ALLERGY & MOLD IAQ PRODUCTS - CONTENTS: Where to purchase products for mold and allergy control indoors. List of allergy-reducing products for use indoors. Effectiveness of indoor air purifiers. Suggestions for improving indoor air quality and freshness ow to use insulation & ventilation to improve indoor air quality. List of vacuum cleaners and steam cleaners for cleaning up moldy or allergen-loaded indoor rooms
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Allergy & mold & indoor air quality products for cleaning & allergen or particle removal:
Note: unless you find here a product review of a product here
you should assume that we have made no test and are making no claim about the effectiveness,
safety, or any other feature of these items. This information is provided as a
general reference and to invite feedback from consumers regarding their product
Buying any product without understanding your actual needs (based
on your physician's advice and an examination of your residence) is risky. Our page top photo shows a high level of animal dander in an indoor dust sample. Note: InspectApedia.com has absolutely no financial relationship with any
product manufacturer or service described at the website.
Allergenic covers and encasings Pillow, Mattress, Box Spring - aid in dust mite control.
This site also has Hypo-allergenic bedding and many other allergy control products including humidity/temperature gauge, hygrometer, various fans,
heaters, air filters, air cleaners, steam cleaning equipment sold via an on-line store at www.comfortliving.com
Other allergenic bed linens and covers - listings wanted - listings offered here at no fee - Contact Us
Air Cleaners and Indoor Air Purifiers for Mold and IAQ Concerns - a critique from an expert
In our experience [which includes the detailed visual inspection and excruciatingly careful testing of a
large number of buildings for IAQ and other environmental concerns] there is no free-standing air cleaner, HEPA cleaner,
UV, ionizer, breeze machine, or any other free-standing plug-in air "purifier" that is really demonstrably effective at
cleaning up an indoor air contamination issue. The problem source needs to be identified, located, and removed.
Some of our IAQ clients report some improved relief when using an air cleaner in a small enclosed bedroom with the room
doors kept shut. How likely is it that the effect they describe is real?
In a small room with the door shut and with no
local mold reservoir right in the room, portable equipment might be capable of producing a measurable effect on
the airborne particle level. But based on actual field inspections and measurements of particle levels in quite a few
buildings, I'm doubtful of any significant reduction in particle levels, mold, pet dander, or otherwise.
measurements have not borne out the claims of the machine's makers/sellers. On the other hand, I have seen sick and
anxious people for whom any stress-reducing measure produces some self-reported improvement in their environment.
Since the science shows portable "air purifiers" to be ineffective at removing much from the air, I believe that the
improvement reported by consumers who use portable air cleaners could be a placebo effect. In rooms with air purifiers,
particle levels look about the same as the rooms (in the same area of the building) without them.
Consumer Reports Magazine (Consumers Union) looked at indoor air cleaners in 2003, as have many others, both
as neutral and in some case as biased researchers.
CU found that the devices were generally ineffective and expressed
concern that they continue to sell well. The New York Times Magazine [22 January 2006 -- Rob Walker], reported on
the CU article and on this phenomenon.
The Times ascribed continuing strong "air cleaner" sales (as did CU) to
public "concerns about allergies and indoor air contaminants, coupled with heightened worries over terrorism." Sharper
Image came in for particular criticism, probably because of their high-profile visibility in the marketplace and their
aggressive promotion of such products.
We agree with CU and most other researchers that these devices do almost nothing about mold and allergens in
buildings. I've tested buildings where frightened consumers have four or five of them running, sometimes two or three in
a room in a NY City Apartment. I have not seen any significant reduction in the total airborne particle level with or
without their use.
Research for one manufacturer, conducted by a university professor, concluded that the machines were effective, but
the construction of the experiment involved putting a fixed amount of particles into a closed test chamber, running the
machine therein, and extrapolating from the direction of the particle reduction curve.
This was an unrealistic
experiment. In the "real world" of buildings and humans occupying them, if there is a significant indoor mold,
allergen, or other indoor particle reservoir, for all practical purposes, there is an infinite particle source forming a
stream of airborne particles moving through the room towards the air cleaner. (The manufacturer built a $1M test chamber
for this respected prof.)
According to the Times article, Sharper Image sued Consumers Union. The case was dismissed by a California
judge in 2004. The disagreement and the marketing of what clearly appear to be ineffective devices continues with
ionizing air cleaners produced by a variety of manufacturers. (See our ozone warning below).
Our award for the stupidest of all of these products is the little battery powered "air cleaner" to be worn around the
neck, presumably the neck of an anxious asthmatic. We have been unable to find, from any manufacturer of such a product, or from any other source, independent research
supporting the effectiveness of such devices.
If Portable Air Purifiers Seem to be Ineffective, How Can We Clean Up Indoor Air Dust & Debris?
Improve Air Filtration at a Central Air Handling Unit for Heating or Air Conditioning
If your building uses a central air conditioning or warm air heating, you can indeed make a significant reduction in airborne dust levels and some odor levels by installing improved filtration at the air handler - since warm air heat or central air conditioning systems, unlike portable air cleaners, do move enough cubic feet of air to be effective
In our forensic lab (which does not have a mold reservoir problem) we were able to reduce the total level of airborne
(and surface) dust in the building by installing a central air handler which combined multiple levels of filtration along
with a heavy-duty multi-speed blower which can if necessary, run constantly.
This particle reduction was in a generally
clean building with little carpeting, low occupancy use, and where there was no significant mold or allergen reservoir.
The approach used central air handling equipment that moves very high volumes of air through the equipment.
With a large problem particle source, the effective solution is to remove the problem reservoir. Trying to clean up
such a problem with an air cleaner is about as effective as trying to dust the bookshelves
by waving your vacuum cleaner wand at them from across the room! Worse, some machines deliberately or accidentally put out measurable levels
Phototech™indoor air purification and detoxification system, comparison chart
Sun Pure™ "air purifier" (UV light, HEPA filter, other features) 800-705-5559
(Phillips Publishing) $500.
Portable Room Air Cleaners-online store, Austin, Bemis, Blueair, C.A.R.E. 2000, Carrier,
DeLonghi, FamilyCare, Healthway, Honeywell, Hunter, IQAir, Panasonic, Sun
Pure, wein air cleaners, various technologies offered by www.comfortliving.com
OZONE MOLD / ODOR TREATMENT WARNINGS: some air cleaners and indoor air purifiers
deliberately produce high levels of ozone while others produce low levels as a byproduct of their operation.
Not only is ozone ineffective
as an indoor air cleaner and quite inappropriate for mold remediation, it can cause health and property damage. In one of our field investigations our clients used an ozone generator improperly and oxidized various building materials, leading to a building evacuation and costly repairs.
Also see OZONE GAS EXPOSURE EFFECTS.
Building Insulation and Ventilation for Basement & Crawl Space Moisture, Mold, & IAQ Concerns
Insulation for problem areas
We have more to say on insulation [working on the text] since for certain problem locations such as over damp crawl spaces or exposed to moisture,
some insulation products appear to work better than others at avoiding mold, rodents, insect allergens, and general deterioration.
We will compare
current and historic materials used for insulation in buildings: air, solid brick, straw, cotton batts, asbestos, fiberglass, solid foam (of
various types), blown-in cellulose (paper), mineral or rock wool, blown or pumped UFFI, Icynene, and other products. Meanwhile see the links below
for more information.
Crawl space ventilation system Atmox: Their product details look pretty smart. There is considerable controversy
about venting or non-venting crawl areas. Use an experienced, competent installer; what's appropriate depends on geographic area, individual
building characteristics, and occupant concerns. Improper venting can cause heating equipment back drafting, condensation, or other improper or
Ventilation for problem areas
We have more to say on crawl space and attic ventilation. Meanwhile see the links below for more information.
Vacuum Cleaner & Steam Cleaner - OPINION & Advice from an IAQ Investigator: These devices are used as household (or professional) cleaning tools
for environments with high levels of settled dust containing allergens, mold, etc. One can not
fix an allergen or mold problem by vacuuming, but one might be able to reduce the particle load in your air by careful cleaning.
A wide range of HEPA-filter
vacuum cleaners and HEPA vacuum cleaner bags is now on the market, all of which are likely to be of some help. Beware: some particles such as
certain toxic mold spores (Penicillium/Aspergillus, for example) are so small (1-2 microns) that ordinary household vacuum cleaners simply
aerosolize them, making you suffer more not less.
As we get reports of products people like some of them will be listed here, but any web search
will turn up many more hits. Read the product literature carefully as machines vary widely in cost, in ease of cleaning, noise level,
effectiveness, as well as sometimes unpleasant and high-pressure salesmanship such
as is found at our local Poughkeepsie New York Main Street vacuum cleaner dealer.
Ultimately, no amount of vacuuming wall to wall carpets indoors will eliminate an allergen or mold problem. To our clients who have
asthma, allergies, or other respiratory concerns I recommend elimination of wall to wall carpets entirely. However even with all carpets
out of a home, housecleaning of dusty surfaces is still needed. A HEPA vacuum cleaner can help in this task, but check the unit that
interests you for leaks and blow-by since even if the filter is HEPA rated, if the cleaner leaks it's stirring up unwanted particles.
I'd also compare not only purchase cost but ease and cost of bag or filter cleaning or replacement.
What does "HEPA" mean? HEPA is an acronym for 'High Efficiency Particulate Air'.
HEPA filters originated in the 1940's, and HEPA became a registered trademark.
A HEPA™ filter should remove least 99.97% of ultra-fine particulates such as dust, animal dander, smoke, mold and other allergens that are
down to 0.3 microns, from the air. Since the smallest indoor mold spores are around 1 micron, they pass right through ordinary filters
and vacuum cleaners - vacuuming in a moldy environment using the wrong equipment can make matters worse!
The Allergy Buyers Club offers a comparison of HEPA vacuum cleaners but I don't think they've evaluated them for leakage.
Ecosteam (UK) produces a range of home and commercial high-quality steamers
Electrolux (U.S.) sells excellent HEPA vacuum cleaners, though IMHO a bit pricey. For a client I tested wall to wall carpeting before and
after vacuuming with an Electrolux vacuum cleaner. In the lab microscope I could see a significant reduction in particle debris levels
in our own lab instrument vacuum of carpet samples.
Fogacci steam vapor machine (allergen control), The Home Environmental Co. 184 Bedford St., Lexington MA 02173 617-862-CURE 617-861-6251 fax
Miele - makes excellent HEPA vacuum cleaners.
Nilfisk - www.pa.nilfisk-advance.com
Orek makes HEPA vacuum cleaners.
Kirby makes a high-end HEPA-rated vac
Saeco steam cleaner/vacuum $599. See Real Goods - the eco product co-op.
Try a web search, Keywords such as HEPA Vacuum Cleaners or Dust Mite Covers to return up-to-date product sources to check. Try including
your zip code or town name in a search for local supply sources.
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Questions & answers or comments about indoor air purifiers, filters, and cleaners.
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Kansas State University, department of plant pathology, extension plant pathology web page on wheat rust fungus: see http://www.oznet.ksu.edu/path-ext/factSheets/Wheat/Wheat%20Leaf%20Rust.asp
"A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home",
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency US EPA - includes basic advice for building owners, occupants, and mold cleanup operations. See http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldguide.htm
US EPA - Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Building [ copy on file as /sickhouse/EPA_Mold_Remediation_in_Schools.pdf ] - US EPA
US EPA - Una Breva Guia a Moho - Hongo [on file as /sickhouse/EPA_Moho_Guia_sp.pdf - - en Espanol
Allergies, Allergens, Allergy Testing in Buildings - References & Products
"IgG Food Allergy Testing by ELISA/EIA, What do they really tell us?" Sheryl B. Miller, MT (ASCP), PhD, Clinical Laboratory Director, Bastyr University Natural Health Clinic - ELISA testing accuracy: Here is an example of Miller's critique of ELISA
http://www.betterhealthusa.com/public/282.cfm - Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients
The critique included in that article raises compelling questions about IgG testing assays, which prompts our interest in actually screening for the presence of high levels of particles that could carry allergens - dog dander or cat dander in the case at hand.
http://www.tldp.com/issue/174/IgG%20Food%20Allergy.html contains similar criticism in another venue but interestingly by the same author, Sheryl Miller. Sheryl Miller, MT (ASCP), PhD, is an Immunologist and Associate Professor of Basic and Medical Sciences at Bastyr University in Bothell, Washington. She is also the Laboratory Director of the Bastyr Natural Health Clinic Laboratory.
Allergens: Testing for the level of exposure to animal allergens is discussed at http://www.animalhealthchannel.com/animalallergy/diagnosis.shtml (lab animal exposure study is interesting because it involves a higher exposure level in some cases
Allergens: WebMD discusses allergy tests for humans at webmd.com/allergies/allergy-tests
Atlas of Clinical Fungi, 2nd Ed., GS deHoog, J Guarro, J Gene, & MJ Figueras, Centraalbureau voor Schimmelcultures, Universitat Rovira I Virgili, 2000, ISBN 90-70351-43-9 (you can buy this book at Amazon)
Atlas of Indoor Mold, Online Clinical Mold Atlas, Toxins, Pathogens, Allergens and Other Indoor Particles - Medical Health Effects of Mold (separate online document)
"A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home", U.S. Environmental Protection Agency US EPA - includes basic advice for building owners, occupants, and mold cleanup operations. See http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldguide.htm
"Disease Prevention in Home Vegetable Gardens,"
Department of Plant Microbiology and Pathology,
Department of Horticulture, University of Missouri Extension - extension.missouri.edu/publications/DisplayPub.aspx?P=G6202
Fifth Kingdom, Bryce Kendrick, ISBN13: 9781585100224, is available from the InspectAPedia online bookstore - we recommend the CD-ROM version of this book. This 3rd/edition is a compact but comprehensive encyclopedia of all things mycological. Every aspect of the fungi, from aflatoxin to zppspores, with an accessible blend of verve and wit. The 24 chapters are filled with up-to-date information of classification, yeast, lichens, spore dispersal, allergies, ecology, genetics, plant pathology, predatory fungi, biological control, mutualistic symbioses with animals and plants, fungi as food, food spoilage and mycotoxins.
US EPA: Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Building [ copy on file as /sickhouse/EPA_Mold_Remediation_in_Schools.pdf ] - US EPA
US EPA: Una Breva Guia a Moho - Hongo [on file as /sickhouse/EPA_Moho_Guia_sp.pdf - - en Espanol
Rodents, Mice, Squirrel Control - I find high levels of mouse and rodent dander, fecal dust, and urine-contaminated dust in some buildings,
and high levels of these materials in building insulation in those locations. If you have a mouse problem, particularly if mice and their waste (fecals or urine) are contaminating
the building HVAC or building insulation, may need both steps to clean up or remove infected materials and steps to stop an ongoing
rodent problem. If squirrels are a problem, the cleanup needs to include closing off entry openings into the building. Get some
help from a licensed pest control expert.
Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd., 120 Carlton Street Suite 407, Toronto ON M5A 4K2. Tel: (416) 964-9415 1-800-268-7070 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The firm provides professional home inspection services & home inspection education & publications. Alan Carson is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors. Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home. Carson Dunlop Associates' provides extensive home inspection education and report writing material.
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