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Baby, it’s cold outside!!

During this time of year, I love to hear the old song “Baby, it’s cold outside!” play on the radio.  It sums up winter time in the Chicago area.  And with this frigid weather, we retreat to the comfort and warmth of our homes.   But the warmth that we feel inside our homes can

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Ancient Asbestos

The usage of asbestos has been documented since antiquity. Before its usage in modern building materials, asbestos was used in pottery, clothing, and even ceremonial items throughout the world. Many ancient civilizations used asbestos because of its amazing properties which included fire resistance and the ability to be woven and integrated into many objects. In

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The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

Every few months a new tragic story about a fatal carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning surfaces.  The stories of the dangers of carbon monoxide and the people who have lost their lives from a common environmental compound can be sad and unsettling.  CO poisoning is preventable but first it is essential to know some general information

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Featured Mold – Aspergillus and Penicillium

Aspergillus and Penicillium are two of the most common mold genera that we see in air samples.  When dealing with spore trap lab results, you will often see these types listed together in groups such as Aspergillus/Penicillium, Asp/Pen, or Pen/Asp. Visually, spores of these genera are so similar that analysts can not differentiate them, so

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Air Cell Pipe Insulation

Air Cell refers to an asbestos-containing pipe insulation product. It has alternating layers of plain and corrugated asbestos paper.  The term “Air Cell” was used as a product name by Armstrong Contracting and Supply Corporation and others.  However, the term “Air Cell” can also be used in a generic manner for various types of similar

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What is that terrible odor?

There is an old story that I tell that goes like this.  I am sent to a home where the owners have noticed a strange odor that they want us to identify.  As soon as I enter the door, I am immediately asked “Can’t you smell it?  Can’t you smell it?!!”.  After sniffing around for

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Da Vinci & Mold

This blog discusses the relationship between Leonardo Da Vinci and … that’s right, mold. Da Vinci died hundreds of years ago, but his creations during his 67 years on earth leave a legacy that stands the test of time.  Nature, however, always finds a way to leave it’s mark.  This article highlights how Aspergillus halophilicum

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Marvel Comics & Asbestos

In the colorful universe of Marvel Comics, many of its superpowered characters gained their abilities via a science experiment, magic, technology, or other uncanny circumstances. In the late 1940s Marvel (known at the time as Timely Comics) created a character that drew their abilities from a real world material known as asbestos. This character took

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Indoor and Outdoor Pollutants in Chicago

Living less than a half mile away from Lake Michigan in Chicago made the Lakefront Trail (LFT) effortlessly accessible. I could quickly warm up with a short walk or jog and almost instantly have access to the beautiful lake and a path designed specifically for pedestrians and bicyclists. The LFT lines the edges of the

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D’oh! The Simpsons have Air Quality Problems

With each passing year, the general public becomes more and more aware of indoor air quality (IAQ) issues. I thought it was because of my educational outreach efforts.  Come to find out… people are more aware because of The Simpsons! I found over 20 indoor air quality related quotes from Simpsons episodes using the new website Frinkiac.com.  You

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How Long for Mattress VOCs to Offgas?

In a previous blog post, I established that Casper and Tuft & Needle foam mattress VOCs were very high in the packaging and that they should be opened outdoors.  For good measure, I tested yet another manufacturer’s product… Nest Bedding’s Love Bed.  I got the same results as with the other manufacturers: What do all

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Chemical Emissions from Mattresses

Mattress salespeople have a reputation somewhat equivalent to the iconic used car salesman. To avoid the high-pressure sales environment altogether, many people are opting to buy their mattresses online… me included. I recently bought two foam mattresses online and had them shipped to my Chicago home: a queen-size from Casper and a twin-size from Tuft

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Interpretation of Mold Tests

In Chicago and beyond, there are some mold inspectors that don’t really do an inspection at all.  They do basic mold testing, such as collecting a few air samples, and neglect to do a visual inspection of the home or evaluate the moisture problems leading to the growth. To make matters worse, these inspectors typically

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My Top 10 Air Quality Concerns

Many people keep track of every gram of food going into their body. Yet, the very same people are often totally unaware of what they are breathing in. They would be surprised to find out that we eat about 3 pounds of food a day… and breathe in over 30 pounds of air! To help

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