Don't get me wrong, where I moved from in Ohio is beautiful, and life there moves at a somewhat slower pace. I have always said, if I was raising children, as my brothers are, that would be the place I would do it. As a younger adult though, the dirt roads, Amish neighbors and relative lack of people didn't make for the best of environments to meet people. I chose Atlanta, and a big reason was because of all the trees.
Since moving, I've never lived in an apartment, houses only for me. I've never cared for the lack of privacy or a yard that comes with living in an apartment. With a yard though, and a lot of trees, I spend a good amount of time picking up fallen limbs, mowing, and at this time of year, raking leaves. They can be enjoyable tasks, things to either take my mind off of whatever it is that is bothering me or simple things that when I'm finished I can take instant gratification in the results. There are three things that I use, though, that do make the task a little easier on me and my neighbors.
If the leaves have been neglected, then I'll rake them then stuff them into refuse bags. However, if the trees around your home like to taunt you like mine do, then it's generally a slow trickle of leaves that fall, that typically last for about twelve months. Thanks nature! In this case, I prefer to simply mulch them up with a bagged mower.
Some kinds of bagged mowers have the hard shells attached to the back. Much like the turtle do, these mowers crawl around your yard while the shell-like contraption keeps things tucked away inside. If you have a push mower, like me, there are some attachable baggers that are better than others. As an added bonus, bagged mowers also reduce the chances of turning a harmless little pine cone into a projectile of doom. The last bagged mower I had left my neighborhood looking like the dustbowl had come again! The mower I currently have though uses a tighter mesh material that allows less dust and debris to escape. While I've not been given an official award by the neighborhood for ending the Smryna Dustbowl, I'm sure they appreciate it, if for no other reason than they stopped leaving bags of sand on my front porch.
On the personal protection side of things, go with a mask. Because of the lay of my front yard, water settles there. This also means fine sediment like sand and allergens settle there as well. Even something as a simple as a dust mask can keep your lungs happy by blocking these fine particles. If you want something with better protection, there are semi-disposable HEPA masks that seal well and trap the vast majority of all particles you might be kicking up.
The last thing I like to use is a neti pot. This can be either the actual teapot shaped neti device or something as simple as a squeeze bottle. Either way, when I'm done, I dump one packet of into the neti, mix with lukewarm water, then rinse away. If you're using this to flush your sinuses, and you feel full afterwards because all of the mix made its way down your throat… you're doing it wrong. Not to worry though because what you've drank is most basically water, salt and a little baking soda. In one nostril and out the other with half the solution, then, like a barn dance, halfway through, switch. (No barn dance images. Sorry, but I've had those sealed away in a vault.) It does take some getting used to, but this is one of the easiest ways to flush out allergens, dust, dirt and other things that would like to make your nose its new home.
So there you have it! Three things that can not only help reduce your exposure to fall allergens but likely improve your relationship with your neighbors.
Author: K. Gilmore
All satire aside, I'm taking my AchooAllergy.com hat off for this post. As someone who grew up on a farm and regularly brings back our farm raised beef when I travel home, this topic strikes a nerve with me. So, in terms of full disclosure, the opinions expressed here are my own, not those of AchooAllergy.com.
With that out of the way, the news is that the USDA recently announced it was lifting the ban on imported, processed chicken from China, and for me, this raised a few questions.
First, why announce it right before a long holiday weekend? Having some experience with public relations and press releases, this answer is fairly obvious. If you ever want to release something but do not want people to notice it, you put information out on a Friday. If you REALLY don't want people to take notice, release it on a Friday before a holiday weekend.
But why would you want people to not notice the lifting of this ban? I'm just guessing but I would say there are at least three reasons that might be cause to quietly make this announcement. Does anyone remember the story about the thousands of dead pigs found floating in the Huangpu River? Over TEN THOUSAND dead pigs were fished out of this Chinese river last spring, and annually approximately 150,000 to 300,000 pigs die that need to be disposed. Currently China has shown itself ill-equipped to regulate and dispose of these animals in a humane and hygienic manner, which is somewhat evident by the story of Chinese officials breaking up rings that buy, process and sell dead (often from disease) pigs in China. In case you need a refresher on the "dead pig pool party" and it's annual impact.
Shortly after this, a news story broke about "rat mutton". Over 22 tons of inferior or fake meat products were confiscated by Chinese officials. Including rat, fox and mink, this meat were passed off as something other than what they really were.
Lastly, bird flu. This story is one we all are likely more familiar with, but avian flu is a persistent problem with poultry in China. And while poultry sickness is nothing new, it passing to humans is something that has become more common over the last few years. Like other forms of the flu, strains of the avian flu are deadly and relatively less is known about these strains over more traditional strains of the flu. Recently, the H7N9 strain has shown a resistance to the popular antiviral drug, Tamiflu.
Those seem to be three fairly compelling reasons to quietly announce the story about lifting the ban on Chinese poultry imports. But, if you'd like another instance, you can visit the FDA website and peruse reports of Chinese made dog treats (made with chicken) sickening pets all across the U.S. The most recent case involved over 2500 dogs being sickened and around 500 dogs dying from the later recalled treats.
Initially, the imported meat will be from chickens raised in the US and Canada. This is why the USDA has opted NOT to keep inspectors on staff at the processing plants. So while inspectors gave the thumbs up to Chinese producers this spring, there will be no USDA inspectors on hand for when production of the soon-to-be imported chicken actually begins. On a related note, in an effort to reduce cost, the USDA is experimenting with eliminating USDA inspectors here in U.S. poultry plants. Instead they are opting to have private businesses inspect themselves. While this could speed up production, GAO (Government Accountability Office) auditors found the USDA used antiquated data in crafting these new proposed inspection procedures.
As additional cause for concern, initially the poultry will originate in the U.S. and Canada, and as such, this processed chicken from Chinese plants will not have to be disclosed on the labeling. So unlike the dried apricots on my desk that conveniently say, "Product of Turkey", no such disclosure will have to be made in this case.
I realize that to some, this all may sound a bit xenophobic, but as I have suggested with the examples above, there is legitimate concern. As consumers, we have faith that the products we buy are true as presented, but cases like this highlight the subtle yet real ways information is not disclosed or at the very least, disclosed in a manner to draw as little attention as possible.
To read more about the lifting of the ban.
Author: K. Gilmore
The Eczema Company was founded by a our friend Jennifer, and began for much the same reason as Achoo's did - a personal experience in dealing with allergies and more specifically, eczema. From clothing for children and infants with sensitive skin, to specialized creams, balms and other personal care products, the Eczema Company has the solutions to help relieve your symptoms and keep you feeling better.
Right now the Eczema Company is running a back to school sale. Ending in less than a week, take $5 of an order of $50 or $10 off an order of $100 or more.
Visit The Eczema Company for more details.
However, some questions are best answered by showing you as opposed to writing. While you still will receive answers via email to all submitted questions, starting this week we're going to take a few of those FAQ's and answer them in a short video. This week, I'd like to thank Hermione, Maryann and Christine for their submissions.
February saw repeated record high temperatures across the nation, and with this coming hot on the heels of a warmer, wet winter for much of the country, conditions are ideal for insects to flourish. But aside from ants invading your pantry and carpenter bees feasting on your deck, there are some specific pest problems to look for and hopefully prevent.
Bed Bugs - The warmer temperatures can actually reduce the amount of time it takes for a bed bug egg to hatch, from 1-2 weeks to a little as 6 days. Warmer temps also mean more people are out and about, traveling and potentially picking up these little vampire hitchhikers (bed bugs) and bringing them home.
The best thing you can do is remain vigilant. Bag and store luggage and clothing outside until it can be unpacked and inspected. Wash clothing in hot water to kill any bed bugs that may be hiding in your clothing. While staying at hotels or motels, do a quick inspection of the room prior to unpacking, paying attention to tell-tale signs of bedbugs (small dark spot which can be bedbug droppings and blood spots on the mattress, sheets or furniture). If you find something, report it and look for a new place to stay.
For more information on bed bug prevention.
Ticks and Fleas - Nearly all insects love warm, humid conditions, and ticks and fleas are no exception. Not only do these little blood suckers bite, but ticks can carry a variety of diseases. Before coming in after being outside, check yourself for ticks. Pay particular attention to your pets. They can very easily pick up ticks and fleas. Regular bathing and brushing are two very easy ways to prevent and detect and possible tick or flea problems your pet may have.
For ridding your pet of fleas, try natural flea repellent pet shampoo or for getting rid of fleas in the carpet or furniture, try Dust Mite and Flea Control.
Mosquitoes - Like ticks and bedbugs, mosquitoes also feed on your blood and can transmit disease and viruses. While some areas spray insecticides to mosquito populations down, this can release harmful toxins into the air and water. Around the home, be sure to drain containers or anywhere water can puddle and become the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. And when looking for a suitable repellent, look for cintronella and other citrus extracts in the ingredients. Both are powerful, natural insect repellents.
Chances are good that it's going to be a very buggy summer, but this doesn't mean it has to ruin your time outdoors. With some very basic precautions you can enjoy the sun and outdoors with less worry about ticks, fleas, bed bugs or mosquitoes.
Bert Sperling, teamed with Breath Right and compiled the following list of top five cities for allergy sufferers.
- San Francisco
- Salt Lake City
On the other side of this spectrum, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of American (AAFA) used pollen levels, number of allergist per population, and allergy medication use to rate some of the worst cities for fall allergies. Topping the list is Knoxville, TN followed by Dayton, OH.
And while the spring months often mean everything getting a sickly yellow-green coat in Atlanta, this pine pollen usually isn't a major source of allergies. Though local car wash companies love it, our typical pollen levels put us in the lower half of the pack at 59.
Typically most cities don't jump or drop too much within these lists, but things like local climate and changes in public policy can speed trends. Due to the composite nature of most of these types of lists, take them with a grain of salt. So, don't pack your bags just yet.
The Steamboy has been in service for years, but only more recently has the cleaning world turned its focus on steam cleaning. Though lightweight and compact, the T1 has a 27 oz. tank which provides a full 30 minutes of cleaning before you have to refill it. That's a leading statistic in its class!
In addition to this, by using a flash heating style, the Steamboy heats up to an impressive 248 degrees F. in seconds. Washable bonnets make for convenience since when you're finished, you simply toss them in the washer. The cord provides 16' of reach, and a replaceable water filter removes hard water mineral content, effectively extending the life of the machine.
All of these features add up to one of the most effective yet economical ways to get your hard floors cleaned and sanitized in minutes. So if you're in the market for a simple yet effective way to kill germs, remove allergens and clean without the use of bleach or harmful floor cleaners, take a minute to give the T1 Steamboy a second look.
Freezing winter temperatures actually help most seasonal allergy and asthma sufferers in a few ways, and for the most part, this winter has not brought these benefits.
Cold temps bring relief from those who suffer from pollinating plants and trees. - Colder temperatures drive pollen producers into a winter hibernation, but warmer temps mean some trees and plants are already budding.
Lower temperatures and/or snowfall holds outdoor molds in check. - As noted in a previous about mold allergies and fall, warmer temperatures can mean an uptick in mold spores from dead and decaying leaves.
Lastly, asthma sufferers are particularly sensitive to temperature/barometric pressure swings. - When temperatures spike and dip, as is common during the fall, asthma sufferers typically see an increase in symptoms, like wheezing, coughing and nasal swelling. Steady temps, warm or cold, minimize this.
For non allergy sufferers out there, don't think you're in the clear. Warmer winters typically signal a good year for insects, which is usually only good news for... insects.
So while I may think it's nice to see that the daffodils and tulips in my back yard have already sprouted, the fact that they did so in January probably doesn't make them as welcomed a sight for allergy or asthma sufferers.
Simply put, mucus is a noun and mucous is an adjective. So, the actual fluid that comes out of your nose when you are congested is mucus and the linings in your body that secrete mucus are mucous membranes.
Dictionary.com's definition of mucus is: "the slimy protective secretion of the mucous membranes, consisting mainly of mucin*." The word actually derives straight from the Latin word mucus, meaning "snot, slime, mold."
Mucous, on the other hand, according to Dictionary.com, is "pertaining to, consisting of, or resembling mucus" or "containing or secreting mucus."
Coming across it in the above definition of mucus, I had to look up the word mucin. Mucin is "any of a class of glycoproteins found in saliva, gastric juice, etc., that form viscous solutions and act as lubricants or protectants on external and internal surfaces of the body" (Dictionary.com).
There you have it, folks, probably more than you ever wanted to know about mucus-related words. For more about mucus itself, stay tuned for February's allergist interview, in which Dr. Scott Carroll of the Atlanta Allergy and Asthma Clinic discusses what those different colors of mucus mean for your health.
With the Vapamore lifetime warranty, Vapamore will repair or replace almost everything except wear on parts. You pay shipping to and from Vapamore, but all repairs are free.
Look over the fine print of the Lifetime Limited Warranty.
Simply fill out the Vapamore Warranty Registration and you're set for life on steam cleaner repairs!