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Category: Indoor Air Quality

What’s Affecting Your Indoor Air Quality?

What’s Affecting Your Indoor Air Quality?

There’s a lot of concern over air pollution — especially the haze you can distinctly see settling on the horizon. But it might be surprising to learn that the air quality indoors is often just as bad, and in many cases worse, than the air outdoors.  People, on average, spend the majority — about 90% — of their day indoors, so they’re more likely to inhale the pollutants that are lurking indoors.

Poor indoor air quality can be blamed partially on common pollutants entering buildings through air leaks in the structure. But indoor air pollutants can also come from sources commonly found indoors, where they often become trapped, as newer homes tend to be better built — meant to retain heat and cold better, and not be drafty. While there are obvious positives to better quality homes, their unintended ability to trap pollutants isn’t one of them.  Household items like consumer products, gas appliances, building materials and furniture can all release toxic emissions, called VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that can lead to serious repercussions for the health of you and your family.

VOCs are organic chemicals that have a high vapor pressure at ordinary room temperature. They’re emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids, and can include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. According to the EPA, concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors. Organic chemicals are widely used as ingredients in household products. Paints, varnishes and wax all contain organic solvents, as do many cleaning, disinfecting, cosmetic, degreasing and hobby products. All of these products can release VOCs while you’re using them, and, to some degree, when they’re stored.

Pollutants come in two main forms: particulate (particles) and gasses.  Particulate pollutants include things such as fine dust, dust mites, pet dander, mold spores, and pollen.  Gas pollutants include VOCs that come from many sources including cleaning solutions, carpets, building materials, and plastics.  Other common pollutants include tobacco smoke, radon, and fumes from fuel combustion (from furnaces, gas stoves, cars, etc.).

Poor indoor air quality can aggravate allergy symptoms, like runny nose and watery eyes, or it may lead to headaches, dry eyes, nasal congestion, nausea and fatigue.  Low quality indoor air also wreaks havoc for asthmatics. The EPA also reports that “indoor allergens and irritants play a significant role in triggering asthma attacks. Triggers are things that can cause asthma symptoms, an episode or attack or make asthma worse. If you have asthma, you may react to just one trigger or you may find that several things act as triggers. All of these air pollutants may lead to serious health consequences over time.”

The best way to protect against indoor air pollution is to prevent or minimize the release of indoor pollutants.  Indoor air pollutants can be reduced by

  • following safety instructions when using chemical products
  • using appliances properly
  • taking precautions when using building materials
  • carpets and fabrics that emit gasses
  • keeping the indoors free form dust, mold and mildew
  • providing good ventilation

Another way to reduce poor indoor air quality is by using a high quality air purifier to help remove many of these contaminants from the air.  This will ensure that the air you’re breathing is clean, fresh and free from harmful contaminants.

 

 

 

 

Eliminating Tough Odors With Smart Technology

Eliminating Tough Odors With Smart Technology

When it comes to tackling bad odors in your home, conventional wisdom (or a trip to your local grocery store) offers little recourse. The most available options are usually heavily-scented sprays or sachets designed to simply cover up the offending odor. So instead of a kitchen that smells like baked fish, you now have a kitchen that smells like baked fish and lavender.

shutterstock_181748816The only real way to stop odor is at its source, and the best way to do that is with smart air purification. Unlike traditional air purifiers, Vollara’s air purification helps reduce allergens, airborne pollutants, and stale, lingering odors.

One of the greatest advantages of ActivePure Technology is the freedom it brings from chemicals and fragrances. ActivePure Technology  freshens the air inside your home by sending supercharged  molecules out into the environment to seek and rapidly destroy contaminants, fungi, mold, and odor-causing bacteria – even ones that try to hide in hard-to-reach cracks and crevasses. For individuals or families with sensitivities, this can be an ideal solution since introducing heavy fragrances or harsh chemicals into the home environment frequently exacerbates allergies, sensitivities and asthma.

Our ActivePure Technology is available in a variety of sizes: the smallest unit is perfect for use in hotels, stinky laundry rooms or around hampers or litterboxes; larger units like the FreshAir cover more square feet, as one unit can often deodorize an entire space, like a living room or bedroom. Additional features, like adjustable fan speeds and purifier settings, can create a customizable cleaning experience for every home.

Don’t rely on harmful chemicals found in aerosol sprays and potpourri to simply cover up odors — get to the root cause of the problem instead and knock it out with ActivePure Technology from Vollara!

Banish Stinky Odor With FreshAir!

Banish Stinky Odor With FreshAir!

If you’ve ever owned a Vollara FreshAir unit, then you know what kind of positive impact it can have on your home, your family and your overall wellness.

The FreshAir works by replicating a process that occurs in nature, which then destroys odors, eliminates smoke and reduces harmful contaminants ordinary cleaning can leave behind. So if you or someone in your family struggles with breathing difficulties, allergies or asthma, the FreshAir can be an invaluable asset to your home.

But consider this: there are a lot of great uses for your FreshAir unit that you may not have even thought about. One of the best ideas we’ve heard? Using the FreshAir to deodorize a stinky closet!

Does your daughter or son play sports, bringing home smelly, stained uniforms? Do you or your spouse keep that old pair of running shoes or hiking boots in your closet? What about hunting clothes? Did your recent trip to see Aunt Mary (who smokes) take a toll on your favorite coat?

Try this: use a FreshAir in your closet. Placing the unit inside of the offending closet and closing the door for a few hours will have an amazing effect on offensive odors. You’ll immediately notice a difference when you step back into that closet and take a deep breath. If it’s one item in particular (your kid’s basketball shoes, for example) you can place that item right in front of your FreshAir unit for even more odor removal.

From diaper pails to stinky pet beds to the kitchen the morning after you cooked halibut – the FreshAir works to destroy odors, not mask them with artificial scents and chemicals.

What are some of your favorite uses for your FreshAir unit?

 

Sleep Deprived? How Better Breathing Can Lead to Better Sleep

Sleep Deprived? How Better Breathing Can Lead to Better Sleep

 

Sleep is essential for all humans. For many of us, however, true, restful sleep can also prove to be elusive. Not getting enough quality sleep can create negative effects. While one night of little sleep isn’t usually enough to put anyone at serious (and really, who hasn’t experienced a bad night of sleep before?), chronic sleep deprivation can create major problems like increasing risk of stroke, increasing the risk of diabetes, memory loss, becoming more accident prone, premature aging and higher chances of obesity.

 

As anyone who’s experienced allergies or asthma can tell you, struggling to breathe can also have a huge impact on the amount and quality of sleep you can get. This is especially true for children, whose brains are still developing, and who can be particularly affected by lack of sleep. Additionally, anyone with chronic breathing issues like sleep apnea or COPD can be more susceptible to sleep deprivation as well.

 

According to the American Psychological Association:

 

  • More than 40% of adults experience daytime sleepiness severe enough to interfere with their daily activities at least a few days each month.
  • 69 % of children experience one or more sleep problems a few nights or more during a week.[1]

 

It stands to reason that improving one’s ability to breathe can have positive, far-reaching health benefits, one of which is achieving a better night’s sleep. So what are some ways to start breathing (and sleeping!) better?

 

  • If you have excess weight, losing weight will help, particularly if you suffer from sleep apnea. The American College of Physicians recommends weight loss for people who are overweight or obese. Why? “People who are overweight have extra tissue in the back of their throat, which can fall down over the airway and block the flow of air into the lungs while they sleep.”[2] Otherwise, using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask at night can be necessary to regulate breathing (and facilitate sleep).

 

  • If you have severe allergies or suffer from asthma, breathing well enough to get quality sleep at night could prove frustrating. According to The Sleep Foundation, “…rising cases of asthma could be the result of environmental factors such as an increase in exposure to pollution or indoor allergens.”[3] Asthmatics often struggle with nighttime coughing, wheezing and breathlessness that can interfere with sleep.

Removing as many allergy and asthma triggers from the home – and the bedroom in particular – can help. Drapery, excess bedding, carpets & rugs, stuffed animals and pets can all complicate breathing for asthmatics.

Vacuuming regularly with a machine that is equipped with a HEPA filter can help remove allergens from the air. Investing in a high-quality air purifier can also go a long way toward greatly reducing contaminants, dander, dust and particulate from your indoor environment. Eliminating sources of odor – be it organic (mold, mildew) or synthetic (air fresheners, potpourri) – may also help. Improving the indoor air quality of your home can significantly improve breathing.

 

  • If weight loss and significant improvements of your indoor air quality still aren’t helping you breathe better at night, visit with your physician. He or she might refer you to a sleep clinic, which will monitor and observe your sleeping patterns to see if you have an underlying sleep disorder. Or your physician might prescribe medication, such as a steroid inhaler, to facilitate better breathing.

 

 

 

Sources:
[1] http://www.apa.org/topics/sleep/why.aspx
[2] http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/weight-loss-breathing-devices-still-best-for-treating-obstructive-sleep-apnea-201310026713
[3] http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-disorders-problems/asthma-and-sleep

What Space Certification Means For You

What Space Certification Means For You

Since its inception in March 1983, The Space Foundation has been doing exactly what it set out to do: “foster, develop and promote a greater understanding and awareness of the practical and theoretical utilization of space for the benefit of civilization and the fostering of a peaceful and prosperous world.”¹ It is the foremost advocate for all sectors of space, and is a global nonprofit leader in space awareness activities, educational programs, major industry events, and research.

 

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 4.51.58 PMThe Space Certification program is one major way The Space Foundation, in collaboration with NASA, helps improve public awareness and appreciation for the many practical benefits of space, space technologies, and how they improve life on Earth, ultimately making space more interesting and accessible to everyone. Products and services licensed to display the Space Certification seal are guaranteed to have stemmed from or been dramatically improved by technologies originally developed for space exploration or to have a significant impact on teaching people about the value of space utilization.²

 

Space technology touches and enhances practically every aspect of life on Earth. The fundamental research and development that makes it possible for us to explore the universe also makes our lives safer, more eco-friendly, more comfortable, and more productive. Over the last fifty years, much of what improves our lives, like healthcare, communications, travel, recreation, and entertainment, came to be what they are today thanks to technology originally developed for space exploration. Often referred to as “spinoffs”, there are literally thousands of products and services that incorporate space technology.

 

The list of technologies originally developed for space that affect our everyday lives is overwhelming: GPS, satellite TV and radio, cellular communications, advanced industrial lubricants, robotics, plastics, cordless tools, medical and chiropractic diagnostic equipment, ceramic hair straighteners, oil spill clean-up materials, radiant barrier insulation, temperature-regulating clothing, comfortable mattresses, nutrition supplements, water and air purification systems, and hundreds of other inventions including a long list of life-saving medical technologies.

 

Vollara’s ActivePure Technology is based on a variation of the technology originally developed for use on board the International Space Station. Recognized as exclusive Certified Space Technology by the Space Foundation in their category, Vollara’s ActivePure Technology can be found in

 

  • FreshAir
  • FreshAir Cube
  • FreshAir Mobile
  • LaundryPure
  • SafeHearth

 

These products combine the science of space with the power of nature to provide you with effective and proven environmental products.

 

 

Sources:

¹ http://www.spacefoundation.org/about/history

² http://www.spacefoundation.org/programs/space-certification

What All Can You Clean With Re:Move?

What All Can You Clean With Re:Move?

Everyone wants a clean home, but the myriad cleaning products on the market can give anyone pause once you stop to look at the ingredient list. Most commonly-available household cleaners are harsh, full of chemicals, and contain synthetic fragrances and dyes. Fumes from these cleaners can exacerbate breathing difficulties, and using several in combination can create a noxious build-up. And if your skin is sensitive to chemicals, you might notice a redness or rash on any part of your skin that comes into contact with that cleaner.

With Re:Move, you can still get those desired levels of clean, but without the harshness, chemicals or multiple bottles. Re:Move is plant-based and biodegradable, making it easier on you and the environment. It’s also multi-purpose, and can be used in multiple applications across your home.

Re:Move, first and foremost, is a great stain remover for tough laundry stains. It’s gentle on fabric, yet tough and effective on stains. Using it for pre-treating a stain makes Re:Move a great alternative for store-bought stain removers.

Re:Move is also incredibly concentrated, so a little goes a long way. You might find that a bottle of Re:Move lasts you much longer than your average cleanser. Because of its concentration, you can dilute it with water and create a spray bottle full of a powerful cleaner you can use around your home:

  • countertops
  • sink basins
  • tubs
  • faucets
  • tile
  • outdoor furniture
  • fan blades
  • door handles
  • and much more!
Kids With Asthma: The Quest for Quality Sleep

Kids With Asthma: The Quest for Quality Sleep

 

Everyone can think of a time when they didn’t get enough sleep – that heavy, groggy feeling lingers throughout the day, and that dragging usually indicates you’re not operating at your best. When children don’t get enough sleep, they also feel the effects, which usually make them cranky and difficult, and their performance at school could suffer. Of course, with the advent of technology, kids are arguably more sleep deprived than ever – but sleep deprivation can have natural causes, too. Kids who struggle with any breathing difficulty, whether it’s allergies or asthma, can lose precious hours of sleep in their quest to simply breathe.

 

Too little sleep can affect a child’s growth and immune system. Sleep-deprived kids can have a hard time waking up in the morning, feel tired throughout the day, and have trouble functioning, paying attention, and thinking clearly. Sleep allows the body to rest and recharge for the next day – and it’s also the time when children’s bodies grow the most.[1]

 

Each day we breathe in and out about 20,000 times.[2] Those 20,000 breaths can be quite difficult for a child with asthma, especially at night when attacks are more likely to occur. Asthma is a long-term, inflammatory lung disease that causes airways to tighten and narrow when a person with the condition comes into contact with irritants such as pollen, smoke, dust, or pet dander. Several things can play a part in causing asthma such as environmental factors, genetics, allergies, and respiratory infections, the most common trigger for asthmatic children under the age of five.

 

According to the CDC, nearly seven million children under the age of 18 have asthma, making it one of the leading, serious, chronic illnesses among children in the nation. It is the third-ranking cause of hospitalizations for children under the age of 15 and it’s the #1 reason that kids and teens chronically miss school.[3]

 

For parents of kids with breathing difficulties, establishing a relationship with their pediatrician is paramount. The doctor can recommend medication therapy as well suggest environmental changes the parent can make to ease the child’s symptoms. Certain factors – such as odors, pets, chemical sensitivities, and nutrition – can either ease or exacerbate the problem. Making sure the home environment is as clean and irritant-free as possible is also key in lessening symptoms.

 

Vacuuming often and with a machine equipped with a HEPA filter will help reduce the dust, dander and dirt that gets trapped in upholstery and carpet fibers. Additionally, using a high-quality air purifier can go even further in eliminating potential irritants from the home’s environment.

 

A child who is sleeping through the night – without coughing, struggling to breathe or dealing with a stuffy nose – is going to feel and perform better throughout their waking hours. And every kid deserves that.

 

 

Sources:

[1] http://www.helendevoschildrens.org/body.cfm?id=453&action=detail&ref=81790&cat_id=144

[2] http://woodtv.com/2015/03/04/when-asthma-affects-your-childs-sleep

[3] http://www.helendevoschildrens.org/

MRSA Outbreaks Call For Protection and Prevention

MRSA Outbreaks Call For Protection and Prevention

 

As a topic, new MRSA cases seem to remain front and center in the news – becoming more widespread within professional sports locker rooms, schools, hospitals and now in the safety of your own home. And while researchers have found a cure to kill MRSA cells, prevention really is the ideal preference. Why? Because MRSA infections are on the rise and worrisome to many doctors.

 

“We are no longer fighting just a germ. We are fighting a piece of DNA that moves easily from one bacteria in our intestine to another,” said Dr. Scott Stienecker, medical director of epidemiology and infection prevention and director of infectious disease services at Parkview Health in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.[1]

 

And Kim Lewis, Distinguished Professor of Biology and Director of Northeastern’s Antimicrobial Discovery Center, echoes Stienecker’s sentiments. He explains how the specialized class of cells within MRSA have evolved to survive. “Sur­vival is their only func­tion,” he said. “They don’t do any­thing else.”

 

Besides hygiene cautions one can take to eliminate the risk of contracting MRSA, there are also environmental safeguards that can be enacted, especially within the home.

 

Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics each year in the United States, and at least 23,000 people die as a direct result of these infections.[2]

 

The CDC suggests that disinfectants are most likely to be effective against MRSA, and notes that “most will have a list of germs on the label that the product can destroy.” The CDC goes on to note that when disinfecting, it’s important to focus on surfaces that come into contact with bare skin. Doorknobs, faucets, athletic training benches and equipment, and light switches all fall into this category. [3]

 

There are products available that can continually treat the air and surfaces in your personal residence, which helps greatly reduce the chances of contamination.

 

 

 

 

Sources:

[1] http://www.fortwayne.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20140608/NEWS/320136418

[2] http://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/threat-report-2013/

[3] http://www.cdc.gov/mrsa/community/enviroment/index.html

Is Particulate Matter Harming Your Health?

Is Particulate Matter Harming Your Health?

Pollution has long been connected to breathing difficulties, and considering the average adult breathes 3,000 gallons of air per day, that can be a huge problem. City dwellers often flee urban settings in favor of the “fresh air” of the country – and sometimes, with good reason. Those who suffer from respiratory complications can have an especially hard time with air quality in highly polluted areas.

 

It can be particularly harmful – not just to those with asthma and allergies, but children in particular. The American Academy of Pediatrics posits that children and infants are among the most vulnerable to air pollutants due to their higher levels of activity and higher minute ventilation.[1] But virtually everyone is affected by the presence and subsequent levels of particulate matter (PM) in the environment.

 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been raising concerns over particulate matter (also known as particle pollution) for years. Defined as “a complex mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets,”[2] PM is made up of numerous components, including acids (such as nitrates and sulfates), organic chemicals, metals, and soil or dust particles. According to the EPA, the size of these particles is what causes the alarm, since the size of the PM directly correlates to the potential to cause health problems.[3]

 

As noted on their website, the “EPA is concerned about particles that are 10 micrometers in diameter or smaller because those are the particles that generally pass through the throat and nose and enter the lungs. Once inhaled, these particles can affect the heart and lungs and cause serious health effects.”[4] They group PM into two main categories: inhalable coarse particles and fine particles.

 

Inhalable coarse particles, which are often found near roadways and industrial areas, are larger than 2.5 micrometers and smaller than 10 micrometers in diameter. Fine particles can be classified as what’s found in smoke and haze, and are easily inhaled deep into the lungs. Once there, they may accumulate, react, be cleared or absorbed. These kinds of PM measure 2.5 micrometers in diameter and smaller. The EPA states that they “can be directly emitted from sources such as forest fires, or they can form when gases emitted from power plants, industries and automobiles react in the air.”[5]

 

PM is a problem in most industrialized cities worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that “…fine particulate matter is associated with a broad spectrum of acute and chronic illness, such as lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cardiovascular diseases. Worldwide, it is estimated to cause about 16% of lung cancer deaths, 11% of COPD deaths, and more than 20% of ischemic heart disease and stroke.”[6] WHO goes on to point out that particulate matter is “an environmental health problem that affects people worldwide,” but that “low- and middle-income countries disproportionately experience this burden.”[7]

 

NASA phrases it this way: “In most cases, the most toxic pollution lingers for a few days or even weeks, bringing increases in respiratory and cardiac health problems at hospitals. Eventually the weather breaks, the air clears, and memories of foul air begin to fade. But that’s not to say that the health risks disappear as well. Even slightly elevated levels of air pollution can have a significant effect on human health. Over long periods and on a global scale, such impacts can add up.”[8]

 

The Health Department of New York has suggestions for anyone interested in lessening their exposure to PM. “When outdoor levels of PM2.5 are elevated, going indoors may reduce your exposure, although some outdoor particles will come indoors. If there are significant indoor sources of PM2.5, levels inside may not be lower than outside. Some ways to reduce exposure are to limit indoor and outdoor activities that produce fine particles (for example, burning candles indoors or open burning outdoors) and avoid strenuous activity in areas where fine particle levels are high.”[9]

 

While staying indoors can reduce exposure to PM, the EPA has also stated that indoor air is often more polluted than outdoor air.[10] Using a high-end air purifier while inside your home can help, and there are some on the market that can filter out PM up to 0.3 micron. This double approach to reducing PM in the air you breathe is be a smart idea, especially if you or those in your family suffer from breathing difficulties.

 

 

 

[1] www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2528642/

[2] www.epa.gov/pm/

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid

[5] Ibid

[6] www.who.int/gho/phe/outdoor_air_pollution/en/

[7] Ibid

[8] earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=82087

[9] www.health.ny.gov/environmental/indoors/air/pmq_a.htm

[10] www.epa.gov/region1/communities/indoorair.html