Archive for category ‘Indoor Air Pollution‘

Environmental diseases are not unexplained mysteries

More attention needed to the disease factor in indoor pollutants

The awareness of the importance of uncontaminated food and pollution-free products in everyday life is growing worldwide. People are striving for a healthy and unpolluted living environment. Especially noteworthy are efforts that have been observed recently in Norway. In this Scandinavian country, efforts are prioritized to protect children, particularly against pollutants and allergens. One of the most active pioneers is Kjell Aas, a retired professor who supports the Norwegian Asthma and Allergy Association, with his profound knowledge. This scientist is anxious to clear ignorance about environmental and pollution-related diseases. He clarifies the facts to the authorities and population in ways which are understandable.

Environmental diseases are not mysteries, but scientifically explainable

For many people it is still difficult to understand that polluted air can also cause health problems or symptoms beyond just the respiratory tract. Research has delivered to us today only fragmentary explanations, but there are some entirely understandable explanations and solid scientific evidence of things not delivered to us, which Kjell Aas tries to make as general knowledge for the public.

The scientist Kjell Aas said, “Medical science has not yet managed to explore all the biochemical mechanisms behind the disease. The same goes for the so-called environmental diseases, such as hyperactivity, migraines, and multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). To think that these environmental illnesses are something mysterious or inexplicable, or even that they are psychologically conditioned is just incorrect. This can be explained by one or more biochemical reactions. Both the physical and mental functions and activities are regulated by more or less complex chemical processes. The reactions are dependent on the dose and individual tolerance levels.”

Individual biochemistry sets the pace

“From a scientific aspect,” says Kjell Aas, “one must internalize that our internal biochemistry relies on the smooth functioning of a variety of cells with specific receptors and signal systems operating, and upon thousands of enzymes and co-enzymes. These biochemical processes can lead inhibitory and stimulatory mechanisms and integrated “amplifier systems” to gain significant effects.”

Kjell Aas says that the following is important for the public to realize, “Every person is an individual with his/her own individual biochemistry. A few milligrams of cocaine can change the personality and emotional life of an individual,” says the scientist, and continues, “or imagine alcohol having the same affect on the population, but as everyone knows, the tolerance threshold is different for each unique individual.”

The air we breathe daily

The scientist points out in his illustrative design, that adults consume 12 to 15 kg of air per day, and those gaseous chemicals are in the air we breathe, in a more or less high concentrations. Some of these gases combine with others, making them more harmful. These include ozone and other gases that lead to oxidation processes.

In addition, we take in particles in the air we breathe each day without ceasing. We breathe millions of fine particulate matter every hour of every day. These include chemical substances that are associated with the particulate matter which are in a position to pass as easily as breathing gases, and to move fully into blood, lymph and tissue fluid, the researcher points out.

Children are not little adults

Kjell Aas thinks special attention should focus on improving the current situation for children. He justifies this by saying that children can tolerate very little and will get sick easily from chemicals. “We have a variety of cells in our body,” the scientist explained, “all based on chemicals. The chemicals must agree to allow the cells to function properly and then the body will not get sick. ”

The Norwegian elaborated his statement and says, “If an unwanted chemical substances are inhaled, then the chemical balance is upset and so are the cells, and thus we get sick. The cells are blocked by these unwanted chemicals and cannot send out important chemical messengers responsible for our health.”

“Who exactly needs to understand these statements?” Kjell Aas wonders. It is important for all of us to realize the significant consequences for children, in particular, whose bodies are still under construction and development. This enlightenment is exactly what Kjell Aas hopes to awaken in all of us in hopes that we all begin to act accordingly. The Norwegians therefore ask in conclusion that we should internalize the following important fact:

“The air in a room which is acceptable for children, it is also acceptable for adults, but indoor air which is not acceptable for adults, can already make children ill.”

Authors:

Silvia K. Müller, CSN – Chemical Sensitivity Network, Alena Jula, Just Nature, July 1, 2011

Translation: Christi Howarth

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Ant poison in the health food store?

Pesticides – often underestimated

It is annoying when ants suddenly run out halfway across the kitchen, and climb up the kitchen cupboard looking for something sweet. However, street ants and bugs generally die quickly with the grip of poison. It is not a surprise to see a dusty can of pesticides in the home closet or garage, or pesticides offered in the supermarket or hardware store. Recently, however, ant poison is even available in some health food stores.

Although many consumers have become confident in dealing with pesticides, they still question how to treat this ant problem in their kitchens? If the poison kills the ants from the can, is it also possibly that this poison can also affect one’s health? Trivializing descriptions and promises on the box can lead to the underestimation of potential pesticide risks for humans and pets.

Ant poison freely available everywhere

During summer this poison is conveniently available to consumers at checkout counters, especially at the hardware store. Large shelves are built for pesticides of all kinds, to kill mosquitoes, ants, wasps, snails and whatever other pest is unwelcome.

In the summer, it is similar at the supermarket. A large shelf with various pesticides is conveniently and centrally located for consumers. Anyone who knows something about pesticides probably realizes that the products on these shelves are mostly nerve poisons. Among the ingredients are pyrethroids and organophosphates, both classes of pesticides are very harmful. For certain groups at risk, like pregnant women, and those who have chemical allergy-sensitivity, there is an increased danger. This is exactly why German authorities warn the public before they spray these pyrethroids and pyrethrum in the public’s vicinity.

The terms “natural” and “organic” lead to consumer deception

On some pesticide labels it is easy to read “natural pesticides”, “organic”, or “derived from the chrysanthemum” for of the toxic ingredient, pyrethrum. Not all such descriptions however mean that one is dealing with a completely harmless “organic poison.” Although pyrethrum is a contact insecticide derived from chrysanthemum, it has been known since ancient times for its consistent toxicity. Non-hazardous pesticides with natural attractants are rarely found.

Neurotoxic ant poison in the health food stores?

Change of scene: “What do we have here?” I asked myself recently as my eyes fell to the floor at a health food store in the refrigerated section. There was a range of small sized pesticide bottles with a nicely decorated design in pastel colors. “Well, maybe something completely non-toxic, which can be recommended to the neighbors if they have problems with insects,” was my second thought. Then I looked at the list of ingredients on the ant venom spray pump.”Natural pyrethrum” was written there. A toxic nerve agent in the health food store?

“People, who buy ant poison, should already know that!” Really?

The owner of the health food store was not far away, and it was a good opportunity to talk to her regarding the pesticide product line. With a factual explanation of how dangerous pyrethrum can be for health, especially for children, the sick, those with allergies, asthma, and pets, the health food store-owner then answered, “People who buy ant poison, should already who knows that.”

Pesticides assessed by each person, right?

This exact statement was an affirmation that even those who should be familiar with pesticides, sometimes completely underestimate their danger.

Even natural pyrethrum poses significant health risks for humans and pets. Cats can die from it. From the toxicology and medical reports, it is known that pyrethrum is harmful and can trigger allergies and asthma. So for safety sake it is better to leave this “natural” pesticide alone and try a harmless home remedy instead.

Health food stores should offer no pesticides with pyrethrum. The consumer confidence in their health food store drops by having such health hazards available for purchase. The better option, specifies an American organic supermarket chain, is to distribute free brochures with tips for small non-toxic pest control. Toxic items and multi-vitamins do not peacefully coexist in the same store.

Author: Silvia K. Müller, CSN – Chemical Sensitivity Network, 06/26/2011

Free poison tip against ants in the house and garden:

Get a bag of chili seeds from the supermarket and place several tablespoons into a glass with oil. Then wait a couple of hours and sprinkle them outside along the door. This effective barrier is completely toxin-free and one can enjoy watching the ants outside make a U-turn.

Helpful tip: Warm the chili seeds with warm oil on the stove so that the agent responsible for the sharpness of capsaicin passes quickly into the oil. You can also spread the seeds of chili without oil, but the disadvantage is that they may be spread by wind.

Helpful informations about non toxic pestcontrol Steve Tvedten

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Causes of mildew in the house

Construction and other influences which promote the growth of mold

Mold needs nutrients and moisture to grow. As always, building nutrients are present and readily available in various forms, but the moisture in a building will play a crucial role. The moisture threshold is about 70% and below relative humidity at the surface which no growth from mold to materials will occur. As the moisture content increases so will the likelihood of mold growth. At 80% relative humidity at the surface, the growing conditions for almost all indoor air mold species are reached. At even higher surface moisture all mold and bacteria can grow. However it must be noted that the growth conditions of humidity and temperature cannot be considered separately, since the position of the minimum and optimum moisture can move at different temperatures. The minimum values of relative humidity which are necessary for germination or mycelium growth can be achieved only at optimal temperatures. When these optimal temperatures are there, germination or mycelial growth takes place only at higher humidity.

Conditions for mold growth

In addition to the interaction of moisture and temperature, the pH range for growth of mold is also important. The optimum growth range is between pH 5 and pH 7, taking into account that some species of mold grow are in a pH range from 2 to 11. Wallpaper and paint, for example, often have a pH of 5 to 8. Calcareous materials, like plaster for example, or concrete can have pH values above 12. Nevertheless, even then there can be mold growth if, for example, thin biofilms were formed on the material. This medium is due to dust or trapped grease, deposits, etc. available in sufficient quantity on all component surfaces.

Mold is formed only under certain conditions

Basically, mold growth can occur only if the above growth conditions are met. Moisture plays a significant role. This is important to note that hot air – with the same relative humidity – contains more moisture than cold air. This moisture can come from the structure itself or introduced by the room users.

The factors that may be responsible for increased moisture in the building can be summarized as follows:

  • Inadequate insulation and low heat storage
  • Thermal bridges
  • Increased heat transfer resistance
  • Insufficient or inadequate heating
  • Increased production of moisture in the interior
  • Inadequate or improper ventilation
  • Poor moisture buffering of building materials
  • Moisture in the building construction
  • Thermal bridging, insulation

In winter the building can be well dried at low temperatures by venting the air. The cold outside air is heated in the apartment and takes on additional moisture that is transported with the fan to the outside. On the other hand, it can be critical in warm humid places in the apartment to cool the air. For example, this is important in cooler areas like bedrooms or for thermal bridges like corners. In general, it can be assumed that is achieved at a room temperature averaging 21 ° C and a surface temperature of the inner surface of the outer wall of 11 ° C dew point. When below this 11 ° C, the state of the air runs along the saturation line, it creates condensation on the cooler surface. In this case it is necessary to perform thermal insulation of the walls to the interior wall surface to increase temperature.

It must be noted however, that the insulation may be confused with the heat storage. A higher heat storage capacity for heavy building materials (solid walls) can compensate for temperature fluctuations better than lightweight structures and thus also provide a better buffer of the air. Sufficient insulation, proper ventilation, and heating are crucial for the prevention of mold.

Furniture, curtains, and the like are hardly resistant to humidity, like the indoor humidity which penetrates behind the furniture to the walls. At the same time the heat gets into a space by a reduced convective, and then radiating heat is transferred behind furniture and curtains. The wall along such areas means the relative indoor humidity is increased and can lead to mold growth. Therefore, care should be taken to have sufficient convection behind such furnishings.

Temperature regulation, moisture reduction

An increase in air temperature is caused by heat – at the same absolute water content of the air – a decrease of relative air humidity. It also is increased by heating the room, the surface temperature of the inner walls. Both effects contribute to a reduction in the risk of mold growth. If single rooms are not heated or even less, rises in reverse, there is the risk of mold growth. This is particularly true in areas (like bedrooms) that may be used for many hours. A lot of moisture is produced, and it increases the humidity and cold walls are at the risk of condensation. Therefore, unused or little used rooms should be heated slightly over a longer period. Doors to seldom used rooms should be closed. It does not make sense to control the temperature of cool rooms with air from warmer areas. This means consumers will not only heat them, but also the moisture is carried into the cooler room. If the air then cools, the relative air humidity changes and turns on the risk of mold growth. Here, too, it is important to note that the surface moisture on the inner surfaces of outer components is not only related to the ambient humidity, but also is dependent on temperature differences between air and surface. This is significantly influenced by the moisture production in the living room. A high moisture production leads to higher air humidity and thus to higher surface moisture. The ventilation is the most effective means to remove moisture from the home. An exchange of air from the interior to the outside walls of the structure is often mistakenly believed there but it is not the case. The term used in this context, like the “breathing wall” is only seen in connection with the regulation of humidity (moisture buffering).

The moisture regulation will change according to the wall’s ability to take in or release water into the room’s air. As mentioned, solid walls usually have a stronger buffering effect than lightweight structures. The speed and possibility of compensation for the absorption depends strongly on the porosity and the ab-and desorption of the building materials used. A brick has a higher porosity than many natural stones and is therefore cheaper in the humidity regulation.

Proper ventilation

The ventilation of living spaces means the actual exchange of air. Convection (air movement) can only come through different air temperature states. If one allows the windows to remain open in the wintertime with the radiators turned off, then the air exchange isn’t as efficient. A temperature balance between outdoor and indoor air leads to the stoppage of ventilation. If the radiators are turned off near the titled windows, airflow is stagnant and there is not a good air exchange.

Therefore it doesn’t make any sense to open all windows before leaving the house in the morning. Make sure the heating is off before leaving the house. On behalf of the Federal Environmental Agency in relation to the proper ventilation of the living space, see the following information:

The most effective way to remove moisture from the living space is by doing cross ventilation several times a day. This short-term procedure (5-10 mins., depending on the number and arrangement of windows) will help to remove moisture. If this moisture can only be released in the morning after rising, according to season, room size and air temperature, etc. it is best to ventilate for 30-40 mins. (shock and / or cross ventilation). Only ventilating at night is not a good idea. Then the room must be aired for a longer time (1 hour and longer), because the moisture has been fixed in the walls and furniture, and only slowly escapes. During the ventilation, the heating shouldn’t be stopped completely. In this regard, noted that on a long term ventilation is not recommended because of the tilted windows which are associated with high heating costs. Also the removal of the corpus lip seals in newer, thick windows is not recommended in any case.

It is recommended if one cannot ventilate correctly, to then install a ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC system) in the house. HVAC systems provide fully automatic proper ventilation and heating exchange due to their characteristics (the exhaust heat warms the fresh air) and it also contributes to energy conservation.

Conclusion:

Mold on interior walls have at least one adverse health effect, contrary to many opinions. The causes of mold growth can be discovered by examining the civil engineering of the building. It is therefore recommended always to seek professional advice directly at the scene. Experts in evaluation would include a biological and building surveyor.

Author:

Gerhard Holzmann; Holzmann-Bauberatung; Certified expert office, construction and management consultant – so that everything fits like it should – www.Baubegriffe.com Phone 0049-8293-965648

Translation: Christi Howarth for CSN – Chemical Sensitivity Network

Original article: Ursachen von Schimmelbildung im Haus

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Scented consumer products shown to emit many unlisted chemicals

University of Washington

For Immediate Release

Oct. 26, 2010

The sweet smell of fresh laundry may contain a sour note. Widely used fragranced products – including those that claim to be “green” – give off many chemicals that are not listed on the label, including some that are classified as toxic.

A study led by the University of Washington discovered that 25 commonly used scented products emit an average of 17 chemicals each. Of the 133 different chemicals detected, nearly a quarter are classified as toxic or hazardous under at least one federal law. Only one emitted compound was listed on a product label, and only two were publicly disclosed anywhere. The article is published online today in the journal Environmental Impact Assessment Review.

“We analyzed best-selling products, and about half of them made some claim about being green, organic, or natural,” said lead author Anne Steinemann, a UW professor of civil and environmental engineering and of public affairs. “Surprisingly, the green products’ emissions of hazardous chemicals were not significantly different from the other products.”

More than a third of the products emitted at least one chemical classified as a probable carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and for which the EPA sets no safe exposure level.

Manufacturers are not required to disclose any ingredients in cleaning supplies, air fresheners or laundry products, all of which are regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Neither these nor personal care products, which are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, are required to list ingredients used in fragrances, even though a single “fragrance” in a product can be a mixture of up to several hundred ingredients, Steinemann said.

So Steinemann and colleagues have used chemical sleuthing to discover what is emitted by the scented products commonly used in homes, public spaces and workplaces. The study analyzed air fresheners including sprays, solids and oils; laundry products including detergents, fabric softeners and dryer sheets; personal care products such as soaps, hand sanitizers, lotions, deodorant and shampoos; and cleaning products including disinfectants, all-purpose sprays and dish detergent. All were widely used brands, with more than half being the top-selling product in its category.

Researchers placed a sample of each product in a closed glass container at room temperature and then analyzed the surrounding air for volatile organic compounds, small molecules that evaporate off a product’s surface. They detected chemical concentrations ranging from 100 micrograms per cubic meter (the minimum value reported) to more than 1.6 million micrograms per cubic meter.

The most common emissions included limonene, a compound with a citrus scent; alphapinene and beta-pinene, compounds with a pine scent; ethanol; and acetone, a solvent found in nail polish remover. All products emitted at least one chemical classified as toxic or hazardous.

Eleven products emitted at least one probable carcinogen according to the EPA. These included acetaldehyde, 1,4-dioxane, formaldehyde and methylene chloride. The only chemical listed on any product label was ethanol, and the only additional substance listed on a chemical safety report, known as a material safety data sheet, was 2-butoxyethanol.

“The products emitted more than 420 chemicals, collectively, but virtually none of them were disclosed to consumers, anywhere,” Steinemann said. Because product formulations are confidential, it was not possible to determine whether a chemical came from the product base, the fragrance added to the product, or both.

Tables included with the article list all chemicals emitted by each product and the associated concentrations, although do not disclose the products’ brand names. “We don’t want to give people the impression that if we reported on product ‘A’ and they buy product ‘B,’ that they’re safe,” Steinemann said. “We found potentially hazardous chemicals in all of the fragranced products we tested.”

The study establishes the presence of various chemicals but makes no claims about the possible health effects. Two national surveys published by Steinemann and a colleague in 2009 found that about 20 percent of the population reported adverse health effects from air fresheners, and about 10 percent complained of adverse effects from laundry products vented to the outdoors. Among asthmatics, such complaints were roughly twice as common.

The Household Product Labeling Act, currently being reviewed by the U.S. Senate, would require manufacturers to list ingredients in air fresheners, soaps, laundry supplies and other consumer products. Steinemann says she is interested in fragrance mixtures, which are included in the proposed labeling act, because of the potential for unwanted exposure, or what she calls “secondhand scents.”

As for what consumers who want to avoid such chemicals should do in the meantime, Steinemann suggests using simpler options such as cleaning with vinegar and baking soda, opening windows for ventilation, and using products without any fragrance.

“In the past two years, I’ve received more than 1,000 e-mails, messages, and telephone calls from people saying: ‘Thank you for doing this research, these products are making me sick, and now I can start to understand why,’” Steinemann said.

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Steinemann is currently a visiting professor in civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University. Co-authors are Ian MacGregor and Sydney Gordon at Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio; Lisa Gallagher, Amy Davis and Daniel Ribeiro at the UW; and Lance Wallace, retired from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The research was partially funded by Seattle Public Utilities.

Reference:

University of Washington, Hannah Hickey, Release: Scented consumer products shown to emit many unlisted chemicals,Oct. 26, 2010

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Scientifically guided MCS-housing project is in the making

In 2013 in Zurich, Switzerland, a new housing project for people with MCS will be complete. Environmental illness is widespread in Switzerland, with statistics from authorities estimating approximately 5000 affected people. The city of Zurich will help with the real estate and construction law of the housing project for the chemically injured. “The project, costing about 5.8 million francs will be remembered as a pioneering project for healthy living in Zurich’s history,” said city council member Marin Vollenwyder at a press conference today in Zurich. The city has set the goal for itself… “HOUSING FOR ALL,” which means the city also supports this chemically injured population which has a difficult time finding appropriate housing.

Hope is finally within reach

Christian Schifferle, the founder of this Healthy Living Project for those with MCS, and president of the self help support group, MCS League Switzerland, has waited many years for this project. Two years ago he founded this cooperative, and since then it has progressed in leaps and bounds. Today Christian Schifferle said in an e-mail:

“I just came from the media conference discussing the MCS apartment project in Zurich, and I’m still overwhelmed and barely managed to give my speech. The Neue Zürcher newspaper has published an article, and today or tomorrow a report will be on Tele Top. I will report the new details in my next email. Currently I am sleeping in my car but am promised a transitional solution for my accommodations.”

Architect commitment

There was more good news this week from Switzerland. Schifferle added that the Healthy Living MCS housing project will be strengthened by Marianne Dutli Derron, an architect who has worked as a consultant at Zurich SVW, which is the umbrella organization for over 200 housing associations in Zurich. Her office is directly next to the MCS housing association. Ms. Dutli Derron has been elected as the executive manager of this housing project, and will work with Dr. Roman Lietha and Christian Schifferle. At the next general meeting, Ms. Dutli Derron will be asked to be a board member and co-president. She brings eight years of experience as president of another Zurich housing project. A few weeks ago Schifferle asked the architect to join the MCS project and of course, is very pleased to have this commitment.

Professional support

The issue of MCS living is not new for Ms. Dutli Derron. She was one of the jury members for the MCS architectural competition on this project, and understands what is required to make this housing project a success. Christian Schifferle has offered his professional support which is crucial since he has suffered since childhood from severe MCS and knows much about the details needed for those with this environmental compromise. He has invested his energies for years in seeing this project become a reality. Difficult decisions over the coming months will be made during the construction phase. Support and expertise will be needed for the success of this healthy living project. Schifferle is anxious to relate the needs of the chemically injured population, and is thrilled to have Ms. Dutli Derron as a project expert on the board.

Healthy living has a big future

The city of Zurich while providing this housing project for those with MCS is taking on a pioneering project. It is the first residential project emerging for the chemically injured in Europe. In September 2009, the financial department of the city approved a loan of 150,000 francs for the implementation of a study for the residential building with ten apartments for MCS sufferers. The MCS house is designed from the ground up biologically and scientists offer their support on the residential project.

Technical and old workmanship combined

As the Zurich newspaper explains, the focus of this particular building is one of careful choices of safe building materials and expert workmanship. This structure will even be fitted with special locks so that the inhabitants can clean off chemical substances as they enter. This pioneering project will be challenging to build because of the use of old craft techniques, some of which have been forgotten, combined with modern safe materials.

Glass fiber rods will be used, which, until now, were never tried in structural engineering. The material conducts either heat or electricity. The MCS building will also try an external wall construction of insulating bricks with a variety of biologically active inner skin with clay and lime plaster. Perhaps this project will have unusual looking materials and processing techniques which are different from normal residential projects, but it is hoped that the architectural firm which has received the contract for this innovative project will emerge with a successful outcome on all levels. In addition the firm desires to give innovative input to traditional residential projects as well.

For Christian Schifferle (video), he must sleep for two more years, through long cold nights in the car or on the cot in the forest. After the enormous efforts that he has devoted to this project, he will hopefully have a home in which he and other MCS sufferers can live without symptoms, and thus experience real healthy living. As a next step, with Schifferle’s leadership, Germany will begin safe housing projects for healthy living as well. Perhaps eventually these projects will be prototypes for healthy living buildings for MCS sufferers around the globe.

Author: Silvia K. Müller, CSN – Chemical Sensitivity Network, Sept. 10, 2010

Translation: Thank you very much to Christi Howarth

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