Composition of Building Dust or House Dust

Composition of house dust or building dust:

This article describes the common as well as less-common constituents of house dust and typical office building dust. We also cite the occurrence of particles that may indicate indoor air quality concerns, hazardous conditions, or other building conditions that may be detected or perhaps simply suggested by the presence of certain particles in air, in settled building dust, or in vacuum-cleaner collected or clothes dryer-collected dust and lint.

We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.

What are the Contents of House Dust & Office Building Dust

fibers not fiberglass (C) Daniel Friedman

Typical components of house dust and typical office building dust are dominated by fabric fibers and skin cells. Common too are lower levels of dust mite fecals, insect fragments, and air-delivered pollen and mold, though the levels of these varies seasonally and by changes in the indoor environment such as in humidity.

Watch out: usually the dominant constituents of house dust (fabric fibers, skin cells) do not pose a health hazard to humans.

However studies that we will cite here also have confirmed that in some buildings house dust may also include dust particles that carry potentially harmful carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, or that cause other illnesses or disorders.

See MOLD / ENVIRONMENTAL EXPERT, HIRE ? for help in deciding if it’s appropriate to bring in a professional to assess indoor health risks.

Our photo shown above illustrates house dust containing fabric fibers, starch granules (upper center), skin cells (left), and probable soil-particles.

In a wet building skin cells and animal dander may also show secondary bacterial growth.

Below is an example of animal hair (cat) commonly found indoors. Even in homes where no pets are currently living, and often in homes where no pet has ever (been reported to have) lived we may find cat dander and on occasion dog dander and mouse dander.

fibers not fiberglass (C) Daniel Friedman

Normal Levels of House Dust

fibers not fiberglass (C) Daniel Friedman

Cat allergens (cat dander) are common and are often more allergenic to building occupants (ALLERGENS in BUILDINGS) than dog dander or animal hair in general.

Our page top photo of typical “dust bunnies” that collect on building floors below furniture and under radiators, and our photo of a dusty table top (just above) are fairly normal of an indoor building prior to typical housecleaning vacuuming and dusting operations.

Watch out: dust is a common and normal material found in almost all buildings.

Do not seek an objective of “no indoor dust” in a normal building: doing so wastes money and time and is not rational. Only in controlled environments such as computer chip manufacturing lines do we expect to find few airborne particles.

Abnormal Levels of House Dust May Not be Acceptable

Very dusty indoor surface (C) Daniel Friedman

But abnormal levels of certain particles in building air or dust can indeed indicate an indoor air quality or indoor environmental problem that needs to be addressed.

Our photo at left shows a very dusty indoor surface characteristic of poor housekeeping.

Even if this dust contains only typical house dust components the dust level is likely to be irritating to some people (including the author) who are asthmatic or have allergies.

So how do we decide between just cleaning up obvious dust and debris indoors and the need to hire a building expert to look for hidden contaminants and if found to write a building remediation plan?

At MOLD / ENVIRONMENTAL EXPERT, HIRE ? we give a rational to help decide when further investigation of the indoor environment appears warranted.

Abnormal Indoor Particles Can Indicate Indoor Air Quality Problems or Health Hazards

We may however find either higher levels of common problem particles (allergens, insect fragments, mold, fiberglass or other insulation fragments) or low levels of particles that by their nature (such as Aspergillus sp. mold spores in chains) still indicate a problem.

Or we may find abnormal and possibly harmful levels of asbestos, concrete or silica, small fiberglass fragments, lead dust, mold at high levels, oil burner or fireplace soot, or non-particulate hazards such as gases or chemicals that are not addressed here.

Dust  mite fragment (C) Daniel Friedman

Our photo at above left illustrates a dust mite head fragment.

Dust  mite fragment (C) Daniel Friedman

Above is a cockroach insect jaw fragment. More often we see insect hairs, wing fragments, and fecal pellets.

While dust mite fecals are common in house dust, higher levels of actual insect fragments may indicate higher indoor humidity, or the presence of extra levels of mite sources (animals, animal dander, poor housekeeping).


Fergusson et al (1986) point out that heavy metals may also be present in dust samples.

Still other biological hazards can be present such as bacteria and viruses. And particularly for buildings near highways, active streets, construction or demolition projects, tire particles, road dust, and CONCRETE DUST & ODORS can be significant ingredients in indoor air and in building or house dust.

All of these may appear at harmless, harmful, or suggestive levels in building dust or other indoor environmental samples.

In addition to our example data and photographs, this article includes citations to authoritative research on the components of house dust, building dust, vacuum-cleaner dust, and clothes dryer dust.

Dog dander allergens (C) Daniel Friedman

At above left we illustrate a microscopic close-up of dog hair, in this case from a golden retriever.

Dog dander allergens (C) Daniel Friedman

The photo above illustrates a mix of skin cells (larger fragments) and dog dander heavily stained with acid fuchsin. Normally these particles are hyaline (colorless).

Mouse hair (C) Daniel Friedman

Examining animal hair samples in a building may be diagnostic for a different reason. Above: chinchilla hair.

We may find examples of mouse or rat hair at levels suggesting a rodent infestation problem. In some areas rodent infestation is of course also associated with other diseases ranging from Hantavirus to plague.

The dust mite fecals in our photo at below left along with the background of this picture give important building diagnostics.

The fecal pellets themselves are comprised largely of mold spores, and in the background (not in focus) are spore chains that are most likely Aspergillus sp. or Penicillium sp.

Dust mite or other insect fecals (C) Daniel Friedman

While it is normal to find mold spores in both outdoor and indoor air (“all mold is everywhere all the time – it’s just the concentration that varies” – Haines), observing mold spores that dominate the sample by frequency or even at low levels in chains is likely to indicate a mold contamination reservoir in the structure where this sample was collected.

Finding particle in connected chains – in this case both the fecal pellets and the Pen/Asp spores – often indicates a contemporary and nearby contaminant source. Why? Because normally in transport through air these chains are quickly broken apart into individual particles.

Watch out: We do not recommend that every building be screened for mold nor other problem particles. But when conditions warrant, further investigation is appropriate.


There may be other less-expected contaminants in building dust. For example, following a sewage flood or septic back-up in a building, both bacterial and viral hazards may be attached to common house dust particles.

Meruliporia fungal spores - house eating rot fungus (C) Daniel Friedmanb

An interesting example of a surprise particle found in building dust is shown in our photo at left.

While an initial inspection did not show structural damage to the wood framed home where this sample was collected, I saw some yellowish “dust” under a kitchen sink cabinet and on nearby sills. In the lab it was quickly apparent that we were looking at spores of Meruliporia incrassata or “poria” referred to by those who prefer scarier terms as “the house eating fungus”.

We don’t normally find this particle in buildings unless there is a rot problem. Further investigation of the building floor framing and sills found extensive rot damage that had not at first been apparent. (MERULIPORIA FUNGUS DAMAGE)

And the collapse of the world trade center demonstrated (World Trade Center Collapse Dust) that in extreme conditions, for which more normal building remodeling or demolition are surely examples, dangerous levels of asbestos, lead, other metals, may be present in the building air and dust.

Flashlight dust (C) D Friedman

Separate studies, especially by industrial hygienists, document airborne dust, chemical, or gaseous hazards more common in industrial buildings & complexes both indoors and outside.

Magnified to 720x dust particle fibers found in a healthy building are primarily cotton, wool, with some linen and a synthetic fabric fibers. Depending on the presence of carpeting the fiber mix will vary according to the carpet or other furnishings.

At left and in the photo at page top we illustrate simple settled dust on indoor horizontal surfaces. For building particle screening I like settled dust samples even though simple quantitative analysis cannot be performed.

By observing what particles are dominant in such a sample and by watching out for unusual particles that still form contamination clues we can get a good idea of what particles are actually indoors. At the same time we steer clear of the serious errors that plague highly precise but grossly -inaccurate air particle testing.

Watch out: While “air tests” or air sampling methods for particle collection are popular with many building investigators (quick, easy, profitable), such tests, when not accompanied by an intelligent inspection of the building exterior and interior along with a taking of building history, components, and occupant complaints, is simply not reliable, especially if results appear “negative” (FALSE NEGATIVE Results in Mold Tests).

I elaborate this opinion at AIRBORNE MOLD SPORE COUNT ACCURACY.

Chemical Contaminants in House Dust

In some buildings, potentially harmful chemicals or particles borne in, on, or attached to particles of ordinary house dust. Some of these substances include lead, arsenic, Bisphenol-A BPA , cadmium, mercury, lead, pesticides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), and others.

It is possible that even at lower absolute levels particles bearing hormone disrupting chemicals or possible carcinogens such as PBDEs are unsafe, particularly for populations at extra risk, such as pregnant women, the elderly, children (Gevao 2006), people who are immune-impaired, asthmatics.

Details about chemical, metal, and similar contaminants sometimes found in building dust are at HOUSE DUST CHEMICAL CONTAMINANTS

Fiberglass Fibers vs Fabric Fibers in House Dust

Certainteed blown in fiberglass (C) Daniel Friedman

Above we show a 720x micro-photograph of white blown-in un bonded InsulSafe® building insulation sold by CertainTeed. Just below our photo shows the dominant particles in the dust sample from the home under study.

fibers not fiberglass (C) Daniel Friedman

For instructions on how to collect surface dust for lab analysis, see DUST SAMPLING PROCEDURE where we also discuss finding mold in indoor dust samples. Readers concerned with fiberglass in building dust (discussed here) should also see FIBERGLASS HAZARDS.

Typically we collect dust from building surfaces using clear adhesive tape (MOLD TEST KITS) or vacuum cassettes (VACUUM CASSETTE FILTER SAMPLE).

At DUST SAMPLE TYPES we distinguish between “old house dust” and “recent house dust” which in turn can aid in building indoor air quality investigation diagnosis.

House Dust Component Studies, References, Citations

  • Horak, B. “Preliminary study on the concentration and species composition of bacteria, fungi and mites in samples of house dust from Silesia (Poland).” Allergologia et immunopathologia 15, no. 3 (1987): 161. Abstract:

    Twenty-one samples of house dust collected from dwellings situated in Upper Silesia (Poland) were subjected to bacteriological, mycological and acarological examination. Moreover, in two samples the concentration of bacterial endotoxin was estimated by the use of Limulus test. The mean concentration of bacteria in the examined samples was 2831.9 thousands cfu (colony forming units) per gram, that of fungi – 28.4 thousands cfu per gram, and that of mites – 51.5 specimens per gram. No significant correlation could be found between the numbers of these three components of house dust.

    Two examined samples of house dust contained high amounts of bacterial endotoxin which are comparable to the concentration of endotoxin in agricultural dusts, and could be of immunopathogenic significance. In the bacterial flora of the examined house dust samples, staphylococci prevailed in 45.9% of all isolates, streptococci (23.2%), corynebacteria (13.9%) and spore-forming bacilli (12.2%). Among fungi, the most numerous were strains of the genus Penicillium (39.4%), yeasts (29.5%) and strains of the genus Aspergillus (8.4%). Both bacteria and fungi comprise species that are known for their allergenic properties.

    The mite fauna of the examined samples was dominated by Dermatophagoides farinae (62.7% of all specimens) and Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus (30.4%); both species are known as important allergens of house dust.

    The results hitherto obtained indicate the potential significance of all the investigated components (bacteria, fungi and mites) in causing allergy to house dust.

  • Fergusson, Jack E., Eric A. Forbes, Robyn J. Schroeder, and Douglas E. Ryan. “The elemental composition and sources of house dust and street dust.” Science of the total environment 50 (1986): 217-221.

    The elemental compositions of house dust, street dust and soil have been determined for 26 elements on material collected in Christchurch, New Zealand. The elements Hf, Th, Sc, Sm, Ce, La, Mn, Na, K, V, Al and Fe may be considered to be soil-based and contribute about 45–50% to house dust and 87% to street dust. The elements which are enriched (>3 times) in the dusts relative to the levels found in local soils, are Br, Cu, Cl, Pb, Zn, Cr, Ca, Co, As and Sb in house dust, and Zn, Cr, Cu and Pb in street dust.

  • Hwang, Hyun-Min, Eun-Kee Park, Thomas M. Young, and Bruce D. Hammock. “Occurrence of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in indoor dust.” Science of the Total Environment 404, no. 1 (2008): 26-35. Abstract Excerpt:

    Human exposure to indoor dust enriched with endocrine-disrupting chemicals released from numerous indoor sources has been a focus of increasing concern. Longer residence times and elevated contaminant concentrations in the indoor environment may increase chances of exposure to these contaminants by 1000-fold compared to outdoor exposure.

    To investigate the occurrence of semi-volatile endocrine-disrupting chemicals, including PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers), PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), phthalates, pyrethroids, DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) and its metabolites, and chlordanes, indoor dust samples were collected from household vacuum cleaner bags provided by 10 apartments and 1 community hall in Davis, California, USA. Chemical analyses show that all indoor dust samples are highly contaminated by target analytes measured in the present study.

  • Jones-Otazo, Heather A., John P. Clarke, Miriam L. Diamond, Josephine A. Archbold, Glenn Ferguson, Tom Harner, G. Mark Richardson, John Jake Ryan, and Bryony Wilford. “Is house dust the missing exposure pathway for PBDEs? An analysis of the urban fate and human exposure to PBDEs.” Environmental science & technology 39, no. 14 (2005): 5121-5130.
  • Meeker, John D., and Heather M. Stapleton. “House dust concentrations of organophosphate flame retardants in relation to hormone levels and semen quality parameters.” Environmental health perspectives 118, no. 3 (2010): 318.
  • Maertens, Rebecca M., Jennifer Bailey, and Paul A. White. “The mutagenic hazards of settled house dust: a review.” Mutation Research/Reviews in Mutation Research 567, no. 2 (2004): 401-425. Abstract Excerpt:

    Given the large proportion of time people spend indoors, the potential health risks posed by chemical contaminants in the indoor environment are of concern. Research suggests that settled house dust (SHD) may be a significant source for indoor exposure to hazardous substances including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Here, we summarize the literature on the mutagenic hazards of SHD and the presence of PAHs in dust.

  • Mølhave, L., T. Schneider, S. K. Kjaergaard, L. Larsen, Svend Norn, and O. Jørgensen. “House dust in seven Danish offices.” Atmospheric Environment 34, no. 28 (2000): 4767-4779. Abstract:

    Floor dust from Danish offices was collected and analyzed. The dust was to be used in an exposure experiment. The dust was analyzed to show the composition of the dust which can be a source of airborne dust indoors. About 11 kg of dust from vacuum cleaner bags from seven Danish office buildings with about 1047 occupants (12 751 m2) was processed according to a standardized procedure yielding 5.5 kg of processed bulk dust. The bulk dust contained 130.000–160.000 CFU g−1 microorganisms and 71.000–90.000 CFU g−1 microfungi. The content of culturable microfungi was 65–123 CFU 30 g−1 dust. The content of endotoxins ranged from 5.06–7.24 EU g−1 (1.45 ng g−1 to 1.01 ng g−1).

    Allergens (ng g−1) were from 147–159 (Mite), 395–746 (dog) and 103–330 (cat). The macro molecular organic compounds (the MOD-content) varied from 7.8–9.8 mg g−1. The threshold of release of histamine from basophil leukocytes provoked by the bulk dust was between 0.3 and 1.0 mg ml−1. The water content was 2% (WGT) and the organic fraction 33%. 6.5–5.9% (dry) was water soluble. The fiber content was less than 0.2–1.5% (WGT) and the desorbable VOCs was 176–319 μg g−1. Most of the VOC were aldehydes. However, softeners for plastic (DBP and DEHP) were present. The chemical composition includes human and animal skin fragments, paper fibers, glass wool, wood and textilefibers and inorganic and metal particles. The sizes ranged from 0.001–1 mm and the average specific density was 1.0 g m−3. The bulk dust was resuspended and injected into an exposure chamber.

    The airborne dust was sampled and analyzed to illustrate the exposures that can result from sedimented dirt and dust. The airborne dust resulting from the bulk dust reached concentrations ranging from 0.26–0.75 mg m−3 in average contained 300–170 CFU m−3. The organic fraction was from 55–70% and the water content about 2.5% (WGT). The content of the dust was compared to the similar results reported in the literature and its toxic potency is estimated to be relatively low. The storage of the bulk dust during the experiment had little effect on the specific biological and chemical composition.

  • Butte, Werner, and Birger Heinzow. “Pollutants in house dust as indicators of indoor contamination.” Reviews of environmental contamination and toxicology 175 (2002): 1-46.
    This paper classifies indoor organic pollutants into:

    • VVOCs – very volatile organic compounds (Examples: Carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, formaldehyde)
    • VOCs – volatile organic compounds (Examples: solvents, aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons)
    • SVOCS – semi-volatile organic compounds (Examples: pesticides, chlordane, chlorpyrifos, lindane, pentachlorphenol, plasticizers, pthalates)
    • POM – particulate organic matter (discussed in our article HOUSE DUST COMPONENTS) though strangely the authors give just “pesticides, polycyclic organic hydrocarbons” as an example.
  • Post, S., M. C. Nawijn, T. L. Hackett, M. Baranowska, R. Gras, A. J. M. van Oosterhout, and I. H. Heijink. “The composition of house dust mite is critical for mucosal barrier dysfunction and allergic sensitisation.” Thorax 67, no. 6 (2012): 488-495. Abstract:

    Background House dust mite (HDM) allergens have been reported to increase airway epithelial permeability, thereby facilitating access of allergens and allergic sensitisation.
    Objectives The authors aimed to understand which biochemical properties of HDM are critical for epithelial immune and barrier responses as well as T helper 2-driven experimental asthma in vivo.
    Methods Three commercially available HDM extracts were analysed for endotoxin levels, protease and chitinase activities and effects on transepithelial resistance, junctional proteins and pro-inflammatory cytokine release in the bronchial epithelial cell line 16HBE and normal human bronchial cells.

    Furthermore, the effects on epithelial remodelling and airway inflammation were investigated in a mouse model.


    The different HDM extracts varied extensively in their biochemical properties and induced divergent responses in vitro and in vivo. Importantly, the Greer extract, with the lowest serine protease activity, induced the most pronounced effects on epithelial barrier function and CCL20 release in vitro. In vivo, this extract induced the most profound epithelial E-cadherin delocalisation and increase in CCL20, CCL17 and interleukin 5 levels, accompanied by the most pronounced induction of HDM-specific IgE, goblet cell hyperplasia, eosinophilic inflammation and airway hyper-reactivity.


    This study shows the ability of HDM extracts to alter epithelial immune and barrier responses is related to allergic sensitisation but independent of serine/cysteine protease activity.

  • Stapleton, Heather M., Nathan G. Dodder, John H. Offenberg, Michele M. Schantz, and Stephen A. Wise. “Polybrominated diphenyl ethers in house dust and clothes dryer lint.” Environmental science & technology 39, no. 4 (2005): 925-931. Abstract: see HOUSE DUST CHEMICAL CONTAMINANTS
  • HOUSE DUST PARTICLE PHOTOS – photographic study illustrating the chief constituents of vaccumed-up dust from a London Home built in 1967 and sampled in 2013. This informal article provides a general description of the contents of house dust vacuumed from a london council house built in 1967. Technical review is incomplete.

Common toxins, pathogens, or allergens in house dust.

  • Chapman, Martin D., Peter W. Heymann, Susan R. Wilkins, Martha J. Brown, and Thomas AE Platts-Mills. “Monoclonal immunoassay for major dust mite ( Dermatophageides) allergens, Der p I and Der f I, and quantitative analysis of the allergen content of mite and house dust extracts.” Journal of allergy and clinical immunology 80, no. 2 (1987): 184-194. Abstract:

    Monoclonal, two-site radioimmunoassays (RIAs) were developed to measure allergen Derp I of Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus or Derf I of D. farinae. Microtiter plates coated with monoclonal antibody (Mab) were incubated with mite extract, and bound allergen was detected with a second 125I-labeled Mab of different epitope specificity.

    The Mab RIAs were very sensitive (nanogram range) and highly specific. D. pteronyssinus extracts with different concentrations of Derp I demonstrated parallel binding curves, whereas a potent D. farinae extract demonstrated <5% of the Derp I binding in the same assay.

    Similar parallel curves were obtained with several D. farinae extracts in the Derf I assay, whereas D. pteronyssinus extract demonstrated little or no binding. The Mab RIAs were compared with an inhibition RIA that measured cross-reacting determinants on both Derp I and Derf I (antigen P1 equivalent [AgP1Eq].)

    The results demonstrated good quantitative agreement between these assays in commercial mite and house dust extracts (mean difference 1.57 ± 0.5-fold). Thirty house dust samples with known mite counts, Derp I, and AgP1Eq content were also compared.

    The summed Mab RIA values for Derp I and Derf I demonstrated a very good correlation with AgP1Eq values (r = 0.86; p < 0.001) and with assessments of total mite-allergen content by RAST inhibition (n = 21, r = 0.77; p < 0.001). Furthermore, in samples with more than 10 mites per 100 mg of dust, the Derp I:Derf I ratio closely correlated with the ratio of the two mites counted by microscopy (n = 15, r = 0.89; p < 0.001).

    The Mab RIAs can measure allergen levels in mite or dust extracts without the need for purified allergen or affinity-purified antibodies and can readily be standardized.

    These assays will be useful in epidemiologic studies of allergic asthma, to assess patients’ exposure to mite allergens, and the effects of avoidance regimens. Because of the long-term stability and reproducibility of the reagents, Mab-based assays for specific allergens will also play an important role in the standardization of mite and other allergen extracts.

  • Colt, Joanne S. “Comparison of pesticides and other compounds in carpet dust samples collected from used vacuum cleaner bags and from a high-volume surface sampler.” Environmental health perspectives 106, no. 11 (1998): 721. Abstract:

    Epidemiologic studies of the association between residential pesticide use and cancer risk require an assessment of past pesticide exposures. Pesticide levels in carpet dust are believed to reflect long-term pesticide use. Recent epidemiologic studies have found collection of dust samples using the high-volume surface sampler (HVS3) to be expensive and cumbersome.

    We compared the levels of pesticides and other compounds in dust obtained from subjects’ personal used vacuum cleaner bags to that collected by the HVS3 to see if this simpler method could replace the HVS3 in epidemiologic research. We visited the homes of 15 subjects, took the used bags from their vacuums, and collected carpet dust samples with the HVS3.

    The samples were analyzed for 42 target compounds: 26 pesticides, 10 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and six polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congeners using GC/MS in selected ion monitoring mode. The two methods agreed in detecting the presence of the target compounds between 80% and 100% of the time.

    Neither sampling method was consistently more sensitive. The median target compound concentrations were similar, and a paired t-test showed no significant differences. For many compounds, the concentrations of compounds in the HVS3 samples were higher than those in the used bag samples at the upper end of the concentration ranges.

    However, the Spearman rank correlation coefficients were 0.85 or higher for most compounds, indicating that homes would be ranked similarly using both methods. Overall, there appears to be no clear difference in the quality of the pesticide, PAH, or PCB concentration data for the two dust collection methods.

  • Dilworth, R. J., K. Y. Chua, and W. R. Thomas. “Sequence analysis of cDNA coding for a major house dust mite allergen, Der f I.” Clinical & Experimental Allergy 21, no. 1 (1991): 25-32.
  • Dybendal, T., W. C. Wedberg, and S. Elsayed. “Dust from carpeted and smooth floors: IV. Solid material, proteins and allergens collected in the different filter stages of vacuum cleaners after ten days of use in schools.” Allergy 46, no. 6 (1991): 427-435. Abstract:

    The accumulation of dust, proteins and allergens from alder, birch, timothy, cat, dog, mite, hen egg white, codfish and mould in schools was investigated by analysing the content of vacuum cleaners after 10 days of use.

    The main goals were to compare the dust accumulation on carpeted and smooth floors and to estimate to what degree the three vacuum cleaner filter stages (i.e. the disposable bag, the main filter and the microfilter) collected dust, proteins and allergens. Carpeted floors accumulated more dust, proteins and allergens per unit area than smooth floors.

    Histamine release studies of some of the dust extracts showed that the dust from carpeted floors released histamine from passively sensitized basophils at concentrations for which dust from smooth floors gave low or no histamine release. The analyses showed that most of the dust, proteins and allergens were retained in the dust bags. Less than 1% of the vacuumed material had accumulated in the main filters, which, according to the manufacturer, detain 99.5% of particles >2 μm. By the use of a scanning electron microscope (SEM), particle deposits were observed in the microfilters.

    These deposits, which represented <0.1% of the total mass, showed no significant allergenic activity. Thus, for the field conditions of this study, the microfilters were not needed for cleaning the exit air of allergens, although they were useful for removing fine (<2 μm) particles.

  • Dybendal, T., and S. Elsayed. “Dust from carpeted and smooth floors. V. Cat (Fel d I) and mite (Der p I and Der f I) allergen levels in school dust. Demonstration of the basophil histamine release induced by dust from classrooms.” Clinical & Experimental Allergy 22, no. 12 (1992): 1100-1106.
  • Knibbs, Luke D., Congrong He, Caroline Duchaine, and Lidia Morawska. “Vacuum cleaner emissions as a source of indoor exposure to airborne particles and bacteria.” Environmental science & technology 46, no. 1 (2011): 534-542.
  • Korpi, A., A-L. Pasanen, P. Pasanen, and P. Kalliokoski. “Microbial growth and metabolism in house dust.” International biodeterioration & biodegradation 40, no. 1 (1997): 19-27. Abstract:

    Microbial growth and production of carbon dioxide (CO2) and microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOC) were investigated in house dust. According to CO2 measurements, the metabolic activity increased after 11 days at 84–86% air relative humidity (RH) and after 3 days at 96–98% RH. Within 25 days, the concentration of fungal spores in house dust increased to about 45-fold at 84–86% RH resulting mainly from the growth of Aspergillus, Eurotium and Penicillium. At 96–98% RH, the proliferations were on average 1370- and 240-fold for fungi and bacteria, respectively.

    The dominating fungal genera were Aspergillus and Penicillium. The MVOC composition revealed that microbes can utilize, for example, fatty acids and possibly aldehydes as carbon source resulting in the production of MVOC such as methyl ketones and alcohols. The main MVOC produced by microbes in house dust were 2-pentanone, 2-hexanone, 2-heptanone, limonene, 2-methylfuran, formaldehyde, acrolein and nonanal.

    Also, 3-octanone, 2-ethyl-1-hexanol, 1-octen-3-ol, 3-methyl-1-butanol, 3-methyl-2-butanol, camphene and α-pinene can be considered to derive from microbial metabolism to some extent.

  • Lewis, Robert G., Christopher R. Fortune, Robert D. Willis, David E. Camann, and Jeffrey T. Antley. “Distribution of pesticides and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in house dust as a function of particle size.” Environmental health perspectives 107, no. 9 (1999): 721 Abstract:

    House dust is a repository for environmental pollutants that may accumulate indoors from both internal and external sources over long periods of time. Dust and tracked-in soil accumulate most efficiently in carpets, and the pollutants associated with dust and soil may present an exposure risk to infants and toddlers, who spend significant portions of their time in contact with or in close proximity to the floor and who engage in frequent mouthing activities.

    The availability of carpet dust for exposure by transfer to the skin or by suspension into the air depends on particle size. In this study, a large sample of residential house dust was obtained from a commercial cleaning service whose clients were homeowners residing in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill (Research Triangle) area of North Carolina.|

    The composite dust was separated into seven size fractions ranging from < 4 to 500 microm in diameter, and each fraction was analyzed for 28 pesticides and 10 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Over 20% of the fractionated dust sample consisted of particles < 25 microm in diameter.

    Fourteen pesticides and all 10 of the target PAHs were detected in one or more of the seven size-fractionated samples. Sample concentrations reported range from 0.02 to 22 microg/g; the synthetic pyrethroids cis- and trans-permethrin were the most abundant pesticide residue.

    The concentrations of nearly all of the target analytes increased gradually with decreasing particle size for the larger particles, then increased dramatically for the two smallest particle sizes (4-25 microm and < 4 microm).

  • Lioy, Paul J., Thomas Wainman, Junfeng Zhang, and Susan Goldsmith. “Typical household vacuum cleaners: the collection efficiency and emissions characteristics for fine particles.” Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association 49, no. 2 (1999): 200-206 Abstract:

    The issue of fine particle (PM25) exposures and their potential health effects is a focus of scientific research because of the recently promulgated National Ambient Air Quality Standard for PM2 5. Before final implementation, the health and exposure basis for the standard will be reviewed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency within the next five years. As part of this process, it is necessary to understand total particle exposure issues and to determine the relative importance of the origin of PM2 5 exposure in various micro-environments. The results presented in this study examine emissions of fine particles from a previously uncharacterized indoor source: the residential vacuum cleaner.

    Eleven standard vacuum cleaners were tested for the emission rate of fine particles by their individual motors and for their efficiency in collecting laboratory-generated fine particles. An aerosol generator was used to introduce fine potassium chloride (KC1) particles into the vacuum cleaner inlet for the collection efficiency tests. Measurements of the motor emissions, which include carbon, and the KCl aerosol were made using a continuous HIAC/Royco 5130A light-scattering particle detector.

    All tests were conducted in a metal chamber specifically designed to completely contain the vacuum cleaner and operate it in a stationary position. For the tested vacuum cleaners, fine particle motor emissions ranged from 9.6 x 104 to 3.34 x 108 particles/min, which were estimated to be 0.028 to 176 mg/min for mass emissions, respectively. The vast majority of particles released were in the range of 0.3-0.5 mm in diameter.

    The lowest particle emission rate was obtained for a vacuum cleaner that had a high efficiency (HEPA) filter placed after the vacuum cleaner bag and the motor within a sealed exhaust system. This vacuum cleaner removed the KC1particles that escaped the vacuum cleaner bag and the particles emitted by the motor. Results obtained for the KC1 collection efficiency tests show >99% of the fine particles were captured by the two vacuum cleaners that used a HEPA filter.

    A series of tests conducted on two vacuum cleaners found that the motors also emitted ultra-fine particles above 0.01 mm in diameter at rates of greater than 108 ultra-fine particles/CF of air. The model that had the best collection efficiency for fine particles also reduced the ultra-fine particle emissions by a factor of 1 x 103.

  • Luczynska, Christina M., Yin Li, Martin D. Chapman, and Thomas AE Platts-Mills. “Airborne concentrations and particle size distribution of allergen derived from domestic cats (Felis domesticus).” Am Rev Respir Dis 141, no. 361 (1990): 7. Abstract:

    The recent development of a sensitive two-site monoclonal antibody immunoassay for the major cat allergen (Fel d I) has made it possible to make accurate measurements of airborne cat allergen using low volume samplers that do not disturb the room. Houses with cats had from 2 to 20 ng Fel d I/m3 air compared with < 0.2 ng/m3 in houses without cats.

    Using a cascade impactor and a multistage liquid impinger, the particle size distribution of airborne Fel d I in nine houses was 75% on particles ⩾ 5 µm in diameter and 25% (range, 10 to 62%) on particles ⩽ 2.5 µm. In a cat vivarium with 12 cats, the air contained 40 ng Fel d I/m3, but < 2% was detected on particles ⩽ 2.5 µm.

    The air exchange rate in the vivarium (∼ 15 changes/h) appears to be the major difference from domestic houses (< 0.5 changes/h). Repeated studies in one house confirmed a very high proportion (∼ 60%) of Fel d I on small particles. During domestic cleaning, the levels of small particle allergen in this house approached those produced by a nebulizer for bronchial provocation, i.e., 40 ng/m3.

    These results show unequivocally that significant airborne Fel d I is associated with small particles, which remain airborne for long periods. These findings are strikingly different from previous results obtained with airborne dust mite allergen.

    The results provide an explanation for the distinctive rapid onset of asthma or rhinitis in patients allergic to cats and a basis for designing a policy to reduce airborne allergen in houses with cats.

  • Pakarinen, Jaakko, Anne Hyvärinen, Mirja Salkinoja‐Salonen, Sirpa Laitinen, Aino Nevalainen, Mika J. Mäkelä, Tari Haahtela, and Leena Von Hertzen. “Predominance of Gram‐positive bacteria in house dust in the low‐allergy risk Russian Karelia.” Environmental microbiology 10, no. 12 (2008): 3317-3325. Summary:

    Simple living conditions and farming environment have been associated with reduced risk for allergic diseases such as atopy and asthma but the factors responsible for this effect remain unresolved. We examined the bacterial composition of house dusts obtained from Finnish and Russian Karelia, two adjacent areas with high and low occurrence of atopic diseases respectively.

    Two dust mixes, both composed of 10 randomly selected dust samples from 349 Finnish and 417 Russian Karelian households were studied for bacterial biomarkers (DNA, Limulus-active endotoxin, 3-OH fatty acids, muramic acid) and for 16S rRNA gene sequences.

    Overall, the DNA cloning revealed more taxons (94 different genera) of dustborne bacteria than seen in any previous study on residential environments. Majority (67%) of the bacterial DNA clones in house dust from the low-allergy Russian Kareliarepresented Gram-positive bacteria (Firmicutes and Actinobacteria), predominantly Staphylococcaceae and Corynebacteriaceae.

    Russian Karelian dust showed up to 20-fold higher contents of muramic acid (marker of Gram-positive bacteria) and a sevenfold higher number of clones of animal-associated species, whereas in Finnish Karelian dust Gram-negatives (mainly Proteobacteria) predominated.

    Clones of plant-associated bacterial species and of chloroplast, indicating plant biomass, were more numerous in Finnish than in Russian Karelian dust. In conclusion, this study revealed major disparities between Finnish and Russian house dusts. The higher bacterial content and the predominance of Gram-positive bacteria in Russian dust may have implications for occurrence of atopy.

  • Pepys, J., Moira Chan, and F. E. Hargreave. “Mites and house-dust allergy.” The Lancet 291, no. 7555 (1968): 1270-1272.
  • Maertens, Rebecca M., Jennifer Bailey, and Paul A. White. “The mutagenic hazards of settled house dust: a review.” Mutation Research/Reviews in Mutation Research 567, no. 2 (2004): 401-425. Abstract:

    Given the large proportion of time people spend indoors, the potential health risks posed by chemical contaminants in the indoor environment are of concern. Research suggests that settled house dust (SHD) may be a significant source for indoor exposure to hazardous substances including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

    Here, we summarize the literature on the mutagenic hazards of SHD and the presence of PAHs in dust. We assess the extent to which PAHs are estimated to contribute to the mutagenicity of SHD, and evaluate the carcinogenic risks associated with exposures to PAHs in SHD. Research demonstrates that SHD has a Salmonella TA98 mutagenic potency of 1000–7000 revertants/g, and contains between 0.5 and 500 μg/g of PAHs.

    Although they only account for a small proportion of the variability, analyses of pooled datasets suggest that cigarette smoking and an urban location contribute to higher levels of PAHs. Despite their presence, our calculations show that PAHs likely account for less than 25% of the overall mutagenic potency of dust.

    Nevertheless, carcinogenic PAHs in dust can pose potential health risks, particularly for children who play and crawl on dusty floors, and exhibit hand-to-mouth behaviour. Risk assessment calculations performed in this study reveal that the excess cancer risks from non-dietary ingestion of carcinogenic PAHs in SHD by preschool aged children is generally in the range of what is considered acceptable (1 × 10−6 to 2 × 10−6).

    Substantially elevated risk estimates in the range 1.5 × 10−4 to 2.5 × 10−4 correspond only to situations where the PAH content is at or beyond the 95th percentile, and the risk estimates are adjusted for enhanced susceptibility at early life stages. Analyses of SHD and its contaminants provide an indication of indoor pollution and present important information for human exposure assessments.

  • Marklund, Anneli, Barbro Andersson, and Peter Haglund. “Screening of organophosphorus compounds and their distribution in various indoor environments.” Chemosphere 53, no. 9 (2003): 1137-1146.
  • Miller, J. D., A. M. Laflamme, Y. Sobol, P. Lafontaine, and R. Greenhalgh. “Fungi and fungal products in some Canadian houses.” International Biodeterioration 24, no. 2 (1988): 103-120. Abstract:

    Building related illness prompted a study in the winter of 1986 to identify and quantify and fungal products present in c. 50 Canadian homes. Of these, 70% had been reputedly associated with health problems. Building parameters, i.e. air change rate and the internal moisture levels, were measured, and the fungi present were characterized and quantified along with their metabolites.

    Air and dust samples were analyzed and the fungal biomass in the dust was measured by a procedure which involved determination of ergosterol by a gas chromatograph/mass spectrometer system. Some 42 fungal species were identified in air, samples of which were further analyzed for fungal volatiles.

    Penicillium was the most common genus in both air and dust, together with Cladosporium and Alternaria. The potentially hazardous fungus Aspergillus fumigatus was found in only two houses, and Strachybotry atra in only one. New criteria are suggested to define the acceptable standards for indoor fungal levels in air during winter.

  • Moriwaki, Hiroshi, Yumiko Takata, and Ryuichi Arakawa. “Concentrations of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in vacuum cleaner dust collected in Japanese homes.” Journal of Environmental Monitoring 5, no. 5 (2003): 753-757. Abstract:

    Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) are shown to be globally distributed, environmentally persistent and bioaccumulative. Although there is evidence that these compounds exist in the serum of non-occupationally exposed humans, the pathways leading to the presence of PFOS and PFOA are not well characterized.

    The concentrations of PFOS and PFOA in the vacuum cleaner dust collected in Japanese homes were measured. With regard to risk management, it is important to consider the usage of PFOS and PFOA in the indoor environment in order to avoid further pollution.

  • Saraf, Anita, Lennart Larsson, Harriet Burge, and Donald Milton. “Quantification of ergosterol and 3-hydroxy fatty acids in settled house dust by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry: comparison with fungal culture and determination of endotoxin by a Limulus amebocyte lysate assay.” Applied and environmental microbiology 63, no. 7 (1997): 2554-2559. Abstract:

    Ergosterol and 3-hydroxy fatty acids, chemical markers for fungal biomass and the endotoxin of gram-negative bacteria, respectively, may be useful in studies of health effects of organic dusts, including domestic house dust. This paper reports a method for the combined determination of ergosterol and 3-hydroxy fatty acids in a single dust sample and a comparison of these chemical biomarkers determined by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry with results from fungal culture and Limulus assay.

    Analyses of replicate house dust samples resulted in correlations of 0.91 (ergosterol in six replicates; P lt 0.01) and 0.94 (3-hydroxy fatty acids in nine replicates; P lt 0.001). The amounts of ergosterol (range, 2 to 16.5 ng/mg of dust) correlated with those of total culturable fungi (range, 6 to 1,400 CFU/mg of dust) in 17 samples, (r = 0.65; P lt 0.005).

    The amounts of endotoxin (range, 11 to 243 endotoxin units/mg of dust) measured with a modified chromogenic Limulus assay correlated with those of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) determined from 3-hydroxy fatty acid analysis of 15 samples. The correlation coefficient depended on the chain lengths of 3-hydroxy acids used to compute the LPS content.

    The correlation was high (r = 0.88 +- 0.01; P lt 0.001) when fatty acid chains of 10 to 14 carbon atoms were included; the correlation was much lower when hydroxy acids of 16- or 18-carbon chains were included. In conclusion, the results of the described extraction and analysis procedure for ergosterol and 3-hydroxy fatty acids are reproducible, and the results can be correlated with fungal culture and endotoxin activity of organic dust samples.

  • Wharton, Go W. “House dust mites.” Journal of Medical Entomology 12, no. 6 (1976): 577-621. Abstract:

    The most common mites found in the contents of vacuum cleaner sweepings are members of a family of Acaridei, the Pyroglyphidae. Techniques for collecting them effectively were first described in 1964. Since that time, systems for extracting mites from vacuumed dust using sieves and flotation or sedimentation have been improved.

    The species found in homes are readily cultured. Successful methods utilize high protein foods, an area-enlarging substrate, 25°C and a humidity in equilibrium with saturated NaCl (aw = 0.75, rh = 75%). Development from egg through larva, protonymph, tritonymph to adult requires about a month in cultures under optimum conditions. Pyroglyphids have the reduced setation of parasitic Acaridei but most live as nidicoles.

    There are 35 species now recognized and 12 of these are associated with man. Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus, D. farinae and Euroglyphus maynei most common on a world basis but other species are significant in some areas, such as Hirstia domicola in Japan.

    Both D. farinae and D. pteronyssinus have facultative quiescent protonymphs that can survive harsh conditions. These species have a critical equilibrium activity (CEA) below 0.75 and thus can maintain their water content as long as they have access to air as humid as 75% rh during at least part of the time. The favored site for the association of these mites with man is his bed. Populations maintain themselves in beds on a continuing basis.

    When temperatures and humidities are favorable, these mites also develop in other areas of the house. Their association with man is significant because they either produce or concentrate allergens that are responsible for house dust allergy, which is prevalent on a global basis. In the U. S. it is estimated that 4% of the population is involved.

    Both mites and house dust can be held at low levels by use of non-fibrous materials and frequent vacuuming. These measures alleviate suffering from house dust allergy. In persistent cases, extracts of house dust or house dust mites have been used in desensitizing patients.

    House dust mites seem to be resistant to most pesticides, but they are susceptible to low concentrations of lindane.

  • Woodfolk, Judith A., Christina M. Luczynska, Frederic de Blay, Martin D. Chapman, and Thomas AE Platts-Mills. “The effect of vacuum cleaners on the concentration and particle size distribution of airborne cat allergen.” Journal of allergy and clinical immunology 91, no. 4 (1993): 829-837. Abstract:

    Background: Vacuum cleaners are essential for the removal of dust from the surface of carpets; however, they may also contribute to airborne dust both by leakage through the cleaner and disturbance of floor dust.

    Methods: The present studies used established techniques for measuring airborne Fel d I to study the effects of vacuum cleaners on airborne cat allergen under laboratory conditions and in houses with cats. Nine different models were loaded with dust containing 50 mg Fel d I and run for 15 minutes in a laboratory room (volume∼18 m3). Leakage was expressed as the airborne concentration of allergen in nanograms per cubic meter.

    Results: Cleaners incorporating a double-thickness dust bag either did not leak, that is, less than 0.4 ng Fel d I/ m3 or had minor leakage∼5 ng/ m3. Vacuum cleaners with single-thickness paper bags leaked more, that is, 15 to > 90 ng/m3 with the exception of the cleaner with an efficient outer bag. Detailed studies on a vacuum cleaner that leaked showed that placing dust in the bag, replacing the dust bag with a double-thickness bag, and placing an electrostatic filter over the exhaust reduced levels from greater than 90 ng/m3 to less than 2 ng/m3.

    Two water-filter vacuum cleaners each emitted cat allergen (up to > 100 ng/m3) with a mean of 90% on particles less than 2.5 μm diameter. This emission could be almost completely controlled by taping electrostatic filter paper over the air outlet.

    Conclusions: In houses with cats, different models of vacuum cleaners could either reduce or increase total airborne allergen, and could also selectively increase certain particle sizes. These results suggest that cat allergen is a good model for studying the effectiveness of vacuum cleaners recommended to allergic patients.

  • Li, Zheng, Philip K. Hopke, Liaquat Husain, Sumizah Qureshi, Vincent A. Dutkiewicz, James J. Schwab, Frank Drewnick, and Kenneth L. Demerjian. “Sources of fine particle composition in New York city.” Atmospheric Environment 38, no. 38 (2004): 6521-6529. Abstract:

    Fine particle composition data from samples collected at Queens College during July 2001 were studied using positive matrix factorization (PMF). The sampling systems are an integrated filter sampler with a 6-h sampling time interval, an aerosol mass spectrometer (AMS) with a 10-min sampling time interval and a particle-into-liquid sampler with ion chromatography (PILS-IC) with 15-min sampling time interval. The data from the AMS and the PILS-IC were aggregated to 6-h average values for the PMF calculation.

    Sulfate, ammonium, and nitrate data were compared among the different instruments. The PMF method uses the estimated errors in the data to provide optimal point-by-point weighting and permits efficient treatment of missing and below detection limit values. Six source categories were resolved from the data.

    They are: secondary sulfate with high concentration SO42−; secondary nitrate with the presence of high concentration NO3−; motor vehicle emissions with high concentration of OC and Zn; road dust represented by Al, Ca, Fe, and K; sea salt with high concentration of Cl and Na; and oil combustion marked by the presence of Ni and V.

Article Source:

What’s in your building’s air?

whats in your buildings air

Human beings are creatures of habit. We all have certain likes and dislikes. One thing most folks can agree on is the preference to be comfortable while at work or leisure when indoors. Temperature and ventilation certainly play big roles in making the indoor environment comfortable. It’s common to notice changes in temperature and adjust the thermostat to maintain comfort. But detecting humidity, oxygen levels, and indoor air quality issues isn’t always as easy. Headaches, stuffy sinuses and feeling tired might very well be related to the air you breathe. What’s in your building’s air?

Studies conducted by the EPA and Harvard among others have found that humans spend 90% of their time indoors within shared spaces. Some studies have even shown that indoor environments can have higher levels of pollutants than what can be found outside. Many of the indoor pollutants either originate in or can be picked up and redistributed by the building HVAC system.

Under normal operating and maintenance conditions the HVAC system can monitor and correct for a multitude of IAQ conditions in your building’s air. But as maintenance is deferred, the air handing unit can become fouled, foster microbial growth, and begin to under perform, eventually breaking down. It is estimated that a little as 3/16 of an inch of dirt lodged in between the fins across an evaporator coil can decrease the efficiency of the unit by 21%!

Other factors, besides the HVAC system, like new office equipment, furniture, renovations and even additional employees can have a negative impact on IAQ as well.

Luckily, the EPA provides a guide to better understand indoor air quality and what can be done to maintain and improve it. “An Office Building Occupant’s Guide to Indoor Air Quality can be viewed here.

A closer look at indoor pollutants.

When examining the pollutants that can affect indoor air quality there are three main categories to consider: biological contaminants, chemicals/gases and particles.

Biological Contaminants
Biological contaminants such as bacteria, fungi (including molds), dust mites, animal dander and pollen can all affect building health. A properly maintained and cleaned HVAC is key to minimizing the growth and distribution of biological contaminants throughout the building. Bacteria and mold can flourish inside of a cool and damp air handling unit. Typically, a musty odor is associated with microbial growth. If excessive concentrations are left unchecked an entire host of health related issues including asthma and allergies can occur.

Chemicals and Gases
Emissions from products used in the building can also contribute to indoor air quality issues. Everything from cleaning products to office equipment like copy machines can put harmful compounds into air, this includes gases such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. Monitoring ventilation rates and controls is important. It is crucial to have a healthy mix of fresh outdoor air exchanged with the indoor air to maintain optimal quality.

Particulates like dust, dirt, paper fibers or other substances can be brought into a building from outside or produced by activities, like printing, that happen inside of the facility. Good housekeeping and proper filtration can alleviate most particulate issues. Remember, filtration should be designed to fit the specific environment and building use.

OSHA goes into detail about these categories and IAQ management in their guide located here.

Be Proactive and Vigilant

Always stay on top of HVAC maintenance and cleaning. Regular hygienic cleaning, like Pure Air Control Service’s PURE-Steam, can prevent IAQ issues emanating from the HVAC system. PURE-Steam is a high temperature, low pressure, cleaning service that kills microbial growth and flushes dirt from deep within the evaporator coils. It can improve overall system performance and cleanliness. Beyond the HVAC system, Pure Air Control Services also provides PURE-Decon room disinfection, that utilizes a hydrogen peroxide and silver mist to get rid of bacteria, fungi and viruses.

If you have never cleaned your HVAC system then IAQ testing would be a good first step to determining any potential issues. Even a simple HVAC Hygienic Assessment can be helpful in looking at the cleanliness and performance of the system regarding building health and energy efficiency.

Finally, be in-tune with your building’s occupants. Pay attention to common health complaints and where they are concentrated. These complaints are often the frontline in the IAQ battle, and provide early detection to get out in front of any issues before they get worse.

Understanding how IAQ is connected to your HVAC system is a critical step in developing a maintenance plan for the optimal health, comfort and energy efficiency of your building. Article Source:

Air conditioning use emerges as one of the key drivers of global electricity-demand growth


The growing use of air conditioners in homes and offices around the world will be one of the top drivers of global electricity demand over the next three decades, according to new analysis by the International Energy Agency that stresses the urgent need for policy action to improve cooling efficiency.

A new IEA report – “The Future of Cooling” – shows that without new efficiency standards the world will be facing a “cold crunch” from the growth in cooling demand in coming decades.

Global energy demand from air conditioners is expected to triple by 2050, requiring new electricity capacity the equivalent to the combined electricity capacity of the United States, the EU and Japan today. The global stock of air conditioners in buildings will grow to 5.6 billion by 2050, up from 1.6 billion today – which amounts to 10 new ACs sold every second for the next 30 years, according to the report.

Using air conditioners and electric fans to stay cool already accounts for about a fifth of the total electricity used in buildings around the world – or 10% of all global electricity consumption today. But as incomes and living standards improve in many developing countries, the growth in AC demand in hotter regions is set to soar. AC use is expected to be the second-largest source of global electricity demand growth after the industry sector, and the strongest driver for buildings by 2050.

Supplying power to these ACs comes with large costs and environmental implications. One crucial factor is that the efficiency of these new ACs can vary widely. For example, ACs sold in Japan and the European Union are typically 25% more efficient than those sold in the United States and China. Efficiency improvements could cut the energy growth from AC demand in half through mandatory energy performance standards.

“Growing electricity demand for air conditioning is one of the most critical blind spots in today’s energy debate,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the Executive Director of the IEA. “With rising incomes, air conditioner ownership will skyrocket, especially in the emerging world. While this will bring extra comfort and improve daily lives, it is essential that efficiency performance for ACs be prioritized. Standards for the bulk of these new ACs are much lower than where they should be.”

The report identifies key policy actions. In an Efficient Cooling Scenario, which is compatible with the goals of the Paris Agreement, the IEA finds that through stringent minimum energy performance standards and other measures such as labelling, the average energy efficiency of the stock of ACs worldwide could more than double between now and 2050. This would greatly reduce the need to build new electricity infrastructure to meet rising demand.

Making cooling more efficient would also yield multiple benefits, making it more affordable, more secure, and more sustainable, and saving as much as USD 2.9 trillion in investment, fuel and operating costs.

The rise in cooling demand will be particularly important in the hotter regions of the world.

Today, less than a third of global households own an air conditioner. In countries such as the United States and Japan, more than 90% of households have air conditioning, compared to just 8% of the 2.8 billion people living in the hottest parts of the world.

The issue is particularly sensitive in the fastest-growing nations, with the biggest increase happening in hot countries like India – where the share of AC in peak electricity load could reach 45% in 2050, up from 10% today without action. This will require large investments in new power plants to meet peak power demand at night, which cannot be met with solar PV technology.

“Setting higher efficiency standards for cooling is one of the easiest steps governments can take to reduce the need for new power plants, and allow them at the same time to cut emissions and reduce costs,” said Dr Birol.

The Future of Cooling” is the second IEA report that focuses on “blind spots” of the global energy system, following the “The Future of Trucks,” which was released in July 2017. The next one in this series – “The Future of Petro-Chemicals” – will examine ways to build a more sustainable petrochemical industry. It will be released in September.

Article Source;

The growing use of air conditioners in homes and offices around the world will be one of the top drivers of global electricity demand over the next three decades, according to new analysis by the International Energy Agency that stresses the urgent need for policy action to improve cooling efficiency.

A new IEA report – “The Future of Cooling” – shows that without new efficiency standards the world will be facing a “cold crunch” from the growth in cooling demand in coming decades.

Global energy demand from air conditioners is expected to triple by 2050, requiring new electricity capacity the equivalent to the combined electricity capacity of the United States, the EU and Japan today. The global stock of air conditioners in buildings will grow to 5.6 billion by 2050, up from 1.6 billion today – which amounts to 10 new ACs sold every second for the next 30 years, according to the report.

Using air conditioners and electric fans to stay cool already accounts for about a fifth of the total electricity used in buildings around the world – or 10% of all global electricity consumption today. But as incomes and living standards improve in many developing countries, the growth in AC demand in hotter regions is set to soar. AC use is expected to be the second-largest source of global electricity demand growth after the industry sector, and the strongest driver for buildings by 2050.

Supplying power to these ACs comes with large costs and environmental implications. One crucial factor is that the efficiency of these new ACs can vary widely. For example, ACs sold in Japan and the European Union are typically 25% more efficient than those sold in the United States and China. Efficiency improvements could cut the energy growth from AC demand in half through mandatory energy performance standards.

“Growing electricity demand for air conditioning is one of the most critical blind spots in today’s energy debate,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the Executive Director of the IEA. “With rising incomes, air conditioner ownership will skyrocket, especially in the emerging world. While this will bring extra comfort and improve daily lives, it is essential that efficiency performance for ACs be prioritized. Standards for the bulk of these new ACs are much lower than where they should be.”

The report identifies key policy actions. In an Efficient Cooling Scenario, which is compatible with the goals of the Paris Agreement, the IEA finds that through stringent minimum energy performance standards and other measures such as labelling, the average energy efficiency of the stock of ACs worldwide could more than double between now and 2050. This would greatly reduce the need to build new electricity infrastructure to meet rising demand.

Making cooling more efficient would also yield multiple benefits, making it more affordable, more secure, and more sustainable, and saving as much as USD 2.9 trillion in investment, fuel and operating costs.

The rise in cooling demand will be particularly important in the hotter regions of the world.

Today, less than a third of global households own an air conditioner. In countries such as the United States and Japan, more than 90% of households have air conditioning, compared to just 8% of the 2.8 billion people living in the hottest parts of the world.

The issue is particularly sensitive in the fastest-growing nations, with the biggest increase happening in hot countries like India – where the share of AC in peak electricity load could reach 45% in 2050, up from 10% today without action. This will require large investments in new power plants to meet peak power demand at night, which cannot be met with solar PV technology.

“Setting higher efficiency standards for cooling is one of the easiest steps governments can take to reduce the need for new power plants, and allow them at the same time to cut emissions and reduce costs,” said Dr Birol.

The Future of Cooling” is the second IEA report that focuses on “blind spots” of the global energy system, following the “The Future of Trucks,” which was released in July 2017. The next one in this series – “The Future of Petro-Chemicals” – will examine ways to build a more sustainable petrochemical industry. It will be released in September. Article Source:

Exposing Indoor Air Quality: Monitoring And Energy Efficiency Are Helping

Harmful pollutants are spewing everywhere, including indoors. And while the focus is on those external emissions created by power plants, industrial facilities and automobiles, there is solid reason to turn inward: The level of volatile organic compounds — gases from solids and liquids — is 10 times greater indoors than it is outdoors.

That’s according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which adds that dirty air, generally, inside of commercial and residential buildings is two-to-five times greater than what is outside. And that is leading to health problems. In extreme cases, think of burning coal or wood for indoor cooking and heating in developing countries. The good news is that the technologies exist to monitor air quality and to improve energy efficiencies.

“As we learn to live a healthier lifestyle by eating better, we can also live a healthier lifestyle by breathing better,” Vasileios Nasis, chief executive of the Netronix Group in Philadelphia told this writer. In doing so, he adds that “You can also contribute to energy savings.”

As for Netronix, its relatively inexpensive instruments are installed within a business or home that gather data associated with air quality, all in real time. That information is then stored in the company’s cloud software, which it monitors for a monthly fee. At the appropriate times, managers or consumers are notified to shift their usage patterns. That not only cuts down on electricity bills and pollutant levels but it can also improve the performance of existing equipment.

Green schools, for instance, say that they use a third less energy than conventionally-constructed schools, which cuts down on their utility costs and improves the air that students breathe. Ditto for hospitals, which must have sterile environments. By installing devices that can measure air quality, managers are notified of problems before they happen.

The Payback

There’s a range of solutions with quick paybacks. Creating real change means controlling demand at large plants and commercial buildings. Experts can study a facility’s technologies and operating protocols and determine where the pitfalls lie. They can then provide a good range of retrofits and the potential savings that those innovations will produce.

The World Health Organization is actively addressing air pollution. Worldwide, it says that a third of cardiovascular diseases can be linked to indoor and outdoor pollution while 29% of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease deaths are tied to poor indoor air quality.

William J. Fisk, with the Indoor Environment Department at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, writes that the annual savings and productivity gains would be greater than $200 billion. That includes everything from reduced respiratory disease to improvements in worker performance. 

“It is very difficult to control air quality outside,” says Netronix’s Nasis, “but we can control it inside. In the process, we can save tons of energy while we also save money and preserve the environment.” 

One of the most common pursuits today is for buildings to get LEED certified to ensure that commercial construction meets modern standards. Such standards look at how buildings are fueled as well as water efficiency and indoor air quality.

According to the Green Building Council, offices consume 70% of the electricity load in the United States. They also account for roughly 38% of all greenhouse gas emissions and over the next 25 years, CO2 emissions from those structures are projected to grow faster than any other sector, at 1.8% a year.

The companies that occupy those structures are going green to improve their brands. But they are also doing so because they can save money. One of the easiest ways to achieve environmental and energy savings is through lighting retrofits.

Consider Nissan Motor Co., which is allocating more capital to energy efficiency: Altogether, the company says that it has implemented $2.6 million worth of energy efficiency projects since 2012 while saving $2.1 million a year and preventing tons of carbon releases.

Hilton Hotels and Amazon’s Whole Foods, furthermore, are helping out each other. Hilton, for example, suggested to Whole Foods that it use more natural lighting whereas Whole Foods thought Hilton ought to use more advanced lighting that dims when no one is around.

When it comes to cutting emissions, most of the focus is on external sources such as power plants. But it is also imperative that commercial and residential structures become more energy efficient, which will have an equally profound impact on the environment and on workers’ health.  

Article Source:

Finding the Link Between Employee Performance and Building Health

Consider this. You’re the CEO of a small software startup getting ready to launch your first big app. A significant amount of money and time has been invested into the project. The old saying, “You only have one chance to make a first impression” is keeping you up at night. But have you thought about your Indoor Air Quality(IAQ) relative to the project and employee performance? Of course not. But maybe you should.

Employee Performance Linked to Building Health

Optimized IAQ Improves Cognitive Function & Employee Performance

That hypothetical CEO depends on employee performance being at the highest levels. Mistakes are not an option. When those programmers are debugging the new application, they must be focused. Can building conditions such as ventilation rates, temperature, humidity and odors affect workers’ cognitive abilities? You bet it can! And a recent series of studies has found the correlation.

Joseph Allen, along with colleagues from Harvard University, Syracuse University and SUNY Upstate Medical conducted a two-phase study to see if better IAQ can influence employee performance. They studied a worker’s ability to process information, make strategic decisions and respond to crises under different indoor environmental conditions.

“We spend 90 percent of our time indoors, yet we spend almost all of our time thinking about outdoor air pollution,” said Joseph Allen, director of the three-year-old Healthy Buildings program at Harvard University’s Center for Health and the Global Environment, which has studied the benefits of keeping employees in top form. “What we’re doing here is quantifying what people intuitively know. When you’re stuck in a conference room that’s too hot, there’s no ventilation, you don’t perform as well.”

Phase one of the double-blind study tested 24 “knowledge workers” (managers, designers, and architects) over a two-week period at the Syracuse Center of Excellence. These workers were required to basically be themselves, performing their normal 9-5 work routine in this highly-controlled environment. Unbeknownst to them, the researchers shifted the IAQ conditions from a minimal accepted standard baseline to an optimized environment. At the end of each day, as the conditions were gradually improved, the subject’s decision making performance was tested using a standardized cognitive function test. The results were encouraging.

The research team found that optimized IAQ led to significantly better performance among all participants. Higher test scores were recorded across nine cognitive functions when ventilation rates were increased (and finally doubled), VOCs (chemical cleaners, dry erase makers, building materials, etc.) were decreased and carbon dioxide was reduced. The most remarkable gains were made how workers plan, stay focused and strategized.

The second phase of the study moved from the lab into the real world. 100 knowledge workers were tested for cognitive function in 10 IAQ tested buildings throughout the U.S. Six of the buildings were “green certified”. The study found that workers in the green buildings scored higher on the range of tests. Along with the improved IAQ factors of ventilation, VOCs, and CO2, workers in environments with comfortable temperature and humidity levels also performed better.

“What should leaders and building managers take away from these findings?” says Mr. Allen, “The short answer is that better air quality in your office can facilitate better cognitive performance among your employees.”

What Can Be Done to Improve IAQ and Performance?

Even though most executives/managers focus on energy costs, and rightly so, 90% of a business’ operating costs tied to its workers. In fact, one study reported that building managers tend to overestimate energy costs by multiple factors!

Managers should then look at IAQ indicators to see where improvements can made. Building scientists that specialize in IAQ testing can be called upon to conduct a survey of a facility and report the findings. Data from such a study can be used to correct any deficiencies found, as well as, optimize areas that could potentially cause issues. With the prevalence of deferred maintenance programs cost is always an issue. However, the cost of improving IAQ is far lower than most think.

The joint Harvard study modeled costs with four different types of HVAC systems in different climate zones with different energy sources in the U.S. The estimates show that doubling ventilation rates would be less than $40 per person, per year. When energy-efficient systems are used, the cost would be less than $10 per person per year. The study also used the benchmarked cognitive function testing results and paired the percentile increase in scores to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to estimate the BENEFITS to employee performance from doubling ventilation rates are $6,500 per person per year! This doesn’t include other health benefits from hygienically cleaning HVAC systems to avert Sick Building Syndrome and the human health issues it can cause, such as allergies, asthma and absenteeism.

Moving forward it would be a good practice for managers to incorporate IAQ health impacts into their cost-benefit calculations when planning. When employee performance/productivity benefits are clearly shown the C-suite can then see the correlation between spending to enhance facilities and reducing human resource costs.

Hopefully, our hypothetical CEO and his software company are open minded to making improvements based on research like this. Maybe they will even develop the next IAQ testing app.

Article Source:

Summer vacations are when mold comes out to play



Summertime traditionally brings family trips, school vacations, as well as plenty of hot uncomfortable weather. Those sunny days, however, often come with high humidity and afternoon thundershowers — ideal conditions for annoying and potentially toxic mold.

It’s a pervasive menace that is poised each summer to grow and thrive in your house. Left unattended, fast-growing mold can cause damage that will cost in the thousands of dollars to eradicate or, worse, pose a dangerous threat to the health of your entire family.

“No one knows how many homes have mold behind the walls, but the best estimate is about 70 percent,” said Richard E. Gots, a doctor and founder of the International Center for Toxicology and Medicine, a biomedical consulting firm.

Gots’s estimate refers to mold that is at an “elevated level” and therefore should be addressed if the conditions exist for the mold to take hold and grow.

The Environmental Protection Agency sets levels for acceptable radon levels as well as a threshold for lead in the house or water supply, and states regulate termite inspections and control compliance. Yet there are no federal or state regulations that dictate a safe level of mold for a residential property.

D.C. Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) has been campaigning for several years to pass legislation that would require residential property owners, including landlords, to disclose the presence of mold in their apartment, condo or house. This legislation is still pending.

 According to the District’s housing code, the Department of Consumer Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) inspectors cannot cite a homeowner for mold because the city considers mold to be “an environmental problem,” rather than a housing or safety issue. Mold, of course, is notoriously difficult to detect, and what may look like dangerous mold can only be legitimately determined under a microscope by a competent inspector or lab. Additionally, most homeowner insurance policies will not cover damage from mold — they consider it a “preventable” condition.

In reality, mold is a fungus that can grow anywhere moisture is present. Mold spores thrive in warm temperatures (77 to 86 degree Fahrenheit) and wherever there are damp conditions. Mold spores are in the air we breathe, and they can grow on any surface. In a house, mold can be found in ceilings and walls, under sinks, in drywall, hidden behind wallpaper or baseboards, in the ductwork or even on furniture and clothes. It can also grow outdoors under wood piles or mulch, gutters or abandoned trash.

Mold in a house can lay dormant until it gets the needed heat and humidity to grow and multiply. Additionally, it needs a food source, such as dust, dirt or some other organic debris.

While not everyone will react to this growth in the same way, those sensitive to allergic or toxic mold can develop alarming symptoms upon merely entering a contaminated room. The result can be a serious — even life-threatening — illness if not treated in time.

 If you suspect that you’ve been exposed to mold — or begin to experience dizziness, fatigue, nausea, shortness of breath or other symptoms of illness — contact a mold specialist and have your property inspected as soon as possible. Licensed professionals will test the air quality of your house and take samples of the visual mold, which will be sent to a qualified lab for evaluation.

The EPA provides helpful information in its publication “A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home” at . And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention focuses on the health hazards of mold exposure and provides recommendations for removing mold exposure at .

In addition to the traditional methods for eradicating mold (such as using chemicals or chlorine bleach and physically removing infected surfaces), there is a new, enzyme-based alternative. Previously used as a protective spray for fruits and vegetables, it is now available for home use.

Jenn Sherwood, manager of Green Home Solutions of Maryland, says that the enzyme spray is a cost-effective, time-saving and environmentally responsible way for homeowners to eradicate mold. The process uses a “fogger,” which emits a fine spray that is able to penetrate most porous surfaces (such as drywall) or even non-visible areas — behind walls or inside insulation. This method of eradicating mold often eliminates the need to remove and replace the existing material.

The EPA regards this spray as nontoxic to humans or pets and harmless to both surfaces and belongings in the home. The enzyme works by creating a bond with the mold spore, and then breaking it down from the inside. As a result, the mold is chemically altered into a particle that is no longer allergenic, toxigenic, or able to reproduce other spores. This treatment can cost from one-third to one-tenth less than the cost of traditional methods.

Given that your insurance company may not cover mold damage, it’s important to take immediate action.

Here are three easy steps to help prevent mold when you go on vacation:

●Check for areas where water could accumulate — such as around windows, doors, bathroom leaks, kitchen sinks and washing machines.

●Clean surfaces of oil, soap, dust and dirt. Those materials are a feeding ground for mold when moisture is present.

●Set the temperature inside the house in the low 70s, if possible. If you suspect humidity, set a dehumidifier to keep the moisture level below 60 percent. In your closet, place a hanging moisture absorber (such as Damp Rid) that will trap excess humidity and eliminate musty odors.

Sandy Gadow, a freelance writer and author of “The Complete Guide to Your Real Estate Closing,”

Deadly E. coli outbreak tied to romaine spreads

The CDC also reported 28 additional cases of illness, bringing the total to 149 since the outbreak began in March. Symptoms of the most recent illnesses reported began April 25. However, the CDC warned that due to a lag in reporting, any illness that occurred in the past two to three weeks may not have been counted in this update.
Last week, the CDC announced that one person had died; the death, in California, was the first known fatality. Previously, the CDC warned that the strain of E. coli identified, O157:H7, is particularly virulent and known to be associated with higher hospitalization and complication rates.
E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce turns deadly
Sixty-four people have been hospitalized, the CDC said, and 17 of those have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a form of kidney failure that can be life-threatening, although most people recover in a few weeks.
Symptoms of E. coli begin on average three to four days after the bacteria are consumed. They include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. Most people recover in five to seven days with supportive treatment.
The CDC cautions against the use of antibiotics when dealing with this strain of E. coli because studies have connected antibiotic use with an increased risk for hemolytic uremic syndrome in both children and adults.
“Antibiotics are not recommended for patients with suspected E. coli O157 infections until diagnostic testing can be performed and E. coli O157 infection is ruled out,” the CDC said.
The US Food and Drug Administration said it received confirmation from the Arizona Department of Agriculture that romaine lettuce is no longer being grown or shipped from the Yuma area. But there is a 21-day shelf life for romaine, the agency says, so there might still be lettuce in the supply chain.
However, the agency confirmed that no other types of lettuce or any other growing region for romaine are involved in the outbreak.
To explain the diverse geographical spread of this outbreak, the FDA said it is still investigating multiple points of origin and distribution. Last week, it identified Harrison Farms as the source of a single outbreak at a correctional facility in Nome, Alaska, that sickened eight inmates.
Follow CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter

See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

The growing season at that farm has ended, and the shelf life of the lettuce from there has passed. Therefore, it is not being sold or served anymore.
Because labels on romaine lettuce do not often list growing regions, it can be difficult for a consumer to tell whether the lettuce they are purchasing is part of the outbreak. The CDC warns consumers not to buy romaine unless they can verify the region of production.
“This advice includes whole heads and hearts of romaine, chopped romaine, baby romaine, organic romaine, and salads and salad mixes containing romaine lettuce,” the CDC said. “If you do not know if the lettuce in a salad mix is romaine, do not eat it.”

Debunking some toxic mold myths

In 2000, a new “toxic mold” panic swept the country, and after 16 years of untold lawsuits and billions of dollars spent, major myths still plague and unnecessarily panic association boards, managers and homeowners. The myths all too often cause exaggerated repairs, unduly frightened residents, and conflict. In this and the next column, I will address thirteen pervasive toxic mold myths.

1. Mold is new. Mold, one of the earliest and simplest life forms, has existed for thousands of years. Almost 100 years ago, mold was the basis of the discovery of penicillin. Mold is ever-present, as is dust or pollen.

2. The scientific and medical communities confirm mold’s many dangers. In 2004, the National Institute of Medicine published its comprehensive study on indoor mold exposure, called “Damp Indoor Spaces and Health.” A central finding was: “Scientific evidence links mold … in homes and buildings to asthma symptoms in some people with the chronic disorder, as well as to coughing, wheezing, and upper respiratory tract symptoms in otherwise healthy people… However, the available evidence does not support an association between … mold and the wide range of other health complaints that have been ascribed.”

 That sounds like mold is as dangerous as dust or pollen to people with severe asthma. The announcement containing this finding is easily located by a web search, but it did not receive much press play – stories of frightened people living in tents are more interesting.

3. One must determine the kind of mold present. Mold consultants and plaintiff attorneys often describe some molds as worse than others. The most famous mold is stachybotrys chartarum, a mold producing infinitesimal quantities of a substance similar to botulism poison. However, the amount is so small they call it a “mycotoxin.” It sounds frightening, but the scientific community long ago debunked the myth that this or any mold was somehow poisonous to breathe. For example, read the National Institute of Health Fact Sheet on Mold, found at

4. California is protected by the Toxic Mold Protection Act of 2001. The act instructed the Department of Public Health to develop permissible exposure limits of the various mold strains. However, in 2005, and again in 2008, the DPH reported the task could not be completed with the scientific information available. Consequently, there is presently no official standard as to how many mold spores of any given variety are “unhealthy.”

5. Always start with a mold test. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends against mold testing. There is no standard as to how many mold spores are “unhealthy,” and indoor air sampling tests are extremely vulnerable to events in the home, which can change the results. A recent shower, window opening or carpet cleaning are some of the many factors that can completely change test outcomes.

Mold tests, to put it bluntly, primarily frighten the occupants and create a “need” for the expense of a mold consultant, and a second test after the area is cleaned. Since the health authorities have not confirmed any particular strain is more dangerous, and since there is no official standard as to how many airborne spores are unhealthy, there is rarely a good reason to spend the money on such a test.


14 Summer Vacation Ideas From Romantic Getaways to Family Vacations and All-Inclusive Resorts

It’s the season for summer vacations — or at least planning one. You’ve hoarded your days off and have been eyeing some free time in the sun. Or, maybe a new city. Actually, what about getting away from it all and embracing the great outdoors?

If you’re as indecisive as we are after typing that paragraph, we don’t blame you. There are so many great summer destinations out there, confidently picking one to spend your summer vacation is half the battle. Then you have to worry about finding the best hotels and looking up things to do in each destination.

Fear not! We’re here to help. You see, the benefit of being a travel magazine is that we’re constantly reading up on some of the most exciting destinations out there and we can piece together for you, dear reader, what might be the summer vacation you’re looking for.

Below, we’ve included our picks for the best summer vacation spots of 2018. Whether you’re looking for your next city break, all-inclusive resort, outdoor adventure, romantic getaway, you’re traveling with the family, or you’re like us and travel for the hotel — we’ve got something for you.

Summer Vacation Ideas for 2018

Weekend Getaways

Idaho: Adventure Awaits in the Gem State

Hiking Near Sun Valley - Weekend Getaways in Idaho

Photo courtesy of Idaho Tourism

Idaho is known for its famous potato farms, but there’s far more to the Gem State than carbs. Writer Melynda Harrison takes us through some of the best weekend getaways in Idaho that will drop you off in front of rugged mountains, placid lakes, and canyons that’ll give you a new appreciation for Idaho and its pristine outdoors.

Ohio: Amish Ambiance and Hippy Haunts

Berlin Ohio Amish Country - Weekend Getaways in Ohio

Laura Blake

When you hear “Ohio,” a rather plain, homogeneous image probably comes to mind. (Though if you’re from the Buckeye State, you know better.) If that’s you, then you’re sorely mistaken. Fact is, Ohio is an incredibly diverse state from its urban hubs of Cleveland Cincinnati to its Amish towns and hippy headquarters in Yellow Springs. Find out more about the heart of it all in our weekend getaways in Ohio guide.

Upstate New York: Nature and Historic Charm

Weekend Getaways in New York

Photo courtesy of I Love NY

More than enough has been said on New York City, so get out of town and see what’s going on upstate with our friends at Compass + Twine. From Buffalo to Ithaca, they share their favorite weekend getaways in New Yorkfeaturing recently-renovated inns and delectable farm-to-table restaurants surrounded by incredible outdoor adventures.

Looking for something closer to your neck of the woods? Check out more of our weekend getaways.

Summer Family Vacations

Tech-Free Family Vacation Ideas

Tech Free Family Vacation Ideas

Edward Cisneros, Unsplash

You don’t need a study to tell us that we’re spending too much time on technology these days. (But if you do, research confirms.) That means both you and your family could stand for some time away from the devices and out enjoying your natural surroundings. That’s why we hooked up with 12 family bloggers to share their tips on where to go for a family vacation away from the screens. From Helen, Georgia and Key West to Oceanside, California and Medora, North Dakota, your next family vacation might be closer than you think.

Moms Know Best: The 19 Best Family-Friendly Hotels

Mom and Daughter

London Scout, Unsplash

There’s never been a shortage of parenting advice. Even people without kids chime in these days to give their two cents. To give you the best advice out there, we went straight to the experts themselves — the moms. Nineteen family bloggers shared their favorite family-friendly hotels of 2018 where you can comfortably book your stay and know that you’ll be surrounded by a slew of family-friendly activities.

City Breaks

Detroit: A City Untapped


Beyond the post-apocalyptic ruins and “most dangerous city” moniker, Detroit is a city untapped. Here we took a look at the 7 coolest hotels in Detroit that are reshaping the Motor City’s beguiling past into its exciting future. Near these hotels, you’ll find all kinds of things to do in Detroit from rocking out to local music to enjoying a pint of local craft beer.

View Hotels in Detroit

Denver: “Create, Drink and Be Merry”

Things to do in Denver

Evan Simon, Visit Denver

There’s really never a bad time to visit Denver — one of the sunniest cities in the United States. Sure, it gets a little toasty in the summer with the average high reaching the upper 80s in July and August, but it cools right back down to the 50s at night. In our Art of the City look at Denver, writer Lauren Monitz dove in further beyond what’s already known in the Mile High City to show off the indie music scene, outdoor art, and some of the best places to eat.

View Hotels in Denver

Kansas City: The Paris of the Plains

Lobby The Fontaine

As Kansas City-native and writer Laura Watilo Blake put it, Kansas City is on a roll. That’s not just because of the new streetcar rolling up and down Main Street. It’s also thanks to the new hospitality options popping up in the city that undeniably make this so-called ‘Paris of the Plains’ decidedly cool. Follow Laura through her return to KC as she visits the coolest hotels in town and reexplores her favorite hotspots.

View Hotels in Kansas City


Romantic Getaways

Hotel Tips from the World’s Happiest Couples

Hotel Habits and Travel Tips for Couples from the World's Happiest Couples

Toa Heftiba, Unsplash

Every couple travels differently, so it’s hard to say precisely what the best romantic getaway is for your and your significant other. But, if we were to source couples from around the world, odds are we’ll be that much closer to hitting the nail on the head. That’s exactly what we did when we sought out hotel tips from some of the world’s happiest couples. Whether you’re eyeing something in Europe, Central America, or you’re looking to stay Stateside, there’s a romantic hotel (and getaway) waiting for you.

Sip and Savor Texas Wine Country

Sip and Savor the Big Flavors of Texas Wine Country

We’re not sure about the exact math, but we’d estimate that 99 percent of wine travelers have had a, let’s say, successful romantic getaway. If you’re looking for something you might not expect — that is, away from the familiarity of Napa — then think about planning a trip to some Texas wineries. Writer Elaine N. Schoch shares her favorite stops for wine in Texas Hill Country as well as where to stay to make the most of your romantic getaway.

Snuggle Up In Georgia

romantic getaways in georgia

Okay, summer might not be the ideal temperature for a trip through Georgia, but have a glass of sweet tea and you’ll cool off in no time. Besides, you simply can’t beat the slew of romantic getaways in Georgia. From the rolling hills and lush meadows to the charming cobbled streets — you and yours will feel that southern welcome as soon as you step outside and breathe that fresh Dixie air.


Adults Only All-Inclusive Resorts

Costa Rica: Adults Only in the Land of Pura Vida


People know about Costa Rica through its reputation for natural splendor from the lush tropical forests to the rolling surf along the Guanacasteco Pacific coast. With that in mind, we fixated our eye on the best all-inclusive resorts in Costa Rica with a nod to those with an adults-only spin. Start planning and enjoy your taste of the pura vida.

View Hotels in Costa Rica

Florida: An Adults Only Playground

Adults-Only Resorts and Hotels

Angelina Litvin, Unsplash

We know what you’re thinking. “Florida? In the summer? Will I ever not sweat again?” Yes, summer in Florida sends the mercury bursting out of the thermometer, but nobody is suggesting you roast yourself on the side of Jacksonville sidewalk. Instead, head to an adults only, all-inclusive resort where you can camp out by the pool, dip in whenever you’re hot, then retreat back under the shade when the sun gets to be a bit much. You’ll thank us later.

Caribbean: Check Off The Beach Boys’ Bucket List

Adults Only All Inclusive Resorts Caribbean

The Caribbean is once again open for business after fighting to recover from last year’s tropical storms. Of course, you can continue to donate to charities like the American Redcross and GlobalGiving, who have facilitated hurricane relief efforts in the region, but another way you can contribute is by giving them your tourist dollars. With our list of Caribbean adults only, all-inclusive resorts, you can feel good about your summer vacation.



*Feature image courtesy of Thiago Cerqueira

A DNA-Based Innovation to Identify Molds and Bacteria in Homes

Numerous health problems in the United States are associated with mold (i.e., fungi) in homes, schools, and businesses.  With a technology developed by EPA researchers, these problems can be identified quickly and accurately, allowing illnesses to be diagnosed and treated more effectively.  Perhaps more important, use of this technology may prevent disease occurrence.

EPA’s DNA-based process can identify and quantify more than 130 species of toxic molds and potentially pathogenic fungi in the environment.  Fungi and bacteria cause or contribute to many health problems, including infections, gastroenteritis, ulcers, asthma, allergies, and sinusitis.  This invention may have applications in research related to therapeutics and diagnostics for these illness.  Additionally, this technology can be used to:

  • Determine whether an environment is abnormally mold contaminated.
  • Test homes for potentially pathogenic molds
  • Test water for pathogenic molds.
  • Monitor hospitals to prevent nosocomial mold infections.
  • Rapidly diagnose mold infections so that treatment can begin earlier.
  • Monitor fold and drugs for mold contamination.
  • Measure the risk for mold associated with allergic and asthmatic disease.
  • Diagnose chronic rhinosinusitis.
  • Monitor crops for mold pathogens in an integrated pest management program, thus reducing the use of pesticides.

This method provides real-time results that are more accurate and less time-consuming than previous technologies.  EPA-licensed commercial laboratories in the US have used this method to provide testing services for their clients.

This technology was licensed by 15 companies, 11 of which are small US businesses.  The first license was issued in 2000, and word spread quickly about the technology, leading to many more non-exclusive licenses within a few short years.  The patent didn’t issue until 2002, after there were already several licenses in place.