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Battling Asthma Triggers By Improving Indoor Air Quality

Woman having asthma using the asthma inhaler for being healthyIn what is easily one of the biggest understatements that can ever be made, having asthma is no fun at all. An inability to breathe freely is clearly a deterrent to optimum health. And yet, there are millions of us who are affected by asthma, which is described as “recurrent attacks of breathlessness and wheezing” by the World Health Organization. “This condition is due to inflammation of the air passages in the lungs and affects the sensitivity of the nerve endings in the airways so they become easily irritated,” they explain.

It’s important for asthmatics to steer clear of the common irritants of the disease. And they tend to vary depending on the person. For many asthmatics, excessive activity can lead to having difficulty breathing. For others, milk and other dairy products have been known as enemies to the respiratory system. But for nearly everyone who suffers from asthma, smoke and other pollutants to the air are chief causes of asthma attacks. Needless to say, good air quality is mandatory for the minimizing of asthma symptoms.

Maintaining good air quality isn’t always that easy to do, however. As Dory Cerny reports on AllergicLiving.com, “studies in recent years have found that the air quality inside the average home is up to five times worse than that outside. And North Americans spend about 90 per cent of their time indoors during the winter.” In addition to cleaning product fumes, pet dander and cigarette smoke, dust mites and mould are listed as the top culprits for asthma triggers.

So how do we put a stop to them?

Battling dust mites. Use dehumidifiers in damp areas, advises Asthma.ca, noting that dust mites can’t live in dry environments. The site explains that “the excretions and body parts of these tiny, spider-like creatures can be a powerful trigger of asthma symptoms. Dust mites congregate in soft-surfaced places where there is an abundant food supply. Dust mites feed off shed human skin and are thus found in bedding, mattresses, pillows, sofas and carpets.”

Other ways to minimize dust mites are to remove carpets, if possible. This is especially important in bedrooms where we do our sleeping. As well, Asthma.ca recommends that you launder your bed linens in very hot water that is about 55 degrees Celsius and to use mite-allergen impermeable encasings for your pillows, mattresses and box springs. By the way, it’s also important to not leave food and water out, so as to avoid inviting cockroaches – another asthma trigger – into your home.

Battling moulds. “Make sure your home is well ventilated,” advises Asthma.ca. Poor ventilation is often highlighted as a common cause for the growth of mould. “Moulds are fungus that can be found just about anywhere it’s damp and where air flow is minimal, like basements and bathrooms,” reports the site, “Their airborne spores can trigger asthma symptoms, but there are many ways to avoid them. The best way is to keep your home dry and clean.”

Other methods of staving off mould is to use anti-mould cleaners such as vinegar or chlorine-bleach solutions, using bathroom and kitchen fans, reducing the number of your household plants and ensuring that you have proper drainage around your house. Remember that moisture is a must for mould growth. The less humid and moist your surroundings are, the better your chances are of keeping mould at bay.

Ensuring the high quality of your indoor breathing air is incredibly important to the health of those who suffer from asthma. The disease can seriously impact one’s overall wellness. Considering how many asthma triggers occur within the home – a place we all spend most of our time – it’s integral that we keep the air in our homes pure. At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we offer Air Quality Services to ensure this. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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Uncovering Facts About Compulsive Hoarding

Hoarding on Warning Road Sign.In our last blog, we tackled the topic of hoarding and revealed just how badly the condition can affect one’s breathing air. It’s important to underline the fact that hoarding is a condition. For those who believe that hoarders should just “clean things up”, it’s a bit easier said than done. Needless to say, a hoarder is the opposite of a “neat freak”. But, sometimes those of us who are “freaks” are referred to as people who go “overboard” with their cleaning up routines.

And while hoarders go overboard themselves – in the opposite direction, of course – it should be noted that it isn’t always something that they can help. On PsychCentral.com, Therese Borchard explains that compulsive hoarding is actually an anxiety disorder that can greatly interfere with a person’s daily activities. In fact, it’s considered a form of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, which is commonly known as OCD.

Borchard reveals that research conducted by Dr. Gerald Nestadt and Dr. Jack Samuels of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that “compulsive hoarding affects approximately 700,000 to 1.4 million people in the US.” The doctors also point out an extremely important trait of a hoarder that may help to battle misconceptions about them. Opposing the idea that hoarders are purposely “disgusting” people who enjoy living in garbage, they are in fact “perfectionists”.

“They fear making the wrong decision about what to keep and what to throw out, so they keep everything,” reveals Borchard. As a result, it’s important to know that helping hoarders to improve their living spaces will take a whole lot more than ridiculing their lifestyles. In fact, eMentalHealth.ca insists upon a very loving and encouraging approach to loved ones who may need assistance with their hoarding tendencies.

“Praise and reinforce any positives,” advises the site. In other words, instead of using negative comments to shame and embarrass the hoarder, it will serve a much greater purpose to acknowledge any progress he or she has made. “I notice that you’ve cleared your couch. That’s amazing! How did you manage to do that?” and “I notice that it’s more cleared near your front door. That’s great!” are examples given.

These tips can prove to be especially helpful when you remember that compulsive hoarding is directly attributed to one’s anxiety. Borchard reminds us that, based on the research conducted by Dr. Nestadt and Dr. Samuels, “hoarding can be more about fear of throwing something away than about collection or saving. Thinking about discarding an item triggers anxiety in the hoarder, so she hangs on to the item to prevent angst.”

The eMentalHealth.ca website reminds us to acknowledge that there are emotions attached to the possessions of a hoarder. In order to properly help such an individual, one must validate his or her feelings. “Don’t lecture or tell the person what to do, unless you have build up enough trust,” the site strongly advises. Evidently, it can be a long and hard process to help a hoarder get over his or her compulsions.

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we are committed to assisting hoarders with changing their lives. We have a lot of experiences entering the homes of hoarders in order to both manage their living spaces and assess the quality of their breathing air. As you know from our last blog, hoarding can negatively impact indoor air quality. For more information on how we can help, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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How Hoarding Can Affect Your Breathing Air

Depositphotos_64855481_xsHave you ever seen the A&E documentary-based television show, “Hoarders”? Perhaps, you don’t even need to watch an episode of the show to know what hoarding is all about. But, just in case, the program documents the lives of people who are stricken with unshakable urges to stuff as many belongings into their homes as possible. To say that their living areas are “messes” is a major understatement. And that’s no April Fools’ joke!

As mentioned, some don’t need to see hoarding on TV, as they experience such lifestyles themselves. According to eMentalHealth.ca, “current estimates are that hoarding occurs in 5% of the population (Samuels, 2008), generally in individuals in their 50’s. Nonetheless, it is hard to estimate how many people have problems with hoarding as many of them are able to keep their hoarding secret.”

When people develop an inability to throw things out, the process of hoarding has begun. As you can imagine, the packing of items on top of each other makes it hard for individuals to even exist in comfortable living spaces. It’s near impossible to manoeuvre around a home when it is inhabited by a hoarder. What’s worse is that hoarding makes for the perfect breeding ground for mould and other air pollutants.

As John Ward of Mold Busters writes, “hoarding can contribute to poor indoor air quality (IAQ), which leads to several health issues.” Among them are worsened asthma, shortness of breath, headaches, irritation in the eyes, nose and throat and chronic fatigue. Ward goes on to reveal that the top three ways that hoarding contributes to poor indoor air quality is mould-riddled household items, poor ventilation and hidden problems.

Mouldy items. Of course, with so many items stacked on top of each other in the home of a hoarder, it’s practically impossible to determine where mould may be lingering. Ward notes that, many hoarders can’t help but hold on to things that most people would deem as garbage. And this greatly contributes to mould growth. “If there’s a mouldy item in your home, mould spores are released into the indoor air and make their way throughout it,” he writes, “It doesn’t matter if you’ve boxed the item and stored it; you’re still at risk of inhaling hazardous mould spores.”

Poor ventilation. Obviously, having boxes and other belongings piled on top of each other, a hoarder doesn’t allow for much air circulation in his or her home. Furthermore, there is little to no ability to open a window when it’s being blocked by so many items. “It’s not only inconvenient and a hindrance if there’s ever a fire, but these boxes also block air vents and windows inside the home, leading to a lack of ventilation and, consequently, poor IAQ,” Ward reports.

Hidden problems. Perhaps, the scariest problems related to hoarding are the ones you can’t see. When you don’t realize that a problem exists, you do nothing to fix it. This means that you can be causing increased damage to your respiratory system without even knowing it. Ward uses the example of a leaky window that goes unnoticed. After just 24 to 48 hours, the moisture could develop a breeding ground for mould.

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we are dedicated to helping individuals who have problems with hoarding to change their lives. In addition, we offer Air Quality Services that seek to address the long term effects on your health that poor indoor air quality can have. For more information on these and any other services, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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