By Tammera J. Karr, PhD., BCHN, BCIH ©2012
While we were preparing our new office location, it became apparent soon enough dry rot, black mold, asbestos and paint fumes were going to be a problem. As someone with environmental allergies and chemical sensitivity, I try to pay attention to the potential dangers I am exposing myself to. Needless to say I have exposed myself to more than normal in order to get us moved into our new office location. As my lungs began tightening, and gasping for air I thought about how many others in Western Oregon were additionally damaging their health with mold – black mold in particular.
Mold sickness and related illnesses from mold exposure are real. Mold has been linked to lung damage, brain damage, cancer and even death. The latest discovery of “Mold Fine Particulates” in our environment coupled with the associated medical documentation; prove sickness and disease from mold exposure and exposure to mold fine particulates is very real.
If mold spores are inhaled or ingested you can become seriously ill. As mold continues to grow inside your body it produces poisons called “Mycotoxins”, these poisons leach into your body day after day. Each day untreated the colonies of mold grow larger producing and releasing larger amounts of toxins into your body.
Different species of mold produce different toxins and people will suffer a wide range of symptoms.
Because the variety of symptoms from mold exposure are so wide in range many physicians deem their patients to have psychological problems.
The most commonly reported symptoms of short term Mold exposure:
Redness and skin irritation
The following symptoms of mold exposure have been reported generally as a result from persons being in a mold contaminate environment on and off for an extended period of time. Symptoms are reported to have become more severe and longer lasting directly in proportion to the length of exposure time. Their reported symptoms are:
Feelings of Constant Fatigue
Coughing up Blood or Black looking Debris
Loss of Appetite
Open Sores on the Skin
Memory Loss “Short Term”
Neurological & Nervous Disorders
Swollen Glands in the Neck Area and under the Armpit
Sudden Asthma Attacks or Breathing Disorders
Ear Infections and Pain
Chronic Sinus Infections
Pain in the Joints and Muscles
How common is mold, including Stachybotrys chartarum (also known by its synonym Stachybotrys atra) in buildings?
Molds are very common in buildings and homes and will grow anywhere indoors where there is moisture. The most common indoor molds are Cladosporium, Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Alternaria.
Stachybotrys chartarum is a greenish-black mold. It can grow on material with a high cellulose and low nitrogen content, such as fiberboard, gypsum board, paper, dust, and lint. Growth occurs when there is moisture from water damage, excessive humidity, water leaks, condensation, water infiltration, or flooding. Constant moisture is required for its growth. It is not necessary, to determine the type of mold you may have. All molds should be treated the same with respect to potential health risks and removal.
Some people may have more severe reactions to molds. Severe reactions may occur among workers exposed to large amounts of molds in occupational settings, such as farmers working around moldy hay. Severe reactions may include fever and shortness of breath. Immunocompromised persons and persons with chronic lung diseases like COPD are at increased risk for opportunistic infections and may develop fungal infections in their lungs.
In 2004 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people; with asthma symptoms in people with asthma; and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition. The IOM also found limited or suggestive evidence linking indoor mold exposure and respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children.
How do you get the molds out of buildings, including homes, schools, and places of employment?
In most cases mold can be removed from hard surfaces by a thorough cleaning with commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water. Absorbent or porous materials like ceiling tiles, drywall, and carpet may have to be thrown away if they become moldy. If you have an extensive amount of mold and you do not think you can manage the cleanup on your own, you may want to contact a professional who has experience in cleaning mold in buildings and homes.
It is important to properly clean and dry the area as you can still have an allergic reaction to parts of the dead mold and mold contamination may recur if there is still a source of moisture.
If you choose to use bleach to clean up mold:
- Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners. Mixing bleach with ammonia or other cleaning products will produce dangerous, toxic fumes.
- Open windows and doors to provide fresh air.
- Wear non-porous gloves and protective eye wear.
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using bleach or any other cleaning product.
 Mold Symptoms.Org – Developed For the Public’s Better Understanding of The Dangers Of Fungal Contamination and Infections
AhhhChew ~ welcome to allergy season
By Tammera J. Karr, MSHN, CNC, CNW, CNH, BCIH
Gluten Sensitivity = Celiac Disease
Tammera J. Karr, MSHN, CNC, CNW, CNH
What is gluten sensitivity – also known as celiac disease, and why are there so many people suddenly talking about it?
What is gluten sensitivity – also known as celiac disease, and why are there so many people suddenly talking about it? Gluten is contained in the endosperm of the wheat grain. Wheat is made up of the endosperm, bran and germ. Like an egg yolk, the endosperm is the part of the wheat berry that feeds the germ that sprouts into grass. Gluten is a protein; it is this protein that so many folks have problems with.
The offending proteins found in wheat have toxic effects on the brain and body. Similar proteins are found in barley, spelt, triticale, kamut, wheat, and rye. Oats lack these proteins; however they are commonly stored, shipped and handled with wheat, lending to cross contamination making non-certified gluten-free oats equally problematic. Gluten sensitivity or celiac disease is a life long illness. Celiac disease is regarded by most physicians as an uncommon disease in the United States. However, 1 in 5 Americans of Northern European descent can have gluten sensitivity. Gluten sensitivity is linked to a genetic pre-disposition. Individuals may show no signs of Gluten sensitivity (celiac disease) until later in life, when symptoms appear, apparently triggered by surgery, viral infection, pregnancy, childbirth, or a stressful event. Infants and children with gluten sensitivity (celiac disease) may fail to grow and develop properly. European countries regard gluten sensitivity as a common illness, particularly in Ireland, Northern Europe, and Italy.
There is an increased rate of malignancies (cancer) associated with celiac disease. Increased rates return to normal levels after 5 years on a gluten-free diet. Recent data has demonstrated, the earlier the diagnosis and the earlier a patient can commence a gluten-free diet, the fewer other autoimmune-type diseases the patient will acquire; such as thyroid illness, diabetes, osteoporosis and more.
Here is a list of the most common health challenges associated with gluten sensitivity:
· Abdominal pain, bloating and gas
· Bone / joint pain
· Chronic fatigue and weakness
· Concentration / learning difficulties
· Dental enamel defects
· Diarrhea, sometimes constipation, often both.
· Easy bruising of the skin
· Iron deficiency with or without anemia
· Lactose intolerance
· Mouth ulcers
· Nausea and vomiting
· Skin rashes
· Thyroid Illnesses
· Type 1& 2 Diabetes
· Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
· Vitamin D deficiency
· Weight loss / Gain
How can something like wheat be the cause of so many illnesses? Over the last 50 years through genetic modification and hybridization, wheat now contains a higher content of gluten and large amounts of herbicides and pesticides are used on these crops. This means the DNA of wheat has been changed and no longer interacts with human DNA like it is supposed to. Additionally the chemicals contained in the grain are all known to disrupt hormones and precipitate cancer.
The average supermarket in the United States can easily contain 100,000 food items. It is safe to say that 50% or more of these foods contain added gluten in the form of food additives, coatings and base ingredients. Gluten is the most prevalent form of protein used to augment foods. In other words – it’s everywhere. It is not easy getting gluten out of the diet, and it needs to be a lifelong change; it can be done and a whole new world of wonderful foods opens up to the person who has to go wheat free. The rewards of feeling better and reduced health risk far outweigh the challenge of learning a new way to eat.
Asthma Friendly Gardens
Asthma Friendly Gardens
By Tom Ogren
Tom Ogren is the author of five published books, including: Allergy-free Gardening, Safe Sex in the Garden, and What the Experts May NOT Tell You About… Growing the Perfect Lawn. Tom has an M.S. degree in agriculture-horticulture, taught landscape gardening for twenty years, owned and operated two wholesale-retail nurseries, and in northern Minnesota was host of the popular Public Radio call-in gardening show, “Tom Ogren’s Wild World of Plants!”
Studies have shown that babies born to mothers who were exposed to high levels of pollen in their last trimester of pregnancy have a much greater chance of developing asthma. One of the major keys to asthma prevention is avoidance.
When you have asthma, the typical garden is not a very friendly place at all. There are mold spores to contend with, and there’s also all that pollen. Typically, gardens have pollen-producing male trees and shrubs and other plants that can provoke asthma attacks. Almost anyone with asthma will tell you that their asthma can be activated by many allergens, or triggers, but pollen is often the number one trigger for causing an attack. Garden allergies are common, but they need not be. If we’re willing to make some simple changes in our environment, allergies caused by gardening can be largely a thing of the past.
In fall of 1999 in Richmond, Virginia, the American Lung Association of Virginia (ALAV) built a new Breathe Easy™ office and headquarters. They had the entire large building constructed with the latest innovations in green construction and sustainable design. No construction materials were used that would off-gas any harmful or toxic chemicals, no materials were used that would trigger asthma or allergies. Every attempt was made to build an environment that would be pleasant and healthy to work in. The people who work in this office now will tell you that it’s a healthy building.
The ALAV decided it would also make perfect sense to landscape their new healthy building (in some states such buildings are now called Health Houses) with an allergy-free landscape. A plant/allergy numerical ranking system called OPALS™ was used to select only plant materials that were either very low in pollen and other allergens or totally pollen and allergen free. In effect they created the first true asthma friendly garden in the U.S.
Health Houses in other states are now also creating pollen free landscapes around their green buildings. A new Health House is about to be built in Pennsylvania, and the Pennsylvania Association of Landscapers and Nurserymen is helping to surround it with an asthma-friendly landscape. Schools, too, are getting into the clean air act. In 2004 in the city of Visalia, California, the Tulare County Asthma Coalition directed the asthma-friendly landscaping of a newly built elementary school.
Here are twelve keys to building your own asthma-friendly garden:
- Plant lots of female trees and shrubs. Not only will these not shed pollen, they will also trap a good deal of pollen that may float in from somewhere else. Think of these female plants as nature’s air cleaners.
- Use only low-pollen or no-pollen lawns. In southern states, if you have a common Bermuda grass lawn, consider replacing it with a newer, more asthma-friendly hybrid Bermuda grass. ‘Princess 77′ is a new Bermuda grass hybrid that can be planted from seed. It is next to pollen free, grows very low and tight, and is especially good looking.
- With OPALS™ 1 is best, 10 is worst. Use only plants with rankings of 1 to 5. The more plants in your gardens that have rankings ranging from 1 to 3, the friendlier your place will be for anyone with allergies or asthma.
- Remove any trees or shrubs with rankings over OPALS™ 7. The woody landscape plants with rankings of 8 to 10 are all sure-fire allergy triggers. You can live without them.
- Replace high-pollen, asthma-triggering plants with their opposites, female trees or shrubs. Other good replacements are perfect flowered plants that are known to be very low pollen producers. These will have good (low) OPALS™ rankings.
- Use only plants that are well adapted to your own area. If you can find natives that have low allergy rankings, consider using them. Walk around your neighborhood and see for yourself which kinds of plants seem to be flourishing there and which trigger your asthma. For almost every kind of plant used in landscaping, there is now a no or low pollen version.
- Use a wide variety of plant materials. Diversity is good and biodiversity always makes sense. The more diverse our gardens are, the fewer problems we’ll have with insects and molds.
- Avoid plants with strong fragrances or odors, as they can cause asthma. Don’t plant jasmines or similar vines next to entrances or exits and certainly don’t plant them beneath bedroom windows.
- To cut down on toxic mold spores, use rock or gravel instead of bark for mulch. Flat stones or pavers also make good, mold-free mulching materials.
- To further eliminate mold spores, encourage wild birds to visit your garden. Insect damage triggers outbreaks of mold, and wild birds eat insects. Even the tiny hummingbirds actually eat a large number of insects. Put up a hummingbird feeder!
- Keep your plants healthy. This, too, will cut down on both pollen and mold. When it is hot and windy, irrigate your garden or lawn. Fertilize everything in the garden in the spring and fall. If plants are crowding each other too much, thin them out. If tree branches overhead are putting your whole yard in deep shade, consider having the tree thinned to let in more light. Fresh air and light are the enemies of molds.
- If a tree, shrub, vine or any other plant always looks sickly or dirty, or always attracts bugs, then shovel prune it. That is, dig it up and get rid of it. Replace it with something easier to grow. Don’t get caught up in having to spray insecticides all the time, as they, too, can easily trigger asthma and allergies.
Make your garden a fun, stress free zone. Be sure to have a few comfortable garden chairs to sit in, and a little table is always good, too. Wind chimes, bird feeders, and birdbaths can add greatly to your enjoyment. A beautiful, pollen-free, allergy-free, asthma friendly garden can be just the place for healthy children to play and a healthy place for anyone to relax and enjoy the great outdoors. For more advice on low allergen gardening, look up allergy-free gardening on the Internet or go to your local library and read some books on this new and important subject.
Tom Ogren is the author of five published books, including: Allergy-free Gardening, Safe Sex in the Garden, and What the Experts May NOT Tell You About… Growing the Perfect Lawn. Tom has an M.S. degree in agriculture-horticulture, taught landscape gardening for twenty years, owned and operated two wholesale-retail nurseries, and in northern Minnesota was host of the popular Public Radio call-in gardening show, “Tom Ogren’s Wild World of Plants!” Unlike many well-published authors, he still tries to answer all of his own email. You can contact Tom through his website at www.allergyfree-gardening.com.
What Happens With Celiac Disease
When individuals with CD ingest gluten, the villi, tiny hair-like projections in the small intestine that absorb nutrients from food, are damaged. This is due to an immunological reaction to gluten. Damaged villi do not effectively absorb basic nutrients — proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and, in some cases, water and bile salts. If CD is left untreated, damage to the small bowel can be chronic and life threatening, causing an increased risk of associated disorders — both nutritional and immune related.
Some long-term conditions that can result from untreated CD:
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Vitamin K deficiency associated with risk for hemorrhaging
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
- Central and peripheral nervous system disorders — usually due to unsuspected nutrient deficiencies
- Pancreatic insufficiency
- Intestinal Lymphomas and other GI cancers
- Lactose intolerance
- Neurological manifestations
Other associated autoimmune disorders:
- Dermatitis Herpetiformis (DH)
- Insulin-dependent Type I Diabetes Mellitus
- Thyroid Disease
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
- Liver Diseases
Less commonly linked to CD:
- Addison’s Disease
- Chronic Active Hepatitis
- Down Syndrome
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Turner Syndrome
- Williams Syndrome
- Sjögren’s Syndrome
- Alopecia Areata