As fall approaches, many of us will be tempted to grab a paint brush and do a bit of touchup work. Perhaps a few of us will be more ambitious and even consider painting a room – now that we can leave our windows open to air out the paint smell. Let us also not forget the many among us who will be “supervising” others doing the actual painting. Even “supervisors,” however, may be exposed to harmful paint fumes. Unfortunately, paints as well as a host of other chemicals found in most homes, can irritate or compromise our lungs. The toxic culprits we are talking about are called Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), VOCs are gasses that are emitted from either solid or liquid materials. Exposure to these VOC gasses may adversely affect our health. Sometimes the VOCs are directly the problem. At other times, the VOCs released interact with other substances and produce entirely new compounds that are harmful to us. VOCs can be found in everything from paints and home cleaning supplies, to permanent markers. The list of adverse health effects is long, but among them is one particular consequence that is important to us – irritation to the respiratory system. You will find a good overview of VOCs, a list of the many negative health effects, and the surprisingly long inventory of products that contain VOCs on this page on EPA’s web site http://www.epa.gov/iaq/voc.html
One of the myths is that VOCs have odors, and if you can eliminate or mask the odor of paint, you are removing VOCs. According to an article in “Northwest Renovation: A home Improvement Magazine”, this is simply not the case. They point out two popular misconceptions: First, that you can smell VOCs. The truth, they say, is that many VOCs have no detectable odor. The second myth is that once the paint dries, there is no longer a VOC problem. The article points out that paints with VOCs continue to emit VOCs long after they dry. They state, “it is estimated that more than 50% of the VOCs in paint are still being emitted one year after application.” They have much more to say on the subject of paint and VOCs, and the article can be found at http://nwrenovation.com/painting-articles/vocs-its-more-than-the-odor/
Because of demand, most major brand paints have begun to produce Low VOC or VOC Free paints. Further, there is an increasing number of other Low or VOC Free products on the market – everything from cleaning supplies to bathtub caulk. Salesmen no longer look at you like you have two heads when you ask for VOC Free paint or other VOC Free products, so you can now comfortably discuss your needs with your local salesman. We trust you will also double check the accuracy of their statements against the information on the can or container. Of course, even if you use VOC Free (or Low) paint, you should first discuss your plans with your physician and get his or her approval.
Now that we’ve convinced you that VOCs are lurking around every corner to rob you of your health, it is time to bring your attention to an article from the National Institute of Health (NIH) about how air fresheners and other household products with VOCs may reduce lung function! Put your cleaning supplies down and read http://www.nih.gov/news/pr/jul2006/niehs-27.htm
Unfortunately, VOC fear is not a valid excuse to give up cleaning. There are plenty of VOC free cleaning supplies available. Recipes for cleaning with lemon juice, vinegar, baking soda and other common products can be found at http://eartheasy.com/live_nontoxic_solutions.htm
- FLU VACCINES ALREADY?
What’s this – talk about flu vaccines when we’ve barely given thought to decommissioning our Bermuda shorts? “Yes,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The flu vaccine should become available in early September, and folks should get it as soon as it is available. While CDC points out that outbreaks can occur as early as October, they add that they usually peak in January or later. The CDC recommends that those of us with chronic health conditions such as COPD receive the vaccine, not the nasal flu spray. The vaccine will protect against three types of viruses in the 2010-2011 season including the notorious H1N1. For further important information, including side effects, allergic reactions, etc. this link will take you to a page that covers the key facts about the vaccine http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm
On August 27, 2010, the US Department of Health and Human Services announced that Medicare will now cover smoking cessation sessions as a preventative measure against a host of diseases. Prior to this change, smoking cessation treatment was covered only after smoking led to a disease. This new coverage is part of the Affordable Care Act and one of the mandates that focus on preventing diseases though screenings, checkups, vaccinations, etc.
The Associated Press reports Dutch researchers have found that adding omega-3 fatty acids to diets did not benefit heart attack survivors. It is thought that omega -3 fatty acids help prevent the growth of plaque in arteries, lower triglycerides (fats in the blood) and reduce the risk of irregular heartbeats. It appears, according to this research, that the benefits of consuming omega-3 fatty acids help prevent heart attacks rather than being beneficial after heart attacks. In other words, consuming them after a heart attack, might be “too little too late.” For more information, see the MSNBC report at http://tinyurl.com/34djsh2
Because heart disease often exists along with COPD, there is little doubt that the COPD community needs to be aware of and practice good heart health. One of the ways to help hearts, according to the American Heart Association, is to eat fish high in Omega-3 fatty acids. The following article about eating omega-3 rich fish explains the benefits and provides a few warnings as well http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4632
The benefits of vitamin D were highlighted in a recent issue of this newsletter, but recent research to be published in the Journal of Genome Research takes the importance of vitamin D to a whole new level. The researchers have found that vitamin D actually interacts with our DNA and, in fact, exerts influence on over 200 genes! Vitamin D appears, therefore, to affect individual’s susceptibility to a wide variety of illnesses and conditions. The following article gives a good summary of the findings, but the study itself is mind-bogglingly technical.
In the past, choosing a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan has been confusing for many Medicare recipients, especially those without computer access. Prescription plans have been available through many different insurance companies (availability of plans may differ based on your zip code). After choosing a company, enrollees usually had multiple plans within the same company from which to choose. Choosing the best plan often required cost-minded enrollees to figure out how much each plan would save them (or cost them) during the coming year. Further, the terms and costs of these plans usually changed each year, requiring participants to either stick with their older plan or embark upon a new search for the most cost-effective coverage. This will change in 2011. To make selection simpler, and to adapt to required changes in the coverage of prescription plans, companies will be limited to offering only one “basic” plan. Although this simplifies matters for many, it will also require up to 3 million people to change plans. If you want more than this nutshell summary about this impending change, you will find the following article in the Winston-Salem Journal useful http://tinyurl.com/2uvqvge
Those hard to find oxygen reels that people ask about on occasion and which seemed to have disappeared for a long time are once again available. According to our policy, this is neither an endorsement of the product, nor claim that they are the only manufacturer that makes this type of equipment.
A “bounceback” is a readmission to a hospital shortly after discharge, and recent studies of Medicare patients have shown that one in five bouncebacks occurs within 30 days of discharge. This has cost Medicare a staggering $17.4 billion a year. Until recently, there was no incentive for hospitals to lower their bounceback rates, because they were paid for each separate admission. In fact, because they were paid a flat rate, short stays were more lucrative. With new economic sanctions to discourage premature discharges that result in bouncebacks, hospitals are now coming up with methods to decrease their bounceback rates. Fortunately, these changes appear to greatly benefit patients as well. This article will give you the scoop http://www.slate.com/id/2262319/
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TOP 10 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT A REVERSE MORTGAGE
If you are a home owner 62 years or older, perhaps a reverse mortgage can help you meet monthly living expenses. To learn about the basics of a reverse mortgage, this Housing and Urban Development (HUD) publication covers the basics http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/hecm/rmtopten.cfm
WHY, WHY, WHY?
Ever wonder how those dead bugs get into your enclosed light fixtures, or why Tarzan doesn’t have a beard? If you like to ponder these mysteries with a little upbeat background music, this site is for you!
FIVE WAYS TO EXPOSE YOURSELF TO IDENTITY THEFT
If you insist on having someone steal your identity, this Bankrate article will explain how to accomplish this http://tinyurl.com/3yxeq82
TRICKS, PUZZLES AND RIDDLES GALORE
This site will keep you entertained with a multitude of tricks, puzzles and riddles until well into next week!
For comments and questions, or to contact Richard D. Martin, please send your email to: newsletter@COPD-Support.com
Until next Friday,