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.

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.

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.

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.

UC San Deigo Researching Portable Air Quality Monitor

City SmogIn December 2012, the University of California at San Diego discussed an exciting new advance in Air Quality monitoring. Researchers there had created a small portable device that measured air quality in real time, letting users know in the moment whether they were breathing clean air or if they had wandered into a spot of highly concentrated pollutants. This advanced technology allowed for those concerned with air quality to have more precise information about the environment around them, allowing them to make informed decisions about the air they breathed. Runners and bikers, for example, would be able to avoid areas with higher pollution, protecting their lungs as they exercised. The device could even be useful in indoor areas, as one study participant found when he realized that the air quality in his office was quite poor, prompting his company to take steps to improve the air for its employees.

We hope to see more research into this area, and look forward to the day when personal air quality monitoring is available to all. Until then, there are still steps one can take to be proactive about air quality and protected from pollutants. City-wide daily pollen and pollution counts are easily accessed on websites such as Pollen.com and AirNow.gov. These sites are great tools for learning about air pollution in your city, and can help to plan your outings during times when pollutant levels are low. When you’re in your home, you can be smart about air pollutants as well by using a HEPA air purifier such as our MinusA2 to filter out harmful pollutants and keep the air clean and fresh.

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.