Humidity Reminders

 


I have an interest in solutions to illnesses which may have a common origin in the simple condition of high indoor relative humidity. It seems that many informed folks are of the opinion that relative humidity above 50% provides a friendly environment to molds, bacteria, and dust mites, all of which negatively influence health.

My personal crusade is to encourage folks to monitor and to control the relative humidity in their environments so as to determine if they find a connection.

In Florida's hot, humid climate, I find that such an interest is very appropriate, however rare. It is my belief, based upon my testing, that relative humidity levels are not well estimated, and that exposures are often much higher than expected. Some time back, we had occasion to do radon work in an adult congregate living facility in SE Florida. The three story building felt clammy and cold. Our instruments told us that the indoor relative humidity was 92% and the temperature was 72 degrees most of the time. The property managers were unconcerned with our findings, feeling comfort in the notion that they had a maintenance contract with an A/C firm to take care of matters, and that they were sure everything was A-OK. I believe that the building received frequent repainting. There is a critical interaction between A/C and high humidity (called micro-climates by experts that I have met) that I suspect creates a more dangerous condition in some cases than would exist were there no A/C in operation. Within the Florida radon mitigation industry, addition of outside, unconditioned air leads to significant indoor relative humidity increases. The limitation of the Florida Radon Code of a maximum of 15 CFM per person is regularly and grossly exceeded. We have overheard "Radon Experts" advise property owners that 70% indoor relative humidity is normal in an air conditioned environment in Florida. We believe that 49-51% is normal and desirable in this hot, humid climate. And we think it is much safer for folks and fauna as well as building materials and property. And we think that to say that all you need to do to get rid of mold is to "spray it with bleach" is irresponsibly negligent and risky to a substantial fraction of the population which may be sensitive to humidity-loving malevolent organisms.

Wayne Dean

For more information on Wayne, read his excellent on radon remediation
Care2 Ask Annie

The Wonders of Natural Skin Peels

Q: It seems to me that alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) products should be easy to make at home, because aren't they made of fruit? Do you have some recipes?
-Rachel, upstate New York

A: Yes! Fruit acids are great for the skin because they loosen the "glue" between dead skin cells, and the cells fall away, leaving the face very smooth and soft. You'll be amazed at how easy it is to produce fabulous results for your skin that you would imagine only the most expensive and sophisticated products you could buy could do. Not only that, but AHAs are found in fruit and vegetables you may already have in your kitchen or growing in your garden, so you don't need to worry about any synthetic chemicals that may cause harm. The famed beauty Cleopatra unknowingly used the benefit of AHAs on her skin when she bathed in milk. Try any of the following fruit acids, but always take care to avoid your eyes. Avoid using these homemade peels if your skin is sunburned, and before going into the sun.

Malic acid: Apples, vinegar, applesauce, cider
Lactic acid: Buttermilk, yogurt, powdered skim milk, sour cream, blackberries, tomatoes
Tartaric Acid: Grapes, grape juice, wine, cream of tartar
Citric Acid: Citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, grapefruit, and orange
Glycolic acid: Sugar cane

All you need is about one half a teaspoon of liquid per face cleansing. You can freshly squeeze the juice of one lemon, for example, and refrigerate the leftovers for the rest of the week. Just dab some of the juice onto your fingers and pat on your face. Leave on for 10 minutes or so before rinsing.
If you are in a rush, just cut a grape or strawberry in half-whatever you happen to have on hand-and rub it over your skin; let the juice set for a few minutes, and then rinse.

Mold from a Roof Leak

Q: We had a leak in our roof, and now I can't seem to get rid of the mold. Any suggestions? -Carolyn, VT

A: I've shared this problem, and it isn't fun. First, of course, besides getting the roof fixed, you should consult with a professional to ascertain what sort of water damage you have behind the ceiling and walls. But, whatever the case, I have three materials in my arsenal for mold, and using one of these on the mold you can see will help a lot. Tea tree oil, an essential oil found in health food stores, is a broad spectrum fungicide, and is absolutely fantastic for removing mold and mildew. The problem is that it has a strong smell that some people don't like, although few are actually sensitive to it. Put one teaspoon of the tea tree oil and two cups of water into a spray bottle, shake to blend, and spray on the mold. Don't rinse. The smell will dissipate in a few days. Three percent hydrogen peroxide can be used for an odorless spray. Place equal parts water and 3 percent hydrogen peroxide (available in pharmacies) in a spray bottle; don't rinse after you've sprayed the mixture on the mold. The third option is to scrub the area with a borax and water paste, let set until the borax is dry, and then dust off the borax.

Flavorful, Protective Lip Balm

Q: My lips get very chapped, and I'd like to make my own lip balm. How do I do that?
-Wanda, CA

A: Lip balm is easy to make. The basic formula is 1/4 cup vegetable or nut oil, 1/4 ounce beeswax, 1 teaspoon honey or glycerine (humectants), and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon natural flavoring oil such as peppermint or lemon. Heat the oil and beeswax in a double boiler until the beeswax is melted. Remove from heat and whip with an electric beater until creamy. Add the honey or glycerine and flavoring oil; whip some more. Store in small glass jars. Try different oils on your lips to choose the best one for your skin. I tried a drop of apricot kernel oil on my lips and never had to look further-it felt perfect. And experiment with flavoring oils, too. My daughter wouldn't even consider using my homemade lip balm until I flavored it with peppermint flavoring oil, and now she uses it daily in the winter.

Clogged Drain

Q: What would you recommend for a clogged drain?
-Sam, TX

A: Washing soda is an excellent choice for helping drains stay clear because while it is alkaline-a pH of 11-it isn't as caustic and damaging as the commonly used lye-based commercial product. Ideally, use washing soda on your drains once a week to keep them clear. Just pour 1/4 cup or so down the drain, and then flush with water. Washing soda is found in the laundry section of the supermarket. You can use baking soda instead by pouring 1 cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by three cups of boiling water. The boiling water will change the chemical composition of baking soda to become more alkaline like washing soda. If you already have a clog, try pouring 1 cup of washing soda (or baking soda) down the drain followed by three cups of boiling water. Repeat two or three times. If you still have a clog, try pouring down 1 cup of vinegar. Being an acid, the vinegar will neutralize the washing soda or baking soda and there will be some foaming and gurgling, but sometimes this agitation is all that is needed in the end to dislodge the grime.

Deodorant or Antiperspirants?

Q: Which should I use, an antiperspirant or a deodorant? I am confused!
-Emily, N. Dak.

A: Most people think that antiperspirants and deodorants are the same thing, but they aren't. Antiperspirants work by clogging, closing, or blocking the pores with powerful astringents such as aluminum salts so that they can't release sweat. Deodorants work by neutralizing the smell of the sweat and by antiseptic action against bacteria. Deodorants are preferable because they don't interfere with sweating, a natural cooling process.

Baking Soda Simple Solution baking soda

Baking soda works wonders because it neutralizes the odor of sweat. Just sprinkle a light covering of baking soda onto a damp washcloth. Pat on. Don't rinse. This tip-just using baking soda-has saved me on many occasion, especially when traveling.

Basic Deodorant Powder
1/2 cup baking soda
1/2 cup cornstarch
a few drops essential oils such as lavender or cinnamon

Place the ingredients in a glass jar. Shake to blend. Sprinkle a light covering of the powder on a damp washcloth. Pat on. Don't rinse.

Basic Liquid Deodorant

1/4 cup each witch hazel extract, aloe vera gel, and mineral water
1 teaspoon vegetable glycerin
a few drops antibacterial essential oils such as lavender (optional)

Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle. Shake to blend.
Makes 3/4 cup
Shelf Life: Indefinite

Annie Berthold-Bond is the Green Lifestyle Channels Producer for Care2, the largest global community of environmentally conscious consumers on the Web, and has authored several books including Better Basics for the Home and Clean & Green. Find out
Preview

I was talking to the President of Blueair last week. He told me that they are coming out with a children's bedroom sized version of Blueair air filter in November 2000 [I do not have specs yet].This is when they will increase the price of the current Blueair to $499 - an increase of $100. Since that is only 10 weeks away I have it on my calendar to buy a unit before the price increase- I suggest you do too. Currently this is the most popular hepa air filter we sell. While it is not the machine for heavy odors and gas removal it removes allergens out of the air at a very efficient rate and it is QUIET! Our members tell us it is the ideal bedroom filter because of the quietness. Are any of you married like myself to non allergy suffering spouses? If you are , you probably have to wage the battle of "honey do we have to have that noise going?" with your noisy hepa air filters. Blueair wins the noise battle hands down.
Allergy Free Gardening: A European Perspective

From: Tambrogi@aol.com [mailto:Tambrogi@aol.com]
Sent: Sunday, July 30, 2000 7:28 PM
To: tloallergyfree@earthlink.net
Subject: Der Spiegel translation

Editor's note: reprinted with permission. I found this article fascinating .I was blissfully gardening last weekend until I found myself covered in a rash and itching like crazy. It reminded me of some of Tom's wise words of wisdom.
DER SPIEGEL 29/2000, 174-5

ENEMY BY THE SIDE OF THE ROAD

An American researcher is examining the allergenic effect of trees and shrubs.His finding: with very little expenditure, city gardeners can alleviate the misery of people who suffer from allergies.

Grey is the city which hay fever sufferers dream about. All grassy places have been cemented over; far and wide no tree, no bush to give off itchy pollen dust. There is a more elegant solution, says American allergy researcher Thomas Ogren. City gardeners must only know what they ought to plant or not plant. Many trees, like chestnuts or lime- trees (linden), only very seldom trigger allergies. But even such notorious pollen-factories as the ash, the poplar, the maple, and the willow are not altogether evil. Some of them will not give off a single grain of pollen in their entire lifetime. Because these types are, as the botanists say, dioecious (zweihausig). Every tree has either male or female blossoms, and only the males produce pollen. So you simply choose the female trees, says Ogren, and people with allergies will be at peace.

Evidently, almost nobody bothers about all this. That astonished the learned agronomist Ogren many years ago--all the more since his wife and his sisters suffered with terrible hay fever. So the researcher took it on himself to begin the work all alone. He resolved to check out the allergenic effect of as many plants as possible. Allergists had for a long time limited themselves to about a dozen plants which cause grief to most of their patients. Among these are alder-trees, grasses and rye. Ogren, on the other hand, studied hundreds of ordinary shrubs, trees and garden flowers. He scratched the skin of all the acquaintenances he could get a hold of, and rubbed them with pollen specimens.

Ogren observed not only how strongly his research subjects reacted to the pollen. He also considered how long the tested plants bloom, and how widely their pollen disperse--how powerfully, therefore, they will affect whole neighborhoods. Each plant finally received a number between 1 and 10:number 1 for "harmless;" number 5 for "of limited duration or only bothersome in the immediate area;" and number 10 for aggressive pollen that torments hay fever sufferers for months at a time.

In a handbook which has just appeared, Ogren presents his value scale. Municipal and private landscape gardeners, Ogren would wish, can henceforth choose their plants from those in the lower register. Here and there a specimen with an index of 5 or 6 might be bearable, but higher than that noone should ever reach.

Luckily, the most compatible plants are usually the most beautiful to behold. Gorgeous flowers entice insects who purposefully carry the pollen further. In contrast, the wind-pollinaters, with their usually tiny, almost invisible, rather greenish blossoms, belong to the arch- enemies of people who suffer from allergies: they scatter their pollen randomly and massively into the winds.The U.S. Department of Agriculture has for many years been using a computer model to explore how vegetation affects the quality of life of inhabitants in cities. The next step ought to be to experimentally build Ogren's Index into that model. In Germany, hardly anyone has cared until now about the allergenic Effect of plants in residential areas. Landscape officials in the cities conform to a generally accepted list of useful street trees, on which one will find a whole multitude of sinners: oaks (8-9 on the Ogren Index), hazel trees (8),alders (9), ash (up to 9, depending on the kind), maples (7-8), and the plane-tree (9), which is always beloved because it makes so little dirt. Chestnuts, on the other hand, which cause allergy sufferers few problems, would not be so ideal, says Hartmut Tauchnitz, spokesman for regional organizations of city landscape gardeners. Chestnut trees let their fruit fall on parked cars. Beech trees, on the other hand, the arch-enemy of runny noses, "now as always belong to the race of beloved street trees," says Tauchnitz. The sand birch has in fact been chosen "Tree of the Year 2000."

Far and wide throughout Germany, birch groves and birch alleys will now be solemnly planted. Only in Freiburg, in the neighborhoods of Rieselfeld and Vauban, is the City Landscape Department willing to forgo, as much as possible, planting trees that can be difficult for the inhabitants. City Gardener Tauchnitz finds this excessive. "I can't be concerned one very street with the three persons with allergies who perhaps live there, "he says. "They're going to suffer in any case." Measurements actutally show that birch pollen often drifts for kilometers in the air. But that doesn't prevent the largest portion of the pollen from falling right around the tree. Researcher Ogren has established that, under birches that stand alone on asphalt surfaces, the ground was golden with pollen at blooming time. A few meters away from the tree, there was hardly a trace of pollen to be found.

The scientific value of this observation may be disputable, but there are hardly any better investigations available. Most of the pollen traps with which the concentration of pollen in the air is measured are usually placed about 15 meters above hospitals and other buildings. They give us very little information about what is happening at the level where breathing is taking place.

Although about 12 million Germans have allergic head colds, it is astonishing how little is known about the circumstances under which this suffering breaks out. What pollen dose triggers it? Is it the sudden gustof wind when a susceptible person passes close to a pollen- bearing birch tree? Or is it rather just the continual haziness which comes from who knows where? The most recent "Special Environmental and Health Assessment" issued by a group of experts appointed by Environmental Minister Trittin laments that there are "considerable gaps in our knowledge."

Only this is clear: the more the pollen which is circulating, the more powerful will be the reactions. When birches blossomed especially luxuriantly this Spring, there appeared "a whole wave of new patients who previously had had no problems," reported the Bochum allergist GerhardSchultze-Werninghaus. However, as long as certain threshold pollen values have not been exceeded, even notorious allergy sufferers have no complaint.

Many professionals are therefore pleading for caution in new plantings. According to the Viennes eallergist Friederich Horak, it would be "absolute imbecillity" to wantonly plant new birch trees. Horak directs the Vienna Allergy Center, where all the measurement data are gathered from the European pollen information agencies. "The principal trigger of allergies in our latitudes is now the birch tree, and nothing else comes even close."

In North America, on the other hand, people with allergies suffer before anything else from a weed called Ragweed. This plant, in German "Traubenkraut," in August and September poisons the air of the whole continent with aggressive pollen--except for a stretch of land in Canada.

The Gaspe Peninsula in the Province of Quebec is free from the burden some growth of the species Ambrosia. In the 1930s, the environmental biologist Elzear Campagna led a successful campaign against the weed there. Hordes of helpers, sometimes armed with flame-throwers, spread out over the narrow tongue of land. Thousands of school children ripped up the ragweed. Today the peninsula is famous as a vacation paradise for tourists with hay-fever.

Germany will soon stand before similar challenges. Allergenic ragweed is spreading throughout Europe. It has already taken root around Lyon, in France. "It is only a question of time until the first plants push over the Danube into Bavaria," says botanist Siegfried Jager, a colleague of Horak in Vienna. Eastern Europe is already as good as conquered. And in Hungary, where more than 20% of the population suffers from hay fever, the dread of a pollen invasion has enkindled a national campaign. The mayor of Budapest lets herds of sheep graze on public lands surrounding the city, so that the animals can chew up the ragweed. And in the whole country a new kind of popular contest has been established: winner is the first one who comes back with 100 ripped up ragweed shrubs.

tr. Thomas E. Ambrogi
29 July 2000
Ask Tom Ogren your questions on his on Allergy free gardening.
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A Buyers Guide to Hepa Vacuum Cleaners
by Mercia Tapping

What Size is your Home?
The first thing to consider is the size of your home. While we have a preference for at least a mid size vacuum cleaner which will handle effectively most people's needs most of the time, a full size canister may be more appropriate for a very large house , and conversely the student with a dorm room or an elderly person with a studio apartment needs a smaller sized vacuum cleaner to get the job done.

What kind of flooring do you have in your home?
While we hope as an allergy or asthma sufferer you have limited the use of carpeting in your house, nevertheless we know many of you still have substantial carpeting. With a considerable amount of carpet, you may want to also include as a possibility a high end upright vacuum cleaner like the Eureka Sanitaire Commercial since the suction power on these machines provides excellent value for money. If you have a mix of carpeting and wooden floors you will definitely need a canister vacuum which can go from carpeting to bare floors seamlessly.

Do you prefer to use canister or upright vacuum cleaners?
Some people have a clear preference for one or the other, and in reality either type can be made to work well for you. If you have never had the experience to compare the two types, try one out at a friend's house you might be surprised at the innovations in the marketplace.

Advantages of Upright Vacuum cleaners
Uprights are easier and more compact to store in a closet. They often provide more suction power at a lower price than the canister vacuums if carpet vacuuming[for instance of dog hair] is your main concern.

Disadvantages of Upright Vacuum cleaners.
Most are quite heavy to move around, an exception to this is the Eureka self propelled which has been brought back by Eureka by popular demand. Most uprights do not have a fully sealed or post motor hepa system. Most upright vacuums are not designed for easy efficient use of onboard tools. The Eureka Sanitaire is a notable exception in both respects.

Advantages of canister vacuum cleaners
The biggest advantages in our minds are the following : canister vacuum cleaners allow for an easy transition from bare floors to carpets. Once positioned in the middle of a room , they are much lighter to push around. Canister vacuums have on board tools, essential if you are going to do a thorough cleaning. We use ours for dusting furniture, vacuuming bathroom and kitchen tile floors, upholstery and car cleaning, computer equipment to name just a few of the applications for the tools.

Disadvantages of canister vacuum cleaners.
Some people are more used to an upright vacuum cleaner and see it as more convenient to store than a canister. Also , until you buy a full size canister, the power and effectiveness for basic carpet vacuuming tends to be less. If you just have carpets you may be happier with a top of the line upright.

Why is a hepa vacuum cleaner is a useful tool for allergy and asthma sufferers?
The word "HEPA" stands for "high efficiency particulate air" and in order for a filter to be rated as HEPA it must retain all particles .3 microns in size or larger at an efficiency level of 99.97%. The most common airborne particles are about 2.4 microns but the average vacuum cleaner only vacuums up particles from 30 to 50 microns in size, blowing the rest of the allergens back into the air. The most harmful sized particulates are about .3 microns in size.

Hepa Air cleaners will only do part of the job needed by an allergy sufferer in order to keep their environment clean. A hepa air cleaner tends to draw towards its filter those allergens which are already air borne. On the other hand a hepa vacuum cleaner will clean up those allergens and dust which have settled on furniture floors and carpets These "settled" allergens keep getting stirred up [and subsequently inhaled] by human movement in a room.

Would a built in/central vacuum system be the best solution for an allergy sufferer?
With a built in vacuum cleaner there is no possibility that allergens can be exhausted back into the room, making it unequivocally the vacuum cleaning method of choice for an allergy sufferer. Since they are stationary they often have more powerful motors than portable vacuum cleaners. Dirt is either collected in a container usually located in a garage or basement, or exhausted directly outside a house. The connection hoses for central vacuums have become lighter and easier to manipulate in recent years. However, the biggest disadvantage of central vacuums is they do not have any onboard tools and you need to carry them separately[read stay in the closet].They are also more costly initially to install, requiring at least a half day of professional installer time. In addition, despite design improvements many people find a 30 foot hose awkward to carry around. As with all product choices , there are tradeoffs to be considered.

Features to check out before you purchase a vacuum cleaner.
Hepa filter
The hepa filter needs to be positioned post motor so as to ensure the exhaust is emitting allergen free air. This post motor feature is currently only available in canister vacuums.

1. Completely Sealed Hepa System
The bag and motor components need to be completely sealed by rubber gaskets so that there is no leakage of dust filled air. Dust and allergens need to kept in the machine where they belong.

2. 2 Fan suction motor
A two fan motor can pull in significantly more dirt and allergens than a single fan motor. The power of a vacuum is usually measured in air flow - cubic feet per minute. For instance a Miele White or Red Star is rated at 125 cubic feet per minute making them one of the most powerful machines available for residential use.

3. On board tool caddy
As mentioned before onboard tools are essential in our opinion. The key to good on board tools is how easily they can be changed on the fly. You should be able to change from the floor tools to upholstery or dusting with one quick pull and unscrew motion. In this regard , we think Miele have created the most consumer friendly machine.

4. Rotating Power Nozzle [canisters]
These are better for cleaning carpets.

5. On board hose storage [uprights].
Storing onboard tools tends to be awkward at best in an upright vacuum cleaner. The Eureka Sanitaire tends to do the best job in our opinion ,of any vacuum in storing tools onboard.

6. On/ off rotating brush [uprights].
Ability to switch from the carpet to bare floor at the touch of a switch.

7. Easy to use controls and on off switch
All these controls should easily used.

8. Dirt Sensor
This indicates when the area has been deep cleaned. Usually only found in uprights. We happen to be fond of this feature.

9. Long flexible hose
Some hoses tend to twist and kink

10. Adjustable telescopic wand[canisters]
Very important in assisting your ability to go seamlessly in adjusting the optimal distance in reaching high places, furniture or floors. The telescopic wand should adjust easily without having to fiddle with it.

11. Carpet height adjustment
Vacuuming different carpets- from deep pile Chinese carpets to a cotton rug needs the ability to adjust the controls at the touch of a switch or dial.

12. Easy maneuverability.
Good quality large size castor wheels increase maneuverability. When using an upright self propelled models such as the Eureka self- propelled, vacuuming becomes easier.

13. Swivel 360?for hose and wheels[canister]
In order for machines to be easily maneuverable they need to have the capability of swiveling 360? without moving the machine

14. Attachments
At a minimum, a vacuum cleaner should have a dusting brush with soft bristles, upholstery, bare floor and crevice tools as the basics.

15. Long retractable cord[canister]
Good canisters have automatic retractable cords which make for neater storage.25 feet is a good minimum length.

16. Dust bag change indicator
We like to be reminded and a machine does not work effectively with an overfull bag and can burn out.

17. Lightweight
No vacuum cleaner or other appliance will be used if it is too heavy. We have found most people are comfortable up to about 15lbs.Over that weight it will feel too heavy for a number of people ,especially if you have to carry it up and downstairs.

18. Suction control switch
Suction control switches need to be available at finger tip control or by floor press controls, since vacuuming drapes needs less suction than carpets. This is where canister vacuums excel.

19. Fan position
It is better design for the dirt to be vacuumed into the dust bag first before it hits the blower fan. This way exhausting allergens into the room is minimized. By no means all machines are built this way. Very often manufacturers have taken an existing design and just added a hepa filter , but not positioning it in the optimal position.

20. Blower
It is useful to be able to attach the hose in such a way as to blow away dirt in hard to reach places. Allergy sufferers should only use this feature in emergencies as it stirs up dirt and allergens into the air.

21. Quiet
If you like to vacuum late at night or after the children are in bed, noise level becomes important. We have found Miele vacuum cleaners exceptionally quiet.

22. Bag savers and bagless vacuum cleaners.
We do not on the whole recommend them for allergy sufferers, as you have to empty an unsealed container full of dirt and allergens. People like them as they save on the cost of vacuum cleaner bags and they like seeing the dirt getting "sucked up". If you insist on buying a vacuum with this feature like the Eureka Europa Bagsaver model get someone who does not suffer from allergies to empty it out for you.

23. Hygienic dust bags
Built in dust flaps which automatically close when you change a bag to prevent dust from escaping.

24. Warranty
Check the manufacturer's warranty period. You should be able to get a 5 year warranty on the motor and one year on other parts.

25. Commercial versus Residential
Commercial machines are built to withstand usage 7 hours a day five days a week. Residential users only use their vacuum cleaners 1 to 3 hours per week.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * * *
For those of you who have asked recently what vacuum cleaner I use in my own home- it is a Miele Red Star. My central vacuum system has lain idle for 8 months now that I have a Miele. My cleaning service didn't show up for a couple of weeks so I was back cleaning house last weekend. I reflected that if I did not have a Miele I would have been very frustrated. When I [as opposed to our cleaning service who have no real clue] do deep down cleaning I use the Miele attachments for everything, vacuuming up every little piece of dust in sight from every conceivable surface- furniture, lamps, upholstery, floors, walls- nothing gets spared especially in the bedroom.
The and the are available at the store.
Price Decrease

The Eureka Sanitaire commercial upright vacuum has been reduced over $100 in price by the manufacturer. It is a superb machine for those of you who still have carpets and this month only it comes with $40 of free bags for members only. It can be found at
The Meaning of Outdoor Air Microbial Levels: IAQ Tech Tip #36
When performing indoor air quality investigations that require microbial sampling an important consideration is where and when to take and outdoor samples. A key component of any IAQ investigation is the outdoor air sample. It provides crucial information that helps determine not only whether there is an indoor air amplification site or reservoir, but also potential sources for the indoor air problem.

Outdoor air is the ultimate source for many bioaerosols and for organisms that can eventually contaminate indoor air. The outdoor air may contain pollen, plant spores, fungal spores, bacteria and bacterial spores, algae, and viruses. These microscopic contaminates can enter structures through a number of sources including: doors, windows, structural cracks and ventilation intakes.

When an indoor air quality investigation is performed it is crucial to have data from outdoor samples to help determine whether indoor contaminants are being generated within the structure or are from infiltration of outdoor contaminants. Outdoor samples should be taken at approximately the same time as indoor air samples. In most circumstances the levels of indoor contaminants can be expected to be around 25% to 95% of that of the outdoor levels. If indoor aerosol concentrations are significantly higher than outdoor concentrations, or if different species are present in indoor samples versus outdoor samples, then an indoor reservoirs and/or amplification sites are likely present. An effective interpretation can be based on the comparison of these indoor and outdoor samples.

There are a number of considerations to be made with regards to taking and interpreting outdoor samples during an IAQ investigation. Key among these considerations is weather, time of day, and the location of the sampler. When sampling outdoors the temperature, wind, and humidity can have dramatic effects on collection efficiency. Sampling on days when there are strong winds can cause outside counts to be significantly higher than on non-windy days. High outdoor counts may mask small to moderate indoor mold problems since the interpretation is made on the basis of a ratio of indoor/outdoor spore counts. When sampling in windy conditions the location and orientation of sampling equipment is crucial. Ideally when using suction samplers (ex. Aerotech 6/Andersen N6/Air-O-Cell Cassettes) the inlet should be orientated into the direction of the wind, varying this orientation increases the chance of under sampling larger particles.

Sampling during and after rain can skew outdoor data. Rain can remove many spore types while it assists in the dispersion of others. Sampling on rainy, foggy, or very humid days may result in outdoor counts that are low or have a significantly different distribution of spore types. Generally, rainy day microflora differs from dry, sunny microflora in that levels of ascospores and basidiospores may be increased. Non-viable methods will reflect this directly with increased counts of ascospores and basidiospores.

Temperature can also affect the levels of outdoor contaminants as well as the method of collection. Temperature can affect impaction surface retention and temperatures at or below 0 degrees Celsius should use pre-warmed air when using agar impaction methods. Temperature and light levels also affect the natural dispersal of different types of spores and pollens and must be taken into consideration when sampling.

Disturbances of exterior land can also have profound effects on the data. Outdoor activities such as landscaping and farming can cause dramatic increases in the dissemination of bioaerosols and sampling during these times should be factored into any conclusions derived from the data.

Contact for further information and archives of IAQ tips
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Editor's (chocolate!) note
For some reason, and don't ask me why I have been craving chocolate lately. Strange craving , given it is supposed to be summer but I couldn't resist bringing this to your attention in case you missed it.

From: Wendy Pake [pake-nc@worldnet.att.net]
Subject: Awesome Chocolate Cake

We just made a no egg, no dairy chocolate cake (been searching for a long time for a recipe that will pass our "taste test" - this one was great!)

Swiss Alps Chocolate Cake
Ingredients
2 cups sugar
3 cups flour (all-purpose)
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 Tablespoons white vinegar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups cold coffee (can use decaf)

1.In large bowl, sift together sugar, flour, salt, cocoa and baking soda.
2.Add vinegar, oil, vanilla and coffee and mix well.
3.Oil and flour (or PAM) the baking pan(s)
4.Bake at 325 for 30-35 minutes.
5.Makes 2 layers or 9 x 13 pan. (I also made some small cupcakes and baked them for 20 minutes).

Wendy
Mom to Reed, 3, allergic to dairy, egg, peanut, sesame, shellfish. Also avoid mustard, kidney/chick peas. ("outgrew" sensitivity to soy, wheat, oats). Asthma
Graham, 1, never been exposed to any of above.
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Nature's Window

Editor's note: I came across this product the other day and at first dismissed it until I realized that with all the hum of air cleaners in the back ground I had forgotten the pleasures of listening to the sounds of nature. Go visit this web site and learn more. Mention AllergyBuyersClub.com and the inventors of this device will give you a special price!

People who are allergic to outdoor molds and pollens find it easy to feel entombed in their houses, shut in with the doors and windows closed, locked away from the world on the other side of the glass. We have tried to combat that depressing feeling by creating Nature's Window.

Nature's Window is an easy-to-install, easy-to-use monitor for listening to outdoor sounds in your home. There are no batteries, no wiring, no transmitters and receivers - in short, no fussing around. You just set it up, plug it in, and enjoy. We have heard from dozens of people who have used Nature's Window because they couldn't have open windows, and they all are so pleased to be able to hear birds, crickets, storms, their children playing outside - all the sounds they would hear through an open window.

Nature's Window was designed by Theo Chamberlin (my husband), and we hand-wire and hand-assemble every unit. Every one we make is perfect, or it doesn't leave our shop. We have at least one Nature's Window in every room in our house, and we just wouldn't be without them. We miss the outdoor sounds when the Nature's Windows are turned off!

We never have our windows open, as both Theo and our daughter have severe allergies. Nature's Window has been a godsend to us. We think your members will feel the same way.

You can learn more about Nature's Window (as well as order securely online) at
Primaloft Demand

The manufacturer of Primaloft is experiencing an overwhelming demand for this product and it is back ordered. If you are considering buying a new comforter this Fall we are advising all our members to order now and get in line so you will have your comforter when you need it. Order now and you comforter will be with you by Mid September just in time for the Fall chills. Massachusetts residents know that we think Fall has arrived already. Where was our summer?
Refer us to a friend!

Please send this newsletter onto your friends. They will thank you for it and we need you to spread the word.

Keep Well, Enjoy your Labor day weekend.

Regards, Mercia Tapping, President

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DRUG ALERT
Phenylpropanolamine Can Cause Stroke - FDA

The FDA has reported a steady incidence of stroke in young women taking this medication. This usually occurs in the first few weeks of taking the drug. Probably more associated with using Phenylpropanolamine in a diet pill than in a nasal pill but this is not clearly established at this time.

What is established is that you can reduce stroke in young women by avoiding
this medication.

Phenylpropanolamine is a drug used to relieve nasal congestion due to colds, hay fever, upper respiratory allergies, and sinusitis. It is available in nonprescription products alone (Propagest?, Rhindecon?, and others) and in combination with other nonprescription drugs, to treat symptoms of allergy, colds, and upper respiratory infections, including:

Phenylpropanolamine/brompheniramine (Dimetapp?, DayQuil? Allergy Relief,
and others).
Phenylpropanolamine/chlorpheniramine (Contac? 12 Hour, Triaminic?-12, and
others)
Phenylpropanolamine/clemastine (Tavist? D)
Phenylpropanolamine/guaifenesin (Entex? LA and others)
Phenylpropanolamine/guaifenesin/dextromethorphan (Robitussin? CF and others)
Phenylpropanolamine is also used as a diet pill in: products alone (Acutrim?, Dexatrim?, Dexa-Diet?, Unitrol?, and others) and in combination with other ingredients for weight loss

The stroke usually occured in the first two weeks of the medication. For anyone taking the medication for a longer period of time, there doesn't appear to be a problem. My impression is that it was the diet pills in higher doses that was the primary cause of the stroke problem. Maybe the nasal pills will be resumed at a later date.

Fortunately most of these nasal/allergy/sinus drugs are used for conditions that can be treated by restoring good mucociliary movement of the nasal cilia. Slow mucociliary clearance - slow ciliac is found in most of the nasal/sinus conditions such as post nasal drip, chronic sinusitis. By restoring the cilia to normal speed, relief and even cure are commonly achieved without the above drugs.

For nasal/sinus conditions there are several avenues for relief without drugs.

Grossan Pulasatile Sinus Irrigator is used to restore cilia by using the common dental irrigator with a Grossan Sinus Adaptor and a solution of Breathe.ease. Simply add one teaspoon of Breathe.ease to the dental irrigator, add a pint of warm water (16 ounces or almost a liter) and the pulsation gently removes mucus and phlegm and pulses the cilia back to normal.

Breathe.ease is a mix of products found in the hospital intravenous solution that is known to improve nasal function. It can be used as a nasal moisturizer spray. The solution doesn't contain benzalkonium or other preservatives that are known to be harmful to the nose. Spraying the nose with this 3x a day helps restore the normal cilia movement.

For thick phlegm or sinus pain, Clear.ease is a natural combination of papaya and pineapple enzymes that thin the mucus to allow the cilia of the nose and sinus to return to normal. By reducing swelling this relieves sinus pain.

These products are explained fully at www.sinus-relief.com . Many patients will appreciate these drug free approaches to nasal/sinus/allergy relief, and the fact that not only are they safe, but they are recommended by many medical journal articles.

These drug companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars urging you to use drugs. We have a non drug alternative.

Murray Grossan, M.D.
http://www.ent-consult.com
Hydro Med, Inc. Originators of Nasal Irrigator, Clear.ease and Breathe.ease
Editor's note:
Dr Grossan's is available at .
STUCK FOR CHRISTMAS IDEAS?
Do not forget our cotton hand-loomed blankets by Peter. We have had one on our bed for years - it doubles as summer bedcover as they are beautiful. The baby or toddler size is always a winner as a baby gift. For pure luxury the hand-loomed alpaca throws are to die for. These are softer than cashmere. We have a number of styles in stock ready to ship for Christmas.

"OFF THE WEB" PRELAUNCH SPECIAL: TIDYVAP VAPOR STEAM CLEANER
Now this is an interesting one for you! The Tidyvap is the younger cousin to the Ladybug. We have a pre-launch off the web special. You would need to phone us (1-888-236-7231) to get this one. The difference between the Ladybug and the Tidyvap is that the Tidyvap does not have a pressure gauge and does not have two tools included in the Ladybug kit of accessories. The Tidyvap is $699 until Dec 30, 2000 and we can give you the extra tools for $150 [big triangular brush and window squeegee]. So the total would be $849. I consider this to be a real bargain.

Remember that this is an "off the web" special, so call us at 1-888-236-7231.

HOW TO USE YOUR AIR CLEANER MOST EFFECTIVELY
Interview with William Schuettenberg, Vice President, Healthway Products
by Mercia Tapping, President, Allergybuyersclub.com

Question: What do you think are the most common misconceptions that people have about air cleaning?

Answer: My conversations with consumers over the years convinces me that the primary misconception regarding air cleaning is many people believe cleaning the air is an "event", like vacuuming the carpet or floor. I turned the air cleaner on for 2 hours or some other time period, and the room is "clean". The job is finished. Actually, air within any indoor space is in a state of constant change, adding particles, microorganisms and gases "into" that space continuously. A roomful of air is anything but "static".

Every indoor space is continuously bombarded with among other things:
Foot traffic, stirring up dust and other particles that can trigger
allergy/asthma attacks
Microorganisms, airborne from coughing and sneezing
Shedding of our skin as a normal process
Particles coming in through our central heating and cooling systems. Because
contaminant levels in indoor spaces are constantly changing, an air cleaner
should be left on as continuously as possible to get optimum cleaning benefit.
Question: If someone works in an office cubicle and wants to reduce the allergens in their work area what should they do?

Answer: In the office space, the potential for allergy particles in the air, and virus & bacteria transfer among people is very high indeed. Many offices do not have daily vacuuming, nor do many vacuum with high efficiency filters. The concentration of contaminants left continuously airborne in the office
environment is generally very high, potentially higher than your home. People can in fact, "protect" their own air space by using an air cleaner at their work station or in their office.

By keeping the air cleaner "on", you actually maintain a protected area even in an office cubicle, something like a "bubble" around you, where contaminants have difficulty entering "your space" because you are continuously pushing clean air into your work space.

Question: I have had some people who want to put air cleaners in their closets or under their desks. Any comments?

Answer: Well, all I can say is wherever the air cleaner is placed, the air gets cleaned.

Question: We often get people who want to move an air cleaner from room to room during the week - one day one room and then move onto the next.

Answer: I have been asked this question many times. I find that people get the highest satisfaction from their air cleaner when they focus its ability to clean, in a single indoor space. By that I mean, ask yourself where do you spend the most time, or do you have trouble sleeping at night, does your office
environment give you problems you don't have in other spaces, etc. Pick a target area and do an excellent job in that space, continuously. Approximately 30% of people who start by purchasing one air cleaner, buy another one because they discover "it works" in a specific space, when they leave it on continuously.

Question: Can you explain to our members what the difference the fan speed makes to the cleaning effectiveness of a machine?

Answer: The higher the fan speed, the more air is drawn into the machine, and the more clean air is distributed per hour back into the space. The purpose of an air cleaner is to clean the entire volume of air in the space, and clean it again, and againˇ­.remember, contaminants are continuously entering the air as we discussed before. LOW speed might clean a rooms air volume twice each hour, while HI speed on the same machine might clean it 6 times each hour. Especially to an allergy or asthma sufferer, the highest amount of clean air is the best.

Question: Do you recommended turning an air cleaner on high when you are out of a room and then on low when say you want to go to sleep?

Answer: This becomes a preference as it relates to the noise level. It is possible on HI speed to clean a space while no one is in it, and have a lower speed at night when the air cleaner "maintains" a good level of clean air through the night. It is certainly worth a try. People tell me this does work. The allergy sufferer may require a higher cleaning level continuously, butˇ­.try it. Using the air cleaner in different ways gives you more understanding of how it works, and what to expect. The fan speeds are options for you to use; making the air cleaner more flexible for your needs and the air cleaning applications.

Question: Many people are buying machines based on quietness, indeed we ourselves have criticized your product for being "noisy". What is your response to this?

Answer: A tough question, but one that needs discussion. Noise is a subjective issue. Years ago, I had a pond in my backyard, that seemed to have "hundreds" of frogs, judging by the nightly singing ritual. That was noise! Strangely, after a week or two, I found the "chorus" soothing, and I had trouble sleeping without them. Noise is very personal - my suggestion is for the person to operate the air cleaner for a reasonable time before making a decision on whether the noise level is a problem. Most importantly, give the air cleaner a chance, and try using it at different speeds, and then make your decision.

When discussing noise it helps to know that noise is made up of "volume" and "pitch". For example, many people find higher volume noise levels less of an issue as long as they are in the range of a more neutral pitch. Healthway products target "neutral" pitch.

Question: How do you know whether a HEPA filter is really doing its job? When would you change the filter?

Answer: An air cleaner is a different product than for example, a heater or an air conditioner. With a heater or air conditioner, you feel heat or cool instantly. With an air cleaner users typically notice a decrease of allergic reactions or other symptoms over time - generally within 2-3 days of continuous use. Or they may notice they have less house dust (a mite allergen home) or they sleep better. Observing the filter also indicates the air cleaner is working, as the filter turns color as contaminants build up.

Most manufacturers have a device to signal when to change the filters. Better quality products use pressure switches that actually measure the point when filters become clogged, and need changing. This pressure switch is usually for the main filter. Less expensive products use a simple timer to approximate when the filter might be clogged.

Consumers can also feel where the air comes out. If it appears no air is coming out, or the air is "puffing" the filter probably is clogged, and needs to be changed.

Question: Are there any benefits to using a room air cleaner as opposed to a central HEPA or electrostatic system?

Answer: A central forced heat or air conditioning system generally has a filter that is not high efficiency and is not very dense; so only larger particles may be captured. Larger particles are seldom the issue for respiratory problems, it is the smaller ones that can get into your lungs, and cause reactions and trigger breathing attacks. I always recommend that consumers use at least a middle grade efficiency filter in their central system, to get some smaller particles. Central systems do not clean rooms at a high level because they do not set up a strong enough air current in the room to get all the air space "scrubbed" and then back though the central filter system. To have the best indoor air quality, use a good, middle grade central filter, along with a high efficiency room air cleaner for the spaces of greatest health concern.

Question: Ok, here you can make a plug for your Healthway product line. I know you believe passionately in its superiority - Why?

Answer: I do. As we look at indoor spaces, and the contaminants airborne within these spaces, I believe Healthway's patented EMF technology certified by independent laboratory testing; demonstrates a true advancement for healthier indoor air. This machine is designed to remove 99.99% of particles that are 0.3 microns in size. To me the more serious health issue is the spread of airborne viruses, bacteria, and mold spores. Our EMF Filtration System "Kills" 100% of airborne viruses, 98-100% of bacteria and 94% of mold spores. To me, the high efficiency of our machine "killing" microorganisms is a clear technology advancement. HEPA "does not" kill microorganisms. These microorganisms are present in our homes, offices and certainly our school classrooms. The EPA defines Biological pollutants as:
Animal Dander (minute scales from hair, feathers, or skin)
Dust Mite & Cockroach parts
Fungi (Molds)
Infectious Agents (bacteria or viruses)
Pollen

According to the EPA "Biological pollutants promote poor indoor air quality and may be a major cause in days lost from work or school, and of doctor and hospital visits. Biological pollutants can travel through the air and are often invisible". Under Health Effects of Biological Pollutants the EPA states,
"except for the spread of infections indoors, allergic reactions may be the most common health problem with indoor air quality in homes. Allergic reactions can range from mildly uncomfortable to life threatening, as in a severe asthma "attack". I believe the Healthway patented EMF Filtration System gives you the performance edge of it's advanced technology to provide increased protection for you and all your indoor spaces.

Question: In what circumstances does the Healthway product line do best and why?

Answer: I believe our best applications are any non-smoking environment. Our only criteria is that the indoor space match the capacity of the air cleaner. The EMF Filtration System captures allergy particles at a higher efficiency that HEPA. Observing viruses, bacteria and mold spores on the rise as a growing indoor air health issue caused Healthway to focus on obtaining exclusive proven technology that guarantees a high level of "germ" kill in the air cleaner. Think for a moment about the air environment at work - a person has a cold or flu like symptomsˇ­what happensˇ­.others get it. Protecting children is another environment our technology excels. As it relates especially to smaller
childrenˇ­in the December issue of CHILD magazine, talking about school environments, the article states, "children are especially vulnerable to environmental hazards because, per pound of body weight, they eat, drink and breathe three to four times as much as adults do". The article suggests that in addition to focusing on the excellence of a schools curriculum and teachers, parents might be well served to research the indoor "health" of the physical building itself. It seems; just like our offices are an adults work environmentˇ­.a child's school is their work environment. I also believe an excellent application for our room air cleaner is a childs bedroom; whether allergies are an issue or not, respiratory systems that are still developing in the child can certainly benefit from cleaner healthier air.