EnviroMysteries Home
Episode Overview
Using the Video
Lesson Plans
Resources
Purchase the Video
Breaking the Mold
Resources Books | Web Links | Glossary

Glossary

Allergens are substances that can trigger an allergic reaction. Allergens can be inhaled (e.g. pollen, animal dander), ingested (e.g. foods or medication), touched (e.g. plants, detergents, chemicals) or injected (e.g. venom from bee stings).

Allergic Reactions are symptoms that a person's body has when it is working to rid itself of a perceived invader. Coughing, sneezing, congestion, rashes, swelling, and itching are common symptoms of an allergic reaction.

Alveoli are balloon-like sacs of air at the end of each bronchioles.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fiber. It is flexible and fire-resistant. Asbestos is used in a number of products to strengthen them and provide insulation and fire protection. Asbestos in homes can be a problem if it is disturbed. Cutting, sanding, or other remodeling or removal activities can release asbestos fibers into the air.

Asthma is an illness that causes a temporary blockage of the small airways in the lungs. When someone is having an "asthma attack," the smooth muscles around the airways tighten, causing the airways to become inflamed, narrow, and produce excess mucus. This makes it difficult for air to pass in and out of the lungs.

Asthma Triggers are things that bother your lungs and start or "trigger" asthma symptoms. There are many kinds of triggers, including viruses (such as colds), allergies, gases and particles in the air, stress, and exercise.

Biological Contaminants include bacteria, molds, mildew, viruses, animal dander, house dust mites, cockroaches, and pollen. They can cause bad indoor air and damage surfaces inside and outside the home. These pollutants can travel through the air and are invisible.

Bronchi are two large tubes at the bottom of the trachea. One leads to the left lung and the other goes to the right lung. Each bronchus—the name for just one bronchi—branches into smaller and smaller bronchial tubes.

Bronchial Tree is the intricate network of air passages that supply the lungs. When inverted, this structure resembles a tree, with the trachea resembling the trunk.

Bronchioles are the tiniest bronchial tubes. Each lung has about 30,000 bronchioles that are about the same thickness as a hair.

Capillaries are a mesh-like network of tiny blood vessels that help transport oxygen into the bloodstream.

Carbon Monoxide is an odorless, colorless, and highly poisonous gas. Carbon monoxide blocks oxygen in the blood from being delivered to the rest of the body. It is released by burning natural gas, charcoal, gasoline, and tobacco.

Cilia are tiny hairs in the respiratory tract that keep mucus and dirt out of the lungs.

Combustion is the process of burning.

Contaminants are substances that have an adverse effect on the air, water, or soil.

Data are pieces of information

Diaphragm is a dome-shaped muscle that works with your lungs to allows us to inhale (breathe in) and exhale (breathe out) air

Dust mites are small animals closely related to spiders and ticks that live in bedding, couches, carpet, stuffed toys and old clothing. Dust mites feed on the dead skin that falls off the bodies of humans and animals and on other organic material found where they live. Dust mites are second only to pollen in causing allergic reactions that range from itchy noses and eyes to severe asthma attacks.

Emissions are substances given off into the air, usually from a source such as smokestacks, cars, and other residential, commercial, or industrial facilities.

Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) or "secondhand smoke," is a mixture of the particles and gases that are emitted from burning a cigarette, pipe, or cigar, as well as the smoke exhaled by the smoker. Smoke can contain any of more than 4,000 different substances including carbon monoxide and formaldehyde. More than 40 of the substances are known to cause cancer in people or animals and many of them can cause itchy eyes, coughing, and sneezing.

Formaldehyde is a colorless, strong-smelling gas. It is widely used in household products, such as glue, wood products, permanent press fabrics, flooring, cabinets, and furniture.

Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air. Humidity levels can be measured by hygrometers, which are available at local hardware stores

Hypothesis is a hunch or guess that is used to begin a study. It is a prediction about what will happen or why something will happen.

Larynx contains the vocal cords and is sometimes referred to as the voice box.

Lead is a highly toxic, heavy, bluish gray metal that was used in paints, pipe solder, food cans, gasoline, and in some mini-blinds. You can be exposed to lead through old paint and paint dust, water, food, dirt, and dishes made in some countries.

Lungs are two sponge-like, cone-shaped structures that fill most of the chest cavity and are protected by the flexible rib cage. Together, the two lungs form one of the largest organs in the body. Their essential function is to provide oxygen from inhaled air to the capillaries and to exhale the carbon dioxide delivered from them.

Microscopic particles are extremely small substances that cannot be seen with the naked eye. In order to view microscopic particles, you need the assistance of a microscope.

Mold is a superficial, often wooly substance that grows on damp or decaying organic matter or on living organisms. Molds produce tiny spores to reproduce. These mold spores waft through the indoor and outdoor air continually.

Monitoring involves periodically or continuously watching or testing to collect information.

Nitrogen Dioxide is colorless, odorless gas that can be released by burning fuels and by smoking tobacco products.

Organic Chemicals are used in many household products. Paints, varnishes, and waxes all contain organic chemicals, as do many cleaning, disinfecting, cosmetic, degreasing, and hobby products. Fuels are also made up of organic chemicals. All of these products can release organic compounds when they are used, and, to some degree, when they are stored.

Particulates are very small pieces of matter, such as a particle of dust or a fiber.

Pesticides are chemicals used to kill household pests (such as bugs, spiders, and cockroaches). They can also be used on houseplants, pets, wood, and woolen products to keep pests away. Pesticides used outdoors may be tracked in on the bottom of your shoes.

Pollutant is anything introduced into the environment that causes problems for people or animals. Air pollutants are unwanted chemicals or other materials found in the air, such as grasses, vapors, dust, smoke, or soot. Most pollutants are created as by-products of processes found to be useful.

Pollution is harm caused to the natural environment.

Prediction is a statement in advance of an event. That statement may be based on observation or experience.

Radon is a naturally occurring colorless, odorless, and tasteless radioactive gas. It is produced by the breakdown of uranium in rocks and soil. Radon can enter homes through cracks in the basement floors and walls and opening around sump pumps, drains, and construction joints.

Radon Detector is a mechanical, electrical, or chemical device designed to find radon levels in homes. Common radon detectors are the charcoal canister, alpha track detector, and electret ion chamber.

Respiration is breathing. Breathing supplies cells with oxygen and takes away carbon dioxide.

Secondhand Smoke, see environmental tobacco smoke.

Stachybotrys Mold commonly called "stachy," is a greenish-black, slimy mold found only on cellulose products (such as wood or paper) that have been wet for several days or more. The mold does not grow on concrete, linoleum or tile. Growth occurs when there is moisture from water damage, excessive humidity, water leaks, condensation, water infiltration, or flooding. All molds, including Stachybotrys mold, should be treated the same with respect to potential health risks and removal.

Surfactant is an essential fluid secreted inside the alveoli composed of fatty proteins. It appears to play a role in preventing lung infections.

Temperature is a measure of how hot or cold something is. Temperature is measured on a definite scale, such as Celsius, Fahrenheit, or Kelvin.

Trachea is the main trunk for the system of tubes that carry air into and out of the lungs. It is also known as the windpipe.

Ventilation is the process of circulating stale indoor air to the outside and bringing fresh outdoor air into a building.



Overview | Using the Video
Lesson Plans | Resources | Purchase the Video

BREAKING THE MOLD | Water + ? = Trouble