Health Corner

Health Corner

There is no better defense against environmental allergens than a tailor-made deep cleaning service from Johnson Group, however, identifying environmental allergens and allergen-specific IgE in blood are equally important.

Not only can Johnson Group help you with environmental issues, but also your body health. At Health Corner, you will be able to receive information prepared by professionals like doctors, nutritionists or hygienists.

Environmental Allergy

Allergy is a hypersensitivity disorder of the immune system. Most common environmental allergies occur to airborne allergens, such as dust mite, pollen, pet dander, mould spore, particulate matter or formaldehyde (VOC).

Some individuals may respond to allergens which activate the production of IgE, leading to type I hypersensitivity. This will result in sniffling, sneezing, coughing, or itching or even an extreme inflammatory response.

Is DEET Safe for Kids?
Little Asian girl has allergies with mosquitoes bite
Do you know which anti-mosquito product suits you the most? Is it true to say that children should avoid using insect repellents containing DEET?

Summer is the hotbed for the spread of Dengue and Japanese encephalitis, so it is unavoidable and important to apply insect repellents in order to protect you and your family from mosquitoes.

Despite there are many different kinds of anti-mosquito products on the market, how they work is solely interfering the insects’ radar and sense of smell with scent. By covering the smell of CO2 and lactic acid released by our bodies with scent, it disables the insects’ ability of recognizing the CO2 released by humans’ bodies and even the existence of humans as well. Anti-mosquito products can be mainly divided into 4 categories, which are pure essential oil, IR3535, Icaridin and DEET.

Even though Icaridin and DEET are both recommended by WHO, many of the anti-mosquito products are still labelled as DEET-free. Do you know why?

Comparison in components and effects between Icaridin and DEET :
Pest Repellent Comparasion Table_EN2
Insect repellents containing DEET:

• DEET is a chemical substance with pale yellow color and odor which is synthesized and produced in America at 1946.
• Despite the fact that DEET is the most effective anti-mosquito component, it is irritative. Overuse of DEET can be harmful to health and may lead to rash, tachypnea and even coma.
• Adults and children should not apply the same insect repellent. The safety standard of DEET for adults is 30% whereas for children, it should be 10% or below. DEET is not suitable for infants aged under 2 months. Pregnant women should also avoid exposing to it.
• Do not apply DEET on pets. Side effects such as vomit, tremor, ataxia and excessive excitement may arise if pets consume DEET.

Insect repellents containing Icaridin /Picaridin:

• Unlike DEET, Icaridin was invented and launched at 2000. It is also ranked as the most effective and safe insect repellent by WHO and AAP. Icaridin is almost colorless and odorless. It has low irritation towards skins and can be applied for long duration of time without adverse side effect. It is suitable for pregnant women and 2 months old or above infants.
• 20% of Icaridin can last for 8 hours, which is comparatively long lasting to other insect repellents and will not create burdens to bodies.

Pure essential oil insect repellents:

• Pure essential oil uses its scent to expel insects. The major components of essential oil are Cymbopogon, Cedarwood, Eucalyptus, Geraniol, Mentha, Lemongrass, Pelargonium and so forth.
• In terms of safety and irritation, pure essential oil is the mildest and a desirable choice for pregnant women and young children.
• Can be applied directly on skins. It is anti-inflammatory and antibacterial as well as relaxing effects.
• Pure essential oil lasts for 2 hours since it volatiles and will be absorbed by skins when time passes. Even though there is a need to replenish, it is not harmful to our bodies.

Summer Featured Products
Summer Outdoor Tips – Why bite me? 6 Facts About mosquito bites

We all get bug bites during summer, and it’s true mosquito finds some people more tastier than the others. Here’s is why:

Scents are the primary indicators mosquitoes use to identify their prey, and they are attracted to carbon dioxide, human’s body heat, secretions such as lactic acid, uric acid and amino acids.


Thus, people with large vital capacity, fast metabolism and high body temperature are more attractive to mosquito.


The exhaled carbon dioxide concentration is particularly high after exercising or drinking, these people are extremely attractive to mosquitoes.


Avoid wearing perfumes, cologne, hair spray, scented facial cream, or any scented body care products if you have outdoor activities. Insects like bees, mosquito ticks and black flies are attracted to flower, and thus fragranced skin increases the chance of getting bug bites.


Mosquitoes fly near ear during sleep, because your body temperature drops and got cooler, and the ear part has a strong smell and a higher temperature.


Mosquitoes hates bright lights, infrared ray and warm color lights such as red, orange and yellow lights; they are also most active at dawn and dusk. To prevent getting insect bites, dress in earth tones and light colors, avoid any outdoor activities during dawn and dusk.


Try applying soap water onto the bug bite bump, it relieves itchiness by neutralizing mosquito’s acid secretions. Also salt water can helps stopping itchiness  and softening  bug bite bump.    

Summer Featured Products
Edwin Lau Che-feng:
Reducing Waste In HK Can Be Easy, If We Put Our Minds To It
Founder and executive director of The Green Earth

Edwin Lau believes the incoming waste charge will encourage residents and businesses to find ways to recycle and reuse – and offers some practical tips on how to do it.

Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing has finally unveiled the proposal for waste charging legislation and will present it to the Legislative Council soon.

The proposal, which will affect all households and businesses, has met with mixed opinions. Most critics believe Hong Kong people will dump their garbage illegally to avoid the waste charge, creating other problems. Some also stressed the difficulty in enforcing such a law.

Certainly, enforcement will be no easy task. But I believe most people will not risk the non-compliance penalty of HK$1,500 when the daily garbage fee for a household of three is only around HK$1.10 to HK$1.70.

In fact, the waste charge is more likely to encourage households and businesses to develop creative and practical means for slashing our waste generation. To echo the government slogan, “Dump Less, Save More”.

Financial incentives usually bring about behavioural change more quickly than education. This is demonstrated by the introduction of the plastic bag levy in 2009; even a small charge of 50 cents per bag has been enough to swiftly persuade Hongkongers to bring their own shopping bags.

Hong Kong people like to show others that if we set ourselves a goal, we will strive to achieve it, despite the difficulties. On the matter of waste management, however, our neighbouring cities such as Taipei and Seoul are already ahead of us, having reduced their waste disposal by over 30 per cent with similar legislation.

There is no shortage of ways to avoid waste generation.

For instance, restaurants generate lots of food waste at traditional Chinese banquets. The main reason is that such banquets typically offer 10 or more dishes, so it is almost impossible to consume them all. Cutting down on the number of dishes would immediately help restaurants to save money on food purchases and waste charges.

Fast-food restaurants that have been using disposable cutlery should take this opportunity to overhaul their operations by serving customers with reusable cutlery, as this will help reduce their bill for waste disposal and change their eco-unfriendly image.

The excessive use of food packaging (plastic film and foam) in supermarkets creates a lot of waste that is inevitably added to the waste load of households. For instance, packaging for fruits such as bananas is simply unnecessary and should be minimised.

Our government should make use of the next two years, before the law takes effect in 2019, to enhance the recycling facilities of residential and commercial buildings, and this will calm the opposing voices. When recyclables are separated well at source without contamination, the value of recyclables will rise and this in turn can prevent cleaners from discarding recyclables (which is known to have happened).

The government should also devote more resources to public education, to help people understand our waste crisis, as well as the easy steps every citizen can take to avoid and reduce waste generation.

In a workshop to analyse waste composition held many years ago, I opened many bags of daily household garbage contributed by families. When recyclable items were removed, the volume was reduced by around 30 to 40 per cent. The remaining things in the bag were mainly food and packaging waste that cannot be recycled.

Having engaged people from different sectors in environmental education for decades, I hold a positive view about the waste charging legislation. When people are given the full picture of the city’s waste challenges, including the effects on human health, their mindsets will change.

30 March 2017 SCMP

Source by The Green Earth

Johnson Group:

A Healthy Living: Identify the environmental allergens that cause or trigger allergy

Learn how Johnson Group detects the level of microorganisms (moulds, bacteria, yeasts etc.) and improve your health & living environment. Our environmental professionals will let you know the level of contamination by adopting the ATP Test, and where to start if your home needs a deep cleaning service.

We perform the ATP Test with a hand-held device – Hygiena SystemSURE Plus™, the test is to identify whether your home is free from microorganisms or not. The test works quickly (a few minutes) to verify if the surfaces have been cleaned thoroughly and free from bacteria or moulds. By collecting samples from the environment, we can then measure the ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) level which gives a direct measure of biological concentration in the environment.

The test is especially designed for people who is allergic to moulds.We will provide you with a a tailor-made deep cleaning program to tackle with the environmental allergens if the result is unsatisfactory.

Miles Price:
About Allergy
A functional medicine practitioner and clinical nutritionist (M.S. CFMP, NANP, BANT)

Allergies affect up to 40 per cent of people globally, according to the World Health Organisation, and the rate is on the rise, particularly in industrialised nations. They occur when the body mistakes a normally benign substance for a toxic one, triggering the release of an antibody called immunoglobulin which affects white blood cells, provoking an inflammatory response. This inflammatory response can be on the skin (eczema/ dermatitis), lungs (asthma), nasal passages (blocked nose), sinuses (sinusitis), or gastro-intestinal (stomach cramps, nausea, diahrrea).

Airborne allergies are getting worse in hong kong due to a rise in pollution levels (VOCs), and people’s increased sensitivities to pollutants/ irritants. We live in a hot humid area of the world in Hong Kong and it is worth considering how our climate can exacerbate the symptoms of allergic responses. With an increase in humidity which normally occurs around March/April to around October, there is an increase in the levels of mould growth.

Mould requires humid conditions to thrive and some species are more opportunistic than others, producing mycotoxins and spores which can be ingested through our airways. Specific species, such as Altinaria spp have been known to cause specific conditions like sinusitis and rhinitis. We can test for the specific mould species patients are reacting to by testing the antibodies and to apply appropriate treatment where necessary to eradicate the mould.

It is worth noting that allergies can also be triggered by foods and beverages and with an increased consumption of processed and unhealthy foods, this will trigger potential allergic responses in susceptible people. It is important to ensure the correct immune response is activated by the body and not one which hyper-reactive.

To achieve a more balanced immune response one needs to consider good gut health and healthy eating habits. It is also worth noting that increased exposure to animals and the outdoor environment can lessen our allergenic responses indoors, this is achieved by ultimately having a greater exposure to a variety of outdoor bacteria which tempers our immune response.

By identifying and eliminating the cause of the allergic reaction in the home the next step then is to fix the body and eradicate and detoxify any remaining bad bacteria or mould. Only then can one enjoy full health free of allergies. By both looking after the body with healthy habits and by being aware of the environment more closely we can enjoy our times more at home.

Check out more at at Life Clinic

Centre for Allergy and Asthma Care (CAAC):
How to reduce house dust mite allergens?

In order to reduce house dust mite allergens in the environment, we need to reduce the growth of the mites as well as remove the allergens themselves. As mite growth depends on humidity, reducing the relative humidity to below 50% for 5 days can kill the mites.

Allergen-proof cover is a very effective way of reducing allergens. House dust mites mainly live in mattresses, pillows, comforters, carpets and upholstery. As we spend a lot of time in bed, bedding should be covered with an allergen-proof material. The best option is microfiber, as this material is so densely woven that the minute allergen particles cannot pass through, while allowing moisture to pass through to prevent humidity build-up. Do not use materials that cannot be washed, that are not breathable or those that contain chemicals.

In general, allergen-proof covers should be washed every two to four weeks in warm water, and regular bedsheets should be washed weekly at 55 °C of above. Mattresses should be regularly cleaned with a vacuum cleaner fitted with HEPA filter, and professionally cleaned once or twice a year. Items that cannot be washed can be heated to above 55 °C in a dryer for at least 10 minutes. Items that cannot be heated can be placed in a household freezer for at least 24 hours to kill the mites, and then washed in cold water. Dry cleaning might not be effective in removing dust mite allergens.

Many people believe that synthetic pillows are less allergenic than feather, but the reverse is true. Studies have shown that feather pillows harbor fewer dust mites because the casing tends to be of higher quality and is more tightly woven. Dust mite allergen particles are between 5 to 10 µm in diameter, and the mites themselves are around 20 µm. Therefore, microfiber materials with a pore size of 6 µm or less should effectively form a barrier against allergen penetration. It is important to have good breathability in order to reduce moisture build-up, especially in humid environments such as Hong Kong. Therefore, avoid using non-woven or too tightly woven materials.

For more details, check out CAAC

The Minnesota Department of Health:

Particles and Your Health – What is particulate matter?

Particulate matter (PM) is a complex mixture of solid and liquid particles that are suspended in air. These particles typically consist of a mixture of inorganic and organic chemicals, including carbon, sulfates, nitrates, metals, acids, and semi-volatile compounds.

The size of PM in air ranges from approximately 0.005 to 100 micrometers (µm) in diameter – the size of just a few atoms to about the thickness of a human hair. Researchers have defined size categories for these particles differently. For the purposes of this fact sheet, PM is defined by three general categories commonly used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA): coarse (10 to 2.5 µm), fine (2.5 µm or smaller), and ultrafine (0.1 µm or smaller).

Research suggests that particle size is an important factor that influences how particles deposit in the respiratory tract and affect human health. Coarse particles are deposited almost exclusively in the nose and throat; whereas, fine and ultrafine particles generally are able to penetrate to deep areas of the lung. Fine and ultrafine particles are present in greater numbers and have greater surface area than larger particles of the same mass, and they are generally considered to be more toxic.

How can particulate matter affect my health?

The health effects of PM are likely to depend on several factors, including the size and composition of the particles, the level and duration of exposure, and age and sensitivity of the exposed person. Symptoms of exposure may include a sore throat, persistent cough, burning eyes, wheezing, shortness of breath, tightness of chest, and chest pain. PM may also trigger asthma or may lead to premature death, particularly in the elderly who have preexisting cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.