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.

Allergy Proofing Your Home

HomeYour home should be your castle, yet if you are one of the millions of Americans who suffer from allergies or asthma, home can feel more like a prison of sneezing, wheezing, and sniffling.  Indoor air quality is often much worse than outdoor air quality, causing sufferers to have frequent and frustrating allergic and asthmatic reactions at home, particularly during high pollen seasons. Here are a few suggestions on how you can improve indoor air quality to help you sleep better, breathe easier, and enjoy being at home.

Remove Carpets, Drapes, and Rugs
Plush carpets and thick fabric drapes may seem luxurious, but they are prime places for dust and other airborne pollutants to settle.  Replacing them with hardwood floors and easily cleanable blinds can significantly reduce the amount of pollutants in your home.

Add an Air PurifierMinusA2 Asthma and Allergy Friendly Edition
Once you have removed the places that allergens like to settle and hide, keep them from circulating through the air by adding an air purifier with a true HEPA filter.  An air purifier like our MinusA2 will not only filter out pollens, but it can trap dust, mold spores, harmful chemicals and unpleasant odors as well, making it useful all throughout the year, even after allergy season is over.

Keep it Clean
Keep harmful pollutants from coming back by setting up a thorough cleaning routine and using products designed to keep allergens at bay.  Keep floors and furniture clean by using a vacuum with a true HEPA filter, and learn to love breaking out the duster and wiping down bookshelves, tables, and any other places dust might settle.  Wash your bedding frequently and think about using a special mattress cover to keep away dust mites for an easier time sleeping.

Creepy Crawly Cockroach Allergies

Many of us have had the unfortunate experience of flicking on the lights in the kitchen late at night, and seeing a dark shape quickly skitter back beneath the fridge.  Cockroaches usually keep themselves hidden when people are around, and so many people are unaware that the creepy critters are lurking beneath cabinets and appliances around the home.  It is estimated that over three quarters of urban homes have hidden cockroach infestations, and seeing one roach is a good indicator that hundreds or even thousands more are hiding nearby.  An infestation of cockroaches is more than just unsanitary; the feces, saliva, and body parts of these bugs can cause allergic reactions or asthma attacks in as many as 23 to 60% of sufferers in urban areas. The more severe the asthma or allergies a person has, the more likely they are to have a reaction to cockroaches, and the more important it is to eradicate the infestation.

Cockroaches are notoriously hardy and difficult to get rid of, so if an infestation is suspected, the most important step is to contact a pest control service that specializes in removing the unwanted houseguests.  You can also take precautions to make your home more hostile to the bugs by covering trash and keeping all food stored tightly and off of counters.  While you work to clear your home from these pests, you can help to relieve some of the allergy symptoms they cause with frequent cleaning.  Keep the air in your home clean and breathable by using an air purifier, like our MinusA2, to trap any feces or roach byproducts that may be circulating in the air. Make sure to wipe down surfaces frequently, and clean floors and upholstery using a vacuum with a true HEPA filter. With a proactive approach and a good pest control company to help, you can say goodbye to roaches and start breathing better at home once more.

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.

How to Stay Safe and Healthy During the Summer

Summertime is here; when the temperature rises and we long for lazy days spent lounging on the beach.  Here are some tips for staying safe and healthy while you enjoy the season!

mediterranean beach - italy

Limit Your Sun Exposure
It can be hard to resist the relaxing pleasure of lying out in the sun, but too much time spent outside can cause serious sunburns.  Make sure not to doze off by the pool, and limit direct exposure to less than fifteen minutes.  During outdoor activities, make sure to wear a high quality sunscreen, and learn to love wide brimmed hats, long flowing sleeves, and other clothes that provide protection.

Stay Hydrated
Spending time outdoors when the heat is high can leave you feeling dehydrated, sick, and put you at risk for heat stroke. Keep a water bottle with you when you go out, and remember to sip from it often.  Although strenuous activities put you most at risk, even casual strolls can leave you needing water.  You can also make keeping hydrated fun, by making creative fruit infusions that add natural flavor and color to your water.

Hiking BootsKeep Bugs Away
Humans aren’t the only ones that love to come out in the summer – pesky bugs, like mosquitoes and ticks, do too.  These pests can cause irritation when they bite, and can even cause more serious illnesses, so keeping them at bay is a top priority. Wear long sleeves and pants when hiking or camping, and use mosquito repellent or netting to keep a barrier between you and the bugs.

Keep an Eye on Air Quality
The summer sun can cause air quality to worsen by heating up chemical compounds lingering in the air and combining them with nitrogen oxide to create unhealthy levels of smog.  Check local air quality forecasts when planning outdoor activities, and when you are cooling off inside, keep your indoor air clear by running an air purifier that uses a Charcoal Based Activated Carbon filter to absorb harmful chemicals.

Forest Fires and Health

Forest FireForest fires can be more dangerous than you might think. Though the most immediate danger comes from the fire itself, the smoke from a fire can harm people up to hundreds of miles away from the actual blaze. During a forest fire, a number of harmful emissions are released into the air in high concentrations, including small particulate matter, such as carbon monoxide, atmospheric mercury, and volatile organic compounds. As these pollutants are released during a fire, winds can spread them further than one might expect, leaving people unprepared or unaware of the health hazards.  Breathing in these pollutants can exacerbate symptoms for those who have lung or heart disease, and even otherwise healthy people can also be at risk for symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and headaches.  The longer one is exposed to these pollutants, the higher these risks can be.

We can all do our part to stop wildfires before they start. When camping, make sure to never leave camp fires unattended and douse them fully with water when you are ready to put them out.  During dry summer days, make sure to keep a close eye on barbeques, bonfires and even lawnmowers – they can create sparks that can ignite dry grass.  When fires do occur, you can protect yourself by checking local air quality reports and staying inside when air quality dips.  It is also advised not to do any indoor activity that will add to pollutant levels if possible. This includes using wood burning stoves, lighting candles, and even vacuuming, as vacuums can throw particles that have settled on surfaces back into the air.  Using an air purifier is the best way to keep the indoor air clean, and if you live in a fire-prone area, consider adding an air purifier with a true HEPA filter before fire season starts so that you know you are protected even before pollutant levels begin to rise.

New Research on Trees and Air Quality

New TreeResearchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are shedding some light on an air quality mystery that has had scientists stumped for some time.  While we know that plants have a positive effect on air quality by helping to remove carbon dioxide from the air and providing us with oxygen, scientists had long suspected that isoprene, a molecule emitted by trees as a means of protecting their leaves from harm, played a part in creating particulate air pollution; they just were not sure how.   Surprisingly, the study found that when the isoprene molecule was heated by the sun, it reacted with nitrogen oxides in the atmosphere to create tiny particulate matter that became suspended in the air, which has the possibility to cause or exacerbate respiratory ailments, such as asthma.

But wait! Don’t blame the trees for these dangerous particulates – it is the abundance of nitrogen oxide that is the real problem. These polluting chemicals are man-made by-products of cars, factories, and other coal burning sources.  The more that scientists investigate the ways that particulate pollution occurs, the more effective our efforts at improving our air will be.  Over the past decade many major cities in the United States have been able to improve their air quality, but smog and ozone remain in much higher concentrations than what is healthy.  We can help to continue reducing these levels by being mindful about our daily choices – for example, making efforts to carpool or switching from plastic bags to reusable canvas ones. As we work on decreasing the amount of pollutants emitted into the atmosphere, we can protect ourselves from particulate matter by monitoring city air pollution levels before leaving the house, and by filtering particulates out of our indoor air by using an air purifier with a true HEPA filter like our MinusA2.

Why Thunderstorms May Trigger Asthma

April showers bring May flowers, but they may also bring increased asthma attacks for those whose asthma is triggered by allergens. While rain can help your air quality by washing away pollutants that may be lingering in the air, a 2008 study by scientists at the University of Georgia and Emory University, found that emergency room visits for asthma attacks would rise in the days following a thunderstorm. They discovered that the wind and rain during a thunderstorm can break apart pollens into smaller pieces, making them easier to spread throughout the air and cause irritation to lung tissues. When winds pick up after a storm, they carry these tiny pollutants with them, and if sufferers are not prepared, then they may experience a sudden and surprising increase in their symptoms.

Managing triggers is one of the most important parts of a comprehensive asthma prevention plan, and research like this may help sufferers to better plan and prepare for the times when they need to exercise caution and keep inhalers or other medicines close. Keeping an eye on local pollen counts can also help sufferers by showing when pollens counts are highest, so that they can avoid going outdoors during peak times. While indoors, asthma sufferers can protect themselves from pollen and other irritating pollutants, by running an air purifier with a true HEPA filter, such as our MinusA2. By preparing for asthma triggers after a thunderstorm, sufferers can spend less time wheezing and more time splashing in puddles and enjoying the springtime showers.

How to Choose the Right Air Purifier

We know that shopping for an air purifier is tiresome, especially with so many options out there. You may spend hours on end, trying to find the best air purifier for your situation. In fact, you may be reading this at 2:00am because those pesky allergies won’t let you sleep.

Thankfully, our Rabbit Air Team has put together some helpful tips to aide you in your air purifier shopping experience.

Technology
How are you going to clean my air?

HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filtration air purifiers are definitely the way to go. They are the most recognized and reliable air filtration technology with an efficiency of trapping particulates down to 0.3 microns in size, 99.97% of the time. They are also highly recommended by allergists due to their effectiveness.

There are also other technologies that are beneficial at cleaning the air. One of them is activated carbon. Known for its high absorption capability, activated carbon can effectively trap toxins such as VOC’s, smoke and odors. Another recommendation is to select an activated carbon filter that is charcoal-based. Individual charcoal pellets are highly porous and are able to trap all types of gases in its large internal surface area.

Air purifiers to avoid? We do not recommend any type of “filter-less” air purifiers. These include ozone generators and electrostatic precipitators, also known as “ionic” type purifiers. Electrostatic precipitators are not as effective as HEPA-filtration air purifiers and both air purifiers are culprits for emitting ozone, which is a respiratory irritant for allergy and asthma sufferers.

 

Room Coverage
Does room coverage matter?

Room coverage is very important, especially when you suffer from asthma or allergies. When shopping for an air purifier, look past the room size an air purifier covers and look at how many air changes per hour that particular air purifier has.

What is an air change per hour? An air change per hour translates to how many times an air purifier can clean a room in one hour. For example, 2 air changes per hour shows that an air purifier can clean a room once every 30 minutes. An allergy and asthma sufferer needs at least 4 air changes per hour, which means an air purifier can clean a room at least once every 15 minutes.

 

Noise
How loud is too loud?

Noise is measured in decibels. Although sensitivity to sound varies from person to person, there is some agreement over what is comfortable to the ear. Since we recommend that our customers operate the air purifier 24 hours a day, we advise choosing an air purifier that does not go over 55 decibels.

Be sure to check the decibel level of each speed before making a purchase, especially if you are a light sleeper. Once the noise decibel level goes over 60, it is considered to be “loud” according to American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

 

Maintenance and Cost
Do I have the time and the money?

Not only do you need to consider the initial costs of the air purifier, you also have to look into how costly it is to operate.

One big cost is replacement filters. Look into how often you have to replace and how expensive the filters are. Also, choose an air purifier that requires less cleaning maintenance.

Do you think the costs stop there? Definitely look into purchasing products that are Energy Star Certified or at least one that consumes less energy since you will most likely be operating your air purifier 24 hours a day. To put power consumption into perspective, it will cost over $120.00 a year to operate a 100 watt air purifier 24/7 in the state of California.

 

Customer Service
Add great value to your purchase.

Vote for a company that has your best interests in mind. Besides, what’s more enjoyable than dealing with a company that makes everything seems so easy?

We suggest that you choose an air purifier company that offers great customer service, and is easily accessible. Many companies frequently discontinue models, so make sure you are able to find replacement filters when the time comes.

You also want to choose a company that provides a great warranty and return guarantee.  Aim for a company that offers a warranty longer than one year and one that does not charge a restocking fee to return a product.

Last, but not least, consider the reputation of the company. Check consumer reviews online to see if you are dealing with an honest company. It’s not uncommon for a company to go out of business or disappear after a short time, which will leave you out of luck when trying to buy replacement filters or receive customer support.

How Heat Waves Hurt Air Quality

http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1397489While everyone loves a little summer sunshine, when temperatures keep rising dangerous conditions may occur.  Heat waves are more than mere annoyances; they can increase the risk of health concerns from mild conditions such as heat rash to more serious problems such as strokes.  Even when limiting one’s exposure to the sun and heat, heat waves can still create health risks in areas one might not expect.  Air quality can worsen during a heat wave, to the point of becoming deadly in extreme circumstances. When the air is heated, chemicals compounds such as the fumes from our cars combine with the already present nitrogen oxide in the air to create thick layers of smog. The risk for this is particularly strong in urban areas, where there is already a greater concentration of chemical compounds in the air due to larger populations and more industry.

Smog is never healthy to breathe in, and during a heat wave when smog is found in higher concentrations it can cause lung tissue to become inflamed which over time can cause more serious complications. The increase in smog during a heat wave is especially dangerous for those who are suffering from respiratory illness, such as asthma, as it can increase or induce symptoms. During a heat wave, keep your lungs as healthy as possible by avoiding spending time outdoors in highly populated areas.  While in your home, keep an air purifier running that can trap the harmful VOCs from smog, such as our MinusA2 with the Toxin Absorber Customized Filter.  Stay cool, breathe clean air, and avoid direct sun exposure to stay as healthy as you can during a heat wave.