Mold: Prevent mold growth and the release of mould spores into your indoor air by controlling humidity and fixing water leaks and water-damaged areas
  5. Smoking: Don’t allow people to smoke indoors because particulate matter levels increase with every smoker in the building.
  6. Clean: Use your HEPA vacuum cleaner regularly.

Indoor Particulate Matter Florida Indoor Air Quality Solutions IAQS IV

Your vacuum cleaner, as a general rule, is really only efficient at trapping particles that have settled onto the floor or whatever surface you’re vacuuming.  Even many room air cleaners are of limited effectiveness in typical building environments, because every time someone walks across a room, opens a door or window, or flips on the central air handling home, thousands if not millions of superfine particles are introduced into the breathing space as the room air is disturbed or exchanged. Since portable air cleaner airflow rates are often fairly low in relation to the rate of room contamination, many people with portable air cleaners may still end up breathing more dust than they realize.

How can you stop or prevent dust? Well, you can’t, at least not completely, since even humans produce their own organic dust and the surfaces within the building are also constantly “shedding” micro-particles. Of course, you can make sure you have good entrance matting in place, so outdoor contaminants and dusts are not tracked in as much.  You can also try to cleanup or contain other sources of fine particles (e.g., paper dust from tissue boxes, dirty air ducts or HVAC filters, etc.) Finally, you can make sure that the processes you use to clean your homes removes rather than redistribute dust as much as possible. This would include vacuuming surfaces with an HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filtered vacuum cleaner.   Use HEPA vacuum cleaners or high efficiency vacuum cleaner bags. These dramatically reduced the amount of dust, allergen and pollens pumped back into the air by the vacuum cleaner.

Indoor Particulate Matter Florida Indoor Air Quality Solutions IAQS XX
John Lapotaire, CIEC
Florida Indoor Air Quality Solutions, IAQS

%d bloggers like this: