Green Roofs Help Improve City Air Quality

City SmogPopular in Europe for some time now, green roofs are becoming more and more common in the United States; good news for those concerned with city air quality.  A green roof is a roof that has been covered with vegetation rather than left bare, and there are two main types that are used. “Intensive” roofs, which are thick, green, and lush with deep soil, usually are intended to be used by people in much the same way as an ordinary garden, and will often have benches and walkways for people who live or work in the building to enjoy.  “Extensive” roofs, on the other hand, tend to have shallower soil and are used for the benefits that the plants provide while being generally off-limits to human visitors.  Scientists are studying the benefits of both kinds of green roofs, and have found that they not only can they contribute to reducing air pollution, but they can help with things like water management and can even last longer than traditional roofing.   One exciting benefit of having green roofs is in the reduction of carbon from the air, which helps to improve air quality and make local air better to breathe.  One 2009 study found that in the right conditions, using green roofs throughout an urban area with a population of around a million people could remove as much carbon from the air as one would get from taking 10,000 SUVs off of the road.

The spread of green roofs should be exciting news for those who live in areas with higher density populations.  Smog and other increases in air pollutants, caused by traffic or industry, can have quite a negative impact on health, from allergy-like symptoms, such as itchy eyes and congestion, to more serious ailments, such as heart or lung disease. It is hoped that widespread use of green roofs could significantly improve air quality, and that could mean a significant improvement in health as well.  In the meantime, for those wanting to breathe better air at home, adding an air purifier with a charcoal based activated carbon filter, like our MinusA2 and BioGS models, can help to filter out the toxins from smog and other airborne chemical pollutants to keep indoor air quality high.

Controlling Winter Allergies

WinterWhen we think of allergy season, the image brought to mind is often of flowing plants and pollen or the dry leaves of fall.  Yet allergies can happen all year round, even during the months of winter. Often winter allergies get mistaken for being cold or flu symptoms and do not get properly treated, making sufferers go longer without relief.   Here are a few tips on how to reduce allergies during the winter.

Control Humidity at Home
Cold winter months means that we spend more time indoors, thus making our homes warmer and more comfortable.  Make sure to check water heaters and pipes regularly for signs of leaks, and if you cannot resist the urge to warm up with long baths or showers, be certain to run fans and ventilate the room once you are done so that mold does not have a chance to grow.

Decorate Without Dust
While it might be easier to pull last year’s tinsel and lights from their boxes and straight onto the tree, doing so might introduce a lot of unwanted dust into your home.  Unpack boxes away from carpet and upholstered furniture, and make sure to give everything a good dusting before putting it festively on display.

Beware of Guests Bringing in Pollen Along with Presents
Although many guests will be courteous and wipe their shoes before entering a home, the truth is that we bring pollen, dust, and pollutants inside on more than just our feet.  Our hair and clothes can pick up these tiny pollutants and transfer them inside.  Allergy sufferers are often advised to shower and put on a clean change of clothes after coming home, but when guests come to call, this is not an option.  Instead, if you have lots of family and friends coming to celebrate, make sure to clean more than usual by vacuuming carpets and upholstery, cleaning sheets frequently, and capturing any pollen that escapes by running an air purifier with a true HEPA filter.

Introducing the BioGS 2.0

biogs2_gallery6Since its debut in 2006, our BioGS air purifier has been providing excellent filtration and allergy relief for thousands of customers throughout the United States and even around the world. Although the original BioGS has been extremely popular, one of Rabbit Air’s core values as a company is the belief that we should always be looking for new ways to improve ourselves and our products.  With that goal in mind, we set out to revamp the BioGS and make it even better than before.  We listened to the opinions of over three thousand customers to see where they saw room for improvement, and we searched far and wide for the latest technology and the most modern, stylish design.  Finally, we are proud to introduce our new BioGS 2.0!

biogs2_gallery8Our BioGS 2.0 starts with the advanced, efficient filtration technology that you have come to expect from Rabbit Air.  The BioGS 2.0 has a four stage filtration system, including our bio-engineered HEPA filter and our Charcoal Based Activated Carbon filter that uses real pellets of porous charcoal.  Taking our next cue from our customers, we updated the user interface of the BioGS to be even more user friendly and easy to use.  The BioGS 2.0 is a smarter machine than before – with new features such as an adjustable Automatic mode and a filter replacement countdown so you always know how much life is left in your filters. Our unique display makes each function easy to understand, and will automatically dim after five minutes to reduce light pollution.  To wrap all these features in an exciting package, we went to Brazilian designer Guto Indio da Costa, who created a whole new look for the BioGS that was sleeker, more sophisticated, and that embodied the idea of “flow.”  We are excited to present the new BioGS 2.0, and we hope that you will love it just as much as we do!

Short Term Exposure to Secondhand Smoke Can Impair Breathing

CigaretteAlthough the dangers of long-term exposure to secondhand smoke are well known, a study conducted by the University of Athens and the Hellenic Cancer Society in Greece, and the Harvard School of Public Health found that short term exposure to high concentrations of secondhand smoke, as little as 20 minutes, can cause immediate impairment of airways.  Researchers exposed healthy adults to a concentration of secondhand smoke designed to mimic the levels found in bars or during a car ride with a smoker present.  Although none of the participants in the study reported feeling negative effects, when their breathing was measured it was found that the exposure was in fact “invoking such physiologic changes as increased airway impedance and resistance.”  This new research will help public health workers more thoroughly understand the risks and consequences of secondhand smoke in public places, and will add to the growing body of data about the effects of secondhand smoke.

While the best way to protect oneself from secondhand smoke is to avoid it altogether, for many people, this is not always possible.  Smoke can easily drift into workplaces from the street, or into homes from neighbors nearby.  Secondhand smoke is difficult to deal with, but there are a few steps you can take to help protect yourself if controlling the smoke at the source is not an option.  Stopping the smoke from entering is the first defense, and sealing not only windows and doors, but even electrical outlets can help to block the smoke from coming inside.  Operating an efficient ventilation system can also keep your indoor air clear.  For the smoke that does make it inside, using an air purifier, such as our MinusA2, that combines a true HEPA filter with a charcoal based activated carbon filter can help to filter out the chemicals and odors from secondhand smoke.

Dog Allergies

DogDog make wonderful and loving companions, but for many people, they also can also be the cause of allergic reactions and asthma attacks.  For some, this is due to the dog dander and hair that is shed throughout the course of the day.  Others may find that they are not allergic to the dog itself, but rather are affected by the dust, grass, and other allergens that the dog brings into the home.  With some dogs this influx of allergens is obvious, particularly if they are the sort of pooch that loves to roll around on the lawn or hide their bones in the soil.  However, even dogs that look perfectly clean can be dragging in enough pollen and pollutants to cause a reaction in their owners just by their paw to ground contact outside.  Whether it is the dander, or the outdoor pollutants causing you to sneeze, it is no fun to feel torn between breathing well and playing with Fido.

Luckily, there are many ways to tackle the problem of dog related allergies that will help you to breathe better while still enjoying time with your dog. Make it a play-time ritual to thoroughly brush your dog before coming back inside after a trip down the block or to the dog park. Keep a water bottle near the door to give their paws a rinse after a stroll down the street, or carry them straight to the bathtub if they’ve gotten really dirty in the yard.  Once they are nice and clean, you can use a room air purifier, like our MinusA2 with the Pet Allergy Customized Filter, to filter out any dander and hair from the air and use a vacuum with a true HEPA filter to collect any allergens that may have settled on the floor or furniture. By taking a proactive approach and removing allergens before they start to build up, you can keep allergy symptoms down and enjoy more quality time with your furry friend.

Promising News for the Treatment of Asthma

755956_pillsThere may be exciting news on the horizon for those who suffer from asthma.  A new experimental drug is showing promise in clinical trials as a potential way to treat asthma in those who have been resistant to other forms of treatment. Researchers state that between 10 and 20% of patients are not able to fully control their asthma symptoms using traditional therapies, and the scientists hope that their new drug will help this subset of sufferers. Rather than treating the symptoms of asthma, as many other medications do, the drug has been designed to treat the underlying cause of asthma. So far, their results have been quite promising. After a 12 week trial, patients using the new drug were found to have an 87% reduction in asthma attacks. As of right now, more research and testing will be required before the drug will become available.

Over 25 million Americans are thought to suffer from asthma, a chronic respiratory disease where airways in the lungs become inflamed and restricted, causing shortness of breath and trouble breathing.  These symptoms can be worsened by exposure to environmental triggers, such as allergens and air pollutants, as well as factors such as diet, illness or vigorous physical activity.  Traditional treatments include administration of steroids or use of inhalers to control symptoms as they occur.  Managing exposure to environmental triggers can also prove helpful in reducing asthma attacks.  At home, sufferers can use an air purifier with a true HEPA filter, like our MinusA2 Asthma and Allergy Friendly Edition, to filter the air of dust, pollen, and pollutants that can trigger an attack.  It is also helpful to remove items that tend to collect lots of dust, such as curtains or carpets.  For more ideas about how to control asthma and information on the latest research, visit the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s website.

Dealing with Dust Mites

Dust mites may be tiny, but they can cause big problems for those with allergies. These microscopic bugs feed on dead skin and hair, and can be found lurking on fibrous materials like bedding and carpets. Since they thrive in environments that are warm and humid, our bedrooms are one of their ideal habitats. While these creepy crawlies are harmless for most people, dust mites and their droppings contain a protein that can cause allergic reactions for some people when they are inhaled. Though the worst symptoms of dust mite allergies usually occur after direct contact with a contaminated area, dust mites and their droppings can be released into the air as well, making it possible to inhale them and suffer a reaction even if you are not in direct contact with furniture.

Tackling dust mites can be difficult, but there are steps you can take to control their numbers. One of the best things to do is to cover beds in special air-tight plastic. This alone can drastically reduce the amount of dust mites in the home and can help those with allergies sleep better at night. Frequent cleaning can also help to deter dust mites; so make sure to wash sheets and blankets often and vacuum carpets and furniture thoroughly. You may even wish to steam clean furniture on a regular basis, as high heat can kill dust mites. Adding an air purifier can help to capture any dust mites or dust mite droppings that escape from carpets or furniture into the air. Air purifiers with HEPA filters, such as our MinusA2, are particularly well suited to this task.  While it may seem hard to reduce dust mites numbers, the effort will feel well worth it when you and your loved ones begin to breathe better.

Fun Facts About HEPA Filters

When you want to get dust, mold, and other particulates out of your air, there is nothing better than an air purifier with a true HEPA filter. HEPA filters – short for High Efficiency Particulate Air – use special fibers, commonly made of paper or glass, to trap airborne particles. Rabbit Air’s BioGS HEPA filters go a step further by using an advanced fiber material, which reduce allergens over time to increase efficiency.  While these filters are important tools for keeping the air in our homes clean and fresh, did you know that HEPA filters were originally designed with much more dangerous particles in mind?  Developed in the 1940s, HEPA filters were an important part of the Manhattan project. Radioactive particulates used in the project could become airborne, and scientists needed a filter that could clean the air while keeping them safe. It wasn’t until a decade later that HEPA filters began to be used commercially in homes, hospitals, and other areas where having clean air was essential.

Though it is common to find HEPA filters in households across the world in everyday appliances, like air purifiers and vacuum cleaners, HEPA filters are also used in all sorts of surprising places! Airlines use HEPA technology to filter the air flowing through the passenger cabins in order to reduce the spread of airborne germs, and hospitals even have special HEPA face masks that are used to help keep doctors and patients safe. Animals can benefit from having their air filtered too, and HEPA technology is sometimes used in zoos and aquariums to keep our furry and feathered friends breathing better.  Amazingly, HEPA filters have even gone into space, where they are used to purify the air on the International Space Station!