The television show GMA
Investigates randomly went to 8 homes to test 8 pillows. The lab that tested
the pillows found bacteria, fungus, mold and dust mites. One pillow was found
to have fecal coliform.
The problem is that we sweat, drool
and deposit dead skin in our pillows every time we use them. This is wonderful
food for all of the nasty organic things found on the pillows that were
Reading/watching this report makes
me very glad we just purchased “My Pillows” that can be thrown into the clothes
washing machine. The other option? Purchase a new pillow every 2 years or less.
For the video of the investigation,
Ladies Home Journal pointed out that when we flush the commode, the moving water sends a bacteria filled mist into the air. This mist can have mold, germs, bacteria and when you inhale the mist you can become infected with whatever the organic things that are living in your toilet tank.
The mist from flushing can travel several feet, which is within range of your nostrils which are connected to your lungs. YUCK! Tank mist in our lungs? Yuck again.
We have learned that the mist from showers, sink sprayers and water fountains can be a source of Legionella infections. To be honest about it, that snippet is in an environmental class I teach. Based upon the studies that go with that information. this toilet mist health issue does make sense.
We all love simple answers. Put the lid and the seat down on the toilet and avoid breathing in this stuff. I automatically put the seat down to continue “domestic tranquility”. Adding the lid to that deeply imbedded ritual of putting the seat down is easy.
While on the subject of sprays, and things I never thought through: Kenneth Rosenman, MD, Chief Occupational and Environmental Medicine at Michigan State University has another eye-opening gem.
The use of sanitizing wipes or cleanser and a rag are safer than sprays of cleaners and disinfectant.
Some of the sprays are harsh on human tissue. If the warning label says to wear gloves because it can affect your skin, the little mist sure could burn lung tissue.
The American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care publishes a study indicating that the use of household cleaning sprays and air fresheners can raise the risk of developing Asthma by 100 to 200 percent. Many people are allergic to the chemicals in the products.
I came across this radon installation while doing a mold assessment. I asked the homeowner if they ever had the home tested after it was installed. I mentioned that I would be surprised of the radon level was not elevated by this system. That got a: “Funny you should ask” response. She went on: “Yes, it did go up, but the installer did not understand why”
Let me count the ways that this installation is wrong:
By the way, PA is a radon license state. Surprise: the installer did not have a license (or any common sense)
Craft Supplies and Dark Colored Plastics and Toys Even the products labeled “nontoxic” can contain solvents that are dangerous when inhaled. Many glues, paints, markers and other craft supplies contain solvents that can be dangerous particularly to children. Many imported products such as jewelry kits, makeup, plastic parts that can be chewed and paints contain lead which can do serious damage to children’s health. When the author purchased a “Thomas the Tank” wooden train set (an expensive gift) the wooden pieces that my grandson was likely to put in his mouth at that age tested positive for lead. Dust from an artificial Christmas tree is another example of high lead content when tested by this professional.Common Household Chemicals Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are chemicals released by many common products that you use in your home. Cleaners containing Pinene as the cleaner would be one example. Cleaning chemicals that contain ammonia or chlorine can also be a problem. These can cause headaches, nausea, sore throats or runny eyes. Babies are often most at risk as these chemicals are usually more concentrated near the ground.
Craft Supplies and Dark Colored Plastics and Toys Even the products labeled “nontoxic” can contain solvents that are dangerous when inhaled. Many glues, paints, markers and other craft supplies contain solvents that can be dangerous particularly to children. Many imported products such as jewelry kits, makeup, plastic parts that can be chewed and paints contain lead which can do serious damage to children’s health. When the author purchased a “Thomas the Tank” wooden train set (an expensive gift) the wooden pieces that my grandson was likely to put in his mouth at that age tested positive for lead. Dust from an artificial Christmas tree is another example of high lead content when tested by this professional.
Formaldehyde and Furniture, Cabinets and Other Construction ProductsCabinets, furnishings, flooring products, construction components, draperies and many other examples can contain formaldehyde. This is one of the simplest organic chemicals and off gasses as the solvent used in production and as a byproduct of more complex chemicals breaking down. It is an irritant that children are especially a risk from serious health problems due to exposure.
New CarpetWe all know about “new carpet smell”. Padding and adhesives can give off harmful gasses. One solution is the purchase of low VOC carpet and padding. Another solution is to have the carpet rolled out in another well-ventilated location for several weeks before installation. Install the carpet at a time of year that windows can be kept open to air out the carpet and pad.
Paint, Paint Thinners and StrippersUse only low VOC paints and paint at time that windows can be left open. Do not store solvents in the home, These can off-gas from sealed cans.
Yard Chemicals and Gas Cans Pesticides, fertilizers, gasoline and other yard chemicals can off gas through the containers. Even when stored in a basement or attached garage those fumes can be pulled into the living space of the home,
Second Hand and Third Hand Smoke Second hand smoke refers to the exposure to smoke by the non-smoker in the home. Third hand is exposure to the many toxic chemicals from smoking that are absorbed by carpets, furniture, clothing and other objects that children and other people can absorb as they come in contact with these materials. As with so many exposures, children are most at risk from this hazard
Improperly Installed or Operating Gas Appliances Let me count the ways for exposure to from problem gas appliances. Stoves emit combustion gases. Misuse or dirty burners can be toxic. Poorly or improperly vented clothes dryers and hot water tanks can create a toxic environment. Improper heating systems can result in combustion fumes throughout a building.
Air FreshenersIn one study, one third of people with Asthma reported that they had breathing problems when exposed to air fresheners. Google the MSDS list of chemicals in some of these common products and you will be amazed at home many chemicals are found in each.
You are just trying to keep your child from having an Asthma attack. You run around in circles because there is real confusion about the right and wrong things to do to minimize dust and allergens
Dust the furniture with Pledge? Is your carpet sweeper putting allergens in the air? Open the window or shut the window? Does cooking raise the humidity in the home? Is there a furnace filter that works better than others? Is the air purifier improving the air of stirring up more dust with its fan?
It is difficult for us to know the right things to do to reduce allergens for a number of reasons
· Allergens are often too small for us to see with our eyes.
· There is a natural delay in how people react to allergens making sorting out cause and effect difficult to figure out.
· We do a lot of different things in a day often creating confusion as to which event caused which allergy or asthma attack problem.
· There is a pile of contradictory and confusing information floating about the internet.
The answer to sorting out the best way to answer the allergen reduction questions is a continuous particle and humidity monitor like the Speck Monitor. Their website says it better than I can:
“Fine particles are so small that they are invisible to the naked eye, but large enough to lodge deep into our lungs, get into our bloodstream, and cause illnesses such as asthma, heart disease, chronic bronchitis, emphysema and pneumonia. Speck was developed to help you monitor the actions that take place at home, work, or school and empower you to make changes to improve your personal air quality!”
They also have a well-done video on the their website ( www.SpeckSensor.com ) that perfectly makes the argument that their monitor and its data collection, display and charting capabilities are well worth the $200.00 investment. By the way, the monitor can upload data and it can be stored on a personal data account at their website.
There are other brands of monitors available with similar features. The bottom line is that a home is a complicated place and how and what we do in that building is even more complicated.
The possible list of symptoms of Multiple Chemical
Sensitivity a/k/a Sick Building Syndrome or Environmental Illness is almost endless - varies from one
patient to the next. Also worthy of mention here is the fact that there is no
sharp demarcation between the symptoms of MCS and those of ME/CFS/CFIDS/PVFS
(myalgic encephalomyelitis - chronic fatigue), but that most sufferers of MCS
complain of at least several of the following:
Well, if you think about it, that may be precisely what you are doing when it comes to mold and allergens. Really, would you allow a poisonous snake to bite you just because you had the anti-venom?
As an example, when you take anti-histamines without removing the cause of your body producing the histamines, your body continues to try to convince you to stay away from m the cause of your bodies’ reactions. You will then need to take more medication, and your body will continue to communicate to you to change the exposure. The best procedure is to try to discover the cause of the problem and correct it. …instead of allowing “the snake to bite you and then taking the anti-venom”.
A lack of fresh air is a common problem in finished
basements and new energy efficient construction. This is a great article
explaining the choice of methods to add the fresh air we need for a healthy
Ventilation is a great thing. Bringing outdoor
air into the home and exhausting stale indoor air improves indoor air
quality. Well, most of the time anyway. Sometimes the
outdoor air quality is worse than indoor air. Sometimes you bring in too much
humidity and start growing mold. And sometimes you bring in the wrong outdoor
A lack of fresh air is a common problem in finished
basements and new energy efficient construction. This is a great article
explaining the choice of methods to add the fresh air we need for a healthy
Probably the most common type of whole-house
mechanical ventilation system in homes is an exhaust-only system. You put some
controls on the exhaust fans that are already in the home and those fans are
set to exhaust stale air from the home, either continuously or intermittently.
The problem is this type of system sucks. Literally. And if your house is
sucking from an attached garage, a moldy crawl space, or dirty attic, you could
be making things worse.
The way to avoid having a house that sucks is
to do balanced ventilation. You exhaust stale air from the house and you supply
an equal amount of air directly rather than relying on the negative pressure of
the house to bring in the outdoor air. Here are five ways to do balanced
ventilation. I've put them in increasing order of cost, complexity, and
1. Open the windows
OK, technically I shouldn't include this one
because it's not a real solution for most homes. This one works only if the
home is in a mild climate that needs to little to no conditioning. But if
that's your situation, you don't need a fancy ventilation system. Just open the
2. Pair a central-fan
integrated supply system with the exhaust fans
A lot of homes get exhaust-only whole-house
ventilation (fans plus controls). One easy way to upgrade is to install a
central-fan integrated supply system to complement the exhaust-only side. The
two most commonly used controls for this are made by AirCycler and Honeywell.
These systems are integrated with the blower
in the central heating and cooling system. They bring in outdoor air when the
system is running and mix it with the indoor air circulating through the duct
system. It gets filtered and conditioned before being introduced into the home.
When tied to the exhaust-only controls, you get balanced ventilation.
The main drawback of this system is energy use
in systems that don't have variable speed blowers. In addition to bringing in
fresh air when the system is heating or cooling, it can turn the blower on when
the home doesn't need heating or cooling. And some blowers use a lot of power.
Turning on a 400 watt fan to bring in 50 cubic feet per minute of outdoor air
is overkill. If you have a high-efficiency heating and cooling system with a
variable speed blower, you should be able to do this at less than 50 watts.
And another drawback, pointed out by Curt
Kinder in the first comment below, is moisture. In a humid climate, running the
blower without the compressor on can evaporate moisture on the coil and put it
back into the home.
3. Pair a supply fan
with the exhaust fans
Another way to get balanced ventilation is to
use the exhaust fans with controls and also install a supply fan. You can do
this with a bath fan installed to blow air into the home or you can use a fan
made specially for this task. I'm thinking of the QuFresh fan made by Air King.
They have two basic models. One has a sensor
for temperature and relative humidity, and the other does not. The purpose of
the sensor is to limit the amount of ventilation when it's really cold, really
hot, or really humid outside. It'll still run 15 minutes an hour so you'll keep
getting some ventilation air.
I like the concept and the features in the
QuFresh fan. I haven't had a chance to try one out yet, but they do a lot of
good things. You can adjust the flow rate from 30 to 130 cfm. It has a slot for
a 2 inch filter that could be up to MERV 13. It's quiet (0.5 sone at 50 cfm).
And it's relatively inexpensive.
3a. Pair a ventilating
dehumidifier with the exhaust fans
OK. This really should be number 4, not 3a,
but somehow I didn't think about it when I put my list together at first. The
strategy here is to use controls on your exhaust fans, as in the previous two,
and supply your ventilation air through a whole-house dehumidifier. Many models
allow you to do this by providing two intake ports on the dehumidifier, the smaller
of which attaches to a duct that goes to the outdoors. We like Ultra-Aire but you can also
find good models from AprilAire, Honeywell, and others. (Disclosure:
Therma-Stor, which makes Ultra-Aire dehumidifiers, advertises here in the
Energy Vanguard Blog.)
One drawback of dehumidifiers is the heat they
put into your home. The Ultra-Aire model SD12 eliminates that problem by being a split-system
dehumidifier. It removes the humidity indoors but puts the heat outdoors. That
means it even provides a bit of cooling (about a third of a ton).
4. Use a heat or energy
recovery ventilator (HRV or ERV)
This is what most people think of when someone
mentions balanced ventilation. The photo at the top of the article shows the
inside of a typical ERV. (An HRV looks the same but uses a different material
in the heat exchanger.)
The operation is simple. It has two fans, one
to exhaust stale indoor air, one to bring in fresh outdoor air. It filters both
air streams. The two air streams pass through a heat exchanger, a capillary
core in most models. The two air streams pass near each other and exchange heat
in an HRV and heat and moisture in an ERV. But the two air streams don't mix.
This is a great way to ventilate a home. It's
also more expensive than the ones above. Panasonic does have a small
"spot" ERV called the Whisper Comfort, but aside from that model, you're probably looking at $1,000
or more for an ERV or HRV. The biggest difference between this type of balanced
ventilation and the previous two is the heat exchanger. You get balanced
ventilation with recovery, which means you don't need to do as much
conditioning of the outdoor air you bring in.
There's your quick rundown of the main ways to
do balanced ventilation. We're seeing a lot of creativity in the ventilation
market these days because ventilation is a big deal. I think we've gotten to
the point where we rarely have to fight the battle about the need for airtight
houses. The old myth that a house
needs to breathe, while not completely
gone, has mostly been relegated to the dustbin of bad thinking.
One more thing. I was going to make this a
list of five ways to do balanced ventilation but decided to save the other one
for a separate article. Going a step beyond the ERV, you could go with a
souped-up ERV. There are two companies making devices that include balanced
ventilation with recovery, a small heat pump, better filtration, and more. One
is the Conditioning ERV, or CERV, by Build
Equinox. The other is the Minotair by
Ventilation Inside Conditioned Space
Adventures in Hotel
An Energy Recovery
Ventilator Is NOT a Dehumidifier
Why Do Airtight Homes
Need Mechanical Ventilation?
first answer the question as to why you should care about mold being brought
into your home from overseas.
and storage areas are often the environment where a mold contamination starts.
There tends to be less air movement in closets and items piled together. It is also a place where contents often sit
for extended time without being looked at.
leather items as an example. Leather, which is dead animal skin is a great food
for mold, Put a contaminated purse or shoes next to your other shoes, purses or
golf bag next to the contaminated items and the mold spreads.
of your home, mold growth on imported products is also a major problem. It
can affect the bottom line of manufacturers, vendor suppliers, warehouses,
wholesalers, distributors, and retailers. Millions of dollars are lost every
year to mold growth.
more important problem is the effect that these products can have on health
shipping process exposes products to moisture and condensation. Products of
organic materials such as clothes, leather products, wooden products can
develop mold anywhere from the foreign production line to the destination home
in the United States.
can be exposed to moisture while on shipping ships, docks, in storage
containers, in warehouses, shipping trailers, warehouse distribution centers,
home delivery services or in stores.
Products Prone to Mold Growth
mold will grow on a wide range of products including wooden pallets; leather
products, textile, food products and paper goods are especially prone to mold
growth. This is because these materials not only readily absorb or adsorb the
moisture but they are also a ready source of nutrients for mold growth.
Many Moldy Products can be Salvaged
some mold may be visible on a product, it does not necessarily mean that the
product has been damaged. Many products can be cleaned and restored to original
condition. The important issue to consider is not storing the item with other
valuables that can become moldy
For more information
about what to do with mold damaged contents, go to the number one question in
the article: goo.gl/1tgWo1
The driveway slopes down-hill from the street to the garage door.
Mold is leaking under the garage door and across the floor to the drywall covered wall between the house and the garage.
The homeowners paid a contractor to cut out the driveway and install a drain and grid along the door to catch the driveway water. The drain stops short of the edge of the garage door opening, and the end is the low spot. The water leaks under the door in the area where the drain is not installed
Another contractor was paid to install a sump pump drain basin into the garage floor. They cut a hole in the lid of the sump to collect water leaking under the door and across the garage floor.
That water is not going into the hole in the drain. The garage floor slopes from the corner of the garage with the sump toward the drywall covered wall.
THE DRYWALL IS GETTING WET AND THERE IS MOLD
What we have here are two contractors that are not considering that the flow of water is from high area to low area. The use of common sense and a level would have given the customer, (the homeowner) value for the money spent in that they would not be having mold issues that someone else will need paid to correct.
Understanding the downward flow of water should be a consideration of a contractor before the flow of money from homeowner to contractor occurs.