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My House Is Killing Me!: The Home Guide for Families with Allergies and Asthma [Hardcover]

Dr. Jonathan M. Samet MD , Mr. Jeffrey C. May
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

10 Oct 2001

It's a world we barely see, but it is teeming with life. In the dust of a typical house, carpet beetles, mites, silverfish, and other creatures live and die, producing new generations every few months. Mold, bacteria, and yeast lurk undetected in heating and cooling systems. Debris dispersed into the air from these organisms can cause runny noses, itchy eyes, coughing, headaches, and breathing difficulties. Some people, especially those made highly sensitive by allergies, suffer from devastating health problems and the worry that, as one such sufferer lamented, "My house is killing me!"

Scrutinizing house dust and air samples with a microscope, indoor air quality expert Jeffrey C. May has spent his career helping people identify what's causing their chronic health problems. In My House Is Killing Me! he draws on the dramatic personal stories of his clients' suffering and relief to help readers understand the links between environmental factors and problems like allergies and asthma. Explaining how air conditioning, finished basements, and other home features affect air quality, he offers a step-by-step approach to identifying, controlling, and often eliminating the sources of indoor pollutants and allergens. If we could see this contamination, May observes, the air would look as murky as stagnant water, and we would know not to breathe it.

Reading My House Is Killing Me! lets you see your house the way an expert would. Just as he looks at spaces and systems during an indoor air quality investigation, May focuses first on the areas of daily life (bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen), then looks into attics and basements (including heating and air conditioning), and finally moves outside to the garage and the exterior of a home. Along with offering a wealth of practical advice and proven solutions for various problems, he includes a glossary of terms and a list of valuable resources.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press (10 Oct 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801867290
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801867293
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16.3 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,377,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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"Asthma and allergy sufferers, this book is essential reading. It will answer all your questions about why you suffer in your home and what you can do to prevent it. May takes you on a tour of your home, both interior and exterior, with a detailed description of the organic and inorganic substances that are making you ill... Will serve for years to come as the definitive guide to establishing disease-free living environments." -- Library Journal

"A first-rate reference that is enjoyable to read." -- Booklist

"Jeffrey May is a skillful writer, and uses an informal style that is well suited to communication with a broad audience... This is the best book I've read in years. I couldn't put it down... It painlessly educates the reader about problem houses." -- Ellen McCrady, The Mold Reporter

"May has made a timely, helpful -- and even entertaining -- contribution to a field that demands attention." -- Wagdy Anin, Architecture Boston

"Great light reading for the professional... Gives the average person control over his or her environment." -- Donna Weeks, Synergist

"I just finished reading this superb book with a multitude of examples of homes with poor indoor air quality which caused health problems for the occupants. You will find this book very helpful for finding the factors which worsen your asthma. Five out of five stars for this book." -- Dr. Enright, WebMD

"By giving a wide variety of excellent advice on identifying and cleaning up common household environmental hazards, Mr. May will help you make your home a more comfortable place to live -- even if you don't have allergies." -- Ilyce Glink, Washington Times

"Practical advice and proven solutions." -- Natural Home


"Working with Jeff May has completely changed my attitude toward the impact of the indoor world on human illness. His work has allowed us to focus on the true sources of allergic disease -- the microscopic organisms that the immune system must deal with every second we spend indoors. His advice profoundly benefits families with environmental sensitivity, including those with immunologic conditions beyond allergy and asthma." -- William J. Monafo, M.D., American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology

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A young man who was having allergy symptoms in his house asked me to investigate. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very useful 25 May 2010
By Hillary
Must have for people with allergies and asthma, but after reading it I feel like moving into a newly build property and see dust, dirt etc. everywhere.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent piece 17 July 2011
The book provided much needed insight into what could be responsible for the asthmatic symptoms being developed by my daughter and what we could do to improve her situation. These insights were not provided by our hospital doctors. We now know what is wrong with our home. By simply following with tips in the book, she is improving greatly.

There are quite a number of developing cases in Nigeria now due to poor quality air resulting from power generator pollution. I encourage active marketing in this country and will not hesitate recommending it to others.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars  26 reviews
42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Reference 14 Mar 2002
By apoem - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My son was diagnosed with asthma and I decided to do what I could to help him through housekeeping and house improvements.
This book was the place I started. After reading through this book and looking at the pictures I was able to make a list of things I wanted to do and the order they needed to be done. It made a huge difference for our family.
The pictures only add to the text and help to clarify what the author is discussing. The text is clear and easy to read. The directions are simple and informative. WELL WORTH THE MONEY!
I did not find this book to be overwhelming or full of too much information. Rather it was a perfect book for home owners who suffer from allergies or asthma.
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My House is Killing Me! Things every person should know! 27 Jan 2002
By Edward Gerhardt - Published on
My House is Killing Me! is a real eye opener. This book is a must read for anyone who has asthma, allergies or a family member or friend that has sensitivities to allergens. Informative, but not overly technical, this book describes why homes have indoor air quality problems and what the homeowner can do to improve the air quality around them.
The photos demonstrate real life situations where poorly maintained furnaces, air ducts and humidifiers can contribute to the misery of allergy and asthma sufferers. The photomicrographs and photos from the scanning electron microscope show how mold can grow on surfaces that were thought would not support mold growth. The recommendations at the end of each chapter provide valuable information and guidance that will enable the homeowner to improve the air quality in the home.
Who should read this book? People with asthma, allergies, doctors, home inspectors, trades people or anyone interested in maintaining a healthy home.
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars But Your House DOESN'T Have to Kill You 21 Jun 2004
By "no1cdatty" - Published on
When I heard about this often-referenced book, I wondered if it was just 'sensationalist'. It's not. This book is alternately frightening and terribly funny. In his Closing Remarks, Mr. May says, "If you read this book and then go out and purchase a HEPA vacuum, I'll be pleased; but if you throw out your couch or mattress, I'll be upset. I wrote the book not to cause hysteria, but to help people suffering from allergies and asthma gain control over the air quality where they live, play and work. I believe firmly that taking simple steps can make enormous improvements, just as minor omissions can create major problems."
This book starts off with an introduction of allergy causing organisms, ranging from mold to mites. The microphotographs of carpet bettles and dust mites are like something from a scary movie. After that, Mr. May discusses the "Stage, Set and Crew" - rugs, furniture, bedding, pets, plants, and our own bodies. These make up our environment. Mr. May talks about a whole host of allergens including pets, mites, mold, and off-gassing. He also addresses important issues such as air-quality problems (such as carbon monoxide buildup) and home hazards, including improper wiring. Throughout the book, he discusses moisture and moisture control as it applies to specific areas of a home.
Mr. May addresses problems that can be found in each area of a home: the bedroom; the bathrooms; living room and family rooms; kitchens and dining rooms; basements; laundries; the attic; and in HVAC systems. He also talks about allergens in cars, schools, and homes. Importantly, he has solid and sensible recommendations for fixing the problems.
Now, for the funny stuff. Mr. May has been an inspector for many years, and has run into some very interesting problems. One laugh-out-loud story was called "The Hot Seat," and described a toilet that actually smoked and steamed (page 66). Have a bee problem? Don't try and remove them yourself (page 89). He has plenty of personal anecdotes as well, such as a temporary biological weapon his son inadvertently created by frying jalepeno peppers and onions (page 100).
37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Book! 11 April 2003
By Thomas L. Ogren - Published on
I read this book with a great deal of interest. Recently my sister-in-law was getting sicker and sicker from living in a toxic mold infected apartment. One doctor diagnosed her as having MS and another suggested psychiatric treatment! She got sicker and sicker, started to really lose it, her speech was becoming garbled, she felt like she was losing her memory. In mid-sentence she would suddenly lose her train of thought. I took some mold spore counts in her bedroom and they were through the roof. Finally after constant pestering on my part, they moved into a hotel. Immediately she started to get better.
Today, living in a different apartment, a much cleaner one, she is well again, back to work too.
I do research and write about plants and allergies (Safe Sex in the Garden) and although this fine book by May doesn�t touch on outside landscapes, he does do an excellent job of exploring sickness-causing agents within the house. He gets deeply into all parts of a house, from the attic to the basement.
For many people affected by allergies, asthma, and a host of related environmentally triggered illnesses, reading this book would be an excellent idea. If I had one knock on the book it would be that the whole subject of what is growing right outside the bedroom window is ignored. But, to be fair, May sticks to what he knows best here. I have had numerous clients who would wake up every morning feeling lousy, often with sore throats. No one seemed to be able to figure out his or her problem. When I was asked to look over their properties for highly allergenic plants I�d often find a profuse pollen-producing shrub or tree right outside their bedroom window. Sometimes the offending shrub will be a male Podocarpus or a male Yew, both of which produce considerable pollen that is light, dry, tiny, allergenic, and quite poisonous. The solution in these cases is simple; replace the shrub. I recently photographed some of this pollen through my microscope, on a glass slide, over which I placed a small piece of window screen. The photo is impressive. Close to a thousand grains of this pollen could pass, simultaneously, through each tiny square of the window screen!
But I digress. This book, My House is Killing Me! Is a fine book and answers many important questions about indoor pollutants. Jeffery May has provided a valuable contribution to the field of indoor, household contaminants. I highly recommend it.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just the beginning 6 Aug 2002
By A Customer - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is one of the best of the books on detoxifying your home. It goes into the level of detail most people need to really figure out what to do. It's on a par with some of the best Web sites on the subject (i.e., et al). And it gets its info right. I should know, as I've read almost all the similar books in my efforts to detoxify my home, including the first (and still one of the best): Linda Mason Hunter's Healthy Home. So I would get this book, as it is a great way to learn about the tools for the coming Renaissance in simple and natural living. Mssrs. May and Samet have really done a nice job in moving the ball forward. Kudos!
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