What are bacteria and virus?
Bacteria and viruses are living organisms that can cause diseases, like the common cold or influenza. They also can make some diseases, like asthma, worse.
How can airborne bacteria affect health?
Bacteria and viruses can travel through the air, causing diseases and worsening allergies or asthma. They get into the air easily. When someone sneezes or coughs, tiny water or mucous droplets filled with viruses or bacteria scatter. Inhaling these bacteria can spread coughs, colds, influenza and tuberculosis and other infectious agents.
Furthermore, some individuals with allergies react to endotoxins, substances that come from the broken-down cells of dead bacteria. These microscopic particles have been associated with coughing, wheezing and worsening asthma.
Can my environment cause a bacteria outbreak?
Crowded conditions with poor air circulation can promote the spread or growth of bacteria. Some bacteria thrive and circulate through poorly maintained building ventilation systems; such is the case with with Legionnaires’ disease. Damp, humid air can increase the survival rate of bacteria in offices and homes.
Bacteria in the soil produce endotoxins, so they are virtually everywhere outdoors. They can come indoors with pets, pests, humidifiers, kitchen compost bins and outdoor air. Walking, dry mopping and other activities can cause them to become airborne once inside.
How to reduce the spread of bacteria
A key step to reduce the spread of disease through indoor air is to practice healthy behavior. Effective ventilation may also help keep bacteria, viruses and other pollutants out of the indoor air. Research shows that air flow and ventilation can affect how diseases spread indoors. The more stagnant the air, the more likely diseases are to spread.
Ventilation can also limit moisture. Damp indoor spaces foster the growth and transmission of bacteria. Controlling moisture indoors can limit the spread of these infectious diseases and also limit mold, dust mite and cockroach growth.
What are symptoms of a bacteria outbreak?
Symptoms can change based on the type of bacteria influencing the environment. It is important to speak with a medical professional immediately if an outbreak is suspected.
DUST & DUSTMITES
What is in Dust?
House dust is a mixture of many substances. Its content varies from home to home and business to business, but the most commonly found are dust mold spores, insect fragments, dust mites, dead human and animal skin, fibers and building materials.
What are Dust Mites?
Dust mites, close relatives of ticks and spiders, are too small to see without a microscope. Dust mites eat skin cells shed by people, and they thrive in warm, humid environments. In most homes, bedding, upholstered furniture and carpeting provide an ideal environment for dust mites.
High levels of exposure to dust mite are an important factor in the development of asthma in children. People who are allergic to dust mites react to proteins within the bodies and feces of the mites. These particles are found mostly in pillows, mattresses, carpeting and upholstered furniture. They float into the air when anyone vacuums, walks on a carpet or disturbs bedding, but settle out of the air soon after the disturbance is over.
Dust mite-allergic people who inhale these particles frequently experience allergy symptoms. There may be many as 19,000 dust mites in one gram of dust, but usually between 100 to 500 mites live in each gram. (A gram is about the weight of a paper clip.) Each mite produces about 10 to 20 waste particles per day and lives for 30 days. Egg-laying females can add 25 to 30 new mites to the population during their lifetime.
Mites eat particles of skin and dander, so they thrive in places where there are people and animals. Dust mites don’t bite, cannot spread diseases and usually do not live on people. While usual household insecticides have no effect on dust mites, there are ways to reduce exposure to dust mites in the home.
Why does it seem dust is returning shortly after dusting or cleaning?
While dust will always exist in every environment, it can become an irritant and affect certain individual’s health. If the environment is begin cleaned consistently and the dust keeps coming back, it is usually an indication there is a source within the property producing consistent particulates. For example, if a mold problem exists, the mold will produce spores that lay in the settled dust. It is important to have an assessment and testing of the property conducted to identify potential sources.
Why does house dust cause allergic reactions?
House dust is comprised of a melting pot of many elements. Its content can vary from place to place, but the most common allergy triggers within the dust are:
• Dust mites
• Animal hair and dander
• Food particles
Any of these allergens can cause a response in the immune system which results in an allergic inflammatory response.
What are symptoms to dust or dust mite allergy?
Dust and dust mite allergy symptoms include:
• Runny nose
• Itchy, red or watery eyes
• Nasal congestion
• Itchy nose, roof of mouth or throat
• Postnasal drip
• Facial pressure and pain
• Swollen, blue-colored skin under your eyes
Individuals with asthma may also experience:
• Difficulty breathing
• Chest tightness or pain
• Whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling
• Trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath
Tips for reducing house dust allergens.
1. Keep indoor humidity below 55 percent. Do not use vaporizers or humidifiers. You may need a dehumidifier. Use vent fans in bathrooms and when cooking to remove moisture.
2. Repair all water leaks.
3. Remove wall-to-wall carpets from the bedroom if possible.
4. Use a central vacuum or a vacuum with a HEPA filter regularly.
5. Keep pets out of the bedroom at ALL times.
6. Consider using a HEPA Air Cleaner in the bedroom.
7. Encase mattresses and pillows with “mite-proof” covers.
8. Wash all bed linens regularly using hot water. (Dust mites allergy.)
9. Do not leave out uncovered food at night.
10. Use roach traps and schedule regular professional pest control
11. Change the filter in HVAC system at least every three months
12. Have your heating and air-conditioning units inspected and serviced every six months.
There are many different influences within a home or office that can produce indoor allergens. It is important to have CMI perform an inspection and testing of the environment to understand how wide spread the issue may be, as well as, identify a potential source of the problem.
What are indoor allergens?
Indoor allergens can be biological or chemical substances that trigger the immune system, causing an allergic reaction to occur.
Some biological sources of allergens include:
• Dust mites
Some chemical sources of allergens include gases or particles released by such items as:
• Building materials
• Cleaning products
How am I exposed to indoor allergens?
There are several ways a person can be affected by an indoor allergen. These include:
Contact with the skin or eyes
What are the effects of exposure to indoor allergens?
An allergic reaction develops when a person who is sensitive to a particular substance, comes into contact with that substance. Severe allergic reactions can be life threatening and require immediate medical treatment. Sensitivity to allergens varies between people. Exposure to other chemicals (e.g., tobacco smoke), in addition to the allergen, can sometimes worsen the symptoms. Repeated or long exposure to the allergen will often make the symptoms worse.
What are the symptoms of an allergen exposure?
• Exposures to an allergen can cause:
• Runny nose
• Sneezing or coughing
• Difficulty breathing
• Skin rashes
• Watery eyes
• Head aches
All symptoms should be discussed with a medical professional for proper diagnosis.
How can I avoid being exposed to indoor allergens?
• Eliminate sources of allergens that are to be known triggers.
• Keep your environment clean of mold, cockroaches, and dust.
• Keep areas dry and clean, such as bathroom window sills, basements, and refrigerator doors.
• Keep the relative humidity level in your home between 30-50%.
• Use a HEPA Vacuum regularly in order to eliminate allergens in dust.
• Wash bed sheets in hot water every 7 to 10 days to kill dust mites.
• Impervious mattress covers will help keep dust mites from getting inside mattresses.
• If sensitive to pollen, keep windows closed to reduce the amount of pollen.
• Use unscented or low-odor detergents and paints to reduce exposure to chemical allergens.
• If possible, remove carpeting from home. Machine washable throw rugs can be cleaned frequently to remove dust and other allergens.
• Use fiber-filled pillows instead of feather-filled pillows.