Environmental Issue & Sick Building Syndrome Blog

June 13th, 2017 9:22 PM

Researchers have mapped the normal bacteria that live in and on the healthy human body. The accomplishment sets the stage for better understanding how bacterial communities affect human health and disease.

The human body is host to trillions of microbes. These microbes outnumber the body’s cells by 10 to 1. Most of the time they are beneficial to human health, but sometimes they can cause illness. Scientists are using new genomic techniques to study these microbial communities and their genes, which collectively are known as the microbiome.

The Human Microbiome Project (HMP) was launched by NIH in 2007 to characterize the microbes found in different regions of the body, including the nose, mouth, skin, digestive tract and vagina. Researchers from almost 80 universities and scientific institutions described 5 years of research in a series of coordinated reports published online on June 13, 2012, in Nature and several journals in the Public Library of Science.

The scientists studied the microbes of 242 healthy adult volunteers by collecting tissue from 15 body sites in men and 18 in women. The sites included the nose, mouth, skin, stool from the lower intestine, and 3 vaginal sites in women. Bacteria were identified by extracting DNA from each sample and then analyzing a bacteria-specific gene called the 16S ribosomal RNA gene. The researchers also did more complete sequencing for about 800 reference strains.

The scientists found that more than 10,000 microbial species occupy the human body. They estimated that the microbiome provides more genes that contribute to human survival than the human genome itself provides (8 million vs. 22,000). Humans need bacterial genes to aid in basic processes such as digestion.

A surprising finding involved microbial metabolism. “It appears that bacteria can pinch hit for each other,” says Dr. Curtis Huttenhower of Harvard School of Public Health and lead co-author for one of the papers in Nature. “It matters whether the metabolic function is present, not which microbial species provides it.”

Several clinical studies using project data have been completed. Researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine, for example, compared changes in the vaginal microbiome of 24 pregnant women with 60 women who weren't pregnant. They found less species diversity in the pregnant women. This suggests that the vaginal microbiome may have evolved to make a healthier passage for the newborn.

In another study, researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine explored the human virome, the viral component of the human microbiome. They analyzed viruses in the blood and nasal swabs of children with unexplained fevers, a common problem in children under 3. Feverish children had nasal samples with up to 5 times more viral DNA than children without fever. This suggests that a quick test for viral load may help children avoid potentially harmful antibiotic treatment for a fever caused by viruses. 

“Enabling disease-specific studies is the whole point of the Human Microbiome Project,” says Dr. Barbara Methé of the J. Craig Venter Institute, lead co-author for one of the Nature papers. “Now that we understand what the normal human microbiome looks like, we should be able to understand how changes in the microbiome are associated with, or even cause, illnesses.”

Related Links

References: Nature. 2012 Jun 13;486(7402):215-21. doi: 10.1038/nature11209. PMID: 22699610 
Nature. 2012 Jun 13;486(7402):207-14. doi: 10.1038/nature11234. PMID: 22699609
PLoS One. 2012;7(6):e27735. Epub 2012 Jun 13. PMID: 22719819
PLoS One. 2012;7(6):e36466. Epub 2012 Jun 13. PMID: 22719832


https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/healthy-human-microbiome



Posted in:Healthy Home and tagged: microbiome
Posted by Dan Howard on June 13th, 2017 9:22 PMLeave a Comment

Moss Wall Cleans Air

Note by your blogger..........This news story begs the question: Why don’t talk about using plants that depend of CO2 to live to clean up the air created by burning the fossil fuels created by the cleaning of the air of CO2 to make the fossil fuel? It is all part of how the universe works.


This 'tree' has the Environmental Benefits of a Forest

By Chris Giles, CNN

Updated 9:51 PM ET, Wed June 7, 2017

The "CityTree" has the same environmental impact of up to 275 normal urban trees. Using moss cultures that have large surface leaf areas, it captures and filters toxic pollutants from the air.

Story highlights

·         Urban installation uses moss to remove pollutants from air

·         It offers the environmental benefit of 275 trees, its makers say

(CNN)Air pollution is one of the world's invisible killers.

It causes seven million premature deaths a year, making it the largest single environmental health risk, according to the World Health Organization.

In urban areas, air quality is particularly problematic. More than 80% of people living in areas where pollution is monitored are exposed to air quality levels that exceed WHO limits. And given that by 2050 two thirds of the global population will be urban, cleaning up our cities' air is a matter of urgency.

One well-established way to reduce air pollutants is to plant trees, as their leaves catch and absorb harmful particulates.

But planting new trees is not always a viable option.

That's why the "CityTree", a mobile installation which removes pollutants from the air, has been popping up in cities around the world, including Oslo, Paris, Brussels and Hong Kong

Each CityTree is just under 4 meters tall, nearly 3 meters wide and 2.19 meters deep, available in two versions: with or without a bench. A display is included for information or advertising. 

Berlin-based Green City Solutions claims its invention has the environmental benefit of up to 275 actual trees.

But the CityTree isn't, in fact, a tree at all -- it's a moss culture.

"Moss cultures have a much larger leaf surface area than any other plant. That means we can capture more pollutants," said Zhengliang Wu, co-founder of Green City Solutions.

The CityTree includes Wi-fi enabled sensors that measure the local air quality.

The huge surfaces of moss installed in each tree can remove dust, nitrogen dioxide and ozone gases from the air. The installation is autonomous and requires very little maintenance: solar panels provide electricity, while rainwater is collected into a reservoir and then pumped into the soil.

To monitor the health of the moss, the CityTree has sensors which measure soil humidity, temperature and water quality.

"We also have pollution sensors inside the installation, which help monitor the local air quality and tell us how efficient the tree is." Wu said.

Its creators say that each CityTree is able to absorb around 250 grams of particulate matter a day and contributes to the capture of greenhouse gases by removing 240 metric tons of CO2 a year.

 


Posted in:Healthy Home and tagged: Clean air
Posted by Dan Howard on June 12th, 2017 7:47 AMLeave a Comment

The shaded areas show approximate regions where certain disease-causing fungi are known to live or are suspected to live.

1.    Where do you live and travel? Fungi that can cause serious infections are more common in some parts of the world and in some parts of United States. For example, the fungus that causes Valley fever (also called coccidioidomycosis) is found mainly in the southwestern United States.

2.    What types of activities are you doing? Harmful fungi can be found in air, dust, and soil. Histoplasma grows especially well in soil that contains bird or bat droppings. Activities like digging, gardening, cleaning chicken coops, and visiting caves can result in you breathing in fungi that may cause infection.

3.    Do you have a dog or cat? People can get ringworm from their pets. Dogs and cats with ringworm sometimes have circular, hairless patches on their skin or other types of rashes. Adult animals do not always show signs of ringworm infection.

4.    Have you recently taken antibiotics? Antibiotics can make women more likely to get vulvovaginal candidiasis, also known as a vaginal yeast infection. Women who are pregnant and have weakened immune systems also are more likely to get this condition. Men also can get genital candidiasis.

5.    Are you taking any medications that affect your immune system? Medications used to treat conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus may weaken your immune system and increase the chance of getting a fungal infection.

6.    Are you living with HIV/AIDS? People living with HIV/AIDS may be more likely to get fungal infections. Two well-known fungal infections associated with HIV/AIDS in the United States are oral candidiasis (thrush) and Pneumocystis pneumonia. Worldwide, cryptococcal meningitis is a major cause of illness in people living with HIV/AIDS.

7.    Will you be hospitalized? In the United States, one of the most common bloodstream infections in hospitalized patients is caused by a fungus called CandidaCandida normally lives in the gastrointestinal tract and on skin without causing any problems, but it can enter the bloodstream during a hospital stay and cause infection.

8.    Have you recently had a transplant? People who have recently had an organ transplant or a stem cell transplant have a greater chance of developing a fungal infection while their immune systems are weakened. Doctors prescribe antifungal medication for some transplant patients to prevent fungal infections from developing.

9.    Are you receiving chemotherapy or radiation treatments? Cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy and radiation, weakens your immune system and may increase the chance you will get a fungal infection.

10.  Do you have symptoms of pneumonia that are not getting better with antibiotics? Fungal infections, especially lung infections like Valley feverhistoplasmosis, and aspergillosis, can have similar symptoms as bacterial infections. However, antibiotics don’t work for fungal infections. Early testing for fungal infections reduces unnecessary antibiotic use and allows people to start treatment with antifungal medication, if necessary.

Anyone can get a fungal infection. You can learn more about the signs, symptoms, and treatment of fungal infections and get prevention tips by visiting CDC’s fungal diseases website and by talking with your healthcare provider.


Posted in:Healthy Home and tagged: InfectionFungalFAQ
Posted by Dan Howard on June 9th, 2017 9:01 PMLeave a Comment

            There is great irony in this tearful saga. Mold is needed to make the cheese that made the dip that stained the shirt, that needs anti-stain treatment………in the flooded house that Dan did not build.
Click Here to Download a .PDF Copy as Printed

           It started with a wonderful Sunday dinner out with the kids and grandson. It was a good meal, pleasant restaurant, great time. The appetizer was a very tasty, yet gooey cheese and spinach sauce with chunks of bread for dipping into that delightful cheese mixture.  One of my “dips” turned into a “drop” between the plate and my mouth. Oops!

           On the way home from dinner, my wife and I discuss what she thought I should write about tonight. She usually has the inside story on what readers would be thinking about. I deadline on this article tomorrow. She has a couple of greatly appreciated suggestions.

           We pull into our driveway and realize that we had missed a heavy rain storm. The newly planted flowers were laying on their sides in exhaustion from the drenching. Great! They will stand up again and I get out of watering them today.

           Please let me explain in my own defense. This is a new “home to us” and I have not yet learned everything about the place.  On this glorious evening, I learn that when there is a very hard storm, water comes under the basement door and spreads across the basement.

What Does a Mold Expert Do When It is His House That Floods?

           Back to the stain on my shirt. I walk downstairs into the basement while taking my shirt off. (Multi-tasking). I realize that as I step onto the concrete floor, there was a “slosh” noise, not the leather shoe on concrete shuffle appropriate for a multitasking senior with his shirt halfway over his head.

           Recognizing that multi-tasking was not getting me where I want to go, I complete the easiest task at hand and finish taking the shirt off and the spot stain treated. ü

           I start a new “to do” list based upon my discovery of why the shoes made a slosh instead of a shuffle. The next step is to consult a mold or disaster recovery professional. Oh, that’s me. ü

         I look around to see why there is water on the floor and if whatever that cause is, whether it has stopped. I know that if the source of water has not ended, stopping the water leak is the next step.

         The water leaked under the basement door.  The rain has stopped and therefore the cause of the water event is ended. That is good news. ü

         Triple check that there is not an electrical potential hazard relating to the abundant pool of water in the area affected by water. (üüü)

         If there is a potential electrical hazard such as wet walls with outlets or an extension cord lying in the water I must exercise great caution. The choice is to safely turn off the electricity or think of the Jaws movie and stay out of the water.

         I remove anything that is still absorbing water and is being damaged because of standing water. That would include the cardboard box of decorations that was moved downstairs two days ago because the kitchen cabinets are being delivered tomorrow. ü

         Next step is to get out the “wet and dry shop vac” and begin to sucking up the standing water. ü

         I sadly observe that the shop vac first had water moving toward the wand, and then running back onto the floor from the end of the wand. Note that water went up the hose at first and then……when about a cup of water was drawn up, that water was running back out of the wand. It was like watching someone going up the first section of a two-level escalator and then turning around and going back down the escalator rather than to the top section of the upper floor.

         I remind myself, to not panic when realizing that the nice easy to carry shop vac that was purchased because it was small and light is not strong enough to suck a pool of water in a basement. ü

         Go to “Plan B” and take the top off of the floor drain. Grab a broom and sweep water into the floor drain. ü  

          It is time to take photos of the current condition and be grateful that your wife does not upload a YouTube viral video of your panic and frantic efforts to this point. ü

          Next step? Throw out the very few wet cardboard boxes. Be grateful that you are a mold aware person who knows that basement storage should be plastic bins and not cardboard. Cardboard is the “Breakfast of Champions” for mold. odor and wood destroying insects. ü

          Without standing in any water, set up the dehumidifier placing the water drain hose into the floor drain.  ü

         Find a shirt that does not have an appetizer stain front and center. Put on the clean shirt realizing that you sadly are not a good sight to see when bare chested. ü

         Be grateful that you have caught the water problem before it did any damage.  Consult with your environmental person. In this particular case, this is accomplished by inward reflection: “self…..have you followed the proper procedures?”  if not, go do what you should have done.

        After the panic and work, go write the article due in the morning.  

In summary, when faced with and unexpected and unwanted water event:

·         Identify the source of the leak

·         Stop the source of the leak

·         If beyond what you can handle, call a professional

·         Document conditions for insurance

·         Verify that electricity isn’t a hazard

·         Remove anything that can be damaged by the water contact and dry it

·         Remove, sweep or suction standing water

·         Dehumidify

·         If you can’t dehumidify, open windows

·         Realize that you have 24 to 48 to dry out before mold is a problem

·         When appropriate, seek professional drying services

·         Focus on the fact that mold and odors can damage health and the value of a home

 

Use the checklist above to make sure everything is done as it should be Check

Oh, one last thing on my list …..Install an exterior drain or concrete curb so that this doesn’t ever happen again!


Posted in:Healthy Hom and tagged: Moldflood
Posted by Dan Howard on June 8th, 2017 9:38 PMLeave a Comment

June 2nd, 2017 10:12 PM

Get a quick glimpse of some of the most important ways to protect your home from mold by touring the Mold House. Room-by-room, you'll learn about the key problem areas and how to address them.

Take the interactive house tour or view the Text Version below.

On this page:

Living Room

Livingroom Wall growing mold

Living Room Wall

Hidden leaks can cause condensation or wet spots on walls and can also lead to mold growth in many places, such as behind walls. A professional can help you find the cause of a hidden leak and fix the problem.

Livingroom Window growing mold

Living Room Window

Condensation on windows can be a sign of high indoor humidity, which has many possible causes and should be investigated.

Top of Page


Bathroom

Shower growing mold

Shower

Excessive moisture can cause mold to grow in the bathroom. Run the bathroom exhaust fan or open the window when showering.

Top of Page


Roof/Bedroom

Inside roof showing signs of leaks

Roof

Don't ignore wet spots or water stains. Consult with a professional to fix leaks or water damage quickly, or the problem will get worse.

Bedroom Corner growing mold

Bedroom Corner

Water from a roof leak has seeped into a wall, causing the paint to buckle and peel. Do not paint over wet or moldy walls. First, fix the water problem, and then paint.

Bedroom Closet growing mold

Bedroom Closet

High room humidity can cause mold to grow on many items indoors, including furnishings or clothing. To help prevent mold growth, try to keep the indoor humidity below 60%, ideally between 30 and 50%. If it isn't humid outside, open windows or doors to allow fresh air in.

Top of Page


Kitchen

Kitchen Wall growing mold

Kitchen Wall

Cooking and washing dishes can increase humidity. Use a stove's exhaust hood to draw heat, moisture and other contaminants out of the kitchen. Exhaust hoods should be vented to the outdoors.

Mold growing inside a kitchen cabinet

Kitchen Cabinets

Leaking pipes under the kitchen sink can lead to mold growth in areas such as walls or cabinets. Leaking pipes should be fixed by a plumber or other qualified professional.

Top of Page


Basement

Dehumidifier being used to keep moisture levels low in a basement

Dehumidifier

If a room such as a basement is too humid, use a dehumidifier to help prevent mold growth. Be sure to clean the dehumidifier regularly and follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions.

Top of Page


Laundry Room

Mold growing on a laundry room ceiling

Dryer Venting

Improperly vented clothes dryers will increase the humidity in the room and may lead to mold growth. Clothes dryers must be vented to the outdoors.

Top of Page


Front Door

Drawing of the Mold House front door

Mold Prevention and Cleanup

Top of Page


Drain Pipe/Yard

Photo of a poorly installed drain pipe

Drain Pipe

Drain gutters are great for getting water away from the foundation of a house. Make sure drain gutters are long enough to drain rain water at least 5 feet away from the foundation.

Photo of foundation regrading to move water awar from the house

Yard

Water pooling around the foundation of a house can lead to indoor moisture problems. The ground near a house should be sloped downward away from the house to drain water away from the foundation.


Posted in:General and tagged: Healthy Home Month
Posted by Dan Howard on June 2nd, 2017 10:12 PMLeave a Comment

There is great irony in this tearful saga. Mold is needed to make the cheese that made the dip that stained the shirt, that needs anti-stain treatment………in the flooded house that Dan did not build.

It started with a wonderful Sunday dinner out with the kids and grandson. It was a good meal, pleasant restaurant, great time. The appetizer was a very tasty, yet gooey cheese and spinach sauce with chunks of bread for dipping into that delightful cheese mixture.  One of my “dips” turned into a “drop” between the plate and my mouth. Oops!

On the way home from dinner, my wife and I discuss what she thought I should write about tonight. She usually has the inside story on what readers would be thinking about. I deadline on this article tomorrow. She has a couple of greatly appreciated suggestions.

We pull into our driveway and realize that we had missed a heavy rain storm. The newly planted flowers were laying on their sides in exhaustion from the drenching. Great! They will stand up again and I get out of watering them today.

Please let me explain in my own defense. This is a new “home to us” and I have not yet learned everything about the place.  On this glorious evening, I learn that when there is a very hard storm, water comes under the basement door and spreads across the basement.

What Does a Mold Expert Do When It is His House That Floods?

Back to the stain on my shirt. I walk downstairs into the basement while taking my shirt off. (Multi-tasking). I realize that as I step onto the concrete floor, there was a “slosh” noise, not the leather shoe on concrete shuffle appropriate for a multitasking senior with his shirt halfway over his head.

Recognizing that multi-tasking was not getting me where I want to go, I complete the easiest task at hand and finish taking the shirt off and the spot stain treated. ü

I start a new “to do” list based upon my discovery of why the shoes made a slosh instead of a shuffle. The next step is to consult a mold or disaster recovery professional. Oh, that’s me. ü

 I look around to see why there is water on the floor and if whatever that cause is, whether it has stopped. I know that if the source of water has not ended, stopping the water leak is the next step.

The water leaked under the basement door.  The rain has stopped and therefore the cause of the water event is ended. That is good news. ü

Triple check that there is not an electrical potential hazard relating to the abundant pool of water in the area affected by water. (üüü)

If there is a potential electrical hazard such as wet walls with outlets or an extension cord lying in the water I must exercise great caution. The choice is to safely turn off the electricity or think of the Jaws movie and stay out of the water.

I remove anything that is still absorbing water and is being damaged because of standing water. That would include the cardboard box of decorations that was moved downstairs two days ago because the kitchen cabinets are being delivered tomorrow. ü

Next step is to get out the “wet and dry shop vac” and begin to sucking up the standing water. ü

I sadly observe that the shop vac first had water moving toward the wand, and then running back onto the floor from the end of the wand. Note that water went up the hose at first and then……when about a cup of water was drawn up, that water was running back out of the wand. It was like watching someone going up the first section of a two-level escalator and then turning around and going back down the escalator rather than to the top section of the upper floor.

I remind myself, to not panic when realizing that the nice easy to carry shop vac that was purchased because it was small and light is not strong enough to suck a pool of water in a basement. ü

Go to “Plan B” and take the top off of the floor drain. Grab a broom and sweep water into the floor drain. ü  

It is time to take photos of the current condition and be grateful that your wife does not upload a YouTube viral video of your panic and frantic efforts to this point. ü

 

Next step? Throw out the very few wet cardboard boxes. Be grateful that you are a mold aware person who knows that basement storage should be plastic bins and not cardboard. Cardboard is the “Breakfast of Champions” for mold. odor and wood destroying insects. ü

Without standing in any water, set up the dehumidifier placing the water drain hose into the floor drain.  ü

Find a shirt that does not have an appetizer stain front and center. Put on the clean shirt realizing that you sadly are not a good sight to see when bare chested. ü

Be grateful that you have caught the water problem before it did any damage.  Consult with your environmental person. In this particular case, this is accomplished by inward reflection: “self…..have you followed the proper procedures?”  if not, go do what you should have done.

After the panic and work, go write the article due in the morning.  

In summary, when faced with and unexpected and unwanted water event:

·         Identify the source of the leak

·         Stop the source of the leak

·         If beyond what you can handle, call a professional

·         Document conditions for insurance

·         Verify that electricity isn’t a hazard

·         Remove anything that can be damaged by the water contact and dry it

·         Remove, sweep or suction standing water

·         Dehumidify

·         If you can’t dehumidify, open windows

·         Realize that you have 24 to 48 to dry out before mold is a problem

·         When appropriate, seek professional drying services

·         Focus on the fact that mold and odors can damage health and the value of a home

 

Use the checklist above to make sure everything is done as it should be Check

Oh, one last thing on my list …..Install an exterior drain or concrete curb so that this doesn’t ever happen again!


Posted by Dan Howard on May 22nd, 2017 4:02 PMLeave a Comment


The door in the picture is the entry door of a building having a mold assessment. SURPRISE! Termites inside the metal door. Yes, the door has metal on the outside, but these doors have wood between the metal faces to allow for installation of hinges and locks using
 carpenter tools for wood.

 

Termites and other wood destroying insects occupy the same place in the eco-system or "universal plan" as does mold. They recycle dead wood and turn it into top soil so that new plants and trees can grow.

 

It’s not that one causes the other. Think of it as they have the same needs to survive and thrive. As an example, we find both desert plants and animals in the same place.

In a damp location with wood fiber, we can find both mold and termites. Now I am not trying to be "Little Miss Mary Sunshine" here........there is a point to this observation.

 

When you have had a termite or other wood destroying insect infestation that requires damp wood, you should have the building also checked for mold. That advice goes the other way too. If you have mold, be on the look-out for wood destroying insects. The earlier you find either a mold or wood destroying insect infestation the less damage and expense will occur.

 

By the way, the door in the picture is hanging and swinging on only the top hinge. When I opened the door, the termites were scurrying to get out of the exposed air and light. 

 

This was an Interesting observation of nature at work. .........and as a science experiment, This wasn’t as delightful as a science experiment for the building owner.


Posted in:Healthy Home and tagged: Moldtermites
Posted by Dan Howard on May 19th, 2017 10:49 AMLeave a Comment

Take the School Lead and Asbestos Awareness Test…… The Kids are Counting on You to Pass Before we Talk Other Less Known Indoor Air Problems 

The Last Day of the School Year Can be the Beginning of Worst Time for the Health of a School Building and Returning Students in the Fall

I bet you have heard the ditty: “No more classes No more books No more teacher’s dirty looks.” Yeh, sure, I know, you never said those words………but you know them.

What happens in the time between the “yippy yea” of end of school and the excitement of a new school year is important. For most students, even if you consider summer breaks, school is the second most important environmental exposure for students after the home. It is in first place of you are looking for the most time spent where the parents don’t have control of the building where their children have exposures. 

The problem is that as the students joyfully run out the front door, there is a set of workers rushing through the back door. They are coming in with deadlines and challenges galore.

It is Complicated

Time limits, budget restrictions, the “surprises” found while projects are being, a lack of knowledge of prior conditions and materials and contractors and staff jostling for access and priorities are all challenges to preventing environmental problems from the work being conducted. 

The staff and contractors have until the students come back to build, paint, remodel, change and manage the building. Their tasks are often from one end of the building to the other and are done without the benefit of a full history of the building and list of all the materials used in prior construction, remodeling and maintenance efforts.  

Unknown or Unrecognized Environmental Hazards

Most parents recognize that lead paint can be a hazard. HUD and the EPA have done excellent work on raising public awareness of this issue. Lead poisoning can affect the brain and neural system of children and leads to permanent damage. It can affect behavior and damages to ability to learn.

Most of us know that most paints before 1978 have lead. What many people do not know is:

·         It was a ban on paint used for residential applications only

·         Lead was still used in commercial paints after that date

·         Lead was in varnish and other finishes in buildings

·         Lead continues to be found in imported painted furnishes and children’s toys    

·         Lead has been found in drinking water

·         Lead dust can accumulate on books stored in closets with peeling paint and other secondary sources.

·         Lead can be found in imported plastic products.

Asbestos is another material that most of us recognize as a potential health risk. Parents know that asbestos is a killer that lurks for decades and can then cause lung cancer. We get that part.

You may picture white powdery cloth like insulation on heating pipes as asbestos. Another source you may think of is old floor tile. You may not know:

·         In the name of public safety, there were laws mandating the use of asbestos as a fire retardant

·         Asbestos fibers were mixed into plaster

·         Suspended ceiling tiles has asbestos fibers added to meet fire retardant requirements  

·         Asbestos was added to paints

·         Panels of asbestos were used as fire breaks above boilers

·         Asbestos insulation was used in building attics and poured into block walls

·         Asbestos was used in roof shingles

·         Asbestos was used in drywall compound

·         Asbestos tape was used to seal ductwork and at openings in fire walls    

·         Some of the floor tiles manufactured today have asbestos in certain colors

·         Asbestos was used in stoves, furnaces, hot water tanks and as wire insulation  

                                                                                 

The point is that each of the environmental risks in a school or other building for that matter may not fall into the list of commonly recognized potentially harmful risks.

We just looked at two areas of environmental hazard. Mold, odor and indoor air quality are every bit as important to our nation’s children. MUCH LESS IS KNOWN BY THE PUBLIC AND WORKMEN ABOUT THESE ISSUES. 

JUST IMAGINE, IF YOU WERE SURPRISED BY SOME OF THE SOURCES OF CONTAMINATION OF THE WELL PUBLICIZED CONTAMINATIONS, WHAT WILL BE UNWITTINGLY PUT INTO YOUR CHILDREN’S AIR BY MAINTENANCE AND BUILDLING PROFESSIONALS THIS SUMMER. 

Remember the workman running through the back door into the building? Professional assessment of the environment can save the health of our kids and avoid costly cleanups.

Give us a call.  Understanding the indoor air environment and keeping people and buildings healthy is what we do.         


Posted by Dan Howard on May 17th, 2017 10:06 PMLeave a Comment

This story starts with a second story window, split open window sill and spaces between the brick openings. These had gone unnoticed before we arrived.  

It appeared that the dining room window was the source of a leak. The actual leak was in a second story window above the dining room. The people who first looked at the dining room mold problem had wrongly assumed that the leak was caused by the dining room window.  It is experience and proper training that teaches us to look at all of the possible sources of leakage above a leak.

(Rule #27: Water goes down-hill and always consider additional possible sources/causes above a leak).   

The homeowner said that water poured through the dining room wall in driving rains. He had he water stains, wet drywall and mold to prove the point. The paper face that is part of the drywall in the room was great food for mold, as was the wood framing inside of the wall.  

By the way, there was visible mold. It was that fuzzy green mold that is typical of bread that has spent about a week too long in the bread drawer. The call was about the mold and remediation. 

There is a very important part of this story that I have not told you yet. One of the homeowners is an organ transplant recipient. What most people don’t know is that patients on immunosuppression therapy (anti organ rejection drugs) are very susceptible to potentially fatal mold health complications.

 

Mold exposure is a big deal in hospitals, but many people are just not aware of the issue. If you think back, you probably remember that mold deaths from hospital mold exposure in organ transplant patients has made the national news. In fact, some of those deaths have recently resulted in  multi-million dollar settlements from hospitals to families of patients who have died from hospital acquired mold exposures.  

Here is What We Know So Far:

·         Mold is very bad for organ transplant patients

·         Water leaks cause mold

·         Even if you clean the mold, it can (will) return if the leak is not resolved  

It would have been the typical procedure of some remediators to clean the mold. Then they would get to another job down the road to come clean the mold again.

This is What Needs Done:

                Test for the amount and type of mold (it is critical to know the risk to transplant patient and others in the home)

                Locate the cause of the water intrusion

                Clean the mold

                Test to make sure the mold is clean. (Mold can be in hidden areas)    

When it is important……Especially, when it is “life or death” important… (but from our perspective the health of all of our clients is important) …………..you need to call experts trained in the science of environmental exposures who know the right path forward. You need and deserve and to have professionals that understand the issues and can get you to a healthy environment.     


Posted in:General and tagged: Moldorgan transplant
Posted by Dan Howard on May 15th, 2017 1:07 PMLeave a Comment

Nah, I am serious. There are mold dogs in many part of the country. In fact, “Cody, The Mold Dog” was quite the competition for mold professionals in the Pittsburgh PA market, at least it seemed at first consideration. Let me start with a little background and then my personal story of competing with “Cody, The Mold Dog”. 

Background Story on Mold Dogs and Mold Dog College

Mold dogs are specifically trained to detect up to 18 types of mold. This should not surprise you.  We have dogs to search for drugs, bombs money, weapons, accelerants, and termites. Makes sense that dogs can be trained to detect mold too.  According to the website http://www.mold-dog.com/about_us_detail.htm, hunting type dogs are best suited for this use. That would include Labs, Border Collies, Jack Russell Terriers, Aussies, Beagles and combinations of these breeds. 

“Buddy the Sheltie” Would Not go to Doggy Mold College

Sadly, our dog, Buddy the Sheltie (Border Collie), never expressed the desire to be a mold dog and join me in the environmental profession. But then again, neither did any of our 6 children. It’s not for a lack of effort on my part. I did mention to Buddy the Sheltie that he was a breed that was well suited to being a mold dog, but that suggestion fell on deaf ears. The training for mold dogs is rigorous and a little mean, and Buddy is a lover, not a workaholic or gluten for punishment.    

Pictured Above----"Buddy the Sheltie" with his friend Noah instead of attending Mold Dog College


“Cody The Mold Dog” Got His Degree and Went into the Mold Business

Let’s get back to my personal story about “Cody, the Mold Dog”. I am sure you have had an occasion that during dealing with someone, you have gotten to a point where they sheepishly admit to having dealt with someone else other than you. That would be “kind a, sort a” like explaining to your friend from grade school why you are trading in a Chevy to purchase a Subaru from them, after calling upon them to give you a good deal because you go way back together. (AWKWARD)

Picture this: I am working with a client with some serious health issues.

As is the practice with good environmental professionals, I explain the test results, why the mold is present and what needs to happen to make sure the mold goes away and does not come back again. All important information for the long-term health of the client and their family. They had serious health problems, and I had his full attention.

Then came the sheepish admission by the client that is the root of this story

Client: “Ummm, ahhhh, I need to admit, I had “Cody, The Mold Dog” here before I called you.     

Me: “OK, how did that work out, I have not personally met Cody”

Client: “Well, I’m very glad I called you. Cody charged me more than you did, and he didn’t talk to me.”

Moral of the Story

                Detecting mold is not enough! The how, why, what, and pathway to a resolution are all important.  Remediators who view their job and telling a client: “Yep, ya got mold and for $xxx. xx I will make it go away” are the real competitors to “Cody the Mold Dog”, not competitors to the quality of mold professionals you need to have a healthy home.

Another Morsel of Wisdom in This Story

By the way, in the long run, the “Cody the Mold Dog” type of remediators may even cost you more than the real professionals. That is especially true when the mold comes back and you need face the health risks of mold exposure and then pay to have the job done again.

Call me, Dan Howard of Envirospect at 724 443 6653 for and assessment and testing if you suspect you have a building that is making you sick. For more information and many free articles relating to a Healthy Home, go to:  www.envirpsect.info  or follow on Twitter @DanHoward251



Posted in:Healthy Home and tagged: MoldtestingMold dog
Posted by Dan Howard on May 12th, 2017 3:10 PMLeave a Comment

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