Respiratory: Allergies & Sinus Problems/Wood burning Fire Place


I have been experiencing allergy symptoms especially sitting in my Living room near the fireplace but all through the house also. My husband cleaned out the fireplace and sprayed it with vinegar and water, but there is still a smell.  My questions is how do I get rid of this smell?  Servpro? chimney sweep?  also our damper is stuck in the open position.
Thanks for your help


The Fire Place that has burned wood, and to a lesser extent even gas is a complete repository to all the hydrocarbons emitted by diesel vehicles and forest fires.

You may think of it as a 150-250 square inch hole in your roof through which someone has hooked up a blower that is filling your home with ash, soot, char, SOx, NOx, and CO, each and every time you open a door or window.

It is proven that these carbon rich beds last for many many years and dissapate slowely. I have personally been in the homes of asthmatics where this was the sole factor in triggering their asthmatic attacks. Sealing off the flue changes things a little, but remember that even after this is done the carpeting, paint, furniture, and draperies still hold the residual.

You must either have an efficient damper installed or buy an inflatable choke from a FP store.

All the vinegar and water did was to loosen some of the surface materials down low and expose older char that is embeded in the flue.

Cheers, Gene

Respiratory: Allergies & Sinus Problems

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Gene Sperling


I can answer questions about indoor air quality, respiratory medications, home toxins, allergies and VOC's (volatile organic compounds). Home and office environmental issues and general medication questions regarding side effects and interactions.


I have been a pharmacist for 30 years. I have been director of pharmacy services for a large teaching hospital, and have served as a consultant pharmacist to various out-patient programs. I have organized and managed various infusion programs treating infectious disease, immunologic diseases, and metabolic disorders. For the past 15 years I have operated a national respiratory pharmacy and devoted my time to assessing asthma, COPD, and emphysema patients and their problems. I know how to set-up and maintain a 'clean room' environment and I know how to resourcefully remediate environmental issues that cause health problems.

I am a current or past member of IAQA, IESO, CA Pharmacists Assoc., NCPA, Consultant Pharmacists Assoc., Calcerts, and many others. I have licensing from the GSA (Government Services Organization). I have served on the California Task Force for Disaster Preparedness under the Department of Health Services.

I am in the process of researching the application of Building Science as it relates to the Healthcare Industry. The purpose is to show the relationship(s) between 'sealed environments', poor construction, and improper equipment installations in modern homes and offices. The building boom of the 90's and 00's accelerated at a pace that did not allow proper oversight or adequate research of new techniques in construction design and the trades that applied them.

I have a degree in Pharmacy from the University of Oklahoma. I have upper division courses in bio-pharmaceutics, medicinal chemistry, organic chemistry, pharmacokinetics, toxicology, immunology, microbiology,etc. I have taken numerous post-graduate courses on respiratory disorders, mold, environmental issues, indoor air quality, building science, HVAC, clean room set-ups, womens health, and medication therapy management.

Awards and Honors
I have received a distinguished achievement award from the County of Los Angeles for work with the Asthma Reading & Education Program sponsered by the UCLA clinics and Martin Luther King Medical Center. I have sponsored winter ski retreats for children with asthma. I have served on the Boards of several home health agencies. My highest honor comes when I can help someone understand how their personal environment influences their health, and how their own awareness positively impacts their quality of living. There is no greater award than helping others.

Past/Present Clients
My past and current clients have been the thousands of patients and physicians that I have consulted for and with to assess alternative approaches to disease management through common sense treatment, and how our personal environment influences our overall health.

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