House Allergies

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house allergiesFew think that their home may be a source of pollution but the truth is that the air may be up to 100 times more polluted than the air outside their home. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air pollution is one of the top 3 biggest health problems in America.

Over 40 million people in the United States are affected by allergies. An estimated 20.3 million Americans suffer from asthma and even more people suffer from upper respiratory problems that are caused by pollutants such as mold, fungi, smoke, and dust. On average we spend about 90 percent of our time indoors – which 65 percent is spent at home.

What is Indoor Air Pollution?

Airborne pollutants are generally divided into two classes: Particulate matter (such as plant, animal, mineral, pollen, mold, dust mites, lead, asbestos, soot, smoke, and man made dust, etc.) and gas (combustion products, natural gas, propane, radon, plus vapor outgassed from building materials or household products).

House Allergies Effect Some Worse

The people who are especially susceptible are the very ones who spend the most time at home. However, many chronic illnesses are caused by short term exposure to indoor air pollution. What’s worse, like so much air pollution, many of the contaminating substances give no warning and produce vague and sometimes similar symptoms that are hard to narrow down to a specific cause.

Allergies Are Not From the Ducts

Advertising campaigns by duct cleaning companies in recent years has lead people to point the finger to their ductwork as the source of their indoor air pollution. However, dirty ducts are usually the symptom of a problem not the actual problem itself.  The ductwork of your house in effect acts as the respiratory system allowing conditioned air to circulate throughout the structure. If your ducts are getting dirty, you are also breathing dirty air. The initial cause of dirty ducts is the lack of particulate control. Particulates can be filtered efficiently thus reducing buildup in the air conditioning system as well as the living space.

How Many Particles Are in Indoor Air?

Each cubic foot of air in your home can contain millions of particles. Particles are commonly measured in microns, a metric unit of measure. There are 25,400 microns in one inch. A human hair can range from 40 to 300 microns. The average person breathes in about 16,000 quarts of air per day. Each quart contains over 60,000 visible and invisible particles. Approximately 98-99% of all particles by count are in the size range of 10 microns or less.

Particles 5 microns and smaller are known as respirable and typically remain in the lungs for the body to process. They will often lodge themselves in your mucous membranes and the linings of your lungs. Breathing respirable particles long term can lead to severe allergic reactions and may also lead to chronic respiratory disorders.

Living Particulate Matter

Living particles from organic sources are often referred to as bioaerosols. They can make up a very large percentage of airborne particles. One of the most alarming bioaerosol polluters is the common dust mite and is believed to be the leading cause of asthma in the home. Microscopic particles from non living mold spores, pollen spores and dead insects are also very common in the typical American home and are believed to be the primary cause of mild to severe allergies in the indoor environment.

How Can I Improve my Indoor Air?

FOUR primary methods of controlling indoor air quality is:

  1. Identify the source of pollution in your house. The first step to improving your indoor air is to identify the sources of air pollutants. Be aware by reading articles such as this. Pay attention to chronic illnesses and symptoms you feel is worse in the home environment. Hire an indoor air consultant if you feel there is something wrong in your house you can’t seem to identify.Testing can determine the presence, amount, and type of allergens, molds, gas, bacteria, chemicals and other pollutants that may exist.
  2. Remove and prevent the source of pollution. Preventing the sources through awareness is the most effective way to improve your indoor air.  Be aware when using household cleaners. Remove identified sources when possible. Pay close attention to damp areas which can quickly become the breeding ground for pollutants such as mold and other microbes. Although it is not possible to eliminate every contaminant source, reducing the sources and/or the amount of pollutants they emit, will contribute to a healthier living environment.
  3. Control the indoor temperature and humidity. Try to maintain an indoor temperature in a comfortable range at all times. Your ideal indoor humidity level should be between 30 to 50%. Be aware of drastic changes to temperature and humidity which can lead to condensation. Remember that molds, bacteria and dust mites thrive readily when the indoor humidity is 60% or more.
  4. Clean the air with scientifically proven devices. Utilizing HEPA (High Efficient Particulate Air) vacuum cleaners and air purifiers are the most valuable tools available to remove all types of particles down to the sub-micron range. Additional filtration devices utilizing carbon or potassium permanganate can control organic and non-organic chemical vapors. Certain electronic air purifiers can assist in controlling bacteria, viruses and odors.

In Summary
The greatest hazard to the indoor air quality issue is misinformation. There are a host of claims from individuals and companies which are attempting to sell a service or product to address the issue. Improving and controlling the indoor environment requires a complex approach and should only be addressed with scientifically proven products and practices which form a protocol to improve and maintain acceptable indoor environmental quality.

The subject of Indoor Air and Environmental Quality in the home is vast, yet resources for factual data are becoming readily available. Your home can be your “haven” by being aware of the issues regarding the cause and effect of indoor pollutants combined with making simple changes to your everyday routine.

About the Author:
The Sick House Center is a resource and information center about indoor air pollution and related issues. Read about What Causes Allergies in the home at the Sick House Center.

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Newspaper Allergies

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NewspaperHave you ever had an allergic reaction while reading a newspaper?

Chances are it could be because the newspaper may be only hours old. Ink from a freshly printed newspaper can emit vapors which can cause a host of allergy related symptoms to include watery eyes, sneezing and skin rashes.

There is a quick and easy way to confirm the freshness of a newspaper by wiping a few inches of it with a dry paper towel. If the paper towel is black from the wiping, then it probably is emitting ink vapors. Of course, if you have a keen sense of smell you may try just smelling the paper up close to see if it has a ink odor.

So what can you do about it?

  • Try wearing some tight fitting cotton gloves.
  • Read the paper outside on the porch, weather permitting.
  • Read the paper later in the evening after the ink has longer to dry.
  • Start reading online news sources.

Unfortunately, there are not many options available if you have a sensitivity to newspaper print besides those listed above or reading more news online.

About the author:

Stan K. Hall, the Sick House Doctor is a recognized specialist in Indoor Air Pollution as well as Health & Safety in the home. He has performed hundreds of indoor environmental evaluations over the past 25 years and has helped a multitude of homeowners make their homes a haven.

Newspaper Allergy

Oyster Allergies

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I have become allergic to oysters. What can I do about it or should I just avoid them?

Best Answer:

An oyster allergy is less well known than other seafood allergies. As other shellfish related allergies, symptoms can range from mild such as oral allergy syndrome to the severe such as anaphylactic shock. Seafood related allergies are the most common of all food allergies worldwide.

The technical term for oysters are bivalve molluscs and an allergy to oysters is also associated with allergy to other bivalves such as clams, mussels, and scallops.  If someone has been diagnosed with an allergy to one mollusc, they will usually be advised by their physician to avoid all molluscs. It is interesting to note that people with a known allergy to shrimp can usually consume molluscs without reaction. However, there are rare cases where an individual is allergic to both types of shellfish. Furthermore, persons which are known to be allergic to finfish (such as cod or salmon) do not generally have allergies to shellfish.

All shellfish allergies are primarily due to an individual’s reaction to tropomyosin, a protein present in shellfish.  Symptoms of a oyster and shellfish allergy are:

  • Urticaria (hives) and angioedema (swelling)
  • Urticaria (hives) of the hands from handling seafood
  • Asthma
  • Vomiting, looses stools and abdominal pains
  • Mild to severe Atopic Eczema
  • Anaphylaxis leading to the possibility of death

Source: Yahoo Answers

1990–Viva Las Vegas, Part 6 (Oyster Allergy)