Posted by Pam on September 6th, 2012
My mother, a long-time smoker, loves every product on the market that makes her house smell “clean” and “fresh”. As for me, I’m not so sure. The intellectual part of my brain eschews this whole concept of corporate fragrance, but those smells from a bottle do fill my heart.
“What’s the harm?” My emotional brain pleads with the intellectual brain.
For the longest time, Intellectual Brain could only argue that those fragrances were so strong and artificial, there simply had to be something wrong with them. Science will figure it out someday.
Well folks, that day is here. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has linked dichlorobenzene, one of the chemical common to air fresheners, to early puberty in girls.
In the past 100 years, the age of a girl’s first menstrual cycle has decreased about 4 years, with the average onset now around 12 to 13 years. In the 1990s, nearly every American tested was positive for the presence of dichlorobenzene in their urine.
Read more about how we are exposed to this pollutant.
Posted by Pam on August 28th, 2012
Ever opened up a new toy for your kid, or a box of assembly-required furniture, and been knocked over by the smell in the box? After romanticizing about being the first person to breathe in that air since the box left its country of origin, my attention goes to a little voice inside my head that says, “Cough cough – run! Nobody should breathe that stuff in!”
But then I shrug it off, believing that if there really were a danger, my government would put a label on the box or run public service announcements warning me of the danger of breathing in factory air from China.
Turns out we should give pause when opening that box.
A recent study followed formaldehyde release from the unpacking and assembly of self-assembly furniture. Researchers found that unpacking and setting up a 2-door wardrobe increased the formaldehyde concentration in the home in a measurable way. And the formaldehyde levels differed with the finish on the wardrobe, with the unfinished models emitting higher levels of formaldehyde than the highly-lacquered glossy models.
Read more about surprising sources of formaldehyde in your home.
Posted by Ashley on August 17th, 2012
School is getting back in session. Whether you’re heading off to college, heading back to college, or sending your child off for the first time—there are some things that can make the experience go much smoother. Most dorm packing lists cover the basics, but they don’t take into account those things that can help you feel more comfortable in your home away from home. Plus, if you suffer from allergies or asthma, you have more to think about, not knowing what symptom triggers await you.
To help you (or your studious son or daughter) create a healthier, more comfortable dorm room, check out our list of must-have products.
Many dorms lack central air conditioning. Other dorms have it, but it might not be powerful enough to cool you during the late summer months and you might not have control over the thermostat. A great stand-in, a compact table fan fits easily on your bedside table, window sill, or desk to circulate a gentle breeze that cools you and keeps your space refreshed while you hit the books.
Our Pick: Weighing just under 4 pounds, the Vornado 573 Air Circulator features 3 cooling speeds, quiet operation, and a sleek minimalist design that looks great on your nightstand.
Read on for more dorm room essentials
Posted by Ivey on August 7th, 2012
It seems like it just began and already the 2012 summer season is quickly coming to a close, which can only mean one thing for many parents, teachers, and kids. It’s time to head back to school. While students worry about first impressions, parents race around to secure the necessary school supplies, and teachers get their curriculum in order, there may be unseen dangers lurking in schools.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air pollution levels can be two to five times higher than outdoor areas. The EPA also points out that approximately 20 percent of the U.S. population spends their days indoors in elementary, middle, and high schools. USA TODAY notes that thresholds for chemical exposure are typically based on results from adults exposure. As a result, little is known or can be accurately predicted about child and adolescent exposure to airborne chemicals. This is significant since children can be more vulnerable to the effects of chemical exposure due to a variety of factors, including still-growing bodies and their inability to properly protect themselves from exposure to environmental hazards.
Find out ways that you can improve your school's indoor air quality.
Posted by Vivian on August 1st, 2012
Traveling can be fun and relaxing, but if you have allergies or chemical sensitivities, it can also be stressful. Luckily, hotels are increasingly offering “allergy-friendly” room options, and some hotels are entirely allergy-friendly.
According to a 2010 survey by the American Hotel & Lodging Association, in fact, 38 percent of hotels offer allergy-friendly rooms.
What do these promises mean, however? Can you count on hotels that claim to be allergy-friendly to really be so?
Allergy-friendly offerings can vary greatly from hotel to hotel, so as a traveler, it’s up to you to find out exactly what a hotel will offer before you book a room and stay there. Doing your research upfront will help save you headaches down the road.
Read on for more tips for finding an allergy-friendly hotel.
Posted by Vivian on July 12th, 2012
The Colorado fires have affected more than just homes, forests and livestock. They’ve also impacted many people throughout the state and beyond who live downwind from them. Toxic smoke has filled the air around Colorado for weeks, and people with a sensitivity to smoke have had little relief from the fumes.
Forest fire smoke contains a soup of nasty chemicals, including nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, ammonia, and more. When these fires start burning houses the chemicals get even more toxic. The air was rated as “unhealthy” for days throughout Colorado this summer by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. According to AIRNow, this smoke can cause an increase in asthma attacks and other respiratory disorders among those exposed to it even for short periods, and the longer the exposure, the greater the risk of negative health effects. Those with heart or lung diseases, the elderly, and children are particularly susceptible to the dangers of smoke exposure.
Read more about how you can protect the respiratory health of you and your family in case of a wildfire.
Posted by Allison on June 22nd, 2012
Your kitchen is where you prepare your child’s favorite meals. It’s where you share your secret family recipes with your new spouse. It’s also one of the dirtiest rooms in your home.
According to a new study, kitchens can contain air that is three times more polluted than what you breathe on a busy city street.
What can you do to improve the indoor air quality in your kitchen? Here is a list of do’s and don’ts.
Turn on ventilation fans while cooking.
Cooking generates a lot of heat, steam, and odors that need to be ventilated. Ventilation fans help suck in cooking fumes, which can be dangerous at high concentrations. It is easier for these fans to ventilate the air while you’re cooking, versus after the gases disperse throughout your kitchen.
Ventilation fans can also help relieve your air conditioner. A typical home stove generates 7,000 BTUs of heat per burner, on average. That’s 28,000 BTUs when four burners are in use. Most residential room air conditioners have cooling capacities that range from about 6,000 BTUs to 12,000 BTUs per hour. So when you’re cooking an elaborate dinner, your AC is working just as hard as you are!
Read more tips for improving the air quality in your kitchen.
Posted by Tony on June 20th, 2012
It may feel like it’s been summer for a while now (it certainly has here in Atlanta), but summer didn’t officially start until today. To celebrate the season, we’re offering a 20% off Cooling Sale! Several popular brands of air conditioners, fans, and evaporative coolers are on sale, so you can enjoy summer instead of sweating through it.
Here are a few products you’ll find 20% off at Sylvane.com through Sunday, July 8, 2012:
Posted by Allison on June 1st, 2012
Swimming is my favorite form of exercise. To feel so weightless while working every muscle in your body is invigorating to me. I’ve been on swim teams since I was twelve, and as an adult I try to swim three times a week; and almost every pool I have used has been indoors.
Is it a miracle I haven’t developed asthma?
For years, studies have shown that children who spend a lot of time in indoor pools have a higher risk of developing asthma than non-swimmers. This is traditionally attributed to the addition of chlorine to the water.
Actually, the problem with chlorinated pools isn’t the chlorine itself, but the gases produced when it combines with organic chemicals like sweat and saliva.
Learn more about the link between chlorinated pools and lung damage.
Posted by Allison on May 30th, 2012
It’s that time again! Each month, we give shout-outs to some of our favorite websites and blogs. These sites are written by folks who appreciate the importance of indoor air quality. Whether they suffer from allergies, have children with severe asthma, or work as respiratory therapists – everyone has a story to tell, and we want to share theirs with you.
Here are this month’s Air Quality Evangelists!
Green Building Advisor
Green Building Advisor is the go-to website for green builders, remodelers, and designers. Their articles are written by experts in a variety of fields – sustainability, design, energy-efficiency, indoor air quality, and more. This site covers everything about green building, from product guides to building strategies. If you are in the business of building, you should definitely check them out.
Winning Post: According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 4.6 million of asthma cases in the U.S. are attributable to dampness and mold exposure in the home. Often rain and plumbing leaks are the cause of moisture problems. In this article, Allison Bailes III (Ph.D and asthma-sufferer) discusses a scarier reason there is so much mold growth in homes: wet, moldy building materials.
See the rest of this month's Air Quality Evangelists!
Posted by Tony on May 26th, 2012
It’s shaping up to be yet another scorching summer in most U.S. cities. Make sure you’re ready by taking advantage of our site-wide Memorial Day Sale! You’ll save 10% on all orders over $150 this weekend, May 26-May 28, 2012, using coupon code MEM10*.
We offer several new products to help you beat the heat, including air conditioners, misting fans, and dehumidifiers. They’ll all keep your indoor environment cool and comfortable during the fast-approaching, hot summer days.
Posted by Allison on April 27th, 2012
You know breathing clean air benefits your lungs and heart. But what about your waistline?
More and more researchers are uncovering links between obesity and long-term exposure to toxins, chemicals, and compounds.
A recent hypothesis suggests that rising carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the environment might be contributing to the obesity epidemic in our country. The idea is that breathing too much CO2 causes our blood to become more acidic, which triggers neurons that regulate appetite, sleep, and metabolism to fire more rapidly. As a result, we could be eating more, sleeping less, and gaining more weight.
Read more about air pollution's impact on this rising obesity epidemic.
Posted by Allison on April 20th, 2012
Since its inception in 1970, Earth day has marked a time for festivals, rallies, and celebrations focused on the awareness of environmental issues that impact our planet’s health. People across the globe gather to plant trees or pledge energy conservation goals.
But what if you can’t find the time? You care about the Earth, and you’d like to do something to promote its well-being.
One of the best ways you can celebrate Earth Day is to inspect your indoor environment for ways you could improve energy efficiency, eco-friendly behavior, and indoor air quality.
You may be asking: how does my behavior indoors impact the health of our planet? While the air you breathe in your home can be drastically different than the air you’re exposed to outside, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) consistently ranks indoor air pollution as one of the top five environmental risks to public health.
Find out how to celebrate Earth Day without leaving the comfort of your home.
Posted by Allison on March 26th, 2012
Last month, we announced the launch of our new Air Quality Evangelist program. The goal of this project is to celebrate other blogs and websites that appreciate good air quality and provide insight on how you can improve yours.
Now it’s time to announce this month’s Air Quality Evangelists!
Kathy Scoleri is a web designer, author, and mother of two boys. When she was expecting her first child in 2007 – and spending hours researching Bisphenol-A, hormone mimicking chemicals, and toy recalls – she knew she couldn’t be the only parent scouring the web for this information. So she created SafeMama to keep it all in one place.
Winning Post: There are many choices you can make to Keep Toxic Chemicals Out Of Your Home. In this article, SafeMama hits some major points – from losing the shoes while inside to using HEPA-filtered vacuums.
See March's Air Quality Evangelists!
Posted by Allison on March 19th, 2012
The beginning of spring is the one time of year that I get super jazzed about cleaning, so I always make sure to take it seriously. I leave no blind un-dusted and no pillow cover un-washed. Dust, dirt and allergens don’t stand a chance in my home.
This spring, you owe it to yourself to enjoy a clean that’s more than dirt-deep. I’m talking allergen-deep. Dust mite-deep. Get down to the nitty gritty and really tackle what’s lurking in your home’s air. With the help of these 10 spring cleaning tips, you can do it without making yourself crazy.
1. Make a schedule. If you have a basement, start there – this room usually has the worst air quality. The next day, tackle germs and bacteria in the bathroom. Move onto the living room on day three, and so on. Even if you live in a 600 square foot apartment like mine, this method helps you stay focused on the task at hand and avoid becoming overwhelmed with the amount of work ahead of you.
2. Ditch the store-bought cleaners for a vapor steam cleaner. Typical household cleaners often contain harsh toxic chemicals that can aggravate allergies and ultimately cause health complications. Steam cleaners use pure vapor steam to naturally disinfect and deodorize counter tops, windows, appliances, and upholstery.
Keep reading for more spring cleaning tips.