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Archive for February, 2015|Monthly archive page

Duct cleaning reduces indoor air pollution

In Economy, Education, Health, Home Improvement, Science, Technology, Uncategorized on February 25, 2015 at 12:51 pm

According to estimates by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air may be as much as 70-percent more polluted than outside. Much of that contamination can be attributed to bacteria and mold growing inside residential and commercial air handling systems.

Allergies, asthma, and other illnesses may be aggravated by microbe-laden air circulated through a building’s duct system. Larry Phillips, owner of Ductz of Southwest Miami Valley, is a professional residential and commercial duct cleaning specialist. A 30-year veteran of the health care industry, Phillips chose a second career that offered the opportunity to continue improving the well being of the community.

Air duct before cleaning.

Air duct before cleaning.

“A thorough cleaning and disinfecting of the air ducts can minimize pollution-causing agents lurking in the air system,” Phillips said. “Cleaning the air system at a seasonal change, such as when switching over from heat to air conditioning, is ideal.”

Phillips also cautions consumers to make sure the duct cleaning service they hire is well qualified. “Duct cleaning technicians should be well trained and follow the guidelines of the National Air Duct Cleaning Association (NADCA), the professional organization that sets the standard for air system cleaning,” he said.

“It should take 4 to 5 hours to clean an average size home’s duct system,” said Phillips. “If done properly, the cleaning should not have to be done annually, but instead only every few years.” Phillips suggests that, in addition to a high efficiency filtration system, air duct sanitization and ultraviolet germicidal disinfection equipment can maintain the air quality after cleaning.

Besides older, existing structures, it’s also a good idea to clean the air systems of new construction before the space is occupied. In new buildings, duct work, filters and vents can be layered with dirt, sawdust, and drywall dust from the construction process.

Air duct after cleaning.

Air duct after cleaning.

Home owners and operators of commercial laundry facilities should also pay close attention to the condition of clothes dryer vents. Lint that escapes the trap inside the dryer accumulates inside the vent tube creating a fire hazard. According to statistics provided by Ductz, an estimated 15,500 fires, 10 deaths and 310 injuries are associated with the lint in clothes dryers annually.

“Cleaning the ducts and dryer vents is also good for the environment,” Phillips noted. “Regular maintenance of the air circulation system improves the efficiency of heating and air equipment which helps to save energy, and reduce operating costs.” For more information contact Larry Phillips at Ductz of Southwest Miami Valley by calling (937) 399-8500.

Still unregulated, e-cigarettes may prove as toxic as tobacco

In Children and Family, Education, Health, Local News, Media, National News, News Media, Opinion, Technology, Uncategorized on February 24, 2015 at 12:22 pm







As smoking bans continue to expand across the United States, more smokers are taking to electronic cigarettes as a way to skirt around the law while still getting their fix. While proponents of the gadgets contend they are a safer, healthier alternative that may actually help smokers quit, new research is showing they are likely to be just as dangerous as tobacco cigarettes.

The concept that people want to inhale poisonous gas is for the non-smoker, and for lack of a better word, baffling. If it makes a person cough, wheeze, choke, and gasp, it probably means the body is trying to reject it. To those trying to breathe clean air (well, as clean as is possible), smoking is just plain disgusting. It makes clothing and people smell bad, it pollutes the air around the smoker and is responsible for more than 440,000 premature deaths in the United States annually. Now that researchers are finally studying the alternatives, they may be proving the electronic options just as dangerous.

“It’s plausible that e-cigarettes have their own particular dangers,” stated Japan’s health ministry following the release of a recent study on the effects of using electronic nicotine delivery inhaler, more commonly known as, e-cigarettes. “That can be true even while e-cigarettes are, in general, less dangerous than traditional tobacco smoking.”

According to the UK’s Daily Mail, the Japanese research found high levels of formaldehyde and acetaldehyde in the vapors of several different e-cigarette brands. The Daily Mail later issued a correction to their original story regarding the amount of carcinogens discovered, however the basic findings of the report are still relevant.

Although e-cigarette proponents (mostly those who earn revenue from the sale of these products) vehemently condemn the Daily Mail’s report and the Japanese findings, a spring 2014 study by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) essentially supports the conclusions.

CBS News reported the following excerpt from the study, “Because e-cigarettes are fairly new, there could be other long-term health complications that have yet to be discovered,” the report stated. “Results of long-term exposure to such substances are unknown. Due to the lack of production oversight, most consumers don’t know what’s in the e-cigarettes they buy.”

The report indicated that e-cigarettes operated at high voltages produce vapor with large amounts of formaldehyde-containing chemical compounds. Manufacturers provided a response to the CBS report, suggesting that it would be unusual for users to alter the voltage on the delivery device. READ THE ENTIRE CBS STORY – January CBS News Report indicating formaldehyde in the vapor – click to read.


All of this study and debate is just a dance around the overlying point that smokers should not have the right to pollute the air of those around them, regardless of the delivery system. Smokers would do best to stifle the tired old argument about the addictive nature of smoking and stop blaming the tobacco companies for their suffering.

In the end, the detrimental nature of smoking is the sole responsibility of the smoker. No one forced the smoker to light up that first time, or the second, or the third. Smoking is a choice that becomes an addiction. If they hadn’t started, they wouldn’t be hooked.

Creating a socially acceptable “cheat” method for taking in nicotine is a little like making alcoholics drink from a cup instead of the bottle. The final effect is the same – the person is still addicted. On the subject of addiction, the idea that e-cigarettes help smokers kick the habit is also unsubstantiated.

Dr. Pamela Ling, an associate professor at the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at University of California, San Francisco, was lead researcher on a study published last March in the Journal of the American Medical Association. She concluded, “When used by a broad sample of smokers under ‘real world’ conditions, e-cigarette use did not significantly increase the chances of successfully quitting cigarette smoking.”

An electronic drug delivery system resembling some kind of refugee prop from Star Wars is still just another way of enabling addiction and polluting the air. If the recent studies are accurate, what is released into the air could be just as toxic as the vapor inhaled by the user, possibly even more so. Without further study and government regulation on these chemicals, no one really knows.

“Vaping” is still not widely controlled as actual smoking, so people still light up indoors where smoking is prohibited and that needs to end. Smoking bans should exist for all forms, whether achieved by burning dried leaves or electronically heated vapor.

One person’s right to smoke shouldn’t be more important than the health and safety of those around them. Imagine the result of an asthmatic child falling deathly ill from an attack triggered by the second hand vapors coming out of one of these things (or a tobacco cigarette for that matter), and all because someone couldn’t wait to light up?

Once upon a time, not so long ago, doctors ridiculously gave their seal of health to tobacco products. They even took money to provide testimonials as to the health benefits of smoking. Sadly, a lot of people had to die before health professionals faced the truth. Face the facts – if human beings were meant to breathe toxic gasses, we would be living on Venus.


Don’t expect privacy at work.

In Jobs, Opinion, Politics, psychology, sociology, Technology, Uncategorized on February 23, 2015 at 2:49 pm

DIH LOGOPrivacy issues are some of the most complex problems facing Americans today. At home, we enjoy at least a certain level of privacy, but expecting the same at the workplace is, in a word, unrealistic.

According to information provided on the website of the American Civil Liberties Union, “Back in 1928, Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis wrote that the right most valued by the American people was ‘the right to be left alone.’” The site goes on to complain that private businesses are not limited by the constitution since, “the Bill of Rights addresses only state actions.”

In many parts of the country, advanced workplace privacy legislation is still being hashed out and may vary greatly from state to state. The ACLU has spent countless hours and probably just as much money arguing for workers, but, just for argument’s sake, let’s take a moment to see this issue from the employer’s point of view.

privacyNefarious intentions aside, why would an employer want to “monitor” the communications (phone, e-email, Internet) activities of employees while on the job? Usually, monitoring is performed for the security, legal liability and fiscal stability of the company and its employees. They’re not (or shouldn’t be) doing it to check up on your political affiliations or see how many cups of coffee you’re drinking before noon. Honestly, whatever you might think of yourself, your personal habits just aren’t that important.

With regard to using office equipment for personal communication, as a business owner, it’s not the employer’s responsibility to provide workers with the means for private conversation during business hours. Since the company owns the equipment and pays employees for work, he or she should have a right to monitor how it is used. If that seems unreasonable, consider the following scenario.

Suppose you hire a plumber to repair a bathroom drain. He starts work, then after a few minutes, asks to use your phone or excuses himself to use a cell phone to check in with the babysitter. As a compassionate person, you say, “No problem,” and go about your business.

Since he’s within earshot you overhear him fully engaged in a detailed conversation about something the neighbor did to the dog, which drags into a quarter hour, then a half. You are paying the man by the hour to repair your plumbing and, so far, that still hasn’t happened.

As he is in your home (private property, just as a business would be), using your utilities (if he’s using your private telephone) and you are paying him to do so, would you not have every right to monitor what’s going on and ask him to stop and complete his work? Even if he’s using his own cell phone, he’s still doing it on your dime. Does any of that seem fair to you? Of course not, but workers expect employers to put up with this same kind of situation on a daily basis.

The fact is that employees are there to work, not use the office communications equipment to order Christmas gifts online or have extended personal phone conversations. If there is an emergency, there are likely rules in place to cover those situations and provide a means of communication if necessary.

In order to keep personal communications private at the workplace, most experts suggest using your own mobile phone and (this is a big one) leave the premises to do it — at lunch or break time. To be clear, if you want to ensure privacy (from the employer anyway) never use only a phone provided to you by the employer, but a cell phone registered to and paid for by you.

For workers, expectations of privacy are usually outlined upon hiring or they’re included in an employee handbook, which almost no one reads. Otherwise, a human resources professional can answer any of these questions.

Private communication, whether by phone or computer, should be done on personal time, on personal equipment. From surveillance cameras to keystroke tracking software, an employer owns the property of his or her business and expects employees to at least respect that, even if they don’t agree with it. Ω


Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications

Greene County Amateur Radio Emergency Service offers licensing class

In Entertainment, Health, Local News, Science, Technology, Uncategorized on February 16, 2015 at 3:41 pm

The Greene County Amateur Radio Emergency Service (GCARES) is offering classes to help in obtaining an FCC amateur radio license. radiosStarting February 8, GCARES offers classes for all three levels of amateur radio licenses. The classes will meet from 7 to 9 p.m. each Sunday except Easter through April 12. A test for all classes of licenses will be given April 19 at 6 p.m. in the Training Room at Beavercreek Township Fire Station 61.

There is no charge for the classes and Morse Code is no longer required to obtain any amateur radio license. The classes are supported by the Bellbrook Amateur Radio Club (BARC), the Upper Valley Amateur Radio Club (UVARC) and the Xenia Weather Amateur Radio Network (XWARN) in addition to GCARES.

The entry level Technician Class course will be held in the Training Center at the Bellbrook Amateur Radio Club Clubhouse, Room 1 Sugarcreek Elementary School, 51 South East Street in Bellbrook. No experience is required and there is no minimum age required to earn a Technician Class license.

The General Class course and the Test Session will be held in the Training Room at Beavercreek Township Fire Station 61 located at 1298 Dayton-Xenia Road just west of Orchard Lane.

The Extra Class course will be held in the Training Room at Fairborn Fire Station 2 located at 2200 Commerce Center Blvd. just south of Dayton-Yellow Springs Road.

To register for a course or for more information, please contact Bill Watson K8WEW by email at wwatson4@att.net or by phone between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. at (937) 426-2166.

Water: Here’s to your health.

In Education, Health, Opinion, psychology, Religion, Science, Senior Lifestyle, Uncategorized on February 9, 2015 at 1:37 pm

DIH LOGOHi, I’m Gery and I’m a recovering soda-holic (or “pop”-aholic if you prefer). There was a time when I would drink a 12-pack of soda (generally Cherry Coke) within a couple of days. I was an addict – sugar and caffeine were my drugs of choice.

Since I come from a family with a propensity for diabetes, I’d have to guess that drinking that much soda would only push me closer to the Insulin fan club. But all of that changed for me when I was helping to care for my mother and discovered, first hand, the health-promoting properties of water.

My mother, Lois, had already been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s dementia when she broke her hip and entered a local nursing home for physical therapy. During her stay, her dementia symptoms seemed to worsen more quickly than anticipated.

Soon she more anxious and unresponsive and always seemed to be suffering from some kind of urinary infection. Most of these issues were waved away by the staff as “normal” for a medicated, bed and wheelchair-bound senior with Alzheimer’s disease. Not in my book it wasn’t.

I paid closer attention to her daily care and noticed that she rarely drank anything. Once in a while a staffer would fill a plastic hospital-style pitcher with water and place it on the night table. But that was all; they just sat it down and left.

By this time dementia had diminished Mom’s awareness of hunger or thirst and even if she had wanted a drink she wouldn’t have been able to get it herself. Unless I, or another family member, poured it for her, the water usually sat there, untouched.

Gery and his family used the green tumbler in the photo to measure the amount of water Lois Deer received. It was filled twice per day - apx 0.5 gallons total.

Gery and his family used the green tumbler in the photo to measure the amount of water Lois Deer received. It was filled twice per day – apx 0.5 gallons total. (Photo Copyright 2015 GLD Enterprises Communications.)

She seemed to get worse so we decided to take her home and care for her ourselves. First on the agenda was to increase her water intake to around a half-gallon a day. That may not sound like much but, since water makes up approximately 60-percent of a person’s body weight, at 78 pounds the volume was significant.

Mom was given water regularly throughout the day and at meal time. With proper hydration and more consistent, personalized care, her physical and mental health improved more than I can adequately express.

Alzheimer’s disease continued its rampage, but we cared for her full time until her death in 2011. Still, I am convinced that better hydration increased her quality of life over those last two years in ways no medication could have achieved.

I’ve also since learned we had been right about the relationship between her behavioral deterioration and dehydration. In seniors, dehydration can lead to serious health problems, such as constant urinary tract infections, skin deterioration, and even present symptoms such as confusion and behavioral changes, much like classic dementia.

Many seniors resist drinking water, but I couldn’t tell you why except there may be a generational component perhaps related to quality. My parents, for example, grew up in the Appalachian foothills of southern Ohio where most of the drinking water came from creeks and shallow wells where the water probably wasn’t too palatable.

While I was caring for Mom I nearly eliminated soda from my diet and quadrupled the amount of water. It was an acquired taste, to be sure, but now my glucose levels are much lower and I genuinely “feel” better. It may not seem like much but I consider this achievement significant, particularly since it was pretty much the only major change I’ve made.

I still have a Coke a couple of times a week (which I rarely seem to finish) but I’m convinced that more water has made all the difference in improving my overall health. Hopefully by starting now, I won’t be so hard to convince at age 70 when any level of dehydration could cause more serious problems.

As for how much you should drink, the typical recommendation for adults is 8 glasses of “fluid” each day. But there really is no precise amount. You’ll have to judge for yourself based on the needs of your own body. Either way, you’ll feel better.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is provided by GLD Enterprises Communications. More at gerydeer.com.

Free radon test kits available

In Education, Health, Home Improvement, Local News, Technology, Uncategorized on February 2, 2015 at 2:35 pm

radon signXENIA, OH—As part of National Radon Action Month, the Regional Air Pollution Control Agency (RAPCA), in partnership with Greene County Combined Health District, is offering 1,000 free radon test kits for Miami Valley homeowners to check their homes for elevated radon levels.

Radon is a colorless, odorless soil gas that can build up in homes and may increase the risk of lung cancer for occupants. The Ohio Department of Health estimates about half of Ohio families live in homes with elevated radon levels. Last year, over 600 Miami Valley residents tested their homes for radon with free test kits provided by a grant from Ohio Department of Health.

Testing is the only way to know if elevated levels exist in a home, so Ohio Department of Health recommends all homes be tested, regardless of age, location, or construction type. Elevated indoor radon levels can be corrected with the installation of a ventilation system to direct the gas outdoors.

Homeowners interested in reducing their family’s lung cancer risk can visit http://www.rapca.org or call RAPCA at 937-225-4898 to request a kit. More radon information is available by visiting http://www.rapca.org, http://www.epa.gov/radon, or http://radon.utoledo.edu.

Greene County Real Estate Taxes Due

In Economy, Local News, Uncategorized on February 2, 2015 at 2:30 pm

gcchXenia, OH — Greene County Treasurer, Dick Gould, reminds residents that real estate tax statements for the first half of 2014 have now been mailed and are due February 20, 2015. Over 41,000 bills have been sent. “Bills were mailed a bit later than in past years,” stated Gould.  “We changed our print vendor and had to work through the initial data mapping, causing the delay.  However, this will not be an issue in the future.”  The change in vendors will save the county approximately 10-percent in processing costs.

There are several ways for residents to pay their tax bills.  “We have tried to make it as convenient as possible for residents of Greene County to pay their bills,” Gould stated.  “People can pay online at http://www.co.greene.oh.us/, by mail, in-person, or via the locked drop box located outside the office.”

“The curbside drop box lets anyone with checks avoid lines inside,” Gould shared.  “People don’t even have to leave their cars to use the curbside drop box and they can be assured that their payment will be secure and processed promptly.”

Residents should note that for the first time in years, Fifth Third Bank will not be accepting payments, due to their concern of liability for the undeposited amounts.

The Treasurer’s Office hours are 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday – Friday.  There will be extended hours from 8:00 a.m. until noon on Saturday, February 14, and from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on February 18, 19, and 20.  For more information contact the Greene County Treasurer’s Office at 937-562-5017.

Emotions must yield to fact in vaccination debate.

In Children and Family, Education, Health, Local News, National News, Opinion, Politics, Science, Uncategorized on February 2, 2015 at 1:25 pm

DIH LOGOFar more than scientific fact, emotion seems to drive the debate surrounding the relationship between autism and the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (M.M.R.) vaccination. In 1998, a British doctor released a study which tied M.M.R. to instances of Autism in vaccinated children. Although that particular report was discredited shortly thereafter, it continues to affect parental decisions regarding vaccination here in America.

Before being debunked, however, the British study went viral (pardon the pun) and many parents became convinced that, for children diagnosed with autism shortly after receiving M.M.R., the vaccine must be the cause. Once the power of suggestion took over and the British findings accepted as gospel, the damage was done and more people than ever began to insist that vaccines, the M.M.R. in particular, were causing higher instances of autism.

In most states, the M.M.R. vaccine is required before children can be enrolled in school. With so many students now enrolled who were never vaccinated, measles is starting a forceful comeback, to be followed, one could only expect, by rubella and mumps.

Fear of the spread of these illnesses has officials warning that unvaccinated students would not be allowed to attend school. But while the vaccination debate goes on, autism numbers are still climbing unabated. So what exactly is Autism and what really causes it?

Centers for Disease Control photo of a child with measles.

Centers for Disease Control photo of a child with measles.

According to the National Autism Association, “Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by social and cognitive impairments, communication difficulties and repetitive behaviors. It can range from very mild to very severe and occur in all ethnic, socioeconomic and age groups.”

As for what causes it, well, therein hangs a controversy all its own. The short version is that no one, absolutely no one, really knows for sure.

A long list of factors related to the development of autism includes a combination or individual instances connected to … environment, genetics, chemical exposure, parental age, food preservatives, freeway proximity, pharmaceuticals, and prenatal vitamin deficiencies, just to name a few.

Although autism is treatable, it is a difficult condition that now affects 1 in every 68 children. People with autism often suffer from a host of other medical conditions including allergies, asthma, epilepsy, digestive disorders and increased susceptibility to viral infection. It is clear that research must continue in order to isolate the exact cause(s) of the disorder. But allowing potentially crippling or deadly viruses to regain a foothold is not the answer.

Vaccinations have been acquitted of being the cause of this awful condition and people should listen to the experts who are trying to help them understand that.  While definitive evidence for the cause of autism is still elusive, one fact is difficult to dispute. Without proper vaccination, more of the population will fall victim to serious, communicable illnesses that are known to be preventable.

Is it right then to put entire populations at risk of dangerous disease on the mere possibility that vaccinations might be one of the dozens of potential causes of autism? Most experts say no, but that doesn’t seem to slow the argument.

Once the British study was discredited, it seems in the best interest that children continue to be vaccinated as recommended. Keeping children safe is never an “us” or “them” concept and no one should have to take sides to preserve the health of any population when there are methods proven effective to do so.

As with any emotionally charged issue where facts and anecdotal information are confused or interchanged, the M.M.R. and autism debate will likely continue for some time. In the meantime, more people are contracting measles which means it is spreading beyond the “tragic kingdom,” as one New York Times writer referred to it.

If a solution is to be found on either side of this debate, emotions and “crunchy granola” thinking need to give way to real science. Until that time, these diseases will continue to spread and autism will be no closer to eradication.

For more detailed information on the relationships between vaccinations and Autism, please visit AutismScienceFoundation.org and nationalautismassociation.org.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is provided by GLD Enterprises Communications. More at gerydeer.com