By Gregory Sancoff
When a patient presents with asthma or allergy symptoms, medical professionals might face a dilemma: treat just the symptoms, or try to get to the root cause or triggers. Patients can be tested and treated for allergies and asthma triggered by a variety of contaminants like mold, allergens, formaldehyde and VOCs.
Yet without being able to gauge the levels of such substances present inside the patient’s home, it can be difficult to determine the course of treatment required. Further, it is possible that these treatments could have little to no efficacy if contaminant levels are excessive, especially mold and allergens.
This scenario is now improving with the advent of complete, fast, easy-to-use indoor air and water assessment kits that can be recommended for patient use. Using these kits, patients can provide their doctors with crucial, indoor air quality data about their home environments from professional, accredited labs.
If there is an issue with indoor air quality, one treatment approach might be to remediate the home environment instead of or in addition to other therapies. Or, if therapies are not having the desired effect, an indoor air quality test can help determine what triggers may still be present.
The importance of home testing for contaminants
There is increasing recognition that all Americans deserve to live in home environments free of mold, pests and other health hazards that can trigger asthma and allergy symptoms. For example, the Asthma-Free Housing Act, passed in late 2017 by the New York City Council, mandates landlords to clean up asthma triggers inside city apartments.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Americans spend an average of 90 percent of each 24-hour period indoors. Exposure to aeroallergens has been identified as a major environmental risk factor in the development of asthma as well as its prevalence and severity. Many species of mold can thrive in indoor environments and produce toxic agents that can cause respiratory difficulties or cause and exacerbate allergies. Whether they are homeowners or renters, giving all people the ability to conduct their own tests for indoor contaminants provides an efficient way to improve their quality of life and reduce the potential cost of care for themselves and their children.
If test results indicate an underlying mold or pest problem, inhabitants can take steps to remediate the underlying problem. This not only promotes a healthier home environment but also—by alerting doctors of the problems their patients have faced at home—allows them to better adjust the level of treatment provided in order to counter symptoms.
How new tests can help
In light of these facts, it could be especially helpful for doctors to recommend that their asthma and allergy patients assess their indoor living spaces. Having patients obtain this critical piece of the diagnosis puzzle for themselves and their doctors is possible using devices such as the yogi™ (Live Pure, Inc.).
In just a few easy steps, the yogi allows patients to sample for the presence of nine environmental contaminants and toxins across a 2,000-square-foot area in their homes—including mold, allergens, lead, asbestos, radon, VOCs and formaldehyde in the air, as well as the levels of lead and copper in the drinking water. For larger spaces, or to test specific rooms, extra test components can be purchased separately.
The test is extremely simple to use and comes with an easy-to-operate instrument, color-coded sampling system and step-by-step instruction manual. Patients can collect their samples in just minutes (radon testing takes 48 hours), then send the samples to an independent, accredited laboratory, which then emails a full lab report and results summary back to the patient within 10 business days. This summary can then be shared with the patient’s doctor, who will be better able to decide on the optimal course of treatment.
The yogi kit includes a complimentary phone consultation with Live Pure’s certified industrial hygienists should a patient receive a report with high contaminant levels. This unbiased consult equips patients with the key information needed to address these challenges, potentially mitigating the contaminant levels in the home.
The yogí test kit made its debut to clinicians attending the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology’s Annual Scientific Meeting in Boston in October 2017.
Given the accessibility and relatively low cost of such technology, allergy and asthma patients suffering from a range of symptoms triggered by contaminants might enjoy a smoother road to improved care.
Gregory Sancoff is CEO of Live Pure, Inc., the designer and manufacturer of the yogi™ and yogi-go™ indoor air and drinking water quality assessment kits, which offer a complete solution for home and workplace environmental testing.