Chicago Close to Breaking 1871 Weather Record
MELROSE PARK, Ill. â A mold count of more than 50,000 has triggered an alert for dangerous air quality throughout the Midwest. The region experienced a record-breaking winter for snow and again is setting new records for heat and rain. A record 6.86 inches of rain fell Saturday, July 23, and another 4.37 inches Wednesday, July 27. The storm water is causing rivers to crest, roads to be blocked, public transportation to stop and basements to flood. Chicago is close to breaking the 1871 weather record for the number of rain days in July. âHeadaches, runny noses, sinus pressure and fatigue will plague those with sensitive breathing systems today, especially if they go outdoors,â said Joseph Leija, MD, the allergist who performs the Gottlieb Allergy Count, designated the official Midwest count by the National Allergy Bureau. âThis is the highest mold count the Midwest has experienced this year.â Repeat powerful rainstorms, excessive heat warnings and even tornado alerts have contributed to the record mold count and early ragweed reports. âNot just allergy and asthma sufferers but those with heart disease and other chronic conditions are strongly advised to stay indoors in air conditioning today and to consult their allergist or physician about adjusting medication,â said Dr. Leija, who practices at Loyola University Health Systemâs Gottlieb Memorial Hospital. âIf those with sensitive breathing conditions have homes or workplaces that have experienced flooding, I advise them to get out immediately to a clean, controlled environment or risk injury,â Dr. Leija said. âFlooding can easily cause indoor mold counts to be much higher â even to toxic breathing conditions.â âThe heat, the rain, now the pestilence of mold is making this a summer of biblical proportions in the world of allergies,â Dr. Leija said. For more than two decades, Dr. Leija has performed the Gottlieb Allergy Count. Monday through Friday at 5 a.m. he gathers air samples from a special pollen-catching machine atop Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Melrose Park. Using his microscope, Dr. Leija identifies and counts every single allergen in a process that can take more than one hour. He then uses National Allergy Bureau-dictated algorithms to arrive at the official allergy count for the Midwest. Dr. Leijaâs Air Quality Control Tips: Run an air conditioner and a dehumidifier to combat indoor mold. If flooding occurs, remove all damaged materials as soon as possible.
Plain water should be used to wash off floors, walls and soaked items, and then everything must be dried thoroughly. Lightly rinse your nostrils with a saline solution to rinse off trapped particles and spores. The daily Gottlieb Allergy Count is incorporated into the National Allergy Bureauâs reports, sent out to the media and available to the community on the Gottlieb Web site (GottliebHospital.org) and in English, Spanish and Polish via Twitter. The count is also available in English by calling 866-4-POLLEN, (866-476-5536).