It seems as if this year’s long, widespread flu season should be coming to an end, but parents—especially those with younger children—should stay diligent when it comes to spotting influenza symptoms. There could be a second wave of the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In the CDC’s most recent weekly report, the organization says that though the overall percentage of influenza activity is decreasing, the proportion of influenza B viruses is increasing, and there were more reports of the influenza B than influenza A during week 11 of this year. For the majority of the flu season, which began in October 2017, most cases reported were influenza A, but in the past week, 59 percent of all confirmed cases were influenza B.
What does all that mean? Parents should be aware that even if their kids were diagnosed with influenza A, they could still get sick with the influenza B virus. “We know that illness associated with influenza B can be just as severe as illness associated with influenza A,” CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund told CNN. “We also know that influenza B tends to be more severe for younger children.”
The possibility of another round of the flu isn’t good news, but it’s also not that surprising. “We often see a wave of influenza B during seasons when influenza A H3N2 was the predominant virus earlier in the season,” Nordlund told the network. “Unfortunately, we don’t know what the influenza B wave will look like.”
The CDC reports that there have been 133 pediatric deaths as a result of this year’s flu season, with five deaths reported in the past week alone. Young children—as well as older adults and pregnant women—are at a higher risk for contracting the flu. According to the CDC’s website, annual vaccinations are the best way to prevent the flu and the “potentially severe complications” the virus causes in children.
Every now and then, we might have a situation where we have to deal with suspicious odors at home. These odors can be a result of building products, new furniture, carpeting, paint or even mold and water damage problem. There are many reasons why mold or other smells may appear in your home. When there is water damage, you may notice that the house stinks of an offensive odor that is similar to mold. At this stage the water soaks into the buildings materials and begins to create a really offensive odor similar to mold. Sometimes you may notice that the problem is localized to one room or one cabinet. Thus, it is important to reassess these areas and notice when and how often you see the problem.
Stinky building syndrome
is a common term referred to by Fun Guy Inspections. As certified mold inspectors we have noticed when water damage is left unattended, the building begins to develop a distinct odor. The odor is very similar to mold and may represent a future mold problem. The smell can be quite offensive to some people and unrecognized by others. Stinky building syndrome is likely explained by the mold inspector as a combination of building products, such as drywall, wood, insulation, paint, glues, etc. that are once wetted, still wet, and now emitting odors. How to prevent stinky building syndrome?
The best way to combat this problem is by drying the materials as soon as possible. Whether you use a certified mold inspector or restoration company, these professionals can help determine the areas that are wet and the best way to dry or dehumidify those building products. When water is released from a pipe or spill, the areas should be cleaned within 24-48 hours in order to prevent mold growth. Immediately begin to pick up the water with towels or mops.
Depending on the amount of water you may want to consider drying of the walls or flooring with a fan. If too much water is believed to be released, it is best to call a mold inspector or certified water damage company to dry the building materials properly before mold problems begin. Molds tend to destroy the things that they grow on. And therefore, you can prevent damage to your home and other important furnishings, and also save money and avoid health problems by eliminating moisture and mold growth.
Mold is a part of the natural environment. When outdoors, mold plays an important part in nature by breaking down the dead organic matter such as dead trees. Indoors though, mold growth should be avoided at all costs. The main way through which mold grows and reproduces is by the means of tiny spores. Mold is not just bad for your home but there are other important health effects that they bring. Mold spores can be hazardous to humans and cause respiratory problems and allergic reactions. To check if your home is plagued by mold, you can check for the following symptoms: You will start to experience:
- Nasal and sinus congestion
- Persistent sneezing
- Skin irritation
- Throat irritation
- Respiratory issues
There are certain tips that can be followed to clean your home off mold. These include:
Get Rid Of The Water
One way to get rid of mold is to get rid of water. Try to use old towels, buckets and mops to clean the water and clear the ground off water. Drying out the area is the best thing that you can do in order to prevent mold growth.
Dry Out Affected Area
You can also prevent mold growth by drying out the affected area. Once you have cleaned the area, you can use fans and dehumidifiers to clean the area and dry it out. Since mold prevails on water, drying out the area can do wonders for your home.
Disconnect Any Electronics
Moreover, when there is seepage, it is important to clean off the area against water and it is also important to disconnect any electronics. You should try your best to keep the electronics away from the affected area. On the other hand, if you have suspected mold growth, you can also hire professional services to clean the mold. If you are looking for such services, funguyinspections is a good choice. The company is well known for clearing mold off areas and can help in reinstating your house to its original self. Mold growth is harmful and it is better to hire professional help to clean the area off such growth. Funguyinspections works to do just that. They are professionals at cleaning homes with mold and they ensure that your house is restored to its maximum potential and free from all damage. Funguyinspections will work to come in and perform an in-depth inspection and then look for mold, water damage and others to rule out odors that make you uncomfortable and sick. To get a quote from funguyinspections or learn more about how they can help in preventing water damage problem and cleaning your house off water damage, get a quote from their website right away.
Risk of Mold | Los Angeles
Plumbing repairs and maintenance help prevent water damage and mold problems
Tightening the faucet and re-caulking the fixtures can help save thousands of dollars. . Is your building at risk now?
- Active Leaks – risk of mold increases
- Historic Leaks – risk of mold present
How does a mold inspector find plumbing leaks in your home?
By using a moisture meter or thermal infrared camera. As an important indicator, a mold inspector will use moisture content to determine if your building is at risk now.
Home/ Building Owners:
A quick weekly inspection can be conducted to determine if preventative plumbing repairs in your home need to be completed to prevent mold from growing inside your home.
Determine if your building is at risk of mold & water damage
Health effects | Risks of Mold
Studies have shown that people who are atopic (sensitive), already suffer from allergies, asthma, or compromised immune systems and occupy damp or moldy buildings are at an increased risk of health problems such as inflammatory and toxic responses to mold spores, metabolites and other components. The most common health problem is an allergic reaction. Other problems are respiratory and/or immune system responses including respiratory symptoms, respiratory infections, exacerbation of asthma, and rarely hypersensitivity pneumonitis, allergic alveolitis, chronic rhinosinusitis and allergic fungal sinusitis. Severe reactions are rare but possible. A person’s reaction to mold depends on their sensitivity and other health conditions, the amount of mold present, length of exposure and the type of mold or mold products.
Some molds also produce mycotoxins that can pose serious health risks to humans and animals. The term “toxic mold” refers to molds that produce mycotoxins, such as Stachybotrys chartarum, not to all molds. Exposure to high levels of mycotoxins can lead to neurological problems and in some cases death. Prolonged exposure, e.g., daily workplace exposure, can be particularly harmful.
The five most common genera of indoor molds are Cladosporium, Penicillium, Aspergillus, Alternaria and Trichoderma.
Damp environments which allow mold to grow can also produce bacteria and help release volatile organic compounds.
Is Formaldehyde in your wood flooring?
Lumber Liquidators violated California’s air-quality controls by importing wood with formaldehyde
Beleaguered flooring retailer Lumber Liquidators is paying $2.5 million to settle allegations that some of its products violated California’s air-safety standards.
The penalty announced Tuesday was the latest that Lumber Liquidators has absorbed for formerly selling laminate flooring made in China.
In this case, Lumber Liquidators faced allegations that the imported flooring contained high levels of the carcinogen formaldehyde that violated California’s air-quality controls. The flooring was sold at Lumber Liquidators’ California stores from September 2013 until May 2015 when the retailer suspended sales of the products made in China.
Lumber Liquidators currently operates 40 of its 375 stores in California.
Last year, Lumber Liquidators paid $13.2 million in fines and pleaded guilty to environmental crimes for importing China-made flooring that contained timber illegally logged in eastern Russia.
Lumber Liquidators still faces a variety of class-action lawsuits revolving around the formaldehyde levels of the China-made flooring.
Read More: CDC Revises Lumber Liquidators Flooring Cancer Risk
The legal fallout so far has been less costly to Lumber Liquidators than the damage done to its stock since investigation shown slightly more than a year ago “60 Minutes” raised questions about whether the retailer was selling potentially hazardous flooring.
Shares of Lumber Liquidators Holdings Inc. have plunged more than 70 percent since the TV program aired, a downturn that has wiped out more than $1 billion in stockholder wealth. The shares rallied Tuesday, gaining $1.74 to $13.76 in afternoon trading.
What is formaldehyde?
Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable, strong-smelling chemical that is used in building materials and to produce many household products. It is used in pressed-wood products, such as particleboard, plywood, and fiberboard; glues and adhesives; permanent-press fabrics; paper product coatings; and certain insulation materials. In addition, formaldehyde is commonly used as an industrial fungicide, germicide, and disinfectant, and as a preservative in mortuaries and medical laboratories. Formaldehyde also occurs naturally in the environment. It is produced in small amounts by most living organisms as part of normal metabolic processes.
How is the general population exposed to formaldehyde?
According to a 1997 report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, formaldehyde is normally present in both indoor and outdoor air at low levels, usually less than 0.03 parts of formaldehyde per million parts of air (ppm). Materials containing formaldehyde can release formaldehyde gas or vapor into the air. One source of formaldehyde exposure in the air is automobile tailpipe emissions.
During the 1970s, urea-formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI) was used in many homes. However, few homes are now insulated with UFFI. Homes in which UFFI was installed many years ago are not likely to have high formaldehyde levels now. Pressed-wood products containing formaldehyde resins are often a significant source of formaldehyde in homes. Other potential indoor sources of formaldehyde include cigarette smoke and the use of unvented fuel-burning appliances, such as gas stoves, wood-burning stoves, and kerosene heaters.
Industrial workers who produce formaldehyde or formaldehyde-containing products, laboratory technicians, certain health care professionals, and mortuary employees may be exposed to higher levels of formaldehyde than the general public. Exposure occurs primarily by inhaling formaldehyde gas or vapor from the air or by absorbing liquids containing formaldehyde through the skin.
Air Quality Problems & Health Symptoms Persist over gas leak
The Aliso Canyon nightmare isn’t over. . . . .
for Sandy Crawford’s family and hundreds of other refugees from the methane leak in Los Angeles County.
Although the 112-day leak from an underground gas reservoir was permanently sealed more than a month ago, relocated residents returning to their homes report health symptoms similar to those that drove them out weeks earlier. Crawford’s two boys, ages 3 and 11, both got sick when the family moved home, and so did the family dogs, Betty and Blade. The Crawfords moved back to their hotel within days.
“The limbo is what’s killing us,” Crawford said. “Not knowing the long-term effect and not knowing if we are just going to take [our children] home and expose them to more stuff, and what it is that we are even exposing them to, it’s such an uneasy feeling.”
Since the leak was sealed Feb. 18, the Los Angeles County Health Department has received health complaints from nearly 300 individuals who either returned home or attempted to do so. The symptoms are similar to the 700 reports of headaches, dizziness, rashes, eye, nose and respiratory irritation, and abdominal pain from Oct. 28 to Feb. 18, when the leak was active. The causes haven’t been identified.
This has set up a clash between residents and Southern California Gas Co., the owner of the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility. The unit was the source of the largest natural gas leak in U.S. history. Under orders from state authorities, SoCal Gas has been paying to temporarily shelter more than 6,000 households from Granada Hills, Porter Ranch and neighboring communities. Public health authorities and SoCal Gas say air quality in those neighborhoods has returned to normal and residents can safely move back home.
The dispute is coming to a head this week. A state judge in LA County ruled Friday that the company is not required to pay for temporary quarters beyond Tuesday. SoCal Gas said it would pay hotel bills through checkout time this Friday. As of last Tuesday, roughly 5,000 families still hadn’t returned home from temporary housing, according to SoCal Gas spokeswoman Melissa Bailey.
“Air quality and health experts—including those from the county’s own public health department—have been saying for weeks that the air quality in the area is at normal levels, and is similar to the air quality in other parts of the county,” SoCal Gas said Friday in a statement. “Testing by a third party of over 70 homes, sponsored by SoCal Gas, showed no elevated levels of methane inside these homes, and did not detect mercaptans or other sulfur compounds associated with natural gas.”
The argument over environmental safety in LA echoes famous past disputes over the chemically tainted Love Canal neighborhood of Niagara Falls, N.Y., and water pollution in Hinkley, Calif., the subject of the film, “Erin Brockovich.” The mystery health effects show how difficult it can be for authorities to detect substances that sicken some people, or even to identify the causes of environmental illnesses.
Sandy Crawford, 39 and a vice president at a movie production company, and her family first returned to their home, a single-story ranch house on a quiet cul-de-sac in Granada Hills, on Feb. 19. They thought their troubles were over after more than a month in two adjoining hotel rooms. They had tired of eating cold cereal and microwaved eggs for breakfast. They wanted to resume hiking with their kids and dogs in the hills above their home and to quit driving an extra 20 miles to their hotel at the end of each day.
Before moving back home, Sandy and husband Alan, 46, an audio engineer, hired professional cleaners to scrub the house—twice. They opened doors and windows to air out the house, and ran air filters continuously for two days.
The next day, their 3-year-old son Diesel woke up and said he couldn’t breathe. Before leaving their home in January, the whole family experienced respiratory issues from bronchitis to asthma attacks that required visits to urgent care. Diesel and the others were free of symptoms while in the hotel.
In the following days, Sandy started having abdominal pain. Chancellor, the 11-year-old, began coughing up brown phlegm. His nose, throat and eyes hurt. The Crawfords had the gas company install air filters on their home heating and air conditioning system on Feb. 22. The next day Chancellor was too sick to go to school.
With a couple of days left before the SoCal Gas funding for relocation housing was to end, they returned to their hotel on Feb 23. They returned to their home a second time on the evening of Feb. 25, the day their housing subsidy was set to expire. Housing subsidies were subsequently extended, but the court last week rejected a further extension. Within an hour of returning home the second time, however, Diesel said he wasn’t feeling well.
Diesel Crawford’s nose bled upon returning home after the Aliso Canyon leak. Credit: Sandy Crawford
“I looked up at him, and there was just blood pouring down his face,” Sandy Crawford said, describing Diesel’s nosebleed.
Determining the cause of such ongoing illnesses is crucial for addressing the immediate and potential long-term health effects, according to public health authorities. No one knows what is causing the symptoms. Not everyone living near Aliso Canyon is affected, but for many residents, nothing short of leaving the area seems to make them go away.
“The symptoms that they are having now are difficult to determine in terms of what their origins may be,” said Cyrus Rangan, director of the Bureau of Toxicology and Environmental Assessment for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
One cause of persisting illnesses may be an oily mist that was released from the leaking well, known as SS-25. In mid-December, residents started reporting an oily residue on their cars, patios and yards. Before it became a gas storage unit, Aliso Canyon was an oil reservoir. Trace amounts of oil remained underground and are believed to have surfaced with the leaking gas.
“It appears that the substance was forced out of well SS-25 in the form of liquid droplets, along with the flow of natural gas emanating from the well,” wrote LA County Public Health Interim Director Cynthia Harding in a March 6 letter to LA County Supervisors.
The droplets may have entered nearby homes and may be responsible for ongoing health effects, according to one independent expert.
“You are essentially getting very small droplets that become an aerosol that can then penetrate indoors and conceivably would deposit on substrates, surfaces and in walls,” said Michael Jerrett, professor and chairman of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles. “If that were the case, you could be looking at the delivery of toxic materials into the homes.”
Another possibility is the formation of “secondary aerosols,” volatile organic gases that, once emitted from the well, undergo chemical reactions in the atmosphere, Jerrett said. These reactions could result in conversion of the gases into particles that penetrate homes and lodge themselves into carpets, walls and other surfaces.
Vaporized oil droplets or secondary organic aerosols are the most likely source of “something that would have biologically meaningful capacity to deliver a dose and still be toxic and potentially capable of eliciting some of the effects that people are reporting,” Jerrett said.
Officials with the Los Angeles County Health Department initially said the oily mist did not pose a significant threat.
Tests of residue deposited by the mist determined it consisted of “relatively long-chain hydrocarbons found in crude oil,” the department’s Harding wrote in her letter to county supervisors. “Based on the chemical composition and physical state of the residue, it presents minimal risk.”
County health officials have since spoken with Jerrett and are giving his theory of vaporized droplets and aerosols serious consideration.
“Chemical transformation is something we are considering,” said Angelo Bellomo, deputy director of the department’s protection division. “We’re continuing to talk with [Jerrett] because we think his work is very important to helping us understand what could be going on.”
Jerrett began independent in-home air testing two weeks ago. Preliminary results found elevated levels of benzene and hexane in two of seven homes tested, although it is unknown whether the levels are high enough to pose a health concern, according to a statement by the county health department on Saturday.
The department is working with Jerrett and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Indoor Air Quality Program to develop its own in-home testing, to begin late this week. When completed, results of both sets of in-home tests will go far beyond the tests SoCal Gas did last week that checked only for methane and mercaptans, a class of odorants added to natural gas to help in detecting leaks.
Another possibility is Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome (MCSS), in which people become sensitive to toxins at very low levels of exposure—levels that would not typically elicit an adverse reaction.
“If people have experienced the insult originally, then it may not take the same levels of exposure that would be a problem in a healthy person,” said Rodney Dietert a professor of immunotoxicology at Cornell University. “It can seem to be precipitated by fairly low doses.”
Health department officials, however, say MCSS is a theory that hasn’t been proven.
“We don’t really have that kind of evidence that would suggest that people would be exposed to these compounds and then have this sort of elevated level of sensitivity at a later time,” Rangan said.
Rangan’s view corresponds with that of the American Medical Association.
“A report presented to the American Medical Association in 1991 from one of its advisory councils found no scientific evidence that supports the contention that Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome (MCSS) is a significant cause of disease,” AMA spokesman Robert Mills said. Until “accurate, reproducible, and well-controlled studies are available, the AMA Council on Science and Public Health believes that multiple chemical sensitivity should not be considered a recognized clinical syndrome.”
Dietert said much of the controversy over MCSS reflects the medical profession’s lack of understanding of how different people respond to chemical exposures at different levels.
“If we’re not smart enough to figure out all the things that go into it, it doesn’t take away from the fact that they are experiencing those symptoms,” Dietert said.
While causes aren’t well understood, people with MCSS typically have some loss of function of barrier tissues such as mucous membranes in the nose, he said. That allows chemicals from the environment to more easily penetrate underlying body tissue.
“How you get to that from a gas leak event is still a bit of an open question,” Dietert said.
Before determining whether chemical sensitivity is to blame, it’s important to know more about what residents are being exposed to when they return to their homes, said Janette Hope, a physician in Santa Barbara, Calif., who treats patients for chemical sensitivity and is the past president of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine.
“I would definitely want to make sure that their home and indoor air quality and outdoor environments are clean and safe for them before I would describe it as simply chemical sensitivity to very low levels,” Hope said. “I would need to be confident that they weren’t being exposed to toxic levels, and I don’t know if that has been looked at.”
LA County Health Department officials are seeking an extension of several more weeks to complete their indoor air monitoring.
If the Crawfords’ dogs, who have been at home since their relocation approval ran out a month ago, are any indicator, something still may not be right. Betty, the family’s 4-year-old boxer, has thrown up five times since returning home. Blade, the 4-year-old Chihuahua, recently started panting excessively, coughing and having trouble breathing.
The Crawford family, in more carefree times. Credit: Sandy Crawford
As health experts try to determine the cause of the lingering illnesses, residents are unsure what to do. The Crawfords had their home cleaned a third time, took down the curtains, threw out a carpet and replaced a mattress and all of their sheets, all at their own expense. They tried moving back home a third time last Monday.
Although no one got sick again, the family left Wednesday after a radon detector registered an elevated level of the radioactive gas, which can cause cancer after long exposure. There’s little evidence of elevated radon in the neighborhood, and the Crawfords say they don’t know what to make of the reading.
“I don’t really know if we are going to go home and be safe again,” Sandy Crawford said. “It’s the one place that you are supposed to be able to go and feel safe and you don’t.