Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Mold and Your Health

~ courtesy info from the Dumpster Diva at Bin There Dump That

One tends to think of something that grows as having life and being categorized as either a plant or animal.   Mold, however, is neither plant nor animal, yet it can grow and reproduce by making spores. It has a life of its own and can negatively impact your health

It belongs in the Fungi Kingdom, and unlike a plant, mold does not get energy from the sun via photosynthesis.   The sun, in fact, inhibits the growth of mold, which sort of eats its way along, most commonly fulfilling its mission to break up decaying stuff like dead plants or animals.   Mold spores can survive severe conditions like drought where normal mold growth is not likely to occur until wetness or humidity returns.

Mildew is a form of mold, and the most common place in the house to find mildew is shower stalls and basements -- warm, humid, wet or damp, dark environments.   Surprisingly, neither the Environmental Protection Agency nor another government entity has issued standards on mold or mold spore levels, so there are no building regulations. 

Mildew forms a thin, white, gray or greenish layer while the less frequent "black mold" has a green-black hue and grows on surfaces with a high cellulose content like paper, wood, fiberboard and gypsum board, all common building materials.   While mold can do some serious damage to your home's structural elements like walls, floors, ceilings and upholstered furniture, it can really raise havoc with the health and well-being of residents in a poorly ventilated or cared-for house.

According to the Florida Department of Health, there are four kinds of health problems related to mold:
  • allergic illness
  • irritant effects
  • infection
  • toxic effects

The most vulnerable people to mold health risks include infants, children, elderly people with respiratory or lung conditions and those with weakened immune systems from ongoing treatments or recent illness.   The most common symptoms of an allergic or highly sensitive reaction to the presence of mold may or may not be linked to mold:
  • running nose and sneezing
  • coughing or wheezing
  • redness or itchy eyes
  • rash or skin irritation
  • asthma attacks
  • fever (less common)
  • breathing difficulty (less common)

There are some routine maintenance and awareness measures which can reduce the incidence of mold in your house:
  • check plumbing for leaks a few times a year
  • use A/C or a dehumidifier in hot or warm months
  • maintain good ventilation at all times
  • keep indoor humidity between 30 and 50 percent max
  • refrain from installing carpets in basements and bathrooms
  • have and use an exhaust fan in every bathroom
  • clean up quickly and thoroughly after a rain or water incident
Some of the most common places for mold outside your home which might cause distress to people with a sensitivity to the odor or presence of it include, not surprisingly, antique shops and lake or oceanfront summer cottages.   Also, greenhouses and flower shops, saunas, farms and construction areas can have the kinds of conditions where mold thrives

Being educated in mold conditions and its effects on health are key to avoiding the associated illness and discomfort, as well as potentially connecting the dots should symptoms arise. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Those days of soda and pretzels and beer
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Dust off the sun and moon and sing a song of cheer

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Those days of soda and pretzels and beer
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
You'll wish that summer could always be here.

            The song peaked on the billboard in the top 10 in 1963, but the words sung by Nat King Cole, written by Charles Tobias, have stuck with every generation. We are once again in the throes of those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.

            The beaches beckon, golf courses are in full swing and families are flocking to the whole state for camping, swimming, windsurfing, fishing, Disney-ing, cruising and watching the sun set into the glorious horizon throughout the Tampa Bay region. It's hot outside most days, so:

v drink plenty of water
v wear lightweight, loose-fitting, cotton clothes
v always wear a hat
v put on sunglasses
v eat light
v take showers and baths for cooling
v seek out shady outdoor venues or A/C indoor ones
v use sunscreen

            However, the long days and warm temps also are perfect for home renovation or spruce up projects. Your first stop should be Bin There Dump That for a dumpster rental. Even if you are simply power washing your house, you'll likely find some broken gutters or downspouts, branches, leaves and debris that have rested on your property from somewhere else. Summer is great for painting, roofing, staining decks, screening a porch or adding a sunroom.

            It is wise to have your air conditioning unit checked annually, and the beginning of summer, when it's likely to run the most, is the best time. A heat pump can use up to 50% more energy when it's not in optimum condition. Change your filters, switch ceiling fan rotation and check all your screens for those nights when you can sleep with fresh air wafting around inside.

            Remember that you don't need to be a tourist from afar to enjoy your own hometown. If there's a museum you haven't been to recently, a beach full of memories you haven't walked on years or a bucket list fishing excursion you always want to go on, summer break is the perfect time. Be a little lazy, hazy and crazy yourself.