The Maine Project for Fine Art Conservation

Charly-MEACThe Maine Project for Fine Art Conservation is the only non-profit studio of its kind in the state of Maine, helping to restore not only artwork from museums and public collections, but pieces of artwork privately owned by families and individuals as well.  The project is based in Portland, Maine, where they work out of a small studio.  During the conservation process, their artists are exposed to a number of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, from the chemicals used in restoration, including acetone, alcohol, naptha, turpentine, methyl-ethyl-ketone, toluene and xylene.  While these chemicals are vital for the restoration of the artwork, they can be irritating or even dangerous when inhaled in high concentration. For years, the project has been searching for an air purifier that would effectively reduce these VOCs from the air and protect their conservators, who were working to restore artwork in order to preserve and promote the cultural heritage of Maine.

Bonnie-MEACRabbit Air donated two of our MinusA2 air purifiers to the project, for use in their “in-painting” rooms.  We equipped them with our specialized Toxin Absorber Customized filter, designed to increase the air purifier’s efficiency at removing VOCs from the air.  After running our air purifiers, the project was happy to report that they noticed a significant reduction in VOCs from the air, and they sent along these fantastic pictures of their team and our MinusA2s in action.  We thank the Maine Project for Fine Art Conservation for their great work and we look forward to continuing to provide them with cleaner, more breathable air!

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.

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.

Five Fun Facts About Air

Wikipedia1) Flowers can brighten up any home décor, but did you know that they can also help to add oxygen to the air and filter out pollutants?  While using plants alone won’t totally purifiy the air, you can give your air purifier a boost by placing certain potted plants around the home.  Some flower powerhouses include elegant peace lilies, which can help reduce harmful VOCs, such as formaldehyde, or colorful gerbera daisies that can help to filter out benzene.

2) Take a deep breath! Our lungs can hold between four and six liters of air on average, though we use only a small portion of this space with each breath. Each minute, the average adult breathes in and out around seven liters of air. That’s enough to fill an Olympic sized swimming pool every 227 days!

3) Did you know that most of our oxygen doesn’t come from the forest, but from the sea? Ocean algae produce the majority of the oxygen in the atmosphere. These plants may be tiny, but due to their huge numbers they are able to pump out tons of clean air for us to breathe.

4) Not even astronauts are safe from having smoggy skies obscure their view!  Astronauts report that thick smog over cities or highly polluted areas can be seen from the international space station, and that the amount of air pollution visible to them from orbit has been increasing.

5) China has some of the smoggiest skies in the world, and in an effort to detect harmful pollutants in their air, they have come up with a surprising solution – a team of people trained to detect harmful gases using their sense of smell!  These special sniffers can tell the difference between a surprisingly large number of gases, and can help city officials become aware of potentially dangerous situations.

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!

 

What are VOCs?

VOC stands for volatile organic compounds, which are gasses that are emitted from some solids and liquids. Although VOCs can come from a variety of places, in the home they are typically associated with paint or cleaning products. Many other household substances can release VOCs as well, such as glues, solvent, or fuels. The inhalation of these VOCs can be quite dangerous for your health. In the short term, they can irritate the lungs and cause headaches or nausea, while over time they can cause more serious issues such as damage to the internal organs. It is important to be aware of any VOC emitting substances in your home, and to keep indoor levels of VOCs as low as possible.

Photo by Icekitty37 One of the most important things that you can do to minimize contact with VOCs is to keep your home well ventilated whenever you are actively using a product that emits these gases. When cleaning or painting, make sure to keep windows open and not work in enclosed spaces. Even after these substances have been used, they can still emit VOCs where they have been applied or from their storage containers, so it is important not to forget about them once you put them away.  Make sure to follow all label instructions for storage, and to purchase these products in small quantities so that you do not have large unused amounts sitting in the home for a long time.  To help get rid of VOCs, you can also use an air purifier to help remove these gases from the air. Rabbit Air has a special Toxin Absorber Customized Filter for our MinusA2 air purifier that is specially designed to capture harmful VOC emissions. Protect yourself and your family by keeping smart about VOCs and their harmful side effects.