Our final post for May's Allergy Awareness Month features tips on how to prevent household mold from affecting your family's health by using natural cleaners.

Mold growth inside the home can be hazardous to your family’s health, causing allergic reactions, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, asthma, and skin rash.  However, mold can be eliminated from your home using natural cleaners.

baking soda_cleanerBaking soda is well known as a natural and safe household cleaner. Unlike other mold killers which contain harsh chemicals, baking soda is mild (pH of 8.1) and harmless to your family and any pets. Besides killing mold, baking soda also deodorizes and so using it can get rid of the smell mold leaves in your home. Baking soda also absorbs moisture to help keep mold away.

                How to Kill Mold with Baking Soda:

  • Add ¼ tablespoon of baking soda to a spray bottle of water. Shake well.
  • Spray moldy area with baking soda/water solution.
  • Use a sponge or scrub brush to remove the mold from the surface.
  • Once the mold is gone, rinse the area with water to remove the residual.
  • Spray the area with the solution again and let dry. This will kill any left over mold and prevent it from returning.

Vinegar is often used along with baking soda when cleaning up a mold problem since vinegar kills different species of mold. Vinegar is a mild acid which can kill 82% of mold species. However it also has the advantages of being natural and safe. Vinegar is non-toxic and doesn't give off dangerous fumes like bleach does. If you want to use vinegar to prevent mold growing on surfaces just spray vinegar on the surface and leave it. Repeat this every few days to ensure the surface will stay mold-free.

Controlling the source of moisture inside the house is necessary to eliminate mold growth. Mold grows when air-born spores (invisible to the naked eye) land on a wet or damp surface. Indoor mold has potential to cause ill health effects resulting from inhalation. 

silvia_leon_asthma_triggers_childrenThis story was originally published at blog.livingwithasthma.net on May 6, 2013.

Silvia León shared her story of asthma awareness and her son's asthma triggers in honor of World Asthma Day:

Asthma Story- I visit many families every month and I am able to hear personal stories about their children's asthma. Mostly all families are using bleach and many other household cleaning products to disinfect their homes. Most of the time families are not aware that using windex, bleach, ajax, comex, and many others can be asthma triggers. Our non-toxic kits and recommendations is an easy way to start to change the air quality of their home. The air that children breathe while inside their home is what is causing the asthma most of the time, because studies show that we spend about 80% of our time in our house. So if mommy used bleach to clean the strong smell, and/or other chemicals, kids breathe that in and it can cause an attack.

Asthma Tips- My son has asthma and his triggers have diminished greatly because I do the following:

  • Use non-toxic cleaning products
  • Throw their pillows in the dryer once a week
  • Use aller-ease mattress covers
  • Put baking soda on their bedroom carpet to absorb more dust than the vacuum alone can
  • Throw stuffed animals in the dryer
  • Open windows for ventilation
  • Keep pets outside.
  • I am very pro-active and informed. Information is the key!

For more information on Sylvia's efforts, please visit the following links:

Environmental Health Blog: Protecting Your Child From Asthma Attacks
Environmental Health Twitter
Environmental Health Healthy Kids Twitter

Brand new green bicycle lane installed in City Heights on 54th and University Ave. city heights_bike lane_ehccity heights_bike lane

The Active Transportation Manager at the City Heights Community Development Corporation (CDC), Randy Van Vleck, sent out an email on May 14th stating that the bike lanes on 54th Street had been upgraded with green paint. With his permission, we have reproduced his message with some minor adjustments:

For years, the intersection of 54th street and University Avenue in City Heights has been a major point of contention between cyclists and motorists. Although a bike lane exists, many accidents continued to occur at the northwest corner of this intersection.

Yet today, cyclists can commute safely on this road because City Heights has installed the city of San Diego's second-ever green bike lane. The additions to the existing bike lane include a fresh coat of green paint that alerts motorists to cyclists nearby with bike lane dashes in the conflict point of the intersection along with a "Yield to Bikes" sign with an image of a green bike lane.

The City installed the green bike lane last week in response to City Heights CDC's request on behalf of the City Heights Built Environment Team; a group of residents, along with Environmental Health Coalition, advocating for a health-supportive built environment. These changes signal a sigh of relief for BET members and residents alike who have been calling for action on behalf of a need for a improved safety at this intersection for 2.5 years.

We'd like to acknowledge everyone who stood alongside Environmental Health Coalition and the City Heights Built Environment Team in contributing in this effort:

-Residents of the 54th St & Uni Ave area-Mayor Filner and Bike Program Initiatives Manager Ed Clancy
-Councilmember Emerald and staff
-Traffic engineers Brian Genovese, Tom Landre, Linda Marabian, and Esmerelda White
-Bike SD Executive Director Samantha Ollinger
-Vien Dong market
-International Rescue Committee, Academia de Comunitario Liderazgo, Star Pal, Colina Park Neighborhood's First Initiative
-City Heights Area Planning Committee
-University Avenue Mobility Plan (54th St to 68th St) Working Group
-Media coverage: Megan Burks (Speak City Heights), Brian Myers (Media Arts Center), Adrian Florido (then with Voice of San Diego, now with KPBS), NBC

Still, the work here is not done— we need to make this intersection safe for everyone and reflect the consistency of the CA Complete Streets Act and new CA Highway Design Manual. Yet this green bike lane serves as a symbol of commitment to improve safety for active transportation at this intersection but to encourage it for years to come.

Part 2/2 in Protecting Your Child From Common Asthma Triggers

triggers pets lg

Reducing allergens and irritants that are common in homes is one way to help your child breathe easier. The second half of this blog series addresses pets, molds, and pests as asthma triggers in the home, and what you can do about them.


Your pet’s skin flakes, urine and saliva can be asthma triggers.

  • Consider keeping pets outdoors or even finding a new home for pets, if necessary.
  • Keep pets out of the bedroom and other sleeping areas at all times, and keep the door closed.
  • Keep pets away from fabric-covered furniture, carpets, and stuffed toys.


mold natural cleaning supplies

Molds grow on damp materials. The key to mold control is moisture control. If mold is a problem in your home, get rid of both the mold and excess moisture. This will also help reduce other triggers, such as dust mites and cockroaches.

  • Wash mold off hard surfaces and dry completely. Absorbent material may need to be replaced.
  • Fix leaky plumbing or other sources of water.
  • Keep drip pans in your air conditioner, refrigerator, and dehumidifier clean and dry.
  • Use exhaust fans or open windows in kitchens and bathrooms when showering, cooking or using the dishwasher.
  • Vent clothes dryers to outside of the home.
  • Maintain low indoor humidity, ideally between 30-50% relative humidity. This can be measured by hygrometers which are available at local hardware stores.


Droppings or body parts of pests such as cockroaches or rodents can be asthma triggers.

triggers pests lg

  • Do not leave food or garbage out
  • Store food in airtight containers
  • Clean all food crumbs or spills right away
  • Try using insect baits, boric acid (for roaches), or traps first before using pesticide sprays

If sprays are used, limit the spray to the infested area and carefully follow the instructions on the label. Make sure there is plenty of fresh air when you spray, and keep anyone with asthma out of the room.

2013 Awards Celebration: A Healthy Kids Victory a Resounding Success

In 2013, we honored five heroes whose leadership led to major victories for healthy kids in San Diego. EHC's four Healthy Kids Champion Awards went to EHC Promotora Martha Cortes, the California Attorney General, San Diego Housing Commission and the Channel 10 Investigative News Team. A sold-out crowd at Marina Village Baja Room in Mission Bay paid homage to these honorees along with the 3rd Annal Donna Frye Spirit of Justice Award winner Dr. Gerald Markowitz, public health professor, author and activist. (Enough writing, skip to the photos.)

EHC's A Healthy Kids Victory extends its thanks to the sponors that made this event possible: EHC's Presenting Sponsor Pacifica Companies and Blue Summit Wealth Management, Bruce and Betsy Gill, Chatten-Brown and Carstens and the Briggs Law Corporation.

We're planning our next awards event. Please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for information. 

EHC's Healthy Kids Champion Awards honored:

  • Sherman Heights Resident Martha Cortés

As a community leader for EHC since 1998, this "promotora" was a key spokesperson and activist for lead-safe candy initiatives that resulted in groundbreaking agreements between the U.S. and Mexico and that led to California's first lead-safe candy law, a first in the nation. She's now a community expert helping her neighbors create healthy homes by addressing mold, pesticides, carbon monoxide, and toxic household cleaners.

  • California Attorney General

Following the 2005 California law banning the sale of lead-contaminated candy, the California Attorney General partnered with EHC to advance a lawsuit to force candy companies to immediately stop producing lead-contaminated candies. The suit resulted in a candy certification program that includes annual testing of candy and makes lead-free candy available in stores around the world.

  • San Diego Housing Commission

A leader in ensuring lead-free homes for all families in San Diego, the San Diego Housing Commission has dedicated $30 million toward its program that has saved lives and prevented disease. In partnership with EHC, the Housing Commission's support has helped more than 1,500 homes become lead safe and given 3,000 children healthier living conditions.

  • Channel 10 Investigative News Team

After EHC's advocacy efforts lead to the City of San Diego's adoption of the Children's Right to Lead Safe House Ordinance, the Channel 10 Investigative News Team went undercover to reveal the truth about compliance. Their investigation exposed disobedient rental homes and apartment complexes that continued to harm children's health.

  • Dr. Gerald Markowitz

A national leader calling for corporate and government accountability to address the harmful affects of lead, Markowitz leant his expertise to EHC's effort to enact the Children's Right to Lead Safe Housing in San Diego. Markowitz' latest book is "Lead Wars: The Politics of Science and the Fate of America's Children reveals incisive examination of lead poisoning during the past half century."

ehc 2013 awards celebration ash laura  hunter

ehc 2013 awards celebration bob gleason sharon k

ehc 2013 awards celebration bob nelson francine busby dave roberts teresa barth

ehc 2013 awards celebration donna fry  david alvarez

ehc 2013 awards celebration francine busby nicole capretz

ehc 2013 awards celebration peter z karim bouris

ehc 2013 awards celebration roberta alexander guests

ehc 2013 awards celebration ruth anita jane tasha

ehc 2013 awards celebration stephen whitburn group

ehc 2013 awards celebration sue  randerson

ehc 2013 awards celebration todd gloria  brandon