Spring is in the air! Unfortunately, that doesn't bring warm and fuzzy feelings to everybody. If you're someone who suffers from allergies in the spring time, you know how these conflicting emotions come into play. We're here with some information on why this happens and how to lessen the impact this spring.
What causes allergy symptoms to rise in the spring, anyway? The most common trigger for these symptoms is the rise of pollen in the air. If you weren't aware, plants in the environment release these small particles into the air to fertilize other plants. When someone is allergic to pollen, breathing it in triggers the release of histamines in the body to protect against the perceived attack to the immune system. This is precisely what gives you those annoying common allergy symptoms such as sniffling, rash, sneezing, eye and throat irritation.
Did you know that indoor and outdoor air quality have an effect on the severity of allergy symptoms? For example, there are other factors that have a negative impact on outdoor air quality such as smoke, emissions, dust, and ozone in the atmosphere. When these combine with high pollen, you're looking at a pretty miserable time for allergy sufferers. This is why you see an increased rate of allergy sufferers in busy city environments with high pollution. It's important for allergy sufferers to reduce their exposure to pollutants, particularly indoors. Since there isn't as much circulation indoors as there is outdoors, improving your indoor air quality should be a top priority if you suffer from allergies.
Mold can also be a cause for allergies. The respiratory irritation that we associate with spring time allergies is another symptom of mold exposure. If there is increased humidity and insufficient circulation of air in your house, it's a good idea to diligently check for mold. It thrives in damp conditions that come with the spring time. There are other possible causes for an increase in symptoms, too. Dust mites are another common indoor allergen that can cause trouble for allergy sufferers!
You don't have to continue suffering through allergy season every year! We all know to keep the windows closed when those high pollen days roll around, but there are also different treatments and ways to prevent it from becoming too intense. Be sure to keep an eye on the pollen count with your favorite weather channel so you're never taken by surprise. Spring cleaning is another way you can tackle indoor allergens head on! Be sure to clean from top to bottom to ensure you're getting all the allergens and dust that escape from surfaces as you're cleaning. Be sure to replace the filters on your furnace, air conditioners, and air purifiers if you have them. It's also a good idea to team up with a local air quality assessor, like AQA, to ensure that you're doing all you can to keep your house free of indoor allergens.
Spring is the perfect time to start off with a fresh slate by ensuring that the surroundings in your home are as clean as possible. But, spring is also a suitable season for mold growth when you consider the increased moisture in the environment. Are you ready to make sure your home is both immaculate and hygienic with the arrival of the new season? Get a head start on your spring cleaning with some of the following information and tips!
It becomes easier to guard yourself against mold and mildew when you're informed about the common areas where mold and mildew occur around the home. Mold and mildew thrive in humid and damp conditions found in basements, kitchens, and bathrooms. It's also important to pay attention to areas that often go overlooked such as ventilation ducts, areas around HVAC systems, crawl spaces, and underneath surfaces like carpet.
Are you aware of the difference between mold and mildew? You can tell mold and mildew apart by how it looks, where it grows, and the effects that the two substances have. Mildew has a powdery or fluffy appearance that forms on the surface of an area, while mold tends to have a fuzzy or slimy appearance that is often green or black. Mildew can damage the surface of whatever it grows on, but it's not known to be quite as harmful to health when compared to mold. Mildew is also easier to remove than mold, as it only requires a cleaner and a scrubbing utensil as opposed to a professional remediation team.
It's helpful to be informed about the best cleaning products to use, especially for the indoor air quality of your home. If you're cleaning mildew, consider using a gentler cleaner that doesn't contain harsh chemicals that affect indoor air quality. You can use simple cleaning ingredients found around the house such as vinegar or carefully diluted bleach. If you have a mold issue in your home, it's best to consult the professionals to remediate the problem. Otherwise, you could make the issue worse by spreading mold spores to new surfaces.
While you might think of the outdoors when the topic of air pollution comes up, that's certainly not the only place where it can occur. The air quality inside of your home can suffer when there are certain triggers inside of the household. We are here to talk about the signs of low air quality and the most common things that can trigger this. When you should bring in a professional and how to prevent it from happening in the future? Find these answers below!
Given how concentrated the air is inside of a home, it's common to experience unpleasant health symptoms when the air quality is low. Some health symptoms of low air quality in the household include respiratory irritation like coughing and sneezing as well as congestion and shortness of breath. If you have poor air quality in your home, you could experience fatigue, asthma symptoms, allergies, and general hypersensitivity. It's not uncommon to experience dizziness and chronic headaches when exposed to poor air quality. If you notice stale and stuffy air inside the home and lingering unpleasant smells along with some of these health issues, you could very well be dealing with indoor air pollution.
What is causing the decreased air quality in your home? There are common household items and practices that can trigger bad air quality. For example, if somebody is smoking cigarettes inside the home, you probably don't have the best air quality. This is especially true if your home doesn't have proper circulation. Household building materials and substances like cleaning products can include pollutants like asbestos, formaldehyde, radon, and other chemicals that reduce air quality. If you do not have proper ventilation and circulation in a home or issues with humidity levels, you could be dealing with poor air quality.
There are some air quality issues that only a professional can solve. When you're dealing with health concerns associated with poor air quality, or your home has recently experienced water damage that reduces air quality, professionals should be brought in. They can accurately diagnose and treat mold, bacterial issues, humidity issues, and excessive allergens in the home. Companies such as Air Quality Assessors can help solve these concerns by thoroughly testing the quality of the air and coming up with a unique plan of action to tackle the problem that is causing the concern so you will not have to deal with the issue in the future.
There are some tricks to prevent future household air quality problems. Keeping your house clean will cut down on dust and debris that can make its way into the air and reduce air quality. Stay on top of changing the filters in your household systems as well as investing in a quality air purifier. Avoid using strong chemicals in the house, or make sure there is proper circulation when you do. Following this plan of action is sure to make sure you're on top of your household air quality.
Toxic Mold Syndrome, also known as mold illness, is an illness that effects many people. When people get sick, they typically assume the causes are allergies, a cold, or a bad reaction to medications. When you notice a dramatic decline in your health, you have to wonder, what is the cause? Very commonly, people blame their poor health on outdoor environments when in reality, they should be considering their indoor environments as the main culprit. Most people spend an average of 90% of their time indoors including time at work, school and at home. This fact alone should initiate further research into your indoor environments.
You may experience symptoms that are similar to colds and common allergies when dealing with Toxic Mold Syndrome including:
· Sore throat
· Runny nose
· Itchy eyes
· And more…
There are more serious health problems related to toxic mold syndrome. In many cases, the above symptoms are just the beginning. Not only does toxic mold syndrome affect your respiratory health, but also your nervous system, circulatory system, skin, vision and mental health. As you can see, mold and any of the symptoms related to mold are all something that should not be taken lightly. It can lead to very serious health issues and even death.
In order to avoid long term health problems related to mold exposure, one would ask what is the real cause of mold growth? The simplest reason mold forms is because of moisture. There are many different forms of moisture that cause mold formation including leaks, condensation, humidity, and flooding. When moisture comes in contact with any and all kinds of organic materials (wood, carpet, clothing, etc.…) mold begins to form. There are many great mold prevention tips listed in our “How to Avoid Indoor Allergens" blog post that are easy and affordable to implement. Doing yearly inspections and taking care of your home overall will help lessen the chance of experiencing health issues related to mold.
There have been many case studies conducted to prove the effects of mold exposure symptoms. In this presented case study individuals that were tested ranged from 1.5 years to 52 years of age. The conclusion was conditional, however those who were involved experienced similar symptoms and reactions. Along with case studies, there are many personal stories, testimonials, and articles that present personal experiences people have had with toxic mold syndrome and mold related sicknesses. There is one story that stands out among all the rest about a woman who is now doing well, but at one point did not know what happened to her or where to turn. Kimberlyn is someone who one day, completely lost her motivation and began to become very confused as to why her personality and normal demeanor completely changed. With multiple doctor visits over 6 months, she started to find out what may be the cause of her sudden life altering ailment. If you are worried that you may be dealing with mold, her story is very relatable and could save you many unnecessary steps.
Ideally, we would like to say that mold will never be an issue in our lives, but that is not the case. Mold is everywhere. It really all depends on how quickly you handle a situation and how serious it is. Our best advice: be mindful of your surroundings and educate yourself on the signs and the steps to take to resolve your mold problem.
Recommended Links: Black Mold
US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Have you ever felt fatigue, coughing and sneezing, shortness of breath, nosebleeds, or increased asthma problems in your work place? Normally one would not think that all these problems could be caused by a building…well they can. It is known as “Sick Building Syndrome”. Sick Building Syndrome is considered by some in the medical field to be an illness in people who have been exposed to undefined chemical, biological, or physical agents that are thought to be found in buildings. Indoor air quality testing is crucial in buildings and properties to determine if the structure is “sick” or healthy.
In the 1970s a movement was set in motion by builders and authorities to seal up buildings the best they could to save on fuels for air conditioning and heating. Many buildings became air tight which left no room for clean air to filter in (inadequate ventilation), which in return set the building up for pollution. Examples of pollution that occurred: carbon monoxide build-ups, possibility of indoor combustion (heaters, ranges and smokers), and the release of inhalable particles (Volatile Organic Compounds, airborne allergens, and pathogens). As a way for buildings to have better Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and minimize energy consumption, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) revised the standards of ventilation from 5 cfm(cubic feet per minute) per occupant to a minimum of 15 cfm provided of outdoor air per person (20 cfm/person in office spaces). ("Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) - Indoor Air Pollution Testing." Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) - Indoor Air Pollution Testing. N.p.)
There can be many factors that cause Sick Building Syndrome and one is biological contaminants (bacteria, molds, pollen and viruses). Biological pollutants can cause illness through three different methods-: 1. Infection, 2. Allergy/Hypersensitivity, and 3.Toxicosis. A contaminant’s source could be from water(water is a breeding ground for mold) that has accummulated in places such as humidifers, a/c ducts, drain pans; or where water has been collected on carpeting, ceiling tiles or insulation. Outside elements have an effect on biological contaminants such as temperature , humidity or lighting. Another factor could be a source that is already in the building like carpeting, upholstery, wood products, cleaning agents and copy machines. Certain factors emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which research has shown can cause very serious health issues when at high concentrations. VOCs that may be emitted from items like flooring, varnishes, and gasoline can contain: formaldehyde, acetone, ethylene glycol, benzene and tolune.
How does one know that their building is “sick”? For the most part, it is from complaints of the buildings occupants. Building occupants may have symptoms including: headaches, throat, nose, and eye irritation, dry cough, dry or itchy skin, dizziness, nausea; or more serious symptoms like fatigue, sensitivity to odors, and development of respiratory illness. The source that is causing the occupants symptoms is unknown; however occupants have said to have felt relief once they exited the building. A good way to know that your building should be inspected is when a group of occupants have or show the same symptoms. Air Quality Assessors will walk through the suspected Sick Building and do a thorough inspection to try and locate the source that has been causing sickness. Testing will be done to see whether the indoor air quality levels reach the standard of safety or not. Once again is it not always known what causes Sick Building Syndrome and sometimes the source cannot be found. What can be done is an IAQ test to ensure that the occupants of the building are safe or to find out whether the building is actually sick.
The Worldwide Pest
1. Penicillium is a genus of ascomycetous fungi of major importance in the natural environment as well as food and drug production.
2. Scientific name: Penicillium
3. Rank: Genus
4. Higher classification: Trichocomaceae
5. Lower classifications: Penicillium coralligerum, Penicillium marneffei,Penicillium herquei
The pest I am going to tell you about is one of the most notorious creatures of its kind. This pest can be found all over the world in almost every type of setting. The most common places where this pest can be found are: soil, food, grains, carpets, wall paper, organic substances, fiber glass insulation and more. It loves to show up first to mark its territory on anything that has had water damage. There are over 200 species of this pest and some of them can produce mycotoxins (any toxic substance produced by a fungus), which is what affects humans health!
Want to know something unbelievable about this pest? This pest helped create a drug that is still used today to fight off infections that cause bacteria -Penicillin. Penicillin was discovered by Alexander Fleming after one of his staphylococci cultures was cross contaminated by mold spores from an open window nearby. It was a significant discovery in medical history and later in 1945 even won a Nobel Peace Prize.
All right back to what makes this pest a pest! The Worldwide Pest has a rapid growth rate and the colonies (appearance) are normally a green-bluish color but has even been spotted as yellow, white and grey green. You do not want this mold in your home! It can cause a numerous amount of health issues ranging from the simple sore throat all the way to pulmonary emphysema. Like many other molds, the pest tends to affect humans that have a weakened immune/respiratory system. The Pest can cause allergic reactions and asthma attacks so severe that sometimes people describe the reaction almost as if they were suffocating. This Worldwide Pest can produce many toxins such as: penicillic acid, peptide nephrotoxin, viomellein, xanthomegin,xanthocillin X, mycophenolic acid and more that have the ability to damage kidneys, increase the chance of cancer, as well as, leave you more susceptible to pulmonary infections.
The best way to find out if there is Penicillium in your home is to have your home assessed by an indoor air quality specialist; that’s where Air Quality Assessors steps in! Air Quality Assessors has a staff of fully licensed assessors who can walk through your home and take samples of anywhere they think has mold or other air quality issues. The pest can be in many different forms whether in the air as particulates or as visible mold on a material. It is best to have your home assessed to know whether the pest has reached its danger level or not. People who have compromised immune systems should take the precautionary steps and have their home assessed to help delay or stop future health problems.
Mr. Common Combative
Cladosporium is one of the most widespread molds because it can be found in nature as well as indoors.
Mr. Common Combative is one popular bad guy who loves to pick on humans who have allergies and asthma. He attends parties where the Respiratory Rival (Aspergillus) and his friends (Penicillium and Wallemia Sebi) will be since he is a secondary wall colonizer- aka a follower! Never underestimate Mr. Common Combative for he can be found in almost every nook and cranny of your property (bathroom, carpets, air ducts, attics, furniture and more).
Mr. Common Combat has around 40 different disguises (species) and each disguise has its own act (place to be found)! Listed below are his 4 most favorite disguises.
Cladiosporium sphaerospermum- This frequently encountered species has been isolated from air, soil, gypsum board, acrylic painted walls, painted wood, wallpaper, carpet and mattress dust, HVAC fans, wet insulations in mechanical cooling units, foodstuffs, paint and textiles.
Cladiosporium Cladosporioides- A cosmopolitan species which has been isolated from meat, soil, air, textiles and paint.
Cladiosporium Macrocarpum- A cosmopolitan species which has been isolated from dead plants, soil, indoor air, apple juice concentrates and seeds.
What is most dangerous about Mr. Common Combative? As mentioned earlier, he loves to pick on humans that suffer from allergies and asthma. He has the ability to trigger allergic reactions in humans with compromised immune systems which can cause rashes, itchy eyes, sudden muscle spasms, breathing difficulty, congestion and more! Some humans can be immune to him if they do not have the certain sensitivities that other humans possess (Cladiosporium emits no toxins).
Having homes/properties assessed by a licensed Air Quality Assessor is always a great weapon to use, because they can tell how much of Mr. Common Combative is around or in the air. For humans suffering from asthma or allergies, it is very important to keep the home/property at a safe level to lower the chances of an allergic reaction or respiratory problems from occurring. Mr. Common Combative produces more than 10 types of antigens (any substance that causes your immune system to produce antibodies against it) which increases the risk of an asthma attack. If a human notices an increase in his or her asthma symptoms and believes the reason to be Mr. Common Combative or his friends, contact an Air Quality Assessor to come in immediately!
Part 1 of the "Mold-ifying" Series
“The Quiet Killer”
This killer has no boundaries and shows no mercy for homeowners/businesses. Don’t dare think you can stop all of it with regular bleach or other household disinfectants. A trained team will be needed in order to catch and eliminate this quiet killer. Mold hides in non-porous materials like drywall and hardwood flooring or where moisture and water is/has been present (moisture & water are the Quiet Killer’s life source). It can be lurking, growing and producing mycotoxins for weeks until found. “Mycotoxins” aka the killer’s minions: extremely toxic, take 8-12days to make their appearance and then they slowly break down your body’s defense, causing very serious health issues (sore throat, headaches, chronic muscle pain and in worse cases they can/will kill you)…malicious little monsters! Signs that the Quiet Killer has marked his next target include: the smell of its musty cologne, its yellow moisture stained drawings on the wall or show signs of his curse (coughing, nausea, headaches and more). Its nasty, greenish-black demeanor means business!
How does one win against this “Quiet Killer”?
The killer can grow where there is or has been moisture or water related problems. Look for places in your home/business that are susceptible to water or moisture damage like: A/C unit, Bathroom, Laundry Room or Attic... This is where the battle will take place. The best way to eliminate the Quiet Killer is to have a specialized team come in to destroy it! Since no one ever knows the extent of damage the Quiet Killer has caused, having an Air Quality Assessor on your side is the best way to know what you are up against! The assessor’s findings helps him conjure up a strategic battle plan (protocol report for remediation services) for you to use against/destroy the Quiet Killer. Since the killer is very toxic, it is necessary to have a licensed removal force (remediation companies) fight on your side during the battle! The removal team sticks to the battle plan drawn up by the assessor and removes all traces of the killer and his minions. Once the removal team has done the fighting/killing, the Air Quality Assessor comes back into play and makes sure, once and for all, the Quiet Killer has been defeated and all is safe.