» Indoor Health Matters

Air Pollution in the Office Environment

Posted by John on July 31st, 2008

If you get frequent headaches at work, it could be something in the air. Research shows that laser printers and copying machines contaminate indoor air with various pollutants.

Last year, the journal Environmental Science & Technology reported that some laser printers emit as many pollutants as a burning cigarette! When these small particles are inhaled, they can damage the lungs and lead to respiratory disease over time. Continue reading

How a DIY Toxic Mold Test Kit Saved Me Hundreds of Dollars

Posted by John on July 30th, 2008

Last year when I rented a “fixer upper” house in the Atlanta area, I got a good deal on the rent in exchange for doing some cosmetic work to the interior of the house. Little did I know, the house needed more than a bit of lipstick.

After I ripped up the carpet, refinished the floors, and painted the whole interior, a foul odor still lingered. I tried everything to get rid of the smell – from air purifiers to specialized cleaning solutions. Nothing seemed to work.

The first time it rained, I realized why the odor wouldn’t go away. Every time it rained, water flooded the front sunroom. The water didn’t come from one particular place, as with a single leak; rather, it streamed down the walls like a waterfall, making a large puddle on the floor. There was something fundamentally wrong with the construction of this room. Talk about sick building syndrome! Continue reading

Portable Air Conditioners — Top Five Benefits

Posted by John on July 30th, 2008

portable air conditionersIf you can’t stand the heat, don’t get out of the kitchen. Get a portable air conditioner instead! PACs, or spot coolers, have been around for a while, but their popularity has soared in recent years due to their convenience, versatility, and energy efficiency.

Here are the top five benefits of owning a portable air conditioner: Continue reading

Common Household Cleaners Pose Health Hazards

Posted by John on July 29th, 2008

HealthDay reporter Serena Williams recently exposed the health hazards in common household cleaners. A recent study concluded that many air fresheners and cleaners contain a volatile organic compound (VOC) called 1,4 dicholorobenzene (1,4 DCB) that can reduce lung function by 4 percent. (1,4 DCB is the chemical that gives mothballs their distinctive odor.)

Another study found that regular use of household cleaners in spray cans may increase the risk of developing asthma by up to 50 percent! Continue reading

Nilfisk Industrial Vacuums Lower Plant Operating Costs

Posted by John on July 29th, 2008

When you have to clean a dusty 48-acre plant full of machinery, even the best household vacuum won’t get the job done. In this case, you need a specialized industrial vacuum.

Jim Ford, CEO of Harris Woolf Almonds, is in charge of a 48-acre almond processing plant in California. The plant packages 45 million pounds of almonds per year. But before the almonds can be packaged, they must be shelled and cleaned – and this creates a lot of dust.

“It’s a very fine dust,” explains Ford, “and it’s very difficult to sweep.”

Almond dust is problematic because it attracts insects, creates a fire hazard, and can interfere with the functioning of machinery. In the past, a team of sweepers had to work around the clock to keep the plant dust-free.

To combat the dust problem, Ford sought help from Nilfisk, the world’s leading manufacturer of professional cleaning equipment. Continue reading

Protect Your Lungs from Wildfire Smoke

Posted by John on July 28th, 2008

If you’ve ever been to Los Angeles, you may wonder how the air there could get any dirtier. Well, it has… In Orange County, CA, wildfire smoke has caused fine particulate pollution to reach levels that are up to 100 times higher than those on the smoggiest days. This is a serious health threat that can cause respiratory and cardiovascular problems.

If you live near a wildfire, you should stay indoors and keep windows closed. However, even these precautions won’t keep the smoke out. The tiny particles in smoke pollution are small enough to make their way through cracks and gaps in buildings. Continue reading

Snoring and Allergies

Posted by John on July 28th, 2008

Dennis Ledford, MD, recently explained the connection between snoring and allergies in the Tampa Bay Tribune.

“Nasal congestion, one of the major symptoms of allergic nasal disease, contributes significantly to the obstructed air flow that leads to snoring,” wrote Dr. Ledford. “Snoring, in turn, may disrupt the quality or duration of sleep and is associated with a serious medical condition known as obstructive sleep apnea.”

Allergy BeddingAccording to Dr. Ledford, allergy-related snoring is most often associated with chronic or year-round allergies caused by particles found on the bed or in the bedroom. Pet dander and dust mites are the two main culprits. If you have pets, keep them out of the bedroom at all times. Invest in allergy bedding and an air purifier for your bedroom to keep dust mite allergen at a minimum. Continue reading

Vapor Steam Cleaners: Dream Machines for Green Cleaning

Posted by John on July 27th, 2008

Thanks to National Geographic and other news media outlets, more Americans are beginning to realize that toxic chemicals are all too common in modern, everyday life. From bottled water to cleaning supplies, hazardous chemicals leech into our lives and build up in our bodies.

Green cleaning, or chemical-free cleaning, not only protects the environment from toxic contamination, but it also protects your health! Because of the immensely popular green cleaning trend, even the most toxic chemical cleaning solutions are “going green” – at least in the design of their labels, if not in their composition. But cleaning solutions made from toxic chemicals are still harmful, no matter how green their labels may be.

Vapor Steam CleanersIf you’re wary of using toxic chemicals to clean your home, try a vapor steam cleaner.

Vapor steam cleaners harness the power of hot, “dry” steam to kill bacteria, mold, dust mites, and other allergens and germs. Continue reading

What Makes a HEPA Filter Special?

Posted by John on July 26th, 2008

HEPA FilterA HEPA filter is a High Efficiency Particulate Air Filter. The first HEPA filter was developed by the U.S. military in the 1940s to prevent the spread of radioactive particles. Today, while HEPA filters are still used in the nuclear fuel industry, they’ve also become popular in homes, hospitals, and various industries that require contaminant-free air.

HEPA air purifiersA HEPA filter consists of a maze of randomly arranged fibers. As small particles pass through this maze, they inevitably collide with one of the fibers and stick to it. In the case of HEPA air purifiers, a large fan forces a room’s air through the filter repeatedly, thus ensuring a constant supply of fresh air. Continue reading

Santa Fe Compact Dehumidifier Review

Posted by John on July 25th, 2008

Santa Fe Compact DehumidifierEditor’s Note: The original Santa Fe Compact Dehumidifier has been replaced by the Santa Fe Compact 2 Dehumidifier. It packs all the same features as the original model, but has a slightly higher moisture removal capacity along with a more compact and efficient design.

Don’t let its size fool you; this 65-pint capacity dehumidifier may not be much bigger than a breadbox, but it’s twice as powerful as the 65-pint dehumidifiers at your local hardware store – and it’s more energy efficient.

The Santa Fe Compact Dehumidifier is made to fit in small places – crawlspaces, basements, closets, and even between floor joists. You can suspend it from above with the optional hang kit; make it a truly portable dehumidifier with the caster kit; or hide it inside a utility closet with the ducting kit. Continue reading

Particulate Air Pollution Looms Over Beijing Olympics

Posted by John on July 24th, 2008

With the 2008 Summer Olympics less than a month away, millions of eyes study the sky over Beijing. China has taken drastic measures to clean up the air in Beijing. Many polluting factories are being shut down for the Olympic Games, and restrictions are being placed on driving. Drivers are banned from driving every other day, based on whether their license plate number is odd or even.

Still, many scientists expect Beijing’s poor air quality to cause problems for athletes and spectators alike. It’s no surprise that air pollution damages the lungs and can cause respiratory diseases like asthma, but in the past few years, researchers have discovered that poor air quality can also cause cardiovascular disease and trigger heart attacks. Continue reading

Top Environmental Control Products for Allergy Relief

Posted by John on July 23rd, 2008

Allergy medication can be an effective treatment for allergies, but it’s not the only treatment option available. Some people choose to receive allergy shots (immunotherapy); for many, these shots decrease their sensitivity to certain allergens. (I received allergy shots for mold and grass pollen nearly 20 years ago, and the shots worked well, but now I’m allergic to cat dander!)

The most effective treatment for allergies is environmental control. In a nutshell, if you can control the allergens in your environment, then your allergy symptoms will fade away. Environmental control is also cost-effective, and there are no side effects. Continue reading

AirFree Air Sterilizer Review

Posted by John on July 23rd, 2008

Several studies have suggested that, in a typical home, the kitchen is by far the dirtiest room. This makes sense if you think about it; the kitchen is where you store and prepare food, which is a vast source of biological contamination. (Just think about all of the salmonella warnings for various vegetables in the past year!)

Of course, we all try to keep the kitchen clean, but even the act of cleaning often just creates more germs. Sponges, for instance, are notorious for being bacterial breeding grounds. Simply washing a sponge doesn’t destroy all the bacteria. The best way to sterilize a sponge is to wet it and then place it in the microwave for a minute or two. The heat from the microwave is sure to fry all living microorganisms. (Note: If you try this, be sure to wet the sponge first, and let it cool down before removing it.)

AirFree Air Sterilizers The AirFree Air Sterilizer also uses heat to destroy microorganisms – and the best thing about this air purifier is that you can literally “plug it in and forget about it.” There’s absolutely no maintenance involved – no moving parts, no filters, no bulbs, nothing to clean, nothing to replace. Continue reading

Allergies & Indoor Humidity: A Delicate Balance

Posted by John on July 22nd, 2008

Perennial allergies (or year-round allergies, as opposed to seasonal allergies) are caused by reactions to indoor particles like dust mite droppings, mold spores, and pet dander.

Mold and dust mites are two of the most pervasive indoor allergens; they’re everywhere! Luckily for us allergy sufferers, these two organisms share a weakness: they cannot survive in low-humidity environments.

Dehumidifiers for AllergiesYou can prevent the growth of mold and dust mites by keeping your relative humidity below 50 percent. Dehumidifiers lower indoor humidity by removing extra water vapor from the air. Most dehumidifiers also contain a built-in hygrometer that displays the relative humidity. Continue reading

Environmental Tobacco Smoke and Your Health

Posted by John on July 22nd, 2008

Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) causes cancer, warns the National Cancer Institute. Often called second-hand smoke, ETS also causes developmental defects, heart disease, and respiratory diseases like asthma.

Tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, and many of them are known carcinogens. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that ETS causes 3,000 lung cancer deaths per year in non-smokers. Continue reading