New Tips for Improving Energy Savings This Summer

Monday, July 14, 2014 by Aprilaire Team

Americans learn more about energy savings each year and 2014 will be no exception. While homeowners in the U.S. are doing more than ever to seal their homes and conserve power, there is always room for a new tip. The average household spends $2,000 a year on energy bills, and more than half of that goes toward heating and cooling. Furthermore, Business Insider reports that the U.S. collectively wastes nearly $146 billion a year on utilities each year by not following best practices for reducing home energy costs.

5 Easy Tips for Increased Energy Savings

What many homeowners may not realize is that opportunities to reduce their power usage are present all around their houses, and while many of the new versions of household gadgets available in 2014 are more efficient than they used to be, homeowners need to do more to save money. For families looking for ways to save some more cash this summer, the U.S. Department of Energy offers these tips:

1. Install a programmable thermostat to keep cooling at a minimum when the family is out of the house.

2. Turn off the dish washers automatic or heated drying cycle.

3. Make sure all windows and doors are closed when the air conditioning is on.

4. Plug major electronics into a power strip and turn off the power strips when not in use. Many of these items, even newer TVs and computers, still use several watts of power in stand-by mode.

5. Air dry clothes outside on nice days instead of using the dryer.

Prevent Over-Cooling in 2014

Something else for homeowners to keep in mind this summer is that energy savings do not have to come at the cost of reduced comfort. While people tend to associate personal comfort as a direct correlation to temperature, the relative humidity of the air actually plays a larger role. As humidity levels rise inside the house, family members begin to feel sticky and sweaty, the uncomfortable feeling most often attributed to summer weather.

The common reaction to this feeling is to crank up the AC. The end result is a slight reduction in humidity and a significant reduction in temperature. Family members are no longer hot and sweaty, now theyre cold and clammy. Energy savings suffer as well because the AC must run more often.

Energy Savings and Whole-Home Dehumidification

The best solution to keep a house comfortable and efficient this summer is a whole-home dehumidifier along with air conditioning. As the relative humidity inside falls, the family will be more comfortable at a higher temperature, so the air conditioner will run less often. With a dehumidifier, homeowners have a more efficient way to be comfortable on hot and humid days.

For more information on a whole-home dehumidifier and how you can improve energy savings this summer, visit http://www.aprilaire.com. Also, find us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Aprilaire.

You Can Feel It in the Air

Tuesday, July 1, 2014 by Aprilaire Team

You may not realize it, but your body is pretty good at measuring humidity, according to The Weather Channel. When you’re outside, humidity levels can create a sticky, sweaty feeling. Inside, a poor balance of moisture in the air leads to coughing, sneezing or itching. In the basements of the Northern United States, increased humidity also creates the perfect environment for mold and mildew growth. Your nose will let you know about increased basement humidity when you’re hit with that musty smell.
Read the entire article to learn more about how the relative humidity of your indoor air impacts your comfort and health.
http://www.weather.com/activities/health/allergies/indoorhumidity.html

Can Ohio Couple Save Basement With Dehumidifier After Flood?

Friday, June 27, 2014 by Aprilaire Team

Achieve-perfect-rH-with-whole-home-dehumidification

Without the proper humidity control, basements become susceptible to mold, mildew and the odors that accompany them. The excess moisture also damages tools, furniture, electronics and the other investments that make a basement a family's unique territory. It takes a short time for moisture buildup in a basement to noticeably impact air quality throughout the house, creating that "basement smell" and aggravating health conditions.  The recent severe weather in the Midwest flooded the basement of Bill and Marilyn Johnson, a couple living in Ohio. With so much moisture left in their basement, they weren't sure how to dry it out. 

Following Flood, Johnsons Give Dehumidifier a Try

The Johnsons discovered the benefits of a dehumidifier after their local HVAC dealer installed one to help mitigate the flood damage.

"A serviceman came out the next day and we discussed the storm," Marilyn said. "He suggested that we might look at an Aprilaire dehumidifier. In a short period of time we noticed a big difference in the air quality and it dried out the basement."

The Johnsons have continued to notice an improvement in their indoor-air quality as a result of using of a high-capacity dehumidifier. Marilyn said that controlling their basement humidity has reduced her asthma symptoms and visitors to their home are impressed by how fresh the air is.

"Also, the air conditioner is not running much at all," she said. "Our home is at 75 degrees with no humidity."

Couple is Proud to Own an American-Made Dehumidifier That's Built to Last

As the Johnsons discovered, a high-capacity dehumidifier is an investment that pays for itself as homeowners reap the rewards of improved efficiency, capacity and protection.

  • Low-cost operation – High-capacity units are able to run much more efficiently, and that saves money on the utility bill! In testing, it cost as little as $.27 per day to run an Aprilaire dehumidifier versus retail models that were tested, which cost from $.85 to $1.27 per day to operate.  This lead to a seasonal savings of $177.60! 
  • Improved comfort – With proper humidification, homeowners are less likely to over-cool their homes and can set the thermostat at a higher and more comfortable temperature.
  • Energy efficiency – High-capacity units are more efficient than the leading portable units.

"The best thing about Aprilaire dehumidifiers is that they are built in the U.S.A.!" said Marilyn.

For more information on a whole-home dehumidifier and how you can control basement humidity like the Johnsons did, visit http://www.aprilaire.com. Also, find us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Aprilaire.

About Aprilaire: We have been a brand leader in indoor air quality for more than 60 years, delivering a wide range of whole-home systems that improve comfort, health and energy efficiency .Our brand products are sold through and installed by HVAC contractors across the United States and Canada. Visit Aprilaire.com to learn more about whole-home air cleaners and total comfort solutions to air purity, humidity, freshness and temperature.

Megan Leick
608-310-6167

Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20140625/121732

While the mercury is rising across the country, it’s often the humidity levels that make the summer months tough to handle.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014 by Aprilaire Team

While the mercury is rising across the country, it’s often the humidity levels that make the summer months tough to handle. Learn more about how humidity impacts the comfort level in the home and how Aprilaire can help you control it.
http://www.aprilaire.com/whole-house-products/whole-house-products/dehumidifiers

Arthritis sufferers: You may not be able to control outside humidity but....what about inside?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014 by Aprilaire Team

Arthritis sufferers: You may not be able to control outside humidity, but Dr. Joseph Hollander recommends keeping humidity constant in your living space. Read more:
http://www.ehow.com/about_6137809_dehumidifiers-arthritis.html

Top 5 Summer Allergens Invading The Home

Sunday, May 18, 2014 by Aprilaire Team

Start defending your home against these top 5 summer allergens:

1. Pollen: Six out of 10 people are exposed to pollen trapped indoors

2. Dust mites: An estimated 10% of the general population and 90% of people with allergic asthma are sensitive to dust mites.

3. Pet Dander Allergens: An estimated 10% of the entire population may be allergic to cat or dog dander.

4. Mold: Roughly 15 percent of Americans are allergic to mold. Moisture control is the most important strategy for reducing indoor allergens from mold growth.

5. Mildew: Scientists have identified over 1,000 types of mold and mildew inside houses in the United States.

Get some relief from summer allergens and make the home healthy again.

Prevent irritants from entering the house.

Take measures to reduce allergens by making sure dust, dirt and other pollutants are prevented from entering the house. Remove shoes before entering the household. Be sure to close and windows and doors during high pollen days. Do not allow smoking indoors.

Install a whole-home air purifier system.

Whole-home air purifier systems remove up to 98 percent of airborne allergens and contaminants down to one micron in size and are 40 times more efficient than a standard furnace filter. This system removes allergens such as dust, dust mites, pet dander, mold spores, pollen, viruses, fungi, mold and other dangerous substances from the air throughout the entire home.

Maintain humidity levels at home.

Whole-home humidifiers and dehumidifiers can help control allergens with the perfect level of moisture—one in which dust mites, mold and mildew are not likely to survive.

Many people don’t understand relative humidity and its implications on health – but it’s definitely a topic worth exploring!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013 by Aprilaire Team

Many people don’t understand relative humidity and its implications on health – but it’s definitely a topic worth exploring! Relative humidity refers to the amount of moisture in the air at a given temperature compared to the maximum amount of moisture the air can hold at the same temperature. It’s expressed as a percentage. And if that percentage is too low-which is often the case during winter months – your home and the people who live in it are at risk. Need proof? Check out this recent study, showing that viruses are more infective in dry air than they are in properly humidified air: http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0057485

Are you losing sleep because of sticky, humid nights?

Friday, August 9, 2013 by Aprilaire Team

Are you losing sleep because of sticky, humid nights? This is because of too much humidity in your home! Aprilaire whole-house dehumidifiers help make homes more comfortable. Learn more here: http://www.aprilaire.com/index.php?znfAction=ProductDetails&category=17&item=1700

 

Did you know: Installing an Aprilaire Whole-Home Dehumidifier can help improve your health?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013 by Aprilaire Team

Did you know: Installing an Aprilaire Whole-Home Dehumidifier can help improve your health? Learn more about the benefits of whole-home dehumidification at http://www.aprilaire.com/index.php?znfAction=ProductsCat&category=dehumid

Allergic to dust mites?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013 by Aprilaire Team

Allergic to dust mites?

About 40,000 dust mites can live in one ounce of dust! Also, dust mites are a known trigger of asthma. Aprilaire air purifiers and dehumidifiers can work in tandem to eliminate dust mites. Air purifiers capture up to 98 percent of airborne contaminants down to one micron in size. Dehumidifiers can eliminate excess moisture in the air – where dust mites thrive.

Learn more about Aprilaire air purifiers and dehumidifiers at http://www.aprilaire.com/index.php?znfAction=Products.

Clunkers and Junkers – Room Dehumidifiers Double As Boat Anchors

Monday, April 8, 2013 by Aprilaire Team

Ever notice, every Spring and Fall there are a few of these old junkers at the curbside. A pretty common site in the Midwest. Those heavy, messy, noisy dehumidifiers never seem to last. Here's an actual posting on Craigslist. Really, this is all too common:

 

CL > madison > all for sale / wanted > free stuff

Reply Reply to: b25dn-3727381983@sale.craigslist.org [?]

flag [?] : miscategorized prohibited spam best of

Posted: 2013-04-06, 4:18PM CDT

3 dehumidifiers-non functioning (Fall River)

Have 3 non working dehumidifiers to give away. All or none proposition. First one who comes and picks them up gets them. Will not hold to see, ect. We are 2 miles west of Columbus, off Hwy 16. About 20 mins on USH 151 north from Sun Prairie.

  • Location: Fall River
  • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

Springtime tips from the EPA

Thursday, April 4, 2013 by Aprilaire Team

Follow these tips suggested by the EPA, http://www.epa.gov/epahome/hi-spring.htm 

In your garden

A beautiful and healthy lawn is good for our environment. It can resist damage from weeds, disease, and insect pests. Pesticides can be effective, but need to be used according to the directions on the label and should not be relied on as a quick-fix to lawn problems.

Here are some tips to follow:

Develop healthy soil. Make sure your soil has the right pH balance, key nutrients, and good texture. You can buy easy-to-use soil analysis kits at hardware stores or contact your local County Cooperative Extension Service for a soil analysis.

Choose the right grass for your climate. If your area gets very little rain, don't plant a type of grass that needs a lot of water. Select grass seed that is well suited to your climate and other growing conditions such as the amount of sunlight and rain you lawn receives. Over-seed your lawn each Fall by spreading seeds on top of the lawn. A thicker lawn helps to crowd out weeds. Your local County Extension Service can advise you on which grasses grow best in your area.

Longer is Better. Make sure the lawn mower blades are sharp. Grass that is slightly long makes a strong, healthy lawn with few pest problems. Weeds have a hard time taking root and growing when grass is around 2½ to 3½ inches for most types of grass.

Water Early. It is time to water if footprint impressions stay in the lawn and do not spring back. Water early in the morning and only for short periods for time so the soil may absorb the water. Longer grass has stronger roots and retains water better.

Correct thatch buildup. Thatch is a layer of dead plant materials between the grass blades and the soil. When thatch gets too thick, deeper than 3/4 of an inch, water and nutrients are prevented from getting into the soil and reaching the roots of the grass. Overusing synthetic fertilizer can create heavy layer of thatch, and some kinds of grass are prone to thatch buildup.

Recycle grass. Don't pick up the grass clippings after you mow. Clippings will return nutrients and moisture to the soil. Consider buying a mulching lawn mower. This will cut the grass clippings finer and blow them into the lawn.

Let your lawn breathe. Once a year, remove small plugs of earth to allow air and water to aerate the grass roots.

Invite a few weeds and insects into you garden. Think of you lawn as a small piece of nature where pests have their place. Often, nature provides its own pest control in the form of birds or other insects that feed on the insects we consider nuisances.

Use manual tools. Tools that don't require electric or gasoline engines are especially handy for small yards or small jobs. There are hand tools available that will meet a wide variety of lawn and garden needs, like lightweight, quiet, easy-to-use reel push mowers that generate no emissions.


Using pesticides safely

If you decide that the best solution to your pest problem is a pesticide, follow these tips when selecting and using a garden product:

    Identify the pest problem
    Find the product that solves the problem
    Buy the right amount for your needs
    Read the label carefully and use the product the right way
    Pay attention to warnings
    Prevent harm to the environment - never pour lawn and garden products down a drain

Spring Cleaning


If you are going to be doing some spring cleaning, take a look around your house for items that present environmental hazards when they are improperly disposed of. Leftover household products that contain corrosive, toxic, ignitable, or reactive ingredients are considered to be "household hazardous waste" or "HHW." Products, such as paints, cleaners, oils, batteries, and pesticides, that contain potentially hazardous ingredients require special care when you dispose of them.

Heating and cooling


Is your home's cooling equipment more than 10 years old? If so, EPA encourages you to have your current system inspected for energy performance by a professional contractor before their busy summer season hits.

If it's time for a replacement, be sure to choose equipment that has earned the ENERGY STAR for high efficiency.
If it's not yet time to replace, have your contractor perform routine annual maintenance on your system to make sure it will efficiently and comfortably carry you through the hot summer months without costing you more than necessary.
 

New model 400, installed 8 days ago...but I'm still a little dry?

Monday, December 3, 2012 by Aprilaire Team
Consumer question:
 
I had an Aprilaire 400a humidifier installed on my 3 story town home (1 1/2 years old) about 8 days ago. After adjusting settings on the unit, the humidity in my home peaks at approximately 27% at maximum settings and with the blower on.

This morning was the highest that the unit registered and that was 37% internal humidity, but it rained all night and the humidity outdoors was above 50%.

I have contacted the dealer/installer and they assured me that they're going to talk to their management to see if there's an issue, however I am told that it may just be because of my home.

I'm not sure if that's accurate, as my home is less than 2 years old and is tightly constructed. I went with the larger humidifier that they offered, however i'm concerned that reaching 27% humidity on max settings when it is 25-35 degrees outside is going to be an issue.

Any feedback you can provide would be greatly appreciated.
 
 
Aprilaire's response:

Thank you for your email regarding your model 400 Aprilaire humidifier. Any Aprilaire humidifier is reliant on the HVAC system to be operating in order to add humidity to your home. While your model 400 will add some humidity during a blower only call, it primarily is adding humidity during a heat call. If your heat call is short, then the humidifier will have a short operating time as well. Homes also will require time to build up the humidity level when a humidifier is first installed. Since your model 400 was only installed 8 days ago it may just take more time to raise the humidity level. At this point we would ask you to give it another week or two. Your home has had all winter to lose moisture and it will take time for the home to soak up moisture created by the humidifier.

 
 

 

Remodeling Your Home? Have You Considered Indoor Air Quality?

Thursday, October 18, 2012 by Aprilaire Team

Remodeling Your Home? Have You Considered Indoor Air Quality?

Ventilation for Homes

In general, you should address the following issues when remodeling your home.

Radon

Lead

Moisture Control

Ventilation

Asbestos

Combustion Appliances

Air Ducts

Energy Efficient Improvements

Pest Control

Painting

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

If too little outdoor air enters a home, pollutants can sometimes accumulate to levels that can pose health and comfort problems. Likewise, one approach to lowering the concentrations of indoor air pollutants in your home is to increase the amount of outdoor air coming in.

Outdoor air enters and leaves a house by: infiltration, natural ventilation, and mechanical ventilation. In a process known as infiltration, outdoor air flows into the house through openings, joints, and cracks in walls, floors, and ceilings, and around windows and doors (air may also move out of the house in this manner — this is called exfiltration). In natural ventilation, air moves through opened windows and doors. Air movement associated with infiltration and natural ventilation is caused by air temperature differences between indoors and outdoors and by wind. Finally, there are a number of mechanical ventilation devices, from exhaust (vented outdoors) fans that intermittently remove air from a single room, such as bathrooms and the kitchen, to air handling systems that use fans and duct work to continuously remove indoor air and distribute filtered and conditioned outdoor air to strategic points throughout the house. The rate at which outdoor air replaces indoor air is described as the air exchange rate. When there is little infiltration, natural ventilation, or mechanical ventilation, the air exchange rate is low and pollutant levels can increase.

Unless they are built with means of mechanical ventilation, homes that are designed and constructed to minimize the amount of outdoor air that can "leak" into and out of the home may have higher pollutant levels than other homes. However, because some weather conditions can drastically reduce the amount of outdoor air that enters a home, pollutants can build up even in homes that are normally considered "leaky."

Most home heating and cooling systems, including forced air heating systems, do not mechanically bring fresh air into the house. Opening windows and doors, operating window or attic fans, when the weather permits, or running a window air-conditioner with the vent control open increases the ventilation rate. Local bathroom or kitchen fans that exhaust outdoors remove contaminants, including moisture, directly from the room where the fan is located and also increase the outdoor air ventilation rate.

Ideally, new homes will be built to minimize leakage to control energy loss, improve comfort, and minimize the transport of moisture and pollutants through the building shell. These homes should then also have mechanical ventilation to remove pollutants generated in the home and provide outdoor air in a controlled manner. Whether a mechanical ventilation system makes sense in your existing homes depends on the house, your existing heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system, and the changes you have planned. You should discuss this with your HVAC contractor. A local Weatherization office, or building performance contractor, might also be able to help you with this decision or point you to local experts.

How much ventilation do I need?

The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineering, or ASHRAE at www.ashrae.org provides procedures for determining whole-house ventilation rates in its Standard 62.2, "Ventilation and Acceptable Indoor Air Quality in Low-Rise Residential Buildings". The standard also provides requirements for exhaust ventilation for kitchens, bathrooms, and other point sources, such as clothes dryers and venting for fuel-burning appliances.

Harmful Effects of Mold

Thursday, October 18, 2012 by Aprilaire Team

Harmful effects of molds

The type and severity of health effects that result from molds exposure is widely variable among different locations, from person to person and over time.

Although difficult to predict, exposure to molds growing indoors is most often associated with the following allergy symptoms:

  • Nasal and sinus congestion
  • Cough/sore throat
  • Chest tightness
  • Dyspnea (breathing difficulty)
  • Asthma (or exacerbation of it)
  • Epistaxis (nosebleed)
  • Upper respiratory tract infections
  • Headache
  • Skin and eye irritation

 

Indoor molds exposure leads mostly to upper respiratory tract symptoms

Long-term exposure to indoor molds is certainly unhealthy to anyone, but some groups will develop more severe symptoms sooner than others, including:

  • Infants and children
  • Elderly people
  • Individuals with respiratory conditions, allergies and/or asthma
  • Immunocompromised patients

Some indoor molds are capable of producing extremely potent toxins (mycotoxins) that are lipid-soluble and readily absorbed by the intestinal lining, airways, and skin. These agents, usually contained in the fungal spores, have toxic effects ranging from short-term irritation to immunosuppression and cancer. (Photo: Mold growing behind wallpaper)

More severe symptoms that could result from continuous human exposure to indoor mycotoxigenic molds include:

  • Cancer (aflatoxin best characterized as potential human carcinogen)
  • Hypersensitivity pneumonitis/pulmonary fibrosis
  • Pulmonary injury/hemosiderosis (bleeding)
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Hematologic and immunologic disorders
  • Hepatic, endocrine and/or renal toxicities
  • Pregnancy, gastrointestinal and/or cardiac conditions

It is important to notice that the clinical relevance of mycotoxins under realistic airborne exposure levels is not fully established. Further, some or much of the supporting evidence for these other health effects is based on case studies rather than controlled studies, studies that have not yet been reproduced or involve symptoms that are subjective.
(Photo: Black mold spores micrography)

Among the indoor mycotoxin-producing species of molds are Fusarium, Trichoderma, and one that, although less commonly isolated, became notorious during the past decade, Stachybotrys atra (aka S. chartarum, black mold). Between 1993 and 1994, there was an unusual outbreak of pulmonary hemorrhage in infants in Cleveland, Ohio, where one kid died. Researchers found that the kids’ homes had previously sustained water damage that resulted in molds contamination, and the quantity of molds, including S. chartarum, was higher in the homes of infants with pulmonary hemorrhage than in those of controls. (Photo: Stachybotrys growing on Potato Dextrose Agar (PDA))

It was this Cleveland event that initiated the headline news of Stachybotrys. The American Academy of Pediatrics produced guidelines in the wake of the outbreak. Other incidents involving kids in Stachybotrys-contaminated water-damaged school buildings have captured headlines as well, with children becoming symptom-free after being removed from those environments.
Article from the Fargo Forum newspaper, North Dakota (5/1/1997)

The role of S. chartarum in pulmonary hemorrhage in the Cleveland incident and in human health in the indoor environment is not clear though. There is not enough evidence to prove a solid causal relationship between S. chartarum and these health problems. Actually, in 2000 the CDC released two reports critical of the study conducted in Cleveland and concluded that the association between S. chartarum and acute pulmonary hemorrhage was not proven.

While case studies certainly indicate the possibility or even the plausibility of an effect from molds exposure, such studies by their nature cannot address whether the effect is common or widespread among building occupants. Results from studies that have not been reproduced may be spurious or have yet to be confirmed by well-designed follow up studies. (Photo: Moldy humid walls in a closet space)

In large epidemiologic studies, general symptoms have been associated with moisture damaged and presumably moldy buildings. Many of the reported symptoms are subjective and difficult to quantify. Results are confounded by the fact that the association is general, and mold is not the only possible cause of the symptoms. Neither condition proves that mold is NOT a cause.

In any case, molds growth in the indoor environment should be considered unacceptable from the perspectives of potential adverse health effects and building performance.

Dose-response

There is almost a complete lack of information on specific human responses to well-defined exposures to molds contaminants. There is currently no proven method to measure the type or amount of mold that a person is exposed to, and common symptoms associated with molds exposure are non-specific, aggravated by the facts that molds are present everywhere in the environment and that responses to exposure vary greatly among individuals. (Photo: Heavy mold growth on the underside of spruce floorboards)

There are no accepted standards for molds sampling in indoor environments or for analyzing and interpreting the data in terms of human health. Most studies are then based primarily on baseline environmental data rather than on human dose-response data. Neither OSHA or NIOSH, nor the EPA has set a standard or PEL for molds exposure.

Mold growth on air diffuser in ceiling
Miller et al. (1988) stated that it is reasonable to assume there is a problem if a single species predominates with >50 CFU/m3, that <150 CFU/m3 is acceptable if there is a mix of benign species, and that there is no problem when up to 300 CFU/m3 of Cladosporium or other common fungi is isolated. There is no source material to support these assertions, as few inhalation studies have been conducted.

References

American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Environmental Health. 1998. Toxic effects of indoor molds. Pediatrics. 101:712-714. 11/23/03

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2002. State of the Science on Molds and Human Health. 11/15/03

US Environmental Protection Agency – Indoor Air Quality – Molds. 11/15/03

Kuhn, D. M., and M. A. Ghannoum. 2003. Indoor mold, toxigenic fungi, and Stachybotrys chartarum: infectious disease perspective. Clin Microbiol Rev. 16(1):144-172. 11/15/03

Miller, J. D., A. M. Laflamme, Y. Sobol, P. Lafontaine and R. Greenhalgh. 1988. Fungi and fungal products in some Canadian houses. Int. Biodeterior. 24:103-120.

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2000. Update: Pulmonary Hemorrhage/Hemosiderosis Among Infants --- Cleveland, Ohio, 1993-1996. 49(9):180-184. 11/17/03

Nelson, B. D. 2001. Stachybotrys chartarum: The Toxic Indoor Mold – APSnet. 11/23/03

What Types Of Mold Are Considered Toxic Mold

"Toxic mold" is a term that is used to describe types of mold that are considered deadly to humans. Most people believe that the name refers to one particular species of mold; however, it encompasses hundreds of species, a small fraction of which are not very harmful to the human body. Black mold is commonly used as a name for the most harmful mold species, which happen to be black in appearance. However, even molds of a different color can be toxic to the human body.

Any place that is dark and where there is an accumulation of moisture, is a potential breeding pool for mold. Mold can grown on almost any organic surface as long as moisture and oxygen are present. When large amounts of moisture build-up in buildings, or building materials mold growth will occur. It is virtually impossible to remove all indoor mold and mold spores, but it is possible to manage.

People are exposed to some amount of mold everyday. When mold is growing on a surface, spores can be released into the air where a person can then inhale them. A person who is subject to inhaling a large amount of these spores may be subject to some medical damage.

There are five categories of toxic mold. They are Cladosporium, Penicilium, Fusarium, Aspergillus, and Stachybotrys. Some of the species included in these categories may only cause hay fever-like allergic reactions, while others can cause potentially deadly illnesses. All five of these mold families can be found lurking indoors, in damp spaces. Each has its own particular characteristics that can greatly affect whatever organism or material it contacts. Indoor mold is not always obvious. Mold can manifest on hidden surfaces, such as wallpaper, paneling, the top of ceiling tiles, and underneath carpet.

Stachbotrys

The toxin produced by Stachybotrys chartarum is the most deadly. It has been tied to diseases as minor as hay fever, to those as serious as liver damage, pulmonary edema, and in the most severe cases, brain or nerve damage and even death. It has also been linked to severe illness in infants. Those with compromised immune systems, small children, and the elderly are highly susceptible to illness when they come in contact with this species of mold. Some symptoms associated with exposure to Stachbotrys include:
respiratory issues
nasal and sinus congestion
eye irritation
sore throat
hacking cough
chronic fatigue
central nervous system issues
aches and pains

Cladosporium, Fusarium, and Penicillium

These mold families have been connected to illnesses such as nail fungus, asthma, and also infections of the lungs, liver, and kidneys. Additionally, Fusarium may cause gastrointestinal illnesses, and even illness which affect the female reproductive system. Chronic cases of Cladosporium may produce pulmonary edema and emphysema.

Aspergillus

The least serious of the toxic mold groups, the Aspergillus mold family consists of over 160 species. Only 16 of those cause illness in humans, none of which are fatal if treated.

Toxic molds produce chemicals during their natural growth that are classified as toxins or poisons. The types that have been found to have profound effects on human health, are given the label of "toxic mold."

Toxic molds are all very dangerous if allowed to grow inside the home. Proper precautions should be taken to prevent and eliminate their growth. These measures should include eliminating every material that nourishes the molds, such as old remodeling materials left in a basement. Also, never try to determine the type of mold in your home. Contact a professional to test any mold colony you may find, and consult with your family physician.

Scary Facts About Termites!

Thursday, October 18, 2012 by Aprilaire Team

Can you imagine resting your arm on your wall talking to a friend at a house party just to watch bedroom wall cave in. This interesting information was posted by ABC news the other day and I thought I re-share. I have had one case of this in Northeast Ohio that was a nightmare and a lesson for the owner. Forget about killer bees and voracious fire ants. Aggressive termites that can destroy a new house almost before the paint dries and may be heading for a home near you.

Formosan termites cause about $300 million in damage in New Orleans each year, and now they are moving north, east and west. They've already been found in at least 11 states, and scientists say they can attack with such vengeance that they make domestic termites seem almost tame.

East Asian Immigrants

These fierce little critters arrived in southern ports from East Asia at the end of World War II and lay low for decades, gradually increasing their numbers until they were strong enough to attack with gusto. For years now they have plagued New Orleans, which seems to have been built for their specific needs, and scientists have all but given up hope of ever eliminating them from that area.

They've already eaten through scores of structures in the city's famed French Quarter, and when they are finally flushed from a building they take up residence in living trees. Thousands of trees have been killed by the termites, many of which have fallen on structures, causing even more damage.

Ed Bordes, director of the New Orleans Mosquito and Termite Control Board, estimates that 30 percent of the city's live oaks and cypress trees are now infested.

Until fairly recently, scientists had thought the termites were pretty well isolated in the Deep South, but that clearly has changed. Damage estimates across several states now range between $1 billion and $2 billion per year, about the same as caused by all the domestic species combined.

Power in Numbers

Formosan termites have established strongholds from Florida to California, and although scientists first thought the termites would restrict their habitat to warm areas, that may not be the case. Those damp basements in northern regions may be very much to their liking.

According to the Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is heading up a New Orleans-based Formosan termite project called Operation Full Stop, these hungry little devils are the most voracious termites in the world. Here are a few reasons why:

Their colonies are huge, thus enabling them to do great damage in a very short period of time while fighting off nearly all efforts to bring them under control. A colony of domestic termites usually ranges in the thousands; Formosan colonies number in the millions.

Domestic colonies will eat about 7 pounds of wood per year. A Formosan colony will eat about 1,000 pounds per year.

They don't just eat wood. When they get thirsty, Bordes says, they can eat the seals out of high-pressure water lines to get at the moisture inside. And they can penetrate cement, brick, plastic and other materials to get to food and water.

A queen termite can lay 2,000 to 3,000 eggs a day, ensuring the survival of colonies that can last for decades.

Come springtime, New Orleans residents can look forward to something locals describe as nothing short of terrifying. Colonies will send out winged "soldiers" by the millions, forming flying armadas that can almost turn the sky dark as they seek out new areas for harvesting.

They're not particularly discriminating. They like new houses as well as old. And it doesn't take them long to do a lot of damage.

Eradication Impossible

By the time they were discovered in one 2-year-old house, they had already eaten out one wall from the basement to the roof, according to scientists who are working desperately to come up with a means of controlling the termites. That doesn't mean eliminating them, at least not for New Orleans.

"Eradication is not a likely scenario," according to one report from the Agricultural Research Service.

But at least the scientists know where to start. New Orleans has become a working laboratory, with residents setting out traps to capture enough of the little beasts for scientists to study. Formosan termites are there in great numbers because they couldn't have designed it better themselves, at least from a termite's perspective.

The city has just the right climate, humid and hot. And many of those wonderful old buildings that dot the city's historical areas are sitting directly on the ground, giving the subterranean termites easy access. Many of the buildings share common walls, allowing the termites to move right on down the street without even venturing outside.

They also build underground tunnels extending hundreds of feet in various directions, thus expanding their options.

According to researchers, sometimes nobody knows there's a problem until a wall falls down.

Fighting Back

The best defense appears to be an offense, according to the scientists. Once the termites establish themselves with huge colonies, it's probably too late to do much about it. So the goal is to nip it early, identifying the termites as they move outward and wiping out colonies before they get too large.

Unfortunately, the critters are pretty clever. Other termites are routinely treated by injecting poison into the ground, but Formosan termites can just move their nests above ground, thus avoiding the toxins.

And not a lot of toxins are effective. The most potent treatment, chlordane, was outlawed in 1988 because it remains active in the soil for 25 years, thus threatening human health as well as other animals. Scientists are now experimenting with growth regulators that will keep the termites from maturing, and they are looking for biological ways to inhibit procreation and even communication within the colony.

They've made some progress, but for now the Formosan termite still has the upper hand. It will take a persistent, expensive, grass-roots effort across many states to bring the problem under control.

 

Stanley Stepak Jr. M.A.

I have manual control for my whole house humidifier. I've been noticing water on the windows in the morning.

Saturday, May 12, 2012 by Aprilaire Team
Consumer question:
 
I have manual control for my whole house humidifier. I've been noticing water on the windows in the morning. When I look at the humidistat it is set for 32% (doesn't say RH but thats what I assume). I got another Aprilaire humistat that just measures RH and put it on top of my existing control. Where the existing control indicates about 32%(5% hysterisis) the standalone unit indicates 44%RH. How do I know which is correct and what do I do if my existing manual control is wrong? IS there a way to clean or calibrate it?
 

Aprilaires' response:

Thank you for your email regarding your Aprilaire humidistat. If you turn the dial from left to right you should hear two clicks. The actual humidity in your home will be the area between the two clicks. For example, if the humidistat clicks at 30% and 36% your actual humidity would be 33%. There is not a way to calibrate the humidistat. It is unclear from your email if the original humidistat is an Aprilaire humidistat, so it is difficult to say if it is out of spec. The accuracy of our Aprilaire manual humidistats are +/- 5%

The moisture on your windows is due to the surface temperature of your windows reaching dew point. This occurs when there is more humidity in the home than what the home can hold based on the current outdoor temperature. As the temperature outside drops you want less humidity in your home. For example when the outdoor temperature is 20F or above we recommend 35% humidity at a room temperature of 70F. If the outdoor temperature drops to 0F you'll want 25%.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to be of service.

What is the minimum water temperature to supply an Aprilaire 350 humidifier?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012 by Aprilaire Team
Consumer question:
 
What's the minimum water temperature needed to supply this Aprilaire model 350 humidifier unit? We want to reduce the water temp for the summer so it doesn't heat the house while it runs. Here in Denver we still need the moisture all year around.

By the way, do you make a in-the wall ultrasonic unit with a humidistat, that can run from filtered water that removes minerals and chlorine?
 
 
Aprilaires' response:

Thank you for your email regarding your model 350 Aprilaire humidifier. The minimum water temperature for our self contained humidifiers is 140F. This is required in order for the evaporation process to take place. When the hot water flows over the water panel, the water evaporates off the water panel and into the room temperature air moving through the water panel. Lowering the water temperature will reduce the amount of humidification produced. The water to the humidifier can be hard or softened but should not be from a reverse osmosis system. We do not manufacture ultrasonic humidifiers.

 

Summer's High Humidity Affects Indoor Air Quality

Monday, April 2, 2012 by Aprilaire Team

Summer is almost here and with it we welcome the long-awaited warm weather but not the sticky, high levels of humidity that often come with it.  High humidity affects the quality of indoor air and can affect the health of you and your family in a variety of ways.

High humidity levels can cause mold, encourage dust mites which are a major cause of allergies, and cause a hot of problems in the home that can affect your physical health.  Visible signs of high humidity levels include condensation on windows, peeling wallpaper, damp patches on walls and ceilings, a musty smell and dampness.  But there are also numerous problems that go undetected because you can not see or smell them. 

A few of the most common health effects of too much moisture in the home include the following:

Dust mites:  At least 10 percent of the population suffers from a dust mite allergy.  Half of American homes have enough bedding with enough dust mite allergen to cause allergies.. Of these homes, 24 percent had levels that were five times greater than the threshold to cause allergic reactions.

To control dust mites, experts recommend regular cleaning to reduce dust, as well as encasing mattresses, box springs and pillows in allergy-free cases.  The more dust-free the home, the less likely it will be able to support significant populations of allergen0causing dust mites.  Some of the symptoms associated with it include sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, nasal stuffiness, runny nose, stuffy ears, respiratory problems, atopic dermatitis and asthma.

Bacteria: you can't see or feel bacteria but they live on countertops, table surfaces, carpet, pillows, mattresses and just about anywhere people are.  Bacteria also grow profusely when there is plenty of moisture present.

Formaldehyde: When humidity levels are high, products such as furniture, cabinets, building materials and even some latex paints then to release formaldehyde into the air at a faster rate.  Studies have suggested that people exposed to formaldehyde levels ranging from 50 to 100 parts per billion for long periods of time are more likely to experience asthma-related respiratory symptoms, such as coughing and wheezing.

If you suspect that the air in your home is too moist, be sure to vent the areas that create moisture, like the show or bathroom.  You may also consider a whole home dehumidifier like the Aprilaire Model 1710A, 1730A,1750A or the 1770A.  The Aprilaire dehumidifiers can work independently or in tandem with the heating and cooling systems to remove extra moisture from your home.  A system like this will allow homeowners to achieve the EPA recommended humidity levels in the house of 30-50 percent.

Aprilaire model 1700 Dehumidifier, new drain line?

Monday, March 26, 2012 by Aprilaire Team
Consumer question:
 
Our drain line is leaking and a replacement line is to be installed. I have purchased a braided vinyl hose thinking it would be more durable in an attic. Internal diameter of hose is 1/2 inch, and out diameter is 3/4 inch. Will this fit the Aprilaire 1700? Thank you for the information.

Aprilaires' respone:

Thank you for your question regarding the Aprilaire model 1700 dehumidifier.

You dehumidifier should have a fitting attache to the end of the PVC drain pipe to allow for connecting your 1/2 inch braided drain hose. We recommend that a consistent downward slope to the drain be ensured to prevent water from remaining in the hose, once the unit has shut off. The drain hose should be inspected for cracking every year to prevent leaks and associated water damage.

Thank you for choosing Aprilaire in your home comfort system.