Tips for Reducing Allergies While Gardening in Fall

http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1407841  by ingenue_mm Identify the Allergens
Knowing the primary causes for outdoor allergies is an important step in keeping your symptoms down and your spirits up.  With the changing of the seasons, different plants come into bloom, so there are new sources of pollen in the air to make you sniffle and sneeze.  Ragweed is a common allergen in the fall, and it is one of the worst offenders when it comes to making allergies flare up. Learn to identify ragweed and make sure to remove it from your yard on sight.  Other weeds and mold are also lurking around in fall, so removing weeds frequently will not only make your yard look its best, but will help you to breathe better in the long run as well.

Garden Smart
Make a plan before you get to work on your garden to ensure that you are protecting yourself as much as possible from allergies.  Keep track of daily pollen counts to see when they are highest, and make sure you avoid spending time outdoors during those times, even if it means working during odd hours. Wearing the right clothing can help as well to keep allergens off your skin.  Make sure to wear long sleeves and pants, and gloves to prevent as much contact as possible.  If you know your allergies are more severe, consider taking an antihistamine before going outside so that you can help stop symptoms before you start.

Keep it Outside
Once your hard work is done, resist the urge to flop right down on the couch to enjoy a break.  After being in the yard, you’ll be tracking in pollen and mold on your clothing, shoes, and even in your hair, and they will just transfer to any surface you touch.  Instead, relax by taking a warm shower and wash allergens down the drain.  Keep windows closed and sealed to keep pollen and mold from coming in, and run a good HEPA air purifier like our MinusA2 to eliminate any pesky allergens that do make it inside.  With planning and awareness, you can keep your yard looking great and yourself breathing better all throughout the season.

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.

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.

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.

Four Fun Facts About Mold

 

1)       You may know mold as the slimy stuff that can make you sick, but did you know that not all molds are hazardous to humans? In fact, some of them have been used to our great benefit.  Penicillin, one of the most important antibiotics developed, was derived in part from penicillicum mold, and has been of great importance in combating disease.  The discovery and development of penicillin won its inventor, Alexander Fleming, a Nobel Prize.

2)       There are even molds that are used with culinary purposes in mind.  Many delicious cheeses, including Roquefort, Brie, and Camembert are made by using molds like Penicillium candidum and Penicillium roqueforti to provide them with the soft rinds and blue veins that heighten their flavor.

3)       Some molds can solve mazes, like the fungi known as slime mold that have surprised scientists by following food sources laid out in a puzzle and retracting its protoplasmic tubes when they hit dead ends. Scientists working with the mold are hopeful that in the future, learning how slime molds move and cross distances can help humans plan more efficient travel routes.

4)       We know that mold needs a moist environment to grow, so it may come as a surprise that homes in hot, dry environments like the American southwest can also have their share of mold growth as well.  States like Texas, Arizona, and Nevada even made the top ten in the relative hazard mold ranking by American Risk Management Resources.  The major factor for mold growth in these states is not so much the weather, but a result of building conditions; if buildings are sealed too tightly, for example when trying to meet energy requirements, it can create poor ventilation which is a prime environment for mold growth. To help get rid of mold, it is best to use an air purifier, such as the MinusA2 with a true HEPA filter to trap and eliminate mold spores in your home.

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.

MinusA2 University Edition

This month, Rabbit Air is introducing our new University Edition MinusA2 that features two of California’s most distinguished Universities.

Our first featured school is the University of California, Los Angeles. Located in the heart of Westwood, UCLA is world renowned for its academic programs and medical center. Among its alumni, UCLA boasts 11 Nobel laureates and 12 Rhodes scholars, not to mention Rabbit Air’s very own founders. On the University Edition MinusA2, UCLA is represented by the beloved mascot, Joe Bruin.

 

Next, we have the University of California, Berkeley, which was the flagship campus of the University of California system, and has since become internationally recognized for its stellar academics and social innovations. Scholars from the school have been involved in many important projects over the years, from the development of the atomic bomb (which happened to create the initial need for the HEPA filter) to the invention of the fruit cocktail. Our UC Berkeley front panel has the school’s nickname “Cal” emblazoned in Berkeley’s school colors of Yale Blue and California Gold.

Whether you’re an incoming freshman or proud alumni, with the MinusA2 University Edition you can fill your room with fresh air and school spirit!