Environmental Issue & Sick Building Syndrome Blog

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

We often get asked about the Petri Dish mold test kits you find in hardware stores, grocery stores and the like. You’ve seen these hanging on racks at the end of aisles. They are the colorful packages showing gross mold pictures calling your name to come purchase. Just to add insult to injury, the plastic packs they come in will require a machete and crowbar to open.  

 

They are inexpensive. Actually, let’s call it as it is, as compared to a professional mold assessment they are downright cheap.

The problem is that they provide as little useful information as they cost.

There are a bunch of reasons for their being next to useless (except to the people selling them as this is a multimillion dollar business).

 

Only about 10% of all molds will grow on any culture medium many molds will only grow on specific cultures. There are literally hundreds of culture media mycologists have developed to try to coax mold to grow in the laboratory. When we order cultures, we are offered have pages of choices for use in hundreds of situations. What this means is that you are potentially missing 90% of the molds that could be growing in the area being tested. You’ve heard the old saying, “you don’t know what you don’t know” and that may be essential information to correct the mold issue in your property.

 

The rate and area that mold spores fall is irregular and not representative of the area being tested. When a Petri dish culture is set out, the character of the air currents and ability of different size and shape spores to travel is not predicable or certain. Think of it like the spore population gets on an airplane, but you do not know where they are going to land and can’t predict what gate in which city they are going to land. In that case, you can’t place the Petri dish where it needs to be to meet the spore traps “at the gate”

 

The Petri Dish sample does not tell you how much of a mold is in the area. Last year I sowed zinnias in 3 separate pots, side by side. They were sitting on the patio with the same amount of light, water and temperature. The Zinnias grew at different rates in each pot. The variable was the soil in each. One had fresh soil and the others I had not changed the soil in the pots from the previous year. The amount of time that the Petri dish spends in the store and your home before use, and the temperature can affect the growth rate. The suitability of the agar for each mold growing in the Petri dish will also affect growth rate.

 

Simply put: How much and what type of mold is critical to understand if there is a problem in a building that requires remediation and to determine the type of appropriate remediation scope and products. The mold professional also needs to understand the materials and methods of construction and location of the underlying causes of the mold contamination to make sure that the mold does not come back.  

Conclusion

Save yourself the $10.00 for the test kit and $30.00-$40.00 and up lab fee.  

A site assessment and air testing are critical to resolving mold issues so that they do not return. The “Do-It-Yourself” kit does not reliably offer you any of that information. We want your home to be healthy and stay that way.      


Posted in:Healthy Home and tagged: DIYMold inspection
Posted by Dan Howard on May 10th, 2017 11:28 AMLeave a Comment

The issue of needing healthy classrooms concerns most of us. They are essential for quality comprehension and education as well the welfare of your youth.

 

One of many examples is lead poisoning. The ingestion of lead from peeling paint affects the soft tissue of a child. It can permanently affect the IQ of a child and cause behavioral problems that affect them the rest of their life. Ingestion can be secondary from hidden causes. It could be dust from the paint in the closet where classroom books are stored over the summer.  Lead dust can come from peeling paint scrapings when a cafeteria is painted or on china plates used to serve lunches. The source can be imported plastic toys in a kindergarten. There are a host of other potential issues including pesticide residues, radon, fumes from idling buses, mold, CO or CO2.    

 

We know that there are classrooms and school buildings that are making our children sick. Parents and teachers often do not know where to start to identify or correct the situation.

 

That is nothing new. We tend to think that today’s problem is a new problem, and often it isn’t. The quote below “says it all” in that regard.   

 

“In the construction of buildings, whether for public purposes or as dwellings, care should be taken to provide good ventilation and plenty of sunlight….schoolrooms are often faulty in this respect.  Neglect of proper ventilation is responsible for much of the drowsiness and dullness that….make the teacher’s work toilsome and ineffective.”

-Health Reformer, 1871


Posted in:Schools and tagged: MoldLeadhealthyschool
Posted by Dan Howard on May 8th, 2017 10:52 AMLeave a Comment

How could we ignore our children’s health?   

We know enough to want our kids to have a safe and healthy home. We are wise enough to know that being healthy as a child leads to better health as an adult. We have learned that exposing our children to mold, lead, asbestos, radon, VOC’s, pesticides, MRSA and other toxins needs to be stopped. We know that children do not learn as well when they are sick from environmental hazards. We understand the defects like lead that can cause brain damage or mold that can result in a child becoming an asthmatic.


What are we thinking if we are not willing to deal with these issues?

I admit there are barriers to doing a good job in providing healthy buildings for our kids. Together, we need to look at that set of obstacles and get past them.

Barriers to Environmental Health Action

Funding: It takes money to identify and correct the problems

Knowledge: There is a shortage of environmental consultants who are qualified to look at all of the risks  

Inertia: We do things “the way we always have done them.” Change to do new programs often waits until someone becomes seriously ill.    

PR Risk:  It is crazy, but when we identify a problem to fix it, we can get public outrage and negative press. It is easier to turn a blind eye and mot know what is a problem

Untrained staff: The people in the classroom are often not be trained to identify the unhealthy conditions  

Compartmentalized workers:  We look at our own issues. An example: The person in charge of storing books may not recognize lead dust from the peeling paint in the book closet as a hazard.   

No good place to start: Any major effort should have a start and goals.  Where do we find those?

No “band leader””: There needs to be a person who is granted authority to act.

Technician’s treat conditions as events, not deal with the process: An example would be painting over mold so that it is not visible instead of looking for the HVAC, plumbing or roof defect that caused the mold.

This is a daunting list of challenges. We want to start the process of getting past those barriers that can affect the health of our children and solutions to create a healthier environment in our schools

 

Our exposing our youth to mold, lead, asbestos, radon, VOC’s, pesticides, MRSA and other toxins needs to be stopped. It starts with education about these issues and each of us. Check back with us for videos and postings to identifying and solving environmental hazards in schools.    


Posted in:Healthy Home and tagged: Moldasthmaschool
Posted by Dan Howard on May 5th, 2017 3:11 PMLeave a Comment

You have probably seen the pictures of crowds in Japan where there are some of the people are wearing respirator masks. The reason is not what most of us would guess. Americans tend to wear the masks to protect themselves from getting sick from other people if they have immune issues.  

The Japanese culture believes that If you have a contagious illness, as the sick person you have a responsibility to wear the mask to protect the well people.

 

That having been said, here are the public areas you may not have thought about that could be a source of you getting sick with suggestions to avoid the risk.

Doors handles on swinging doors, the button to turn on the hand dryer or the lever to start the paper towel coming out.The best solution for you is to use an elbow or shoulder to open or start these things when you can.  

Keypads.  ATMs, Security Access Pads, elevator buttons, and other such places where hundreds of people touch, but are never cleaned can give you a contagious disease. A pencil of stylus are the best solutions to keeping your fingers from delivering the contamination to your body. If you do touch these things, do not touch you face until you have used a hand sanitizer.        

Menus  Restaurant menus have 100 times more bacteria than a toilet seat, says Charles Gerba, PhD, a microbiologist with the University of Arizona, better known as Dr. Germ. They’re touched by tons, but only wiped down once a day, if that, and usually with a used rag. Instead of washing your hands before you sit down, scrub up after you order. And never lay your silverware on top of the menu.

Drink Garnish Lemons, limes, and other cut-up fruit used on the rims of glasses are not usually cleaned before cutting or handled with freshly washed hands. Many germs including E. coli have been found on these when tested. Order your drinks without the garnish to avoid this exposure. The little decoration is not worth the potentially severe stomach and intestinal issues.   

Public Water Fountains.Did you ever notice the slime that is usually around the hole the water spouts from? If that doesn’t paint the picture, think how many people have turned that handle. Carry your own water bottle and avoid using these fountains.

"Dirty" MoneyThe flu virus can live on a dollar bill for 17 days! But no one uses gloves or tissues to handle money. The answer is to wash your hands after you handle money. There is a very good reason that food workers put on plastic gloves to handle food after they touch money. We need to be just as vigilant and was our hands after handling money, especially when we are eating food we will touch such as a sandwich. 

Shopping Carts  Shopping cart handles can be downright gross. Turns out you’re picking up more than just a loaf of bread. That handle can be swarming with up to 11 million microorganisms, including ones from raw meat. And just think about all the dirty diapers on that seat -- the same one you’re putting your produce on. A lot of grocery stores have antibacterial wipes handy, so use them.

Hotel and Cruise Ships Rooms   You do not know who was the past person in your room or if they had a contagious illness. Door handles, remotes, the sides of the racks you open to pit your suitcase on, the desk, the light switch, the hair dryer…….and on and on. We purchase large wipes before a trip and take 10 minutes to wipe down the touchpoints in a hotel room.    

Swimming Pools and Hot Tubs A pubic pool can have pounds of poop floating around according to Michele Hlavsa, RN, chief of the CDC's Healthy Swimming Program. Little kids can carry as much as 10 grams of leftover feces on their rear ends, she says. They don't make a habit of washing off before jumping in, so all that poop just rinses off into the pool. It adds up, and chlorine doesn't kill everything. The CDC found that more than half of pools test positive for E. coli, which can cause bloody diarrhea. Your best line of defense? Try not to swallow any water.

If that is not enough, consider the hot tub. They can have additional disease organisms such as Legionella. The action of the jets puts those little contagions into the air where you can inhale them and acquire them. There are also other viruses and bacteria that swim in the water and may not be killed because of a low level of chlorine or other disinfectant.

The bottom line is to be aware of the potential for disease exposure in public. Changing a few habits may keep you healthy. This is particularly important in times of high exposure risk such as flu season or on a cruise where Norovirus has broken out.   


Posted in:Healthy Home and tagged: Germspublicnoravirus
Posted by Dan Howard on May 1st, 2017 4:37 PMLeave a Comment

This is a post that I am scratching my head about writing. The question is whether I should risk grossing you out.

On the one hand: “fore warned is for armed.” On the other hand: “ignorance is bliss.” If you read down the list, you will get grossed out as you hit some of the places that there are nasty contaminations, like the ones in your bathtub.   

The short story, anything that people touch can have germs that may make you sick on it. Anything that people can cough or sneeze onto has germs that can make you ill. Anytime you flush, spray or splash, you can spread germs onto things that you trust are clean.  

By the way, not only are all germs are bad, the presence of the ones that are not bad resists the growth of ones that are bad. Think about the good germs as being a rich, full grass lawn. Weeds have a more difficult time growing in a healthy lawn than one that isn’t full and healthy. It’s the same for germs. There are actually proven studies that adding good germs (Probiotics) to surfaces helps resist the growth of harmful germs, bacteria and viruses.

Dirty Places in the Home

Railings: People need railings, particularly the ones that are most susceptible to getting sick from germ exposure. We grab them when we are sick, but very few people ever clean them. Even when we are not sick, we deposit oil and debris from our skin onto the railings which are rich nutrients for when someone who has germs on their hands touched the railing.     

Kitchen Sink: Imagine you drop a piece of fruit into the kitchen sink. Most people would pick it up and eat it without washing it first. Remember draining the “juice” from the raw chicken or beef into the sink last night? How about the food from rinsing your plates before popping them into the dishwasher? The food which can grow bad germs can sit out all night and grow Salmonella or E. coli. Wet dish clothes and sponges are even better places from germs to grow than sink surfaces. Many people use these for days of not weeks at a time without disinfection.

Very often, people do a better job of disinfecting their toilet than they do their kitchen sink. The solution is to sanitize your sink with bleach or other disinfection product. To answer the obvious question, yes, toilet bowl cleaner would do the job. Just make sure you rinse out the residue of the cleaner

.


Tooth Brushes:
Every time you flush the toilet, small particles of moisture go into the bathroom air. They settle on things that are exposed in the bathroom, including your toothbrush. You also have the contamination of the germs in your mouth growing on your toothbrush which can make you ill when your immune system is lowered. Keep tooth brushes away from aerosolized germs and replace toothbrushes often.

Touch Points: So, when was the last time that you cleaned your light switches? It’s a pretty good bet that someone has had a cold or other contamination and turned on the lights since that time. This is one of the many touch points in your home. The handle on the refrigerator, the salt and pepper shakers, the door knobs, the part of chair that you grab to pull out the chair are all touch points. Let’s add a few more like your computer keyboard, remote control, phone, faucets, handle to flush the commode. It would be an impossible battle to keep up with disinfecting all of the touch points. What you can do is wash your hands OFTEN!

Bathtub: Thank you WEBMD for pointing this one out. I had ever thought about the fact wiping with paper does not remove every last bit of fecal matter from the skin. They tell us that: “The place where you clean yourself is not so clean itself. A recent study found staphylococcus  bacteria in 26% of the tubs tested. A separate study had even worse findings for whirlpool tubs. When Texas A&M University microbiologist Rita Moyes, PhD tested 43 water samples from whirlpools, she found that all 43 had mild to dangerous bacterial growth. Almost all showed bacteria from fecal matter; 81% had fungi, and 34% contained staph bacteria.”

Fixtures that Spray Water: This includes your sink spigots, hand sprayers, garden hoses and bathroom tub spouts and showers. The screens and other surfaces of these items accumulate a biofilm that can grow bacteria and other contaminants. The fixtures always spray a fine mist into the air around the fixture We constantly breath those fine mists that we can’t see in and can have the contagions settle and grow in our lungs. We also battle the contaminations that live in the water system. As an example, Legionella can live in hot water tanks set below 140 degrees F.

The bottom line is that we need to be aware of the places germs and other contaminants can live. We need to clean and disinfect these areas, particularly whenever we are avoiding germs from another household member who is ill. In the end, our best defense is to regularly wash our hands.


Posted in:Healthy Home and tagged: houseGerms
Posted by Dan Howard on April 28th, 2017 11:29 AMLeave a Comment

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