The dangers of mold: what you need to know

Not only is mold unsightly, there are numerous associated risks of mildew that can result in a variety of problems; from a mildew mite infestation for an allergic reaction. Mold accumulates in wet as well as poorly ventilated buildings. Combined with the apparent mildew, there may a distressing odor, water discolorations, condensation, peeling or damaged paint or wall structure paper, a wet basement, and position water under or about the house.

Based on the World Health Company (WHO), 15 percent of dwellings in cold climates have signals of dampness and 5 percent have signals of mildew problems. The numbers in warm climates are 20 percent for dampness and 25 percent for mold. This problem is more common in low-income communities and rental accommodations, often due to lack of appropriate ventilation, heating, and insulation. Plus, global warming and its effect on the weather can boost the problem of mold and dampness even more. Mold is harmful and toxic due to the mycotoxins, which may contribute to several health problems. More than 50 molds are considered including stachybotrys, difficult, alternaria, trichoderma and cladosporium.

Exposure to mildew inside a home can have profound effects on your health through skin ingestion, contact and inhalation. After all, you spend several hours a day at home. Plus, children and elderly people with fragile immunities spend most of their time indoors.

Here are the top hidden risks of toxic mold exposure that you must know. The dangers of mold?


Prolonged exposure to high levels of interior dampness can lead to chronic health problems like asthma. According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 6 million children in the United States have asthma. While genes play a lead role, child years asthma, in addition, has been associated with indoor mildew growing in a child’s home. Within a 2003 research released in the American Journal of Epidemiology, research workers analyzed several studies and reported that there surely is constant evidence that dampness exacerbates preexisting respiratory conditions like asthma, however they said it had not been clear whether it also causes these conditions.

Later, a 2012 research published in Environmental Health Perspectives reported that mildew publicity during early youth increases the threat of asthma by 80 percent. Aside from asthma, mildew publicity is also associated with bronchitis. A 2010 research published in Environmental Health reported that residential dampness and mildew are associated with substantial and statistically critical increases in both respiratory infections and bronchitis. It emphasized managing dampness and mold in buildings to prevent a substantial proportion of respiratory infections.

The association between mold and asthma, and also bronchitis, makes it more important to remediate water damage in homes, particularly in lower-income, urban communities where the problem of the mold is a common issue.

Rhinitis Infection

Household molds boost the risk of rhinitis. In fact, those already suffering from a rhinitis illness will have more severe symptoms when exposed to mold. A 2010 study published in the Proceedings of the American Thoracic Society reports that although indoor dampness or mold exposure in relation to rhinitis symptoms does not have a strong relationship, there is a strong connection between high in-home fungal concentrations and development of allergic rhinitis in a child’s first five many years of life.

A subsequent 2013 meta-analysis published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology provides evidence that dampness and mildew publicity at home are determinants of rhinitis and its own allergic rhinitis, rhinoconjunctivitis, and subcategories. The organizations were most powerful with mold smell, suggesting the need for microbial causal real estate agents.


If you’re hanging out in a mold-affected home and you also get frequent headaches, the reason why may be mildew toxicity. Headaches, including migraine headaches, are common outcomes of mildew toxicity. Mold can result in headaches or a migraine consequently of an allergic attack to mildew spores in the air. It could even be credited to sinus pressure the effect of a sinus disease or swelling of the mucous membranes in the nose cavities.

Along with headaches, you may even have problems with fatigue and tiredness. Furthermore, you might experience pain in muscle tissue and joints. To prevent headaches and migraines credited to mold toxins, you’ll need to eliminate your exposure to mold.

Weak Immunity

Mold toxins can even affect the body’s immune system, thus making you more prone to illness. Heavily infested homes can have fungi that can produce volatile natural and organic compounds, which impair the disease fighting capability. The problem is actually common in small kids, whose immune systems aren’t fully developed. When their physiques are exposed to mildew or antigens, their immune system systems may react abnormally, creating regular health problems.

Based on the American Academy of Pediatrics, toxic results from mold could cause severe health issues in babies, including acute vomiting, diarrhea, asthma attacks and even pulmonary hemorrhaging in severe instances. Actually, long-term exposure can result in death. Not only children, even people living around toxic dark mold for long hours are more susceptible to get attacks and be sick.

Eye Problems

Homes heavily infested with mildew can cause eyesight and eyesight problems, too.

Mycotoxins can be there in the air, thereby easily getting into a person’s eye. The mycotoxins are poisonous to cells, so when they touch the cells in your eye, they cause problems. Toxins in the mold can cause eye problems like inflammation in the eyes, soreness, watery eyes, bloodshot eyes and blurry vision, to name a few.

Skin Rashes

Toxic mold can enter your body through the minute pores present on your skin. Those who have sensitive skin can suffer from severe skin problems, especially after exposure to black mold.

The symptoms may include skin inflammation, pink or brown skin rashes, blisters and severe itchiness. At times, it can cause yellowing of the skin as if you are suffering from jaundice.

A rash due to mold can be very itchy and excessive scratching increases the risk of breaking the skin and triggering an infection. This type of skin problem may need antibiotics or other treatments prescribed by a health care provider.

So long as you remain subject to mildew, you are likely to have signs or symptoms, despite having treatment. To eliminate the mold-related epidermis problems, you will need to avoid mold-affected areas completely.

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Asbestos forces compound closure


GLEN Aplin bin compound has been forcibly shut after traces of asbestos were uncovered at the facility.

Four samples of suspected Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) were tested and returned a positive result on Monday after the material was detected by a Southern Downs Regional Council officer on Friday.

The facility will be closed for at least two weeks while SDRC takes precautions to remedy the site.

Accredited personnel have been engaged to come in, collect and safely dispose of the material.

Residents who use the compound will be directed to either Stanthorpe or Ballandean for waste disposal while the facility is closed. Southern Downs mayor Tracy Dobie said people had been put at risk by the illegal dumping.

“Incorrectly disposing of asbestos is not only illegal but totally irresponsible. We all know the risks associated with exposure to asbestos,” Cr Dobie said.

“I’d like to remind everyone in the community that asbestos is a hazardous waste and it puts community members, contractors and council officers who use the facility at risk.

“If you are dealing with material which contains asbestos you have a legal responsibility to do the right thing and to dispose of the material properly; to be aware of material which may contain asbestos, how to handle it properly and where and how to dispose of it correctly.

“Some people may simply be unaware of asbestos in or around the home. If you are unsure, take precautions – contact council or someone who specialises in asbestos removal.”

Disposing of asbestos is prohibited at all SDRC waste management facilities, except for Warwick, where asbestos can be disposed of properly by appointment and for a small fee.

Stanthorpe Waste Facility is currently not accepting ACM until a new dedicated disposal bin is installed at the site.

The illegal dumping at Glen Aplin comes just weeks after asbestos containing material was identified at Collegians Junior Rugby League Club in Warwick as a result of illegal dumping at Allora Waste Transfer Facility.

Following on from that discovery, soil testing confirmed the presence of bonded asbestos at five other sites around the Southern Downs.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland confirmed traces had been found at the Collegians club, as well as Warwick Central School.

A WHSQ spokesman said four other sites were located in the Southern Downs, but declined to reveal further details.

Cr Dobie said illegal dumping is not only illegal but comes at a cost to ratepayers.


THE Glen Aplin bin compound has been closed after traces of asbestos were discovered.

Southern Downs Regional Council say some illegal dumping of asbestos containing material has occurred, forcing them to shut the facility.

Accredited specialists will be brought in to clean up the hazardous material.

The clean up will come at a cost to ratepayers and come as an inconvenience to Glen Aplin residents.

It comes a few weeks after several sites around Warwick and the wider Southern Downs tested positive for small amounts of asbestos debris.

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$40 million lawsuit alleges asbestos cover-up at SW Portland apartments

Taping the joints between sheets of plywood

A $40 million lawsuit claims that managers of a Southwest Portland apartment complex endangered employees by exposing them to asbestos even though construction crews had warned that the cancer-causing fibers were present.

The suit was filed Monday by two former employees of Tandem Property Management. They claim they were fired in retaliation for knowing about the alleged asbestos “cover-up” at the Commons at Sylvan Highlands apartments.

The company and its president, Thomas Clarey, didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment.

The complex is at 1380 S.W. 66th Ave., and spans multiple buildings.  It’s unclear how many people live there. A lawyer for the plaintiffs said he doesn’t think residents have been notified that they also may have been exposed to asbestos.

The lawsuit claims that after crews remodeling five vacant apartment units discovered what appeared to be asbestos in May, the company’s president was furious. He visited the site, “yelling that there was no asbestos and that they all needed to get back to work,” the suit says.

Three of the workers were removed from the job and within a few days were fired because management thought “they were ‘loose cannons’ that might call the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) about the potential asbestos,” the suit says.

In June, the suit says, management directed a new crew to carry debris through the building’s halls and down its elevator. After the new crew discovered what appeared to be asbestos, someone on the crew had a sample tested and the results came back as containing the tiny, dangerous fibers, the lawsuit alleges.

The crew notified management, but the next day, management told two employees to remove the asbestos-laden sheetrock without proper protective gear or training, the suit claims.

Michael Fuller, a Portland attorney who filed the lawsuit, represents Khataun Thompson, an apartment groundskeeper who was asked to work on one of the renovation teams. The suit alleges that management removed him from the project and ultimately fired him in July because of his knowledge and because of his race. Thompson is black.

Thompson filed an OSHA complaint about the asbestos, the suit states. An OSHA spokesman couldn’t immediately be reached for more information.

Fuller also is representing Thompson’s fiancee, Alyssa DeWeese, a leasing agent who contends she was fired in July as retaliation after she found out about the asbestos.

Asbestos has long been a known carcinogen believed to be so dangerous that even brief exposures can develop into life-threatening diseases decades later. Public pressure has mounted in recent years to tighten controls, and government regulations outline specific procedures for properly removing asbestos. The process can be time-consuming and expensive.

Government officials take the proper handling of asbestos so seriously that in recent years, at least two Oregon businessmen have been convicted of crimes for their mishandling of asbestos removal projects.

In 2012, developer Daniel Desler was convicted for negligently releasing asbestos into the air as he tried to redevelop an old sawmill in Sweet Home into a housing development.

In 2015, real estate agent Bill Gaffney was convicted of recklessly endangering others after hiring untrained day laborers to remove asbestos-laden materials from a Southeast house he was remodeling.

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Florida School Facility Managers Learn Importance of Indoor Air Quality

Black and Gray Metal Machine Inside a Room

Educational opportunities at the Florida School Plant Management Association 2018 Annual Conference take a closer look a building health, student comfort and energy efficiency.

The Florida School Plant Management Association (FSPMA) was chartered in the state of Florida in 1960. In part, their founding mission is “to promote the professional advancement of school plant maintenance, operation, safety, energy management, and environment.” Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) affects each of these categories in different ways.

Preventative and proactive operations lay a foundation for optimized IAQ. If the building gets sick so does the students and staff. This can result in lower student performance and staff productivity, not to mention illnesses such as allergy and asthma attacks. Should certain types of bacteria and fungi (mold) proliferate in a sick school building then more serious safety concerns can arise resulting the school being closed for an extended period of time.

One of the most frequently areas of focus is the HVAC system. After all, it IS the ventilation system for the facility. When evaporator coils and ductwork become fouled (or are not properly maintained) they become a source for microbes to thrive and spread throughout a building. Dirty HVAC equipment also impedes the airflow and performance of the system. This leads to cooling and comfort issues, as well as a tremendous decrease in energy efficiency.

Pure Air Control Services Inc. will be presenting four educational workshops at this year’s FSPMA conference. Each session will focus on a specific topic related to IAQ and energy efficiency.

Environmental Health for Sustainable Buildings
Monday, September 24, 1-2:30pm
Presenter: Karl Stefan, Industrial Hygienist, Building Sciences

Issues & Consequences Encompassing IAQ & HVAC Hygiene
Monday, September 24, 3-4pm
Presenter: Frank Santini, Director of Education and Strategic Initiatives

Human Skin Cells: Source of Building Contamination & Odors
Tuesday, September 25, 2:30-3:45pm
Presenter: Dr. Rajiv R. Sahay, CIAQP, FIAS, Director Environmental Diagnostics Laboratory

Legionella: Understanding the ASHRAE 188 Standard
Tuesday, September 25, 4-5pm
Presenter: Dr. Rajiv R. Sahay, CIAQP, FIAS, Director Environmental Diagnostics Laboratory

Pure Air Controls will also be exhibiting during the expo portion of the Florida School conference at booth 31/32. On display will be an interactive demonstration of their innovative PURE-Steam HVAC/Coil hygienic cleaning and HVAC New Life restoration services. Attendees can see first-hand the improvements PURE-Steam provides to airflow through a coil and the types of antimicrobial coatings used during the restoration process.

Representatives form the company will also be available to discuss the cooperative purchasing contracts available to a Florida school to make the procurement process easier.

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Fires spur Bay Area smoke warnings again

conifers, environment, fir trees


On the heels of the Snell Fire in Napa County, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District [BAAQMD] warns that, once again, smoke from the state’s many still-burning wildfires could pose a threat to the Bay Area, putting a Spare the Air warning in place over the weekend that will last through Tuesday.

According to the BAAQMD, “Upper level smoke from wildfires may impact visibility in northern and eastern parts of the Bay Area,” through September 11. The agency goes on to say that “if it looks smoky outside, avoid physical outside activities” and “keep indoor air as clean as possible” by keeping the windows closed.

Looking at the EPA’s AirNow air quality site, it appears that conditions in the Bay Area over the weekend were consistently clear during what turned out to be a resplendent couple of days in most areas.

On Sunday, for example, patches of “moderate” quality bad air did spread across parts of the North Bay and East Bay, as predicted.

But conditions never worsened beyond the “moderate” level on the EPA’s air quality scale (the second least worrisome measurement of air pollutants). In San Francisco and the rest of the region, skies remained clear.

Today’s AirNow forecast calls for more extensive haze in the North Bay; however, the outlook remains sound for SF and other more southern regions.

Even so, the warning remains in effect.

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Schools Across the U.S. Find Elevated Lead Levels in Drinking Water

Schools in multiple states are tearing out water fountains and old faucets after finding elevated levels of lead in their drinking water.

Indiana tested 915 schools in recent months and found that 61% had one or more fixtures with elevated lead levels. Schools in Colorado and Florida, among others, are taking steps to address lead in drinking water.

Some testing is mandated by new state laws, as in Maryland. In Montgomery County, Md., outside Washington, D.C., the district is midway through replacing 238 fixtures that had elevated lead.

There isn’t a national standard for what level of lead, measured in parts per billion or ppb, is acceptable in school drinking water specifically. Districts and states are struggling to find individual solutions.

The Environmental Protection Agency requires public water systems to take action to reduce lead when more than 10% of samples from homes exceed 15 ppb. Its voluntary guidance for schools, set in the 1990s, states that schools should take individual water fountains and other fixtures out of service if lead exceeds 20 ppb.

Schools face a balancing act because cutting lead to lower levels is costly. Indiana’s statewide testing cost $4.7 million, said a spokeswoman for the Indiana Finance Authority, which paid for the program using state and federal funds.

“We have chaos around the country,” said Marc Edwards, a professor of civil engineering at Virginia Tech. “Each school system is trying to find their own way.” Mr. Edwards, who helped uncover lead contamination in Flint, Mich., in 2015, sparking greater national awareness of the issue, called the voluntary EPA protocol “totally outdated.”

An EPA representative said the agency plans to update its guidance for public schools, possibly as early as this year.

Lead exposure can affect nearly every system in the body, and there is no safe level of lead in blood for children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Last week, the Detroit public school system shut off water across the district, before its 47,000 students started school on Tuesday, after finding higher-than-expected levels of lead or copper at some schools. Officials said schools would pass out bottled water until new water coolers arrived.

In most cases, water problems are a result of old plumbing that contains lead, not municipal water supplies. Water that sits in school pipes over weekends or school breaks tends to have higher lead concentrations, experts say.

A July report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that 43% of school districts it surveyed had tested for lead in 2016 or 2017. Of those, about 37% showed elevated lead in drinking water, as defined by the districts. About 41% of school districts hadn’t tested for lead in the 12 months before completing the survey, and 16% said they didn’t know if they had tested.

All school districts that detected elevated lead reported taking steps to reduce or eliminate the exposure, the report said, including by replacing water fountains, installing filters or new fixtures or providing bottled water.

In the past few weeks, Pueblo City Schools in Pueblo, Colo., concluded its first-ever water testing at its 31 schools. Of more than 580 water fountains and other fixtures tested, the district disabled or repaired 27 which had lead above 15 ppb, the EPA’s standard for public water systems.

“The majority of our schools are aging facilities,” said Dalton Sprouse, a spokesman for the district. Now that the district has its test results, he said, it can take further action if the EPA lowers its guidance for lead in water.

Indiana officials also chose a standard of 15 ppb lead and found that 8% of fixtures in schools statewide were above that level. In Warrick County, 11 of 17 schools had at least one fixture over the level.

Brad Schneider, superintendent for the Warrick County School Corp., said he immediately replaced the fixtures. “You can’t solve a problem when you don’t know you have a problem,” he said.

Laura Stewart, a parent and PTA leader in Silver Spring, Md., wants the Montgomery County Public Schools to follow Washington, D.C., and a handful of states to adopt a lead limit of 5 ppb in school drinking water. Tests in the district, the state’s largest with 206 schools, found 238 of 13,248 fixtures had lead above the 20 ppb threshold. Ms. Stewart said several thousand were above 5 ppb. She wants schools to flush water lines more regularly and use filters to be get below the 5-ppb level.

“Everything is constrained by money,” said Ms. Stewart, 47, who has two school-age boys.

Derek Turner, a spokesman for the district, said it is working with state health officials to explore using a lower lead limit.

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EPA to revisit air pollution rule for power plants

casual, cliffs, enjoyment


The EPA is revisiting a rule intended to prevent pollution from power plants, one that specifically limits the release of mercury and other toxic pollution into the air.

The move comes just a week after EPA announced that its proposal to alter regulations regarding greenhouse gas emissions from power plants to give states more authority to set goals to reduce emissions instead of setting a national goal.

The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards required power plants to limit emissions of mercury, arsenic, and other metals. Now the agency says it is sending a draft of a revised rule to the White House to begin the review process.

EPA spokeswoman Molly Block said the agency is looking into whether it is “appropriate and necessary” to set standards for mercury and other pollutants — and the specific standards set by the rule.

Block also said the EPA will look at how to account for the benefits of reducing pollutants that are not actually the subject of the rule at hand, known as co-benefits, and the EPA has proposed changes to how it considers secondary benefits under the Trump administration.

For example, the Obama’s administration considered the benefits of reducing pollution that would reduce smog under the Clean Power Plan as part of the benefits.

The Trump administration’s proposed replacement for that plan, the Affordable Clean Energy rule, has been criticized for allowing an increase in pollution that could contribute to smog and premature deaths, but the EPA has defended that rule by saying it is only focused on greenhouses gases and that other types of pollution are addressed under other regulations.

(MORE: EPA’s response to Obama climate policy could allow more pollutants that ‘adversely affect’ health)
“EPA knows these issues are of importance to the regulated community and the public at large and is committed to a thoughtful and transparent regulatory process in addressing them,” she said in a statement.

The news was first reported by Bloomberg Environment.

(MORE: EPA touts reduced air pollution, but impact of wildfires felt nationally)
Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., the ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, wrote to EPA last week asking the agency not to change this rule, saying that it has already successfully reduced pollutants in the air. Carper said the decision to revisit the rule is particularly egregious because toxins like mercury pose serious health risks, especially to developing children.

“As I made very clear to EPA just last week, the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) Rule is currently surpassing expectations, and changing it now not only doesn’t make sense, but is irresponsible. I warned this administration not to touch this rule that has the support of environmental groups, health organizations, states, industry and a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers. It’s why I fought like hell to protect the rule when EPA issued it in 2012, and it’s why I’ll keep fighting the agency’s foolish decision to abandon it,” Carper said in a statement.

EPA says it could be 60 to 90 days before the revised rule is released for public comment.

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101 Back-to-School Tips for Kids and Parents

As summer comes to an end and back-to-school season begins, it can be hard to get back into a regular schedule  both for kids and adults.

To help you out, we asked Dr. Fran Walfish, a child and family psychotherapist and author of “The Self-Aware Parent,” and Christina Nichols, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist, to share their thoughts on how parents can get a jump on the school year. In response, they gave us 101 tips that parents can use to ease their kids back into school, while also managing their own stress.

The trick here is to plan ahead. Read through this list and identify some strategies that you think could help you and your family stay organized and on top of things. Then, test these different approaches as a family so you can figure out which ones work for you, and which ones don’t.

Finally, make sure that you include your entire child care crew in your plans, too. No matter whether you have a babysitter, a nanny, a tutor, or all of the above, they’ll be able to help you keep your kiddo on track for the first day of school. Plus, they’ll be able to take some tasks off of your plate  which means that you can enter the school year with a little more of your sanity intact.

  1. Set your kids’ sleep schedules back to “School Time” two weeks before the first day.
  2. Get your kids involved in programs that they can do after school to keep them active.
  3. Visit cultural attractions like museums to shift their brains into “Scholar” mode.
  4. Hire an after-school sitter to help care for your kids while you’re at work.
  5. Encourage your kids to read at least one book before the school year begins.
  6. Reacquaint your kids with the calendar schedule they’ll use to manage their activities.
  7. Try apps like iHomework or MyHomeWork to help your kids organize assignments.
  8. Let kids choose a planner or scheduling tool that they’re excited to use.
  9. Set up weekly meetings to review your kids’ schedules for the week(s) ahead.
  10. Create a family calendar that tracks everyone’s activities and commitments.
  11. Refresh your rules about screen time for the school year. What’s allowed and when?
  12. Establish a set “Family Time,” whether it’s during dinner or before bed.
  13. Give kids a specific day to when they can choose all the activities you do together.
  14. Determine how long it takes them to do assignments to help with time management.
  15. Use an egg timer to get your kids used to focusing for specific periods of time.
  16. Teach your kids to prioritize their assignments by making to-do lists with deadlines.
  17. Give your kids a short break after each assignment they finish, such as a short walk.
  18. Set a regular alarm each day that signals the start of homework time.
  19. Discuss what your kids can expect on the first day so they feel more prepared.
  20. Visit the school with your kids so they can get familiar with their new environments.
  21. Arrange playdates with two or three of your kids’ friends to rebuild existing social ties.
  22. Ask teachers for class rosters so you can arrange playdates with new classmates too.
  23. Get the lists of school supplies, books and technology your kids will need.
  24. Inventory last year’s school supplies before going out to buy more.
  25. Include your kids in back-to-school shopping by letting them pick out their items.
  26. Make a plan for organizing those supplies  and keeping them that way.
  27. Create a dedicated space for your kids to store their school supplies and technology.
  28. Establish a specific space like the family office as the official “homework area.”
  29. Remove distractions like TVs and video game consoles from homework areas.
  30. Repurpose and relabel plastic tubs to organize all school supplies.
  31. Help your kids develop a filing system for organizing their documents for each class.
  32. Set  and enforce  regular weekday and weekend bedtimes.
  33. Set  and enforce  regular weekday and weekend wake-up calls.
  34. Keep track of existing extracurricular activities to prevent over-scheduling.
  35. Have your kids set realistic goals for the new year, such as reading 30 books.
  36. Help your kids prioritize their activities by tying them to their year’s goals.
  37. Create a list of fun after-school activities and games to keep your kids entertained.
  38. Touch base with teachers early on to troubleshoot any issues your kids may be having. Here are 20 questions you can ask.
  39. Create an after-school schedule that allows time for snack, relaxation, play and study.
  40. Establish regular bedtime routines for elementary school kids and preschoolers.
  41. Carve out blocks of fun time for your kids, whether it’s through sports or playdates.
  42. Hire a tutor, babysitter or homework helper to help you navigate homework time.
  43. Model good behavior by doing your own work/projects while your kids do homework.
  44. Encourage your kids to lay out their school clothes the night before.
  45. Use this printable checklist to establish a regular morning routine.
  46. Have your kids pack their school bags before they go to sleep that night.
  47. Have your kids also pack their gym bags the night before and leave them by the door.
  48. If your kids bring their own lunch, pack their lunch boxes before going to bed.
  49. Establish rules for where they should put lunchboxes, etc. when they come home.
  50. Revamp your home organization setup to be more kid-friendly. For example, low hooks make it easy for younger children to hang up coats!
  51. Go through your kids’ schoolwork once a month to toss the things you don’t want.
  52. File or scan assignments that you want to keep.
  53. Create an inbox for kids to leave things that need your attention, like permission slips.
  54. Designate a plastic tub as a put-away bin for anything that’s out of its place.
  55. Set a time each week to sync up individual calendars with the family calendar.
  56. Inventory your kids’ wardrobes and toss/donate things they’ve outgrown.
  57. Create a list and budget for back-to-school shopping.
  58. Let your child choose their clothes, shoes and other items they’ll need.
  59. Go through their wardrobes every 2-3 months to get rid of things that no longer fit.
  60. Set up a laundry system that makes it easy to sort and wash everyone’s clothes.
  61. Make homework caddies that can be used to carry school supplies through the house.
  62. Buy bulk packaged snacks like bags of grapes that can be easily added to lunches.
  63. Discuss the different pros and cons of bringing versus buying school lunches.
  64. Get copies of school menus in advance to discuss lunch choices.
  65. Get your kids involved in creating and preparing their daily lunch menus.
  66. Buy reusable sports bottles to increase their water consumption during the day.
  67. Keep a small emergency allowance in your kids’ bags, just in case.
  68. Organize lunch ingredients in one part of the fridge so you can make fast lunches.
  69. Purchase lunch boxes or reusable bags to help save the environment.
  70. Make a week’s worth of sandwiches on Sunday, wrap in tinfoil, and freeze. Unthaw them the night before.
  71. Use sticky notes to flag important items in kids’ that they should pay attention to.
  72. Plan supervised study dates when kids work together on projects or homework.
  73. Have a backup transportation mode planned in case your kids miss the bus.
  74. Set your clocks forward 10 minutes. This makes it easier to be on time.
  75. Schedule blocks of time to check in with each child to see how things are going.
  76. Hire a housekeeper to help with cleaning and know things off your to-do lists.
  77. Schedule at least one 30-minute block in your calendar each day for “you time.”
  78. Create a rewards system for when they meet goals like helping around the house.
  79. Shop for school supplies and clothes early. Avoid the rush.
  80. Use positive phrasing, such as “You can go outside after your homework is done,” rather than “You’re not going outside until this is finished.”
  81. Make sure your kids (and you!) have an effective wake-up alarm that works for them.
  82. Set an alarm or notification 30 minutes before bedtime.
  83. Remove things like mobile devices from kids’ bedrooms to focus them on sleeping.
  84. Use night lights, white sound machines and fans for kids who can’t get to sleep.
  85. Keep a single, easy-access file for vaccination records and other important papers.
  86. Set up the breakfast table before you go to bed.
  87. Map out a bathroom schedule to avoid family fights for bathroom time.
  88. Replace old backpacks with ones that are sturdy, ergonomic and kid-friendly.
  89. Keep a running list of supplies, clothing and food that need to be bought each week.
  90. Use a see-and-store toy rack to make it easier for kids to stay organized.
  91. Set up a hanging organizer with five boxes for clothes for each day of the week.
  92. Dedicate a rack in the garage, basement or entry way for sports equipment.
  93. Create a regular pet care schedule that outlines who does what and when.
  94. Schedule study blocks on the weekends before big tests, mid-terms and finals.
  95. Use under-the-bed storage for off-season clothes and toys that aren’t regularly used.
  96. Give everyone a shower caddy to keep bathroom supplies organized.
  97. Have a playdate caddy ready to go, with an extra set of clothes, games and toys.
  98. Figure out different ways you can be involved in the classroom this school year.
  99. Talk openly with your kids about their feelings about returning to school. Make sure to hit on these 5 Back-to-School Worries.
  100. Do something fun to diffuse this stressful time of year for all of you.
  101. Take a breath!

With all this preparation, your kids will be in great shape. If you’re relaxed and calm, they’ll head off to school feeling excited and ready to get to work.


Liz Alton is a freelance writer specializing in digital marketing, business and technology. To learn more about her work, check out her website.

Central Pa. school district pushes back start of school because of mold

Kids in the Fairfield Area School District just got a little reprieve from the back-to-school blues.

The Adams County district on Friday announced that the start of classes was being moved up three weeks as a result of a mold concern in all buildings.

The first day of school, which had previously been set for Aug. 21, will now be Sept. 4.

“I  apologize for the short notice, but we have recently confirmed the need to delay the start of the school year in order to allow the district to bring professionals to clean all buildings and ventilation systems prior to accepting staff and students,” said district Superintendent Karen Kugler.

In a press release, Kugler explained that according to the environmental health contractors, mold is common in homes and commercial buildings, especially big buildings like schools.

Record amounts of rainfall this summer, may have contributed to the situation, she noted.

“It’s really difficult to keep an exact balance with the HVAC system so you don’t get conditions where you get condensation and other conditions conducive to mold growth,” Kugler stated.

She added that she has no doubt that the district will be able to stay on schedule and open in the first week of September.

“They are sure they can get it fixed so we can get kids in here where they belong,” Kugler said.

Last year, the East Pennsboro Area School District dealt with the issue of elevated mold spore counts in three of its schools.

Allergies are the most common health problems connected with mold.

Symptoms of mold allergies include runny nose, post-nasal drip, coughing and wheezing. In some cases, mold can cause more serious problems, such as strong allergic reactions in the lungs or sinuses and hypersensitivity pneumonitis — an inflammation of the lungs.

Other health problems associated with mold include toxic mold syndrome and sick building syndrome.

With smoke from wildfires, valley air quality looks unpredictable for near future

With wildfires burning throughout the state, in addition to recent local grass fires, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District continues to warn the public about poor air quality, including incidents of severely bad air that may occur sporadically in the coming days.

For a few hours late Saturday, the amount of fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) in the air spiked in Bakersfield and all eight counties across the San Joaquin Valley air district, to a Level 5, the highest level, where all people are advised to remain indoors.

By the next day, Bakersfield had clearer skies and air quality was back down to a moderate range. District officials said winds temporarily pushed smoke into the valley during that several hour period.

“All that pollution literally just inundated the entire San Joaquin Valley,” said Cassandra Melching, outreach and communication representative for the air district.

Because the air can be safe at one point in the day and dangerous at another, depending upon wind flows, Melching said an air quality alert is standing for all areas.

On Saturday, regions farther north in close proximity to the fire were substantially affected, Melching said, with Oakhurst in Madera County reaching a PM 2.5 concentration of 246 micrograms per cubic meter. It takes only 75 micrograms to reach level five risk. Bakersfield hit 87 micrograms that same day.

“We can’t quite say who is going to be impacted the most and when…It doesn’t mean that every single day our air quality is bad,” Melching said.

Glen Stephens, air pollution control officer of the Eastern Kern Air Pollution Control District, said the district has not released any alerts, but is tracking the smoke levels. He said there is less of a concern in eastern Kern County and mountain areas compared to valley locations like Bakersfield, but that there is still poor air quality.

“It’s generally bad. Right now it’s bad because of ozone, not because of the fire,” Stephens said.

The best way to know whether it is safe to be outdoors is by tracking your location on the Valley Air app or online at valley It is especially important for sensitive groups such as the elderly and those with asthma to remain cautious and updated.

Melching said to also be aware of the potential for ash in the air, which is most likely when temperatures cool down and is not monitored in the air quality levels.

“If you smell smoke, or if you see ash falling, you are being impacted,” Melching said.

Ways to reduce your risk of being affected by the smoke are to limit outdoor exercise, stay hydrated, change your air air filters and keep windows shut.

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