Midwest mold count triggers alert

July 28, 2011 at 6:46 PM
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MELROSE PARK, Ill., July 28 (UPI) -- After a very wet July, a mold count of more than 50,000 Thursday triggered an alert in the Midwest for dangerous air quality, a U.S. allergist says.

"Headaches, runny noses, sinus pressure and fatigue will plague those with sensitive breathing systems today, especially if they go outdoors," Dr. Joseph Leija, the allergist who performs the Gottlieb Allergy Count, the official allergy count for the Midwest for the National Allergy Bureau, said in a statement.

"This is the highest mold count the Midwest has experienced this year. The heat, the rain, now the pestilence of mold is making this a summer of Biblical proportions in the world of allergies."

Repeat powerful rainstorms -- in the Chicago area a record 6.86 inches of rain fell last Saturday and 4.37 more Wednesday -- plus excessive temperatures have contributed to the record mold count and also early ragweed reports, Leija said.

"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," Leija, who practices at Loyola University Health System's Gottlieb Memorial Hospital near Chicago, said.

"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. Flooding can easily cause indoor mold counts to be much higher -- even to toxic breathing conditions."

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