Highest Mold Count of the Sneezin’ Season
MELROSE PARK, Ill. – Chicagoans awoke to the highest mold count of the season after a night of torrential rain and lightning strikes. An official air alert was issued by Joseph Leija, MD, an allergist at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital who performs the official Midwest allergy count for the National Allergy Bureau.
“The daily count was 59,000, and the threshold for dangerous levels is at 50,000,” Dr. Leija said.
“Chicagoans will experience stuffy noses, postnasal drip, scratchy throats, headaches and fatigue due to the high mold count in the air,” Dr. Leija said. “The mold count is dangerously high for those with chronic conditions, such as lung or heart disease, as well as asthma and breathing conditions.”
And the record high mold count may not be just for the outdoors. Indoors it can be much worse.
“The Midwest has suffered from repeated flooding and many homes may have toxic levels of mold due to the damp,” Dr. Leija said. “In addition to stagnant water, many sewer systems backed up and overflowed, adding additional health risks.”
Dr. Leija said hygrometers (devices that measure indoor humidity, which helps mold to spread) are less than $40 and readily available in most electronic and home goods stores.
Winter’s Woes Spill into the Summer
The Midwest suffered historic snowfalls this winter and the summer is proving to be a record-breaking season for rainfall and continuous blazing heat.
“This is the second mold alert I have issued in a seven-day period,” Dr. Leija said.
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency also declared an air pollution action day on Monday for the greater Chicago area.
Dr. Leija performs the daily official Midwest allergy count from April to October, allergy-reporting season. Dr. Leija’s tips for protecting your health today include:
• Stay indoors and avoid outdoor activity.
• Run air conditioning to remove humidity.
• Rinse inner nostrils with saline solution to rinse trapped particles and moisten membranes.
• Avoid strenuous activity and rest often.
• Talk to your allergist about adjusting prescribed medication, if necessary.
The daily Gottlieb Allergy Count is incorporated into the National Allergy Bureau’s reports and is available at GottliebHospital.org and via Twitter in English, Spanish and Polish. It is also available in English at 866-4-POLLEN (866-476-5536).
Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus, Loyola University Hospital, is a 569-licensed-bed facility. It houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children’s Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 264-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.