January has been designated National Radon Action Month by the Environmental Protection Agency to raise awareness and protect families against the dangers of radon. With more deaths from this colorless, odorless gas than from drunk driving, it’s wise to take some time to learn more about it and take action to lower your family’s exposure in the home.
Each month we feature Air Quality Evangelists who offer helpful information to people regarding the importance of air quality. These Evangelists make clean air (and a healthy environment) a priority in their lives. We appreciate the information they provide, so let’s hear from November’s winners who discuss everything from allergies to reducing toxins in your home.
Scientific American Blog Network – Observations
If you haven’t heard of the Scientific American, then you’re one of the few. It’s read in print by nearly 4 million people a year and has long been a leading source for science, technology, and policy information.
Last July it launched the Scientific American Blog Network, which has quickly become the go-to hub for various editorial, community, and opinion blogs. Their wide range of topics include Energy & Sustainability, Health, Evolution, and Technology. “Observations” posts feature opinions and analysis from Scientific American editors.
Warmer weather is increasing pollen counts across the country, and this winning “Observations” post analyzes research about climate change and its influence on seasonal allergies. Research suggests allergy issues increase significantly with climate change and will only get worse moving forward. Allergy season will start earlier and affect a larger segment of the population, so review the findings and what they mean for you. Learn More About November's Air Quality Evangelists!
Since Americans across the country are spending most of their time indoors this winter, healthy indoor air is more important than ever. This morning the TODAY show mentioned 7 easy tips to improve the air quality in your home.
There are several easy, inexpensive ways to improve your indoor air quality—it can be anything from adding more fresh air to using air purifiers for multiple chemicals or large room humidifiers. Check out the video to hear their tips, and click the links below to see a few of our product offerings that may assist you this winter.
As they mention in the video, adding an air purifier with HEPA filtration is one of the easiest ways to remove unwanted particles and allergens from your home. We offer a number of HEPA air purifiers, so see if one is right for you. Get More Tips!
Here’s a quick rundown of five of the most common household allergens to help you identify the source and restore the health of your home. Read more about common household allergens.
Have you noticed a strange pungent odor in your home lately? Perhaps you have been coughing, sneezing, or suffering from other allergy-related symptoms and can’t find the trigger? These can all be signs that your home has a mold problem. Before you condemn your home and call a demolition crew, here are a few tips for identifying a mold problem, treating it, and avoiding future issues.
Most mold experts agree that small amounts of mold are present in every home. However, large amounts of mold can cause hay fever symptoms and be particularly irritating to people with allergies, immune suppression, and asthma, according to the CDC.
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.
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.
Radon, a cancer-causing gas that can reach toxic levels in your home, is responsible for approximately 21,000 lung cancer deaths in the U.S. each year. Many victims never even picked up a cigarette. And even more frightening is the idea that at this moment, you may not even know you have a problem. That’s why it’s so important to test your home for radon. January is National Radon Action Month and there’s never been a better time to find out if you’re at risk.
Radon is formed when the chemical element uranium naturally decays in soil, rock, and water. As it breaks down, tiny radioactive particles are released into the air. These particles enter and become trapped in your lungs as you breathe, increasing your risk of developing lung cancer.
If you were to ask me what I knew about lead a few days ago, I wouldn’t have had much of an answer for you. In fact, I probably would have unsurely stated “I know it’s supposed to be bad for you?” And then regaled you with the story of how my sweet grandmother still has her entire collection of vintage Fiestaware, which yes, is rumored to be bathed in a lead-ridden glaze. The pieces are lovely, and unfortunately, also lead hazards, so they are currently living in boxes.
But a lot changes in a few days. And with the addition of our new EPA-approved LeadCheck Lead Test Kit, I know a lot more about the dangers of lead exposure and lead poisoning. I also know how easy it is now to test your home’s surfaces for this dangerous toxin with an inexpensive allergen test kit like this one. That way, you’ll know when to take action to prevent serious health effects in you and your family.
While long known to be a harmful substance, formaldehyde was officially declared by the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) to be a known carcinogen on June 10th, 2011. Included in the 12th edition of the Report on Carcinogens, formaldehyde was noted to cause otherwise rare nasal, sinus, and throat cancers as well as myeloid leukemia. Formaldehyde had already been listed as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” in prior editions of the report since the 1980s; its updated status to “known carcinogen” was prompted by recent examinations of occupational and animal studies on the effects of prolonged exposure to the gas.
Formaldehyde, a colorless gas with many industrial applications, can be found in furniture glues, car exhaust, plywood and particle wood, building materials, cleaning products, cosmetic chemicals, and biological preservatives, among other places. It is also released during combustion and is therefore generally present in fireplaces, stoves and ovens, smog, and tobacco smoke. Traces of the chemical have been measured in food and drinking water, and our bodies naturally produce formaldehyde in small quantities.
Restful sleep is one of the most important elements in your baby’s healthy development. Two simple ways to ensure that your baby gets the best sleep possible are by testing your nursery air for irritants using a test kit from IndoorAirTest and using naturally hypoallergenic Kumi Kookoon nursery bedding.
Find out how these products can help your baby rest better
With the launch of our Sweet Dreams Nursery Contest and Sweepstakes last week, things have been a little hectic around the Sylvane office. However, now that things seem to be a little calmer, let’s move on to the third installment of our 28 Tips to Improve Your Indoor Air Quality blog series.
- Leave shoes at the door to keep pesticides, dirt, and other germs out of your home. Occasionally, the quick brushing that you give your shoes on the doormat is not effective at keeping harmful irritants out of your home. If possible, leave shoes on shoe racks or or other shelves located in a garage or other area close to your door.
- Choose a green paint to reduce exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Just because the noxious odors from your latest painting project are gone doesn’t mean that your indoor air is safe. Some paints can release harmful levels of VOCs into your environment causing headaches, dizziness, respiratory ailments, and other issues. Look for paints labeled “zero VOC” and “no VOC”.
- Use a carbon monoxide detector to protect your home. Carbon monoxide cannot be seen or smelled, so the best way to keep your family safe from this “silent killer” is to use a carbon monoxide detector like the Safety Siren Pro Series Combination Gas Detector. This gas detector samples your home’s air every 2.5 minutes for carbon monoxide. If this gas—methane and propane—is detected, visual and audible alarms will be activated.
Although it doesn’t feel like it in many parts of the nation, we are quickly approaching cooler fall weather and soon it will be winter. Now is the time to inspect your home to ensure that everything is in proper working order for the upcoming chill. As you prepare your home for cooler weather, don’t forget to check for possible sources of carbon monoxide.
Often called the “silent killer”, carbon monoxide (CO) is a potentially lethal colorless, odorless gas that can be caused by malfunctions and leaks in many gas-, oil-, or coal-burning appliances, including:
- Gas Stoves and Ranges
- Hot Water Heaters
- Gas Refrigerators
- Clothes Dryers
Carbon monoxide is also emitted from generators, gas-powered tools, automobiles, lawnmowers, and more.
Find out more about keeping your home safe from CO exposure
Last Friday (the 13th), one of our employees – with a particularly keen sense of smell – detected a potentially deadly problem with our office’s air quality. Walking back and forth from the warehouse, our warehouse manager, Drew, (and his bloodhound-like olfactory sense) sniffed traces of gas that seemed to be emanating from the Sylvane break room. As an initial step, we confirmed the presence of a dangerous gas using our trusty Safety Siren Pro Series Combination Gas Detector. But when it was clear that the odor was growing stronger, we thought it was best to call in a natural gas expert to diagnose the problem and advise us on how to handle it. A half-hour later, we identified the scary pollutant – carbon monoxide. The culprit? More on that in a minute. Read more about carbon monoxide
Cleaner, pollutant-free air adds almost 5 months to our lives. So say the results of an interesting study published in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine. The study, headed by an epidemiologist at Brigham Young University (BYU), tracked the correlation between particulate pollution levels and life expectancy over 2 decades in 51 U.S. cities. Researchers say it’s the first to illustrate that reducing air pollution can translate into a longer lifespan. How’s that for a reason to make an air purifier a permanent part of your environment? Read more about how cleaner air can help you live longer