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.

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.

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.

All About Activated Carbon

One of the very best things that you can do to remove common household odors from the air is to use a Charcoal Based Activated Carbon filter, like the ones we include with every MinusA2 or BioGS air purifier. These filters are packed with pellets of charcoal that are capable of removing all sorts of household odors and chemical VOCs out of the air. What makes these little pellets so powerful?  A process called activation, where each piece of charcoal gets heated to incredibly high temperatures, causing them to become extremely porous.  After this process, each pellet can have an internal surface area the size of a football field! It is this large surface area that allows the charcoal to absorb odors and chemicals. When these impurities pass through the filter, they are attracted to the carbon and bind to it. Having a large surface area means that each pellet has the space to bind a large amount of impurities, making these filters long lasting and very efficient.

Activated carbon is great for more than just filtering the air and it is used in many other instances where purification is required.  Many households use filters with activated carbon to filter out particles or unpleasant tastes from their drinking water. Aquarium owners use activated carbon to filter water too, in their tank filtration systems so that they can remove impurities that may harm their finned friends. Commercially, activated carbon has been used in many surprising applications, from the decaffeination of coffee to the purification of gold.  Activated carbon has even saved lives, as it is used in hospitals as a treatment for some kinds of poisoning!