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Health Healthy Home

Essential Oils: Nature’s Surprising Air Cleanser

Essential Oils: Nature’s Surprising Air Cleanser

Essential Oil

You may have heard about essential oils, but do you really know what they are, or how they can cleanse your home and your body? Lisa Zawrotny, a Wellness Advocate, known as the Ultimate Oil Mom, gave us some excellent insight on the therapeutic benefits of using essential oils for fighting off seasonal discomfort and indoor air quality issues.

What is an Essential Oil?

“It’s the essence of a plant. It is found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants, like the zest from a citrus fruit – it’s a fragrant oil, not greasy,” says Zawrotny. She explains the aroma gives plants their distinctive fragrance and also protects plants from natural enemies, like mold and insects. Essential oils have long been used for beauty treatments, health care practices, and food preparation.

How Do You Extract An Essential Oil?

AromatherapyEssential oils are extracted through one of two processes: cold pressing or steam distilling, Zawrotny explains. There are four levels of oil purity, which determines what you can use the oil for: smell, flavor, aromatherapy, or natural health. The highest level of purity is certified therapeutic grade, a quality protocol to which essential oils are carefully and thoroughly tested against.

How Do You Use An Essential Oil?

The benefits of essential oils are obtained in three ways: aromatically through diffusion, topically applied to the skin after being diluted with a carrier oil (like coconut oil), or internally through ingestion. All three approaches work well to support the body, but new research is showing an even greater impact with diffusing oils than previously thought. We weren’t surprised to learn that only therapeutic grade oils can be used for health purposes, but we were surprised that it seems the body can benefit from the aroma even when it is not delivered through the nose. Scientists are finding odor receptors throughout the body, where they play a pivotal role in a host of physiological functions. You can read The New York Times article here.

Essential Oils Can Help Protect Against Seasonal & Environmental Elements

Lemon Oil“There are several oils that can help you to combat seasonal discomfort naturally,” Zawrotny says. A few of her favorites include Peppermint, Lavender, and Lemon. “These are cleansing oils, and can be diffused in your home to help cleanse the air, and promote clear breathing and healthy respiratory functions,” she explains. Eucalyptus supports the respiratory system, and helps to maintain clear airways. Whether used alone or in combination, these oils have been known for thousands of years to promote healthy inflammatory response, as well as help bolster the immune system, creating calming and balancing effects, internally and externally.Eucalyptus Tub

TIP: Add a few drops of Eucalyptus or Peppermint oil to a hot bath or on a washcloth under your feet in the shower – the aromatic properties will blend with the steam to open airways and help quickly relieve seasonal symptoms.

Essential Oils Can Improve Air Quality

Aromatherapy DiffuserNot only do essential oils smell good, but also some have strong air purification properties. Remember, these oils were inside the plant to help protect it from mold, so it has powerful properties to cleanse your air. Cinnamon, Melaleuca (tea tree), Oregano, Clove, Thyme, Grapefruit extract, and Rosemary oils can be diffused into the air, providing additional support to soothe potential symptoms. However, it can’t be used to rid your home of mold. If you think you have a mold problem, have your home tested by an independent inspector to make sure you and your family is not in danger. If the problem is serious, the inspector may recommend professional remediation.

Bonus: When oils are diffused into the air, they are also absorbed into your body through your nose and skin and can help build immunity and have a healing impact, including cell renewal.

467249269Clean Green

Essential oils make great cleaning agents. You can use the oils directly on surfaces to clean naturally. Certain oils work very well for cleaning, including Clove, Lemon, Wild Orange, Cinnamon, Rosemary, and Eucalyptus. Fill a small spray bottle with vinegar and add 10-20 drops of your favorite oil – it makes a great natural cleaner! You can diffuse it in the home, or add a few drops to a pot of boiling water to purify and freshen the air.

Essential Oil ApplicationEssential oils have many potential benefits, but Zawrotny suggests doing your own research. A great place to start is www.aromaticscience.com. If your home has an environmental issue, like mold, lead, or poor indoor air quality, oils alone will not solve the problem, and your health could be in danger. The only way to know if you and your family are in a safe environment is to have your home tested. Once you know what you may be dealing with, you can then determine the best way to proceed.

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Gardening Health Lead

Prevent Lead Poisoning: Get Your Home Tested, Get Your Child Tested

Protect Your Children By Following These Preventive Do’s and Don’ts

Spread the Word – National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is October 25th – 31th

lead poisoning prevention week 2020Although lead poisoning is the #1 preventable disease in U.S. children, every year, over 500,000 children between the ages of 1 -5 are diagnosed with lead poisoning. Incredibly, this figure does not include the number of children between the ages of six and eighteen that already suffer from lead poisoning. In addition, many other children have not yet been diagnosed. About 3.6 million American households have children under 6
years of age who live in homes with lead exposure hazards.

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Asbestos Flooding & Water Damage Health Healthy Home Indoor Air Quality & Radon Lead Mold Mold Testing Soil and Water Weitz Advice

Storm Cleanup: After a Storm, Don’t let Mold or Toxins Take up Residence in Your Home

Storm Cleanup: After a Storm, Don’t let Mold or Toxins Take up Residence in Your Home

As massive cleanup efforts and power restoration continue throughout the region after a lightning-fast-moving storm, homeowners should be aware of the potential that flooding and water damage are causing.

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Health Indoor Air Quality & Radon

VOCs and Your Car

VOCs and Your Car

Climbing into your car during the heat of summer is not always the most pleasant experience. Besides the heat, there’s that stale air and an odor that’s pretty off-putting. There’s a reason for that: it’s called VOCs or volatile organic compounds that are often contained in the car’s materials and structure.

What are VOCs?

car air qualityVOCs are toxic vapors that are off-gassed from man-made materials. VOCs cause poor indoor air quality, commonly referred to as “indoor air pollution.” That “new car smell” is actually a combination of chemicals emitted from plastics, leather, and other parts that make up the interior of your vehicle. During the summer months, these chemicals are heated to extreme temperatures, and when confined in such a small space, make them more dangerous than usual when inhaled.

VOCs and Your Health

VOCs can cause a host of health issues. The most common are headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. Other symptoms of VOC exposure are nausea, nervousness, and difficulty concentrating. Long-term exposure to VOCs can be far more serious, though, as they can cause cancer, and damage to the kidneys, central nervous system, and liver.

Steps to Minimize Vehicle VOCs

Volatile organic compounds carThe good news is that there are some steps you can take to minimize your exposure to the VOCs that are contained in your car. If you can open the car’s windows remotely, do so. If not, open the door, reach into your car, turn it on, open the windows, and wait a minute before you get in so that the air has time to circulate. When parking your car, you may want to consider keeping the windows cracked while you are away as well.

VOCs in the Environment

VOCs also can be a problem in your home or workplace. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms with no known cause, there may be poor indoor air quality.

RTK can test for many VOCs, including formaldehyde and benzene, which are very common. We can help you determine whether the cause of your illness is your environment, and help you to feel better so that you can live well.

Call us today at 800.392.6468.

 

 

 

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Health Lead

Does Your Pediatrician Screen for Lead Poisoning?

Does Your Pediatrician Screen for Lead Poisoning?

We recently heard from a mom in the Long Island area, who lives in a home with deteriorating paint built in the 1950’s, questioning the necessity of testing her two young children for lead poisoning. She thought doctors did it automatically, but was concerned and confused when her pediatrician said that she didn’t have to worry about lead poisoning “unless her children were allergic to lead” – even though he knew she lived in an older home that was not in good condition. Yes, we are serious. The doctor actually said this!

EVERYONE CAN BE HARMED BY LEAD PAINT! Clearly, not every doctor knows the dangers of lead paint, therefore it is up to us to make sure parents, neighbors, and friends understand the serious consequences of lead poisoning, and how to prevent it.

Not Every Pediatrician Screens for Lead

In some states, lead screening for children under the age of three is mandatory. But in most, it is left at the discretion of the pediatrician. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, testing for lead poisoning often depends on where you live. Check out these statistics:

• 53% of pediatricians attempt to screen ALL of their patients under the age of 36 months with a blood test for lead toxicity, 38% attempt to screen SOME of their patients, while 9% screen NONE of their patients in this age group.

• Screening practices vary by practice location: 83% of inner city pediatricians screen ALL of their patients under the age of 36 months for lead poisoning, compared to 39% of suburban and 43% of rural pediatricians.

• Overall, pediatricians report screening an average of 52% of their patients ages 9-12 months, 48% of their patients that are 13-14 months old, and 37% of their patients that are 25-36 months old.

• 98% of pediatricians who selectively screen patients under the age of 36 months report do so at the parents’ request.

The best way for you to know if your child has been tested for lead poisoning is to ask your pediatrician. If your doctor does not automatically test for lead, ask that it be done. It’s a simple blood test and could save your child’s life. More importantly, have your home tested to prevent the risks early. For more information about lead dust, click here.

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Health Healthy Home Indoor Air Quality & Radon

During Stressful Times, Try to Protect Your Health and Boost Your Immunity

During Stressful Times, Try to Protect Your Health and Boost Your Immunity     

In the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, we seem to be much more aware of our physical spaces – not just maintaining distance between people, but our homes and our workspaces. As we struggle to adjust to the new normal, it’s more important than ever to ensure that our homes and workplaces are “healthy” so that we can protect our health and boost our immune systems.

Besides all the stress, there are other factors that can impact your immune system, making you more susceptible to illness: mold, poor indoor air quality, and even contaminated water.

Poor Indoor Air Quality

VOCWhile we’re all trying to prevent the virus from spreading, we should also be aware that some of the very household products we’re using to scrub surfaces are off-gassing Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs. These are toxic vapors given off by bleach and aerosol sprays.

VOCs can come from the chemicals in air fresheners, detergents, furniture, carpeting, and other products. If concentrated enough, they can be potent, causing headaches, dizziness, and nausea in the short-term and more serious problems long term. VOCs can cause poor indoor air quality, commonly referred to as “indoor air pollution.” Today, about 80% of indoor air pollution is caused by either mold or VOCs.

So, when you’re attempting to disinfect your home, remember to open your windows to allow fresh air to circulate. You may also want to order an indoor air quality test that will help you to identify or rule out any air quality issues.

Mold

moldNow that you’re spending more time at home, you may notice that you have a mold problem. If so, there’s no better time than the present to deal with it. Mold can exacerbate breathing issues, and also cause headaches, rashes, depression, listlessness, and allergies, let alone flu-like symptoms, especially in those who are immunosuppressed.

And mold can hide just about anywhere – behind walls, under carpeting or floorboards, or in air ducts. If you smell a musty odor, you probably have mold. In order to pinpoint the source of a mold issue, testing is a good option.

Contaminated Water

With all of the hand-washing going on, you are in constant contact with your water supply. Every time you wash your hands, clean a dish, prepare a baby’s bottle, or draw a warm bath, you are exposing yourself to whatever is in your water supply. In many cases, what’s in the supply can be nasty: we’re talking lead, bacteria, heavy metals from pipes, arsenic that naturally occurs in groundwater, radon, pesticides, and more.

Whether you drink from well water or water that comes from a reservoir, consider ordering a water test from an independent source to determine the water quality.

So, even though the focus now is on Coronavirus, you can take steps to improve the quality of the environment of your immediate surroundings. Have your home tested by an independent, unbiased environmental testing service that performs testing only. (Leave remediation to other firms to avoid a potential conflict of interest.)

Schedule a test today and make sure your home and workplace are the safest places they can be. Call RTK at 800.392.6468 or click here.

 

 

 

Categories
Health Indoor Air Quality & Radon Mold

Humidifier Health Hazards: The Dirty Details

Humidifier Health Hazards: The Dirty Details

Humidifiers and HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) systems can make life a lot more comfortable, but can also make us sick, according to several institutions, including the Mayo Clinic and Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), who report that if humidifiers aren’t maintained properly or if humidity levels are kept too high, can grow and spread mold and bacteria that causes lung and respiratory illnesses, including Legionnaires’ disease.

Humidifier with ionic air purifier isolated on white

Humidifiers, whether portable or built into a central heating and cooling system, can ease a slew of problems caused by dry air, from dry sinuses to cracked lips. But without regular maintenance, bacteria, mold, and fungi often grow in tanks and on the filters of portable room humidifiers, or in reservoir-type HVAC systems. These toxins can be released in the mist that the machines emit. Breathing in harmful particles carried by the mist can lead to respiratory problems, including flu-like symptoms, asthma, allergies, and serious infection – even humidifier fever, a respiratory illness caused by exposure to toxins from microorganisms found in wet or moist areas in humidifiers and air conditioners – especially for those of us who already suffer from allergies.

To prevent your humidifier from becoming a health hazard, follow these tips:

Change the water daily. Empty the tank, wipe all the surfaces, and refill the water daily to reduce the growth of microorganisms. Using water with a low mineral content, such as distilled or demineralized water, will help reduce build-up of mineral scale and the dispersal of minerals and bacteria released into the air.

Keep your humidifier clean. A humidifier should be cleaned every three days, at least! Be sure to unplug it, and wipe down any deposits or film from the tank with a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution, disinfectant, or chlorine bleach and water mixture. (Follow guidelines recommended by the manufacturer for your particular humidifier.) Be sure to rinse the tank and surface areas after cleaning it.

Change humidifier filters regularly. People tend to wait until they can see signs of mold on the filter before they change it, which can be too late. Be sure to change your filter as often as the manufacturer recommends, or sooner if usage has been high.

Don’t try to keep your home too damp. An ideal humidity level is between 30 and 50 percent. If you see condensation on surfaces, walls, or floors near your humidifier, you run the risk of breeding mold, bacteria, and dust mites. You can use a hygrometer to monitor humidity levels. It is not recommended that you run your humidifier round-the-clock.

Fully clean and dry your humidifier at the end of the season before you put it away. This will help to prevent mold and bacteria growth while in storage.

 

To keep your HVAC system and your family healthy, follow these tips:

Read the instruction manual or ask your HVAC specialist about proper maintenance for your unit. There are four main types of whole house units that have a variety of maintenance schedules and operations.

• Be sure the humidistat, which controls humidity, is set between 30 – 45 percent. Anything higher than 45% and you risk mold and bacteria growth through condensation and particles settling in the bottom of ducts, which can spread spores through your entire house quickly.

• Reservoir (drum) style humidifiers require monthly maintenance. This includes cleaning the foam evaporator pad, which should also be replaced annually. Clean the foam pad using a 1:3 solution of water to vinegar, or use a commercial calcium removing fluid. Soak the foam pad until the deposits dissolve. Rinse the pad generously with clean water. If the pad is ripped or does not come fully clean, replace the foam pad.

With a little humidifier TLC, the air in your home or office can make it a happier and healthier place to live or work!

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Health Healthy Home

Protect Your Kids from Environmental Toxins; Strive for a Healthy Home

Protect Your Kids from Environmental Toxins; Strive for a Healthy Home

You may crave Home Sweet Home, but if your place harbors mold, lead, poor indoor air quality, or contaminated water, you may be heading towards an unhealthy future.

You can avoid lots of problems if you have your home tested by an independent, unbiased environmental testing service that performs testing only. (Leave remediation to other firms so you avoid a conflict of interest.)

The Toxic Culprits:

Mold

mold asthma linkHere’s a scary fact: infants who live in homes that contain mold are three times more likely to develop asthma by age seven, according to a study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. The study determined that early life exposure to mold plays a critical role in childhood asthma development. But that’s not all. Mold can cause headaches, rashes, depression, listlessness, allergies, and flu-like symptoms.

If you smell a musty odor, you probably have a mold problem. Mold can hide just about anywhere – behind walls, under carpeting or floorboards, or in ducts. In order to pinpoint the source of a mold issue, test.

Lead

leaded windowsillIf you live in a home built before 1978 – the year lead paint was banned – chances are there are layers of lead paint on your walls, windows or any other painted surfaces inside or outside. Even the smallest levels of lead exposure from paint chips or lead dust caused when you open and shut those windows or have deteriorated lead painted surfaces can irreversibly affect a child’s development, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Children can easily ingest household lead because it exists in paint chips, tap water, dust, and even in your soil outdoors. Lead poisoning has been shown to cause autism-like symptoms, ADHD, brain damage, lower IQs, and a host of other physical and mental problems.

Poor Indoor Air Quality

indoor air qualityPoor indoor air quality is not just about radon anymore (even though it is still the second leading cause of lung cancer.) Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs, are making a huge name for themselves – and not in a good way. VOCs are toxic vapors that are off-gassed from man-made materials including everyday household products.

VOCs cause poor indoor air quality, commonly referred to as “indoor air pollution.” VOCs come from detergents, furniture, carpeting, air fresheners, and a number of other products. They can cause headaches, dizziness, nervousness, and nausea in the short-term; and cancer, kidney damage, liver damage, and central nervous system damage long-term.

About 80% of indoor air pollution is caused by either mold or VOCs. An indoor air quality test will help you to identify or rule out the issue.

Contaminated Water

water testingBelieve it or not, you are in constant contact with your water supply. Every time you clean a dish, prepare a bottle, draw a warm bath, or even wash your hands before you touch your baby’s skin or eat a meal, you are exposing yourself and your child to whatever is in your water supply. And what’s in the supply can be nasty: we’re talking lead, bacteria, heavy metals from pipes, arsenic that naturally occurs in groundwater, radon, pesticides, and more.

Whether you drink from well water or water piped into your city from reservoirs, consider ordering a water test from an independent source. A comprehensive analysis of your drinking water is important to the health of your family.

There are dozens of reasons to have your home tested for unhealthy environmental hazards including mold, lead, and other toxins. But the one that matters most is your family’s health. Schedule a test today and make sure your home is the safest place it can be. Call RTK at 800.392.6468 or click here.

 

 

 

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Health Mold

Fall Mold Allergies in Schools

Fall Mold Allergies in Schools

mold in schoolBack-to-school may bring your child more than new teachers and books. Researchers have noted that there is a sharp spike in asthma symptoms among children during the fall.  School classrooms and corridors often harbor mold and dust mites, as do ventilation systems.

Parents with children who are allergic to mold should find out if the school has cleaned their vents and if they use high-efficiency air filters to remove mold, pollen, and other particles from the air.

Here are some other precautionary measures you can take:

1. If your child is allergic to mold and rakes leaves during the fall, he should wear a mask to avoid inhaling mold spores.

2. Keep track of the pollen and mold count in your area by visiting the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology website.  When counts are high, children who are allergic to mold will show symptoms that include runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes and nose, and dark circles under the eyes.

3. The AAAI recommends that parents make sure their child takes asthma or allergy medications all during the summer so that doses aren’t missed.  Skipping medications can lead to increased symptoms in the fall.

4. Develop a treatment plan with your allergist to help prevent problems. Click here to find an allergist near you. Be sure to share the treatment plan with the school’s staff and discuss with them how to handle emergencies. It is prudent for your child to keep inhalers and medicine at school to be used in an emergency or during the course of treatment.

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Health Mold

Mold and Infants: How It Can Affect Their Health

Mold and Infants: How It Can Affect Their Health

Infants who live in homes with mold are three times more likely to develop asthma by age 7. Horrid news, especially since most homes in the Northeast contain some type of mold.

infant asthmaThe alarming statistic about infants comes from a study conducted at the University of Cincinnati published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Researchers analyzed seven years of data gathered on 176 children enrolled in the Cincinnati Childhood Allergy and Air Pollution Study (CCAAPS).

Eighteen percent of children in CCAAPS were asthmatic by age 7, a staggering statistic since current estimates say only 9 percent of school-age children in the United States will develop asthma.

In light of the study, if expectant or new parents suspect there is mold in their homes, it would be prudent to have their home tested immediately. In addition, there are some actions we can all take to make our homes healthier places.

INDOORS

  • First and most important: Fix all leaks immediately.
  • Check all washing machine hoses and fittings for leaks and kinks.
  • Insulate basement and bathroom pipes that “sweat.”
  • Keep basement drains clean and unclogged.
  • children and moldBe sure window air conditioners have proper exterior drainage; keep filters clean.
  • Use exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathrooms.
  • Keep humidity low in your home by running dehumidifiers in damp spaces.
  • If basement walls are finished with Sheetrock, install vents near floors and ceilings to allow air to flow.
  • In places where moisture is a problem, use easily washable area rugs rather than wall-to-wall carpeting.
  • Test your home for mold by calling in a certified mold inspector. Do-it-yourself mold kits are often inaccurate.

OUTDOORS:

  • Grade soil around the house to direct water away from the foundation.
  • Keep gutters and downspouts free of debris and ice.
  • Keep bushes and shrubs at least 12 inches from home siding.
  • Check roof shingles, vents and flashing for proper seal.
  • Check siding also – and point the lawn sprinkler away from the house.