Thursday, July 28, 2011

Midwest Experiences Dangerous Air Quality Alert

Chicago Close to Breaking 1871 Weather Record

MELROSE PARK, Ill. – 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. “Headaches, runny noses, sinus pressure and fatigue will plague those with sensitive breathing systems today, especially if they go outdoors,” said Joseph Leija, MD, the allergist who performs the Gottlieb Allergy Count, designated the official Midwest count by the National Allergy Bureau. “This is the highest mold count the Midwest has experienced this year.” Repeat powerful rainstorms, excessive heat warnings and even tornado alerts have contributed to the record mold count and early ragweed reports. “Not 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,” said Dr. Leija, who practices at Loyola University Health System’s Gottlieb Memorial Hospital. “If 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,” Dr. Leija said. “Flooding can easily cause indoor mold counts to be much higher – even to toxic breathing conditions.” “The heat, the rain, now the pestilence of mold is making this a summer of biblical proportions in the world of allergies,” 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. Leija’s 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 Bureau’s reports, sent out to the media and available to the community on the Gottlieb Web site ( and in English, Spanish and Polish via Twitter. The count is also available in English by calling 866-4-POLLEN, (866-476-5536).

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is part 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. Loyola University Medical Center’s campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of Chicago’s Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. At the heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that 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 Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-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.

Trinity Health is a national Catholic health system with an enduring legacy and a steadfast mission to be a transforming and healing presence within the communities we serve. Trinity is committed to being a people-centered health care system that enables better health, better care and lower costs. Trinity Health has 88 hospitals and hundreds of continuing care facilities, home care agencies and outpatient centers in 21 states and 119,000 employees.