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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.

 

 

 

 

Trouble Breathing: Is it Allergies or Asthma?

Trouble Breathing: Is it Allergies or Asthma?

Tightness in your chest, difficulty breathing, adverse reactions to environmental and biological triggers. Are you experiencing an asthma attack…or do you have a wicked case of allergies?

Answer: it could be both. Allergies and asthma often occur together. Certain allergens – like dust mites, pet dander, and pollen – can act as triggers for both allergies and asthma.

An allergy is an inflammatory reaction or response to a specific substance. Allergic reactions can involve nasal membranes, the eyes, the skin, the tongue, and the breathing passages in severe reactions. Allergy symptoms include an itchy, stuffy, or runny nose, sneezing, itchy, red, or irritated skin, and itchy, burning, or watery eyes.

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory lung (lower respiratory) disease that causes difficulty breathing.

via acaai.org

asthma symptoms

So, how does an allergic reaction cause asthma symptoms? According to Mayo Clinic: “An allergic response occurs when immune system proteins (antibodies) mistakenly identify a harmless substance, such as tree pollen, as an invader. In an attempt to protect your body from the substance, antibodies bind to the allergen. The chemicals released by your immune system lead to allergy signs and symptoms, such as nasal congestion, runny nose, itchy eyes or skin reactions. For some people, this same reaction also affects the lungs and airways, leading to asthma symptoms.”

Although most treatments for allergies and asthma are different, there are a few that can help with both conditions.

Leukotriene modifier (Singulair) is a medicine that helps with both allergy and asthma symptoms by controlling immune system chemicals that are released during an allergic reaction.

Allergy shots can help ease asthma symptoms by gradually reducing your immune system response to particular allergy triggers.

Anti-immunoglobulin E (IgE) therapy (Xolair) can help when you encounter an irritating allergen: IgE antibodies sense it and signal your immune system to release a chemical called histamine, as well as other chemicals, into your bloodstream.

In short: go see your doctor. Whether it’s asthma, allergies, or a combination of the two, he or she can properly diagnose and help you manage your symptoms and get some relief through medication.

In the meantime, there are steps you can take to improve the indoor air quality in your home and workspace. Reducing dust, allergens, smoke, contaminants, pet dander, chemical fumes, mold and mildew will go a long way toward lessening allergy and asthma symptoms. Use natural cleaning products (free of VOCs and synthetic fragrances) when possible, use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to regularly clean carpets, use exhaust vents when cooking, and invest in a high-quality air purifier that can remove these irritants from your air space.

 

 

 

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?