We have received several calls over the last few days from people wanting to know if we thought having their ducts cleaned would help their allergies.
We know for a fact that heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are a collection point for all sorts of contaminates that can make your allergies worse and trigger asthma attacks. The duct work in a home or office can have mold, dust, pet dander, pollen, bacteria and even dead bugs.
Now many people assume that just because they change their filter regulary that their HVAC system is clean and allergen free. Not really. Think about all the stuff you find under the fridge when you moved it after 1 year. Now multiply that by 20. In 25 years we have seen some really nasty duct work.
Hiring a quality duct cleaning company will not only remove these contaminates improving the air quality, it has been proven that it may allow you system to run more efficiently. A dirty coil can add $30-$40 to your electric bill.
We believe duct cleaning when done correctly can help reduce allergy symptoms. The key is to hire a company that does it correctly. The guy who says he can clean you entire HVAC system for $69 is not going to really clean your duct work. He is just cleaning out your wallet.
To find a quality company in your area visit the National Air Duct Cleaning Association (NADCA) website www.nadca.com. They can provide you with the certified member companies in your area.
Imagine that you or someone in your house has allergies or asthma. Or maybe you are just one of the folks that are concerned about the indoor air quality. You’ve read all the horrible things about carpet. You might have even read our article about the best type of flooring if you have allergies. So you take action and rip out that carpet and replace it with a hard floor. If you selected laminate wood flooring, you may have inadvertently decreased your indoor air quality, not increased it.
The news is enough to make steam shoot out of your ears, your eyes to bleed, and your head to explode. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but if you put in laminate wood flooring you purchased from Lumber Liquidators you may have a real problem with formaldehyde.
Formaldehyde Affects on Indoor Air Quality
Formaldehyde is used in the glues and as a preservative in many products in home construction and remodeling. During and after installation of items such as cabinets and laminated flooring, formaldehyde gasses are released. These gasses can cause:
The federal government recognizes formaldehyde as a known carcinogen and sets limits for exposure.
Formaldehyde and Laminate Wood Flooring Timeline
Beginning in the spring of this year, Lumber Liquidators has come under fire for selling laminated wood flooring that was manufactured in China and exceeds limits for formaldehyde. The timeline is something like this:
March 2015 This is not a good month as 60 Minutes shows up and releases story that claims Lumber Liquidators is selling flooring that exceeds formaldehyde limits. Lumber Liquidators naturally denies the claims as they watch their stock value tumble.
April 2015 While Lumber Liquidators denies that their products are emitting excessive formaldehyde they send test kits to customers that are concerned about their flooring.
May 2015 Oops! Turns out those test kits are showing there is a problem. The first lawsuits are filed. The CEO resigns.
June 2015. Anna Schmidt takes the company to small claims court in Charlotte North Carolina and wins a refund of $796.85. She represented herself. To her amazement, Lumber Liquidators did not want to settle out of court. So, they went to small claims court and she won. She won against one of the top attorneys in Wake County. Things are looking grim for Lumber Liquidators. The EPA begins scrutiny of Lumber Liquidator’s methods of formaldehyde testing.
July 2015. The Global Community Monitor testing finds formaldehyde released by Lumber Liquidators flooring is 100 times over the levels approved by the State of California.
Improve Indoor Air Quality – Remove Formaldehyde
Whether you are in a lawsuit or not, you need to get the formaldehyde out of the air. Some people are looking at air cleaners to do the job. Not all air cleaners remove formaldehyde. Here are the units we think do the best job:
Air Pura P600. Like all the units we are recommending, this unit is designed specifically for the removal of chemicals such as formaldehyde. HEPA, carbon, and ultraviolet light are the tools this unit uses to improve indoor air quality. The AirPura P600 Air Purifier doesn’t use glues in their filters or rubber in their gaskets. No off-gassing and no ozone make this a formaldehyde fighting favorite.
Austin Air HealthMate Plus. The Austin Air HealthMate Plus (sometimes referred to as the SuperBlend) was made for people sensitive to formaldehyde and toluene. The carbon and zeolite mixture in the filter is enhanced with potassium iodide specifically for formaldehyde removal.
This unit has a powerful motor, and it not the most quiet of all the machines, but it is highly effective and affordable. If you already have an Austin Air HealthMate machine, you can convert it to a Austin Air HealthMate Plus Air Purifier by simply replacing your current filter with the Plus filter.
A few question we get fairly often is are mold spores in the air all the time and which ones are allergenic. Like pollens, mold spores are airborne allergens that are abundant, inside as well as outside, easily carried by air currents, and allergenic in their chemical makeup. Found almost everywhere, mold spores in some areas are so numerous they often outnumber the pollens in the air.
Fortunately, however, only a few dozen different types of mold spores are significant allergens. In general, Alternaria and Cladosporium (Hormodendrum) are the molds most commonly found both indoors and outdoors throughout the United States. Aspergillus, Penicillium, Helminthosporium, Epicoccum, Fusarium, Mucor, Rhizopus, and Aureobasidium (Pullularia) are also common. Read more about mold in this article.
Are there mold spore related disorders?
Fungi or microorganisms related to them may cause other health problems similar to allergic diseases. Some kinds of Aspergillus may cause several different illnesses, including both infections and allergy. These fungi may lodge in the airways or a distant part of the lung and grow until they form a compact sphere known as a “fungus ball.” In people with lung damage or serious underlying illnesses, Aspergillus may grasp the opportunity to invade the lungs or the whole body. In some individuals, exposure to these fungi also can lead to asthma or to a lung disease resembling severe inflammatory asthma called allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis.
This latter condition, which occurs only in a minority of people with asthma, is characterized by wheezing, low-grade fever, and coughing up of brown-flecked masses or mucus plugs. Skin testing, blood tests, X-rays, and examination of the sputum for fungi can help establish the diagnosis. Corticosteroid drugs are usually effective in treating this reaction; immunotherapy (allergy shots) is not helpful.
IAQ Regulations and Mold Spores
Standards or Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) for airborne concentrations of mold, or mold spores, have not been set. Currently, there are no EPA regulations or standards for airborne mold contaminants.