Workplace Allergies


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Workplace-AllergiesEveryday we go to work and perform our routine duties could be aggravating our allergies symptoms. We tend to think that the allergy symptoms we experience while working at the office are just because of outdoor pollen or mold counts for that day. However, more times than not, there is something lurking in the indoor environment of the buildings we work in which is directly causing of our symptoms.

As energy costs rise, building owners and management companies tend to do everything possible to make a building “tighter.” The tighter building trend has led to a new term being used to describe it; “sick building syndrome.” More and more building occupants are experiencing sickness and allergy related symptoms they attribute to their work environment.

Stan Hall of Megaclean, Inc recently stated to us “I have seen a rise in workplace allergies in buildings in the Dallas-Ft.Worth metroplex from mold spores found in the air handling systems. We get calls regularly in the spring and fall months from building owners and building management companies requesting inspections or cleaning of their air handling units to clean excessive mold which has built up over the past year. This mold becomes airborne quite easily and is blown into the workspace causing allergy related symptoms in non-allergy sufferers as well as allergy and asthma sufferers.”

My Job Is Making Me Sick

Without a doubt, mold spores growing in an air handler is the primary cause of allergy symptoms in an office environment while chemicals are in the typical industrial setting. So what can one do when they feel like their job in making them sick? Here are a few tips for dealing with the possibility of a workplace health problem:

  1. Ask your co-workers if they are also experiencing an allergy or other health symptoms they feel is directly related to work.
  2. Discuss it with your supervisor and suggest they pass the complaints along to the building manager or owner.
  3. Suggest that the building manager or owner have the building checked out by a qualified air conditioning contractor. There are even companies which can investigate and access the possibility of sick building syndrome and it’s many causes.
  4. If the supply air diffusers are very dirty, take a digital picture of it and email to the appropriate person for verification that they may have a indoor air quality deficiency.
  5. Suggest that the janitorial crew used a true HEPA vacuum cleaner which will help clean the work environment better that standard vacuums.
  6. Ask for a HEPA air purifier to be place in your immediate work environment to help filter the air better from potential air pollutants.

The bottom line: In this day of technology and knowledge, there is no excuse for allergy or other health symptoms from your workplace. Speak up if you feel being at work is making you ill and point out that it may be detrimental to your work productivity. More employers are realizing that creating a healthy work environment for their employees is good for the employee and what is good for the employee is good for the company.

Source: Stan Hall of Megaclean Inc. They provide Commercial/Industrial Cleaning & Environmental Services in Dallas, Texas since 1982. Stan Hall is also known as the Sick House Doctor and is a recognized specialist in Indoor Air Pollution. He is widely known as the originator of T.E.A.M., the scientifically proven approach to controlling and resolving indoor air pollution.

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Fungus Allergies


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fungus-allergies

I recently received the following email inquiry about mushrooms growing inside a persons home!

So I never had any allergies before, and recently began experiencing symptoms such as eruptions on the eyelids and a lot of sneezing and a runny nose. I discovered there was a leak between the bathroom wall and the living room. When I pulled the sofa from the wall, there was actually mushrooms growing from the baseboard.  I’m pretty sure that when I ever leave my house, I feel better. It sucks. Please help!

This is the only time I had ever heard of actual mushrooms (fungus) growing inside a home in my 30 years as a mold specialist and remediation contractor.

Fungus can be broken down into two categories when we are talking indoor air pollution:

  1. mold
  2. mushrooms

Each of these two fungus organisms need organic matter to grow (colonize) … of which many homes has a much of it. In addition, high levels of humidity further exacerbate the problem.  Fungus thrives at 60% or more relative humidity levels.

If you feel you have an allergy to mold then it is probably not actual mushrooms found in your indoor environment, but mold which can be found in various places in the typical home. When you develop a hypersensitivity to a mold, then you will experience allergy symptoms when exposed to it. This is especially true if the mold is growing somewhere in the house such as a damp wall, the air conditioning coil box or perhaps a refrigerator drip pan.

First look around the cupboard, the bathrooms and other areas for sources of moisture. Check for damp walls, leaking pipes, mineral stains in the ceiling sheet rock from a roof leak, holes in siding and around window frames. Since you live in an apartment complex, there is also a chance that moisture is being caused by a leak in an adjacent unit, so ask around and see if your neighbors have mold problems. If no leaks are obvious then it may be growing in a place out of sight such as those listed above. Have a heating and air conditioning professional check your unit for mold in the coil box, check under sinks for a mold smell, clean your refrigerator drip pan and check all other hidden areas where moisture may be hiding. You could even purchase an inexpensive hygrometer and check the humidity levels around the house. Relative humidity (RH) readings should be below 60%. If the RH level is above 60%, then you should rent or purchase a dehumidifier to control humidity in the house. As soon as you lower and maintain moisture levels relative between 40-50%, then molds may dry out and release spores into the air. Unfortunately a dead or alive mold spore can make you ill so you will still need to remove excess dust including possible mold spores from the indoor environment.

Consider purchasing a HEPA (high efficient particle air) vacuum cleaner and air purifier and use regularly until symptoms get better. If you continue having a moldy smell indoors, then you may also consider hiring a mold contractor to remediate the problem. Be sure and check at least three of their references before proceeding.

About the Author:
The Sick House Center provides resources and information about Sick House Syndrome and other indoor pollution issues. Read about Mold Solutions for the indoor environment at the Sick House Center.

Related Posts: Mold Allergy Symptoms.

Mushroom allergy

Sinus Allergy


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sinus-allergiesThe best natural remedies for sinus infections are alternative treatments you can do at home. People are more commonly seeking these remedies due to the side affects normally associated with traditional medical treatments.  Sinus infections are systemic which means it affects the whole body, as you probably know if you have ever suffered from sinus problems.

Sinus infections affect over 36 million United States residents every year.  Sinus infections is also called sinusitis and is usually caused by allergies, a cold, a deviated nasal septum, nasal polyps, bacterial infection or an abnormal growth that is blocking the nostrils. Immune System Disorders is another less frequent cause of sinus infections.

Here are some great natural remedies for sinus allergies and their related infections:

Neti Pot – A popular natural remedy for sinus infections is a neti pot. Fill the neti pot with warm saline solution, then place the tip of the pot into one nostril, tip your head slightly and let the solution flow through the nasal cavities and the other nostril. In doing so, you wash the allergens, irritants and other mucous membranes and moisturize the sinuses. Neti pots come from India, which have been used to unclog infected sinuses for centuries. Known in Yoga circles as “Jala Neti”, the term is refers to an ancient cleansing technique that literally means the “water purification”.  However, some people have reported ear problems when using a neti pot because they must turn their head to the side when using allowing water to flow into their ear tube.

Neil-Med Sinus Rinse – This plastic bottle is filled a with warm saline solution similar to a neti-pot and is actually easier to use. This device is very good for both prevention and cures. Effective results have been reported by most users and even the editor-in-chief of this web site uses this method regularly with great results.

Humidifier with Essential Oils -You can also add eucalyptus in your humidifier every night during the worst spells. However this method only seems to work for mild cases.

Apple Cider Vinegar – One of the most popular natural remedies for sinus is apple cider vinegar which can be effective in helping dissipate the mucosal infection. Take two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar, mixed with a teaspoon of honey in 8 ounces of warm water and drink 4-6 times per day. Once again, this method is reported to help in only the mildest cases.

Goldenseal Extract – One of the simplest natural resources for sinus infections since they are often the result of a weakened immune system, is using the herb goldenseal.  Goldenseal can boost immunity. and helps reduce mucus congestion. Goldenseal is known for its antibiotic properties that may help the body to get rid of the infection. The root of the goldenseal plant is a powerful astringent that helps reduce the flow of mucous into nasal cavities. However, this method may take up to 3-5 days before results.

Garlic – One of the most effective natural remedies for sinus infection is using garlic. Garlic is both a antibacterial agent and an antimicrobial agent. It’s great for people with sinus problems and also increases your immunity system. However, it can be hard to get into your diet in sufficient amounts needed. With that said, garlic is always a good additive to any diet and can help prevent all types of infections.

Doctors refer to “acute sinusitis” as lasting 2-8 weeks while sub-acute infections may last from 1-3 months long. Sinus infections which last longer than 3 months are considered chronic. Reducing indoor allergens which can cause sinus problems while at the same time using prevention techniques is paramount to the cure and the prevention of sinus allergies and their related infections.

About the author: Stan K. Hall a.k.a. The Sick House Doctor is a recognized specialist in Indoor Air Pollution as well as Health & Safety in the home. He has performed over 400 indoor environmental evaluations over the past 26 years and has helped hundreds of homeowners make their homes a haven. He is widely known as the originator of T.E.A.M., the scientifically proven approach to controlling and resolving indoor air pollution.

To learn more about how to make your home a allergy-free haven, please sign up for our sponsor’s Free 10-Part Email Mini-Course on this page or click here to read more.

NeilMed Sinus Rinse review

Sinus Allergy Relief


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sinus-allergyMillions of people are familiar with the stuffiness and painful pressure of sinusitis, one of the most common chronic ailments.

Your sinuses are air-filled pockets located above your eyebrows, under your eyes, between your eyes, and behind your nose. Normally, mucus from your sinuses drains into your nose and down your throat, where stomach acids destroy it. When your sinuses clog up, the tissues swell, and mucus does not drain prop­erly. This results in a buildup of mucus, which can quickly become infected.

The symptoms of sinusitis include a stuffy or runny nose, painful pressure around your eyes, earaches, and coughing which becomes worse when lying down. It is usually caused by bacterial infection. People with asthma or allergies are more likely to have sinusitis. It may also be brought on by environmental factors such as pollution, cigarette smoke, and weather conditions. Many people find that their sinusitis is worse right before a storm. Some people may have a deviated septum, which means the wall of bone and cartilage between the right and left nostrils is crooked. This can interfere with mucus drainage.

Steps to Stop Sinusitis

  • Wash your sinuses out with a neti-pot or sinus rinse product using a balanced saline solution.
  • Get the right amount of sleep. Too much or too little sleep may make you more likely to suffer from sinusitis. Sleeping with your head elevated may also help. If you only have sinusitis on one side, try sleeping on the other side. This may help open your nasal passageway.
  • Change your diet. You may have food allergies which could trigger your sinusitis. Try eliminating foods like wheat, milk, or red wine. Spicy foods like garlic, horseradish, and cayenne pepper may help clear sinuses.
  • Use a nasal spray. Saline nasal sprays help moisten and soothe nasal pas­sages. Over-the-counter nasal decongestant sprays should not be used for more than three days in a row. A rebound effect may occur if you use them too much, which means your symptoms will get much worse when you stop using them.
  • Exercise. Most people with sinusitis find that exercise opens nasal passages by increasing the flow of mucus. However, some people may find that exercise makes their symptoms worse.
  • Make sure your glasses fit. Improperly fitting glasses can pinch the bridge of your nose and cause congestion.
  • Inhale steam. Breathing in steam may help. You can add pine oil, eucalyptus, or menthol for a little extra nasal-opening power. A warm facial pack (hot tow­els) can have the same effect.
  • Use a humidifier. A humidifier may prevent your sinuses from becoming dry and irritated, which could lead to swelling and infection. A humidifier is partic­ularly helpful during the colder months.
  • Use a HEPA air purifier and HEPA vacuum to reduce the amount of airborne allergens in your indoor air. Regular use of HEPA technology can drastically improve allergies symptoms in a home environment.
  • About the author:
    Stan K. Hall has been a recognized specialist in indoor air pollution for 25 years and has performed over 400 in-home environmental evaluations. He has been recommended by doctors, nutritionist’ as well as other health professionals for his expertise in diagnosing and remediating sick houses. He has more information about indoor air quality on his official Sick House Doctor website.

    Medical Sources:American Family Physician (53,3:877)
    The Asthma and Allergy Advance (January/February 1994)

    How to Use a Neti Pot

Sinus Pain


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sinus-painYour sinuses are lined with a membrane that manufactures a sticky substance known as mucus. When the membrane swells – most likely because of an infection or an allergy, mucus production kicks into overdrive. The combination of inflamed membrane and excess mucous blocks those tiny passages between your sinuses and nose. That’s when you feel the pressure build behind your forehead and eyes.

Breathe a Sign of Relief

For most people decongestants are the treatment of choice for sinus pain. “If a blocked nose is your only symptom, an over-the-counter oral decongestant can help,” says Salah D. Salmon, MD, director of the Sinus Center at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston.  Dr. Salmon also stated “Be sure to choose a product with an antihistamine if your sinus pain is associated with allergy.”

What about localized decongestants such as sprays and drops? “They can be extremely effective, too.” Dr. Salmon says. “But you shouldn’t use them for more than three days in a row. They can be habit forming if you use them for too long. And once their medicinal effects wear off, they can produce rebound congestion.”

But decongestants are not your only option for dealing with sinus pain. The following strategies can help ease the pressure and keep you breathing easy.

Just add water. “Dryness often sets the stage for a sinus infection,” Dr. Salmon says. You can keep your sinuses moist by drinking plenty of water every day. A saltwater solution, administered as either a nasal spray or nose drops, can also help, he notes. You can make your own solution by mixing 2 tablespoons of salt into a glass filled with 8 ounces of warm water. Use this preparation three to four times a day.

Hold your head high. Elevating your head while you sleep promotes sinus drainage, experts say. Prop up your bedposts ath the head of your bed on books or bricks and see if it helps.

Clear the air. Anything that irritates the nasal passages is an ally of sinus pain. “Pay close attention to air quality,” says Dr. Guillermo Mendoza, MD, chief of allergy for Kaiser-Permanente. “Avoid smoggy environments, cigarette smoke and any other pollutants that you’re sensitive to.” You may also need to stay away from seemingly harmless items such as scented laundry detergents and scented tissues.

“C” your way clear. Dr. Mendoza recommends a daily dose of vitamin C as a preventative against sinus pain. “If you are prone to sinus infection or you have a chronic sinus problem, take 1,000 milligrams of times-release vitamin C a day,” he advises.

Don’t catch a cold. If you have a chronic sinus problem, a cold will only intensify your sinus symptoms, Dr. Mendoza says. So do what you can to steer clear of cold-causing viruses: Eat a balanced diet, get regular exercise, practice good hygiene (as in lots of hand washing), and stay away from people who have colds.

Excerpted from: Pain Remedies by Philip Goldberg.  Rodale Press

Balloon Sinuplasty Provides Quick and Easy Relief to Chronic Sinusitis Sufferers

Black Mold Allergies


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Stachybotrys-cultureWhat is Black Mold?

While all molds can appear black, it is normally the dreaded Stachybotrys chartarum (also known by its synonym Stachybotrys atra) to which the term “black mold” is referring to. One primary reason is the fact that Stachybotrys can appear as extremely dark black and shiny when compared to other molds growing on the same surface.

Black Mold Grows Everywhere

It can grow on material with a high cellulose and low nitrogen content, such as fiberboard, gypsum board, paper, dust, and lint. Growth occurs when there is moisture from water damage, excessive humidity, water leaks, condensation, water infiltration or flooding. Stachybotrys is a slow growing mold and needs constant moisture source for its continued colonization.

Black Mold is Toxic

Stachybotrys is considered a toxigenic mold and may produce several toxic chemicals called mycotoxins. Mycotoxins can be present in spores and small mold fragments once released into the air. It is these mycotoxins which can cause what many have referred to as “black mold poisoning”. Black mold or Stachybotrys have received much attention in recent years mostly due to some high profile legal cases in the U.S. and around the world.

Symptoms of Black Mold Exposure

Symptoms of exposure to mycotoxins from Stachybotrys and other toxigenic molds include coughing, wheezing, runny nose, irritated eyes or throat, skin rash and diarrhea. Since these symptoms are general in nature, they also can be caused by a cold, influenza or exposure to other allergens. It is not known what level of mycotoxins from Stachybotrys must be present in the air to cause these symptoms and is believed to vary according to environmental conditions.
Is Black Mold really Different?

While Stachybotrys can occur as an indoor air pollutant, it is actually found much less than other toxigenic molds. However, it is paramount to test for mold when there has been events which could promote any toxic mold in the indoor environment. If any toxigenic mold is found in the indoor environment, extra steps to eliminate the live (viable) and dead (non-viable) mold spores must be taken. It is important to understand that live or dead spores in sufficient quantities can cause serious respiratory illnesses in certain humans depending on many factors.

About the author:

The Sick House Center is a resource and information about indoor air pollution to include mold related issues. View Mold Pictures at the Sick House Center.

Black Mold Exposure Film Trailer

Mold Allergy Symptoms


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stachybotrysHow to deal with a mold allergy?

So I never had any allergies before, and recently began receiving some of the symptoms such as eruptions on the eyelids and a lot of sneezing and a runny nose. I discovered one of my old bags that had been hung from a hook on the door had mold in it. I used it last about as a month ago so I’m not sure where the mold came from.   I’m pretty sure that when I ever leave my house, I feel better. It sucks. The mold could be randomly somewhere where I can not see it – please help!  I live in a studio apartment and I fear that this could seriously damage my health, how can I cope?  I’m even starting to have some chest pains that I do not really know how to fix this problem. Thank you very much.

Best Answer:

Mold needs two things to grow:

  1. The organic matter, of which every home has a much of it.
  2. High levels of humidity. Mold needs to least 60% relative humidity to grow.

If you feel you have an allergy to mold then it is probably not all mold species but a particular type. When you develop a hypersensitivity to a mold, then you will experience allergy symptoms when exposed to it. This is especially true if the mold is growing somewhere in the house such as a damp wall, the air conditioning coil box or perhaps a refrigerator drip pan.

First look around the cupboard and the whole apartment for sources of moisture. Check for damp walls, leaking pipes, mineral stains in the ceiling sheet rock from a roof leak, holes in siding and around window frames. Since you live in an apartment complex, there is also a chance that moisture is being caused by a leak in an adjacent unit, so ask around and see if your neighbors have mold problems. If no leaks are obvious then it may be growing in a place out of sight such as those listed above. Have a heating and air conditioning professional check your unit for mold in the coil box, check under sinks for a mold smell, clean your refrigerator drip pan and check all other hidden areas where moisture may be hiding. You could even purchase an inexpensive hygrometer and check the humidity levels around the house. Relative humidity (RH) readings should be below 60%. If the RH level is above 60%, then you should rent or purchase a dehumidifier to control humidity in the house. As soon as you lower and maintain moisture levels relative between 40-50%, then molds may dry out and release spores into the air. Unfortunately a dead or alive mold spore can make you ill so you will still need to remove excess dust including possible mold spores from the indoor environment.

Consider purchasing a HEPA (high efficient particle air) vacuum cleaner and air purifier and use regularly until symptoms get better. If you continue having a moldy smell indoors, then you may also consider hiring a mold contractor to remediate the problem. Be sure and check at least three of their references before proceeding.

About the Author:
The Sick House Center provides resources and information about Sick House Syndrome and other indoor pollution issues. Read about Mold Solutions for the indoor environment at the Sick House Center.

Mold Allergies