February may be a short month, but there was no shortage of intriguing air quality posts! A wide-range of articles from around the world made this month’s Air Quality Evangelists list—and they’re some of our most diverse choices ever. Check out our favorite blog posts and learn a few tips to keep you healthy indoors and out: Meet our Air Quality Evangelists for February!
Let’s face it: When most people think of plants, they often think of allergies. As a result, many people choose to keep plants outside to reduce the likelihood of suffering from the sneezing, itching, and coughing that may occur in the presence of certain plants. However, a study published by NASA revealed that some common household plants can actually improve indoor air quality.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), levels of pollutants inside the home are often two to five times higher than outdoor pollutant levels. You’re probably thinking, “How is that possible? I clean my floors and counter tops regularly.” Well, don’t be too hard on yourself because these excessive levels aren’t necessarily the result of poor housekeeping. Find out which plants can clean your indoor air
As we enter the second month of 2013, people are trying to keep up healthy habits and start the year off feeling good. Unfortunately, the flu and other health issues are making it more difficult this year. This makes understanding your indoor environment (and the air you breathe) even more important.
Our picks for this month’s Air Quality Evangelists all focus on the importance of your indoor environment and what your family can do to avoid health problems that originate there. Check out our favorite blog posts this month to learn what you can do to stay healthy! Read More About Our January Air Quality Evangelists!
Until very recently, phthalates (pronounced “THAL-ates” ) haven’t gotten a lot of coverage. Since they’ve been linked to a number of health issues, it’s a good idea to take a look at some of the common sources of this hidden danger.
The bad news is that list of dangers is pretty long. Phthalates, which are chemicals added to plastics to improve their durability, can be found in literally hundreds of products, many of which are found in most American homes.
Many people love burning candles and incense in their homes for the scent and atmosphere they create. Unfortunately, research shows that this isn’t the healthiest practice for your indoor air. According to a recent environmental study, candles and incense give off a high level
of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), damaging indoor air quality. This is due to the ingredients in many of them, particularly petroleum and fragrance.
Fortunately, there are less harmful ways to replace your habit of burning candles and incense—in fact, you can even improve your indoor air with some of these healthier alternatives!
Although it took a while to feel like winter in many parts of the country, there’s no doubt that cold weather has arrived. As we start turning on our furnaces and space heaters, there are a few things to keep in mind. An overload of dust can be dispersed by running your furnace, especially for the first time. Help keep your air clean and fresh (and lower your risk of feeling bad around the holidays) by completing a few small tasks around your house.
When you turn on your furnace for the first time each year, you might notice a “burnt dust” smell in the air—I know I did! During warmer months, your heating ducts accumulate a lot of dust and other allergens. When it’s time to turn it back on, your home is flooded with all that has accumulated over the last year, which can lead to allergies and other respiratory issues.
It may not seem like a huge deal, but the dust and other particles floating around can also compromise your immune system. If your body is busy fighting off the impurities in your air, you’re more vulnerable to other infections like the common cold or flu.
Fortunately there are a couple of ways you can diminish this problem:
- Use air filters to catch the dust and debris. Clean permanent filters and use HEPA filters to catch as many unwanted allergens as possible.
- Install eco friendly heaters that don’t spread as much dust and allergens into the air.
- Have your heating ducts cleaned regularly, especially just before you fire them up for the year.
- Use a humidifier if your air is dry. Dry air can irritate your sinuses and cause sore throats, so make sure your humidity is between 35% and 50%.
The best way to improve your indoor air while running your furnace or heater is to use all of these strategies. The bottom line is that it’s not the air that’s bad for you; it’s the dust and allergens that accumulate when your heater’s not in use. Be sure to have adequate filtration and cleaning processes, so you can enjoy a warm home without some of these nasty side effects.
I’ve been running my heat for more than two months now (I live in North Dakota)! When did you decide it was time to kick on the furnace?
Photo Credit: Fireplace by Travis Wiens on Flickr.
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!
The weather is cooling down, and for many of us, that means our pets will be spending much more time inside. Unfortunately, our beloved furry friends can bring in a lot of allergens – especially when it comes to their hair and dander.
Even those of us who don’t have these allergies should aim to diminish pet hair and dander in the home to keep the indoor air as pure as possible. Plus your pet-allergic friends will thank you!
Fortunately, we can enjoy our pets’ company without suffering from reduced indoor air quality.
Traveling around the holidays is unavoidable for people across the US. Some travelers are lucky (or unlucky?) enough to stay with relatives, but others don’t have that option or prefer to stay in a hotel.
The problem with hotels is that you never know what you’re walking into. Several chains don’t clean their rooms properly let alone have allergen controls in place. This can mean a less than enjoyable experience for people like me who suffer from allergies. So what are our options? Are we doomed to the basement couch this holiday season? Based on our research, the answer is no. See the Top 5 Hotel Chains for Allergy-Sufferers!
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.
Earlier this week, a string of bad storms blew through metro Atlanta, at one point leaving 100,000 homes—my entire neighborhood included—without power. Shortly after we lost electricity and realized it wasn’t coming back on anytime soon, my husband and I began lighting every candle in the house to help supplement our two lone flashlights that definitely were not making the cut. Remembering the importance of indoor air ventilation and how candle soot can damage your indoor air quality, I cracked open a few windows to help get airflow moving.
This apparently wasn’t enough. Within a half-hour, my eyes began to feel irritated; I could feel my lungs growing tighter; and the humid, stale, un-conditioned air felt clammy and downright unhealthy. Eventually, we had to get outside for some fresh air relief. It was then that it dawned on me—we were experiencing the negative effects that extreme weather can have on your indoor air quality. It was a strange coincidence. After all, I was working on a blog about this very subject.
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.
Last week, I posted the first seven tips from my four-part blog series, “28 Tips to Improve Your Indoor Air”. These indoor air improvement suggestions were initially posted on Twitter and Facebook. Created in observance of National Care About Your Indoor Air Month, these suggestions can help you not only rejuvenate your indoor air but create a healthier overall environment in your home. The second set of tips is listed below. Be sure to check back for the last two installments!
Read more of our indoor air quality tips
In observance of National Care About Your Indoor Air Month, I posted a new indoor air quality tip each day during the month of February on Twitter and Facebook. The first 7 are listed below—just in case you missed one. Stay tuned for the next three installments to read all of our better air tips!
- Change or clean your air filters regularly. One of the keys to keeping your indoor air quality clean and healthy is to change the air filters in your air purifier, window or portable air conditioner, central air system, and other filter-containing devices according to manufacturer guidelines. This will also protect the life of the appliance. Join our Better Air Program to receive free convenient reminders when it is time to replace your air purifier filters.
- Use “green” cleaning solutions like steam cleaners. Steam cleaners and similar products are great for removing unwanted dirt, debris, bacteria, and viruses from your indoor environment without the use of harsh chemicals. Since steam cleaners just use ordinary water as the cleaning agent, no chemical residues or noxious odors are left behind.
- Line dry clothes outside or use a safe dryer setting. Some clothes can’t be safely dried in a clothes dryer, so many people opt to hang them in the bathroom. Hanging clothes in the bathroom can actually foster unhealthy humidity levels and encourage the growth of mold and mildew. Line drying clothes outside or using the dryer when possible will help you maintain healthy air quality in your bathroom and throughout your entire home.