Healthy Indoors Magazine - USA Edition

HI April 2021-USA Edition

Healthy Indoors Magazine

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Page 20 of 43

Healthy Indoors | 19 or have been in a cold space such as an enclosed porch or a room over a crawlspace. I worked with one family whose 3-year old son had asthma. His parents had done all they could think of to keep their home allergen free. They cleaned surfaces to remove allergenic dust; they installed dust-mite covers on all mattresses, bed pillows, and box springs; they found a new loving home for their dog. But the little boy's symptoms did not abate. The culprit was a small, expensive antique rug in the little boy's playroom, where he spent a lot of time. The rug was full of mold, and every time the little boy sat on the rug, he was sur- rounded by allergens. They got rid of the rug and the little boy's health improved drastically. Scanning Electron Micrograph (SEM) of mold hyphae wrapped around a carpet fiber. May Indoor Air Investigations, LLC Old and even new wool rugs can emit wool-cuticle and wool-cortex fibers, indicative of deteriorating wool fibers. Such particles can act as irritants or even be surrogate allergens. Surrogate allergens are particles that are not allergenic in and of themselves but that can carry allergenic material on them. An example would be the donning powder in latex gloves. The powder can carry latex allergens, and when the powder is aero- solized, people can be exposed to these allergens. Wool-cortex and wool-cuticle particles from wool hairs can carry allergens from the sheep as well as from manure and musty straw that the sheep may have rolled in. Those allergens can remain in the fibers if the wool has not been washed sufficiently before being woven into a rug. (No wonder damp wool often smells!) Fragrances: There are a lot of products that contain fragrances, including cleaning products, shampoos, air "fresheners," candles, trash bags, and now the ubiquitous hand sanitizers. But fra- grances add to the chemical load of indoor air and thus should woman used to suffer allergy symptoms whenever she was at work. She was sure there was mold in the wall-to-wall carpet- ing or the building's heating system. The culprit ended up being dust mites in her upholstery-covered office chair, which she had brought into the building from home. She replaced the chair with a leather-covered one and her symptoms abated. I always recom- mend that people with allergies, asthma, or other environmental sensitivities avoid sitting for long periods of time on fabric-cov- ered furniture. Furniture can contain pet-dander particles. If you or anyone in your household has pet allergies, turn down that couch that your aunt wants to give away, because her pet cat's dander-particles could remain on and inside the upholstery forever. I have asthma and many allergies including pet and mold, and when I sit down in someone else's home, I always try to sit on solid wood furniture. Micrograph of dog-dander particle (oblong) and human skin scales (round), stained pink with acid fuchsin. May Indoor Air Investigations, LLC Feathers: Oft-used feather-filled items can acquire dust-mite infestations. In addition, fragments of feather fibers are irritat- ing to inhale, and some feather-filled goods emit bird-bloom particles, exposure to which is a recognize cause of the serious respiratory illness called Duvet Lung: a type of hypersensitivity pneumonitis or HP. One of my client's daughter gave him an expensive feather-filled quilt. Shortly thereafter, he began to experience respiratory symptoms that caused serious short- ness of breath. He took the quilt off the bed and his breathing improved. Area rugs: Rugs can contain mold spores and mite droppings, particularly if they've been stored in a moldy space; been placed directly on concrete (for example in a basement or a room built on a slab—concrete-- in contact with the earth);

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