Difficulty Breathing in Your Home? Learn How to Reduce Your Exposure to Harmful Particulate Matter

As I am typing this article I’m noticing one thing below my hands on the black keyboard: dust. Even though my home is cleaned on a regular basis and I do my best to minimize what enters the house there is always some sort of particulate matter floating around and settling on everything. These particles come in varying sizes and most are innocuous, but the larger particles can be a nuisance to your lungs as they enter and settle there, causing breathing problems and other difficulties.

Sources of Problem Particles

Everyday in your home – especially during the winter months when your house is basically sealed shut and you’re not outside as much – particles abound, and their sources are many. A most interesting (and icky) source is from you yourself; that being the hair and skin flakes that drop from you daily. They also fall from any pets you may have as well. This source is a hard one to eliminate. Also, particles enter from the outside every time you open the front door or a window. As well, dust is generated by smoking, washing your clothes, burning incense, well, basically by any activity you can imagine. We’ve all certainly seen copious amounts of dust on everything and feather dusting is not the answer as it merely tosses it around the room only to land somewhere else. You need to vacuum it up or wash it off. The biggest health risk comes from respirable particles. Some sources include: smoking; viruses and bacteria. Hence, if someone in your home catches a cold, every one sooner-or-later invariably catches it (again, especially in winter).

Furnaces and Filters

Nearly all forced air gas furnaces work on the principle of drawing cold air in and blowing warm air out. The air is usually drawn in from both the outside (particularly for high-efficiency models) and the inside of your home. Naturally by drawing air from in through the cold air return in your home, it also draws in everything else such as pet hair, smoke, and dust. Note: Electric baseboard heating and radiator heating do not utilize ductwork, thereby they do not draw dust into them and send it swirling around your home.

So, with all of this particulate matter being sucked into your furnace and ultimately blown back out through the vents and around the home, your choice of an appropriate filter is an important one. In my home I use a 4 inch pleated media filter. It’s large but seems to catch a lot of unwanted dust and hair. I also replace it every year and clean it out regularly – especially during the winter months. Remember, your furnace needs to run as well in the summer if you have central air conditioning, and again draws in various particulate matter.

Other filters include: a 1 inch version of the media filter. HEPA filters are popular as well as electronic plates and wire. Regardless of the one you eventually decide upon it is crucial to keep it clean and replace – as I do – on a yearly basis. Another reason to keep it clean is that your furnace can become starved of air which it needs to properly combust.

Reducing Undesired Particles

So, you have an excellent filter in place and you keep your home spotless – all good! But, how can you reduce, and keep dust and particles down in the first place? Unfortunately, pets are a concern area, and keeping them outside helps a great deal. I know when my cat was alive (he lived to be 25 years old!) my den – as that’s where he loved to hang out – was always filled with his hair so I had to keep it extra clean, as well as keeping him combed out.

I know in the winter it’s a challenge, but ask smokers to puff outside. Also, upon entering the home always remove footwear so as not to tread debris around. Do diligent cleaning and vacuuming, and always wipe down sources of dust from bookshelves, televisions etc. Improve your homes air tightness so that what’s floating around outside doesn’t make it to the inside. And, the last suggestion is to get and use a good quality furnace filter.

Now, if you’ll excuse me I need to get a damp cloth, and clean off this keyboard!! And, I think I’ll do my desk again as well.

How To Catch a Mouse Without Killing It

In an ideal world, our homes would be pristine bastions of hygiene, devoid of dust, pollen, mosquitoes, cockroaches and odors. Every surface would gleam, the air would be redolent of vanilla or the clean, fresh scent of flowers. Nothing would scuttle or scurry under the sink, inside the walls, beneath the bed, over our faces as we sleep at night. But for the majority of us, life just gets in the way of making that happen, which often leaves us with unwanted visitors in our home. Catching them usually involves a slipper and a smear on the wall, but what if you have an actual rodent in your home? Do you want to kill it? Blood and guts everywhere, gleaming and hot and steamy on trembling fur, little paws curling, tail twitching, brilliant black eyes losing their luster as the specter of death casts a pall over them? The answer is no, and so here’s a method to help you catch a mouse if one is intrepid enough to attempt to plunder your home of salubrious goodies.

First you need a pair of pencils or straight sticks. Second, get yourself a wide section of packing tape. Place both pencils parallel to each other on the tape, about an inch apart, with the tape cross-wise about 2/3rds of the way up. From there ladle a small amount of peanut butter or press a chip into the tape between the two pencils. Make sure its fixed well, and then place a second piece of tape across the food, holding it in place while still leaving a chunk of it uncovered.

Now comes the tricky part. Find a place along a wall. Mice, you see, love to scurry along the edges of rooms, eschewing the vast open spaces that terrify them so. Your point picked, lay down a broad section of cardboard. This is essential. Do not skip this part. Cardboard down, place the two sticks with succulent morsel attached upright within a heavy bowl, so that the sticks prop the bowl up. When the mouse reaches for the goodie, it will push the pencils over, removing the integral pencils, so that the bowl falls down and traps it. Voila!

Now the piece de resistance. When you wake up in the morning and find your bowl trapped over the intrusive critter, simple scoop up the whole ensemble by lifting the cardboard sheet, and exit your home in a calm and unhurried manner. Saunter a good 100 feet away and release the wee sleekit beastie. That distance is optimal because it ensures the mouse will not return but also doesn’t stress you out overmuch by making you walk too far from your home.

Medical Coding at Home – Catching the Upside of Obama’s Stimulus Plan

So Congress passes a comprehensive stimulus plan. It includes a rather large provision for modernizing the country’s health information technology. By doing so, President Obama and the US lawmakers look to lower the cost of health care and pass the savings onto the consumers, ideally lowering the cost of insurance, medicine, and services.

It’s a great plan. Many large hospitals have been implementing enterprise application integration since the mid-90’s. The integration initiative probably stemmed from the Y2K projects. But the cost-saving measures were recognized as a side result. Back then, many analysts priced the cost of integration in the billions of dollars. Very expensive for small organizations. But the stimulus plan will provide money and incentive for smaller hospitals, physicians networks, and solo practitioners who didn’t have the money to undertake the same cost-cutting measures.

The health care technology modernization program will make it easy for medical organizations to share information on patient records. When implemented, it will take less time to process claims and less paper to maintain and store patient records. That’s because patient records and the methods to create and retrieve them will be computerized. No longer will there be a need to pay for storage full of file folders and drawers. Ink and paper, especially the expensive formatted paper, will not be needed as much or at all. Additionally, what normally would take minutes to days to retrieve information from stored file folders can all be done in seconds with computers.

These savings and efficiency measures are necessary because the senior population of the US is growing. And seniors require medical attention as part of their routine. Remember the baby boomers? The hippie generation is getting older, but continue to live a very active lifestyle. Constant health care allows them to pursue new hobbies and activities not traditionally pursued by seniors of the generation before them.

What does this mean to a medical coder? It means jobs. The health care system already relies on medical coders to maintain the standards of data input. Whenever a patient visits his doctor, the records of his visit must be entered in the system carefully and accurately in case another doctor needs to see it for emergency. The growing patient base will require scaling of everything health care, including medical coding.

For a certified medical coder with entrepreneurial tendency, there are plenty of small physicians network, dental offices, solo practitioners sprinkled around the United States. They are in small towns and large urban areas. These smaller organizations are prime candidates to target as clients.

Traditionally, small medical offices do not have the money to hire an in-house medical coder. Sometimes, they have one of the untrained office administrators do the requisite medical coding work for billing and insurance claim. The result is not always up to par with industry standards, but it got them by. Such ragtag practice will likely not work anymore with the new stimulus plan because in order for the cost saving measure to take effect, the data must be standardized throughout the nation.

A certified medical coder with the proper experience have the right skills and knowledge to jump in and start working. More importantly, if the medical coder has the right contacts, i.e. knows the doctor who owns a solo practice or the office manager, then he or she can arrange for coding assignments. The patient records can be picked up, enter the medical coding at home and returned in a digital format. The routine can be scaled up into a homegrown business with various solo practitioners and smaller physicians networks as clients.