Highest Mold Count of the Sneezin’ Season
MELROSE PARK, Ill. â 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. âThe daily count was 59,000, and the threshold for dangerous levels is at 50,000,â Dr. Leija said.
âChicagoans will experience stuffy noses, postnasal drip, scratchy throats, headaches and fatigue due to the high mold count in the air,â Dr. Leija said. âThe mold count is dangerously high for those with chronic conditions, such as lung or heart disease, as well as asthma and breathing conditions.â And the record high mold count may not be just for the outdoors. Indoors it can be much worse. âThe Midwest has suffered from repeated flooding and many homes may have toxic levels of mold due to the damp,â Dr. Leija said. âIn addition to stagnant water, many sewer systems backed up and overflowed, adding additional health risks.â 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.
Winterâs 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. âThis is the second mold alert I have issued in a seven-day period,â 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. Leijaâs tips for protecting your health today include: â¢
Stay indoors and avoid outdoor activity. â¢
Run air conditioning to remove humidity. â¢
Rinse inner nostrils with saline solution to rinse trapped particles and moisten membranes. â¢
Avoid strenuous activity and rest often. â¢
Talk to your allergist about adjusting prescribed medication, if necessary.
The daily Gottlieb Allergy Count is incorporated into the National Allergy Bureauâs 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).