Monday, July 25, 2011

Midwest Mold Count Peaks Due To Extreme Heat, Storms

MELROSE PARK, Ill. – A record 7 inches of rain combined with the spat of 100-plus degree Fahrenheit days has spawned the highest mold count recorded for the year, just short of an air pollution warning. “Today’s mold count for the Midwest was 30,000, just 10,000 short of the threshold for an alert warning,” said Joseph Leija, MD, the allergist who performs the Gottlieb Allergy Count, the official Midwest allergy count for the National Allergy Bureau. “This is the highest mold count I have seen this year.” And that is just for the air outdoors.

“Many Midwesterners experienced flooding in their homes, which can easily cause indoor mold counts to be much higher – even to dangerous breathing conditions,” Dr. Leija warned. “The heat, the rain, now the pestilence of mold is making this a summer of biblical proportions in the world of allergies.”

Mold Symptoms Symptoms of respiratory irritation from mold include nasal congestion, difficulty breathing, headaches and post-nasal drip. “People with allergies must stay in air conditioning and use a dehumidifier,” Dr. Leija said. Mold grows quickly in hot, humid or wet conditions. “The Midwest has been battling hot, humid weather and outdoor mold spores have been relatively high, but now with the flooding caused by the recent rainfall, many homes are pure poison for those with breathing conditions,” Dr. Leija said. “All soaked drywall must be cut out and removed as well as carpets, tile, cardboard boxes and the like to prevent mold.” Ironically, water is both the perpetrator for mold and the recommended cure. “Plain water should be used to wash off floors, walls and soaked items, and then everything must be dried thoroughly,” he said. Dr. Leija also recommends that allergy sufferers lightly rinse their nostrils with a saline solution to rinse out trapped particles and spores.

Black Mold Most Toxic Not all molds are equally dangerous - black mold is the most toxic. “Coughing up blood, nosebleeds, vomiting, diarrhea and even memory loss and pulmonary hemorrhage are symptoms of toxic mold sickness,” Dr. Leija said. The very young, old and those with chronic conditions such as asthma are the most vulnerable. Those employed as carpenters, carpet cleaners, handymen, plumbers and even gardeners are also at risk for toxic mold inhalation. “The only way to tell if you suffer from mold allergy is by a skin test performed by an allergist,” Dr. Leija said. “Allergy shots, medications and antihistamines or corticosteroid nasal sprays can help minimize symptoms.” For more than two decades, Dr. Leija has performed the Gottlieb Allergy Count. Monday through Friday he gathers air samples at 5 a.m. from a special pollen-catching machine atop Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, part of the Loyola University Health System. Using a 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. The National Allergy Bureau incorporates the daily Gottlieb Allergy Count into its reports. The count is also posted on the Gottlieb Web site ( and is available in English via a phone hotline at 866-4-POLLEN (866-476-5536). In addition, Gottlieb offers the count in English, Spanish and Polish on Twitter.

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.