High mold air alert issued for Midwest

Aug. 3, 2011 at 9:43 PM
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MELROSE PARK, Ill., Aug. 3 (UPI) -- The Midwest had the highest mold count for the season Wednesday and an air alert was issued for the Midwest, a Chicago-area allergist says.

"The daily count was 59,000, and the threshold for dangerous levels is at 50,000 (for outside air)," said Dr. Joseph Leija, who performs the Gottlieb Allergy Count at Loyola University Health System's Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, says in a statement. "Chicagoans are experiencing stuffy noses, post-nasal drip, scratchy throats, headaches and fatigue due to the high mold count in the air. The mold count is dangerously high for those with chronic conditions such as lung or heart disease as well as asthma and breathing conditions."

The mold count had already been high in the past few weeks due to torrential rain and flooding this summer.

"The Midwest has suffered from repeated flooding and many homes may have toxic levels of mold due to the damp," Leija says. "In addition to stagnant water, many sewer systems backed up and overflowed adding additional health risks."

Leija says homeowners who have experienced flooding may want to purchase a hygrometer -- a device that measure indoor humidity which causes mold -- are under $40 and readily available in most electronic and home goods stores.

Leija performs the official allergy count for the Midwest for the National Allergy Bureau, a section of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology that measures pollen and mold levels.

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