Healthy Air | Wellness |

Is Air Quality Worse in the Winter?

2 minute read

Ever notice how car exhaust is much more visible in the cold winter months? The level of pollution emitted from things like cars and factories remains somewhat constant throughout the year. But it’s no coincidence that it’s easier to see that pollution in the winter. Cold temperatures in the winter can lead to worsened air quality. That means you should be vigilant about creating a Healthy Home environment during the winter months.

The EPA has some useful tips for improving the quality of air in your home. These are good practice any time of year, but especially when the temperatures drop.

So, why exactly is air quality worse in the winter? Let’s take a look at some of the factors involved.

Increased Pollution

No one likes a cold car, and it’s common to see lots of idling cars in the winter as people wait for them to warm up before driving off. That leads to a slight uptick in vehicle emissions.

Staying warm is true for indoor environments as well, so fireplaces, furnaces, and wood-burning stoves are hard at work all winter long. Beyond individual home usage, energy production (often in the form of coal-burning) and consumption skyrocket during the winter in large factories and businesses.

More Time Indoors

It can be hard to leave your warm bed on a cold morning, and just as difficult to walk outside into frigid temperatures. It’s no secret that we all spend more time indoors during the winter, and that can make us more susceptible to the effects of poor ventilation and increased carbon dioxide levels.

Even things that are positive for efficiently heating homes can lead to air quality concerns for the people inside. Layers of insulation and tight seals on doors and windows can prevent fresh outdoor air from circulating indoors. For that reason, consider ways to increase the distribution of fresh air in your home using things like whole-home ventilation systems and air purifiers.

Temperature Inversion

Cold temperatures can trap pollutants near the ground through a process called “temperature inversion.”

This happens when a layer of warmer air sits above the colder air at the surface, acting like a cap that traps in pollution and allergens. This is especially common in areas where wood-burning is common practice during the winter.

This is how things like smog, smoke, and carbon dioxide can stay around for long periods of time, and they usually don’t get broken up until a weather event (wind, rain, snow) comes through the area.

Diagram courtesy of the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association website.

Healthy Home | Healthy Air |

Tips For Fall Home Maintenance

2 minute read

Fall is a great time of year to perform important home maintenance. We have some great home improvement tips. Autumn creates plenty of predictable yard work, such as raking leaves and cleaning gutters. However, there are a number of chores that are less obvious, but just as important, in order to get a house in tip-top shape before winter and to protect your family’s health.

3 Outdoor Home Maintenance Tips

When the gardening season draws to a close this fall, it’s time to begin working on projects outside of the house.

  1. Walk and Caulk: Reducing energy bills, preventing drafts, and keeping critters out of the house in the winter starts with a fresh bead of caulk around windows, siding, and joints. Before it gets too cold, stroll around the entire exterior of the home and seal any potential air leaks.
  2. Maintain Paths and Walkways: Even if your walkway looks safe now, it will turn treacherous when you add slush and ice this winter. Take a weekend to even out brick pavers or repair concrete.
  3. Wash Your Home: Many homeowners don’t realize how dirty their house can get. Even the best siding won’t shed all the dust, dirt, and rain that a house is constantly exposed to. While some synthetic sidings don’t hold paint, they can be given a face lift with a power washer.

3 Indoor Home Maintenance Tips

Of course, no fall home maintenance checklist is complete without ensuring the inside is safe. Here are a few home maintenance tips that you can make to save money and improve health and comfort.

  1. Cover Windows: If your home has older windows, they could be a significant source of heat loss. While installing new windows is the best solution, using plastic to insulate drafty, single-pane windows can save considerable money.
  2. Improve Humidity Control: Heating your home this winter is bound to dry out the air. This leads to sore throats, bloody noses, and even a greater chance of upper respiratory illnesses. Help protect your family’s health and comfort this winter with a whole-home humidifier.
  3. Improve Air Purity and Freshness: When fall begins, it’s usually time to replace air filters. A whole-home air purifier can also trap fall allergens, bacteria, and viruses, helping to keep families healthy all year round. Proper ventilation can also improve air quality by removing harmful air pollutants such formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and many volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Home maintenance in fall is essential to keeping family members safe and comfortable during the winter, and we have products specifically designed to improve comfort and protect investments from seasonal changes in humidity.

Healthy Clean Air | Healthy Air |

Dirty Air Compare: The Air in Your Home is Equivalent to…

2 minute read

It’s your home. It’s not just a place, it’s a feeling. But when that feeling is wheezing, sneezing, and uncomfortable all the time, there’s something wrong. Indoor Air Quality can be five times more polluted than outdoor air, and since the EPA estimates that people spend 90% of their time indoors, a bad air day every day is not something to take lightly.

While it’s easy to see when you need to dust or sweep, it’s harder to know when the air in your home needs cleaning. Why breathe dirty air? Poor air quality can threaten your family’s health, so it’s important to keep things out of your home that cause polluted indoor air and ensure your home is a healthy one.

Finding the Culprit of Dirty Air

Indoor Air Quality is impacted by many things in your home, some of which you’d likely never guess. Mold, pollen, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs)from cleaning chemicals and paints—are widely known culprits that contribute to poor air quality. But, according to the Global Healing Center, there are some unknown drivers. Here’s your checklist for finding the culprit.

  • Do you have furniture purchased prior to 2006? It may contain toxic PBDEs.
  • Do you use air fresheners? A study found the terpenes released by air fresheners interact with ozone to form compounds like formaldehyde and acetone at concentrations, which can cause respiratory sensitivity and airflow limitation.
  • Do you burn candles in your home? Most candles, especially the scented ones made with paraffin wax, contain benzene and toluene, two known carcinogens.
  • Do you print a lot from your computer? Printing inks, like those used in home printers, contain glymes. These industrial chemicals have been linked to developmental and reproductive damage.

Time for a Healthy Home

In general, there are three main approaches to improve Indoor Air Quality:

Remove the source of the air pollutant

Check areas where mold is most often found, keep your rooms free and clear of dust, and make sure you regularly check your air vents. In addition, take a proactive approach by using safe cleaning products and considering product ingredients before you purchase.

Increase ventilation in your home

Today’s homes are tightly sealed, built with energy efficiency in mind. While this is good for keeping heated and cooled air from seeping out, it also keeps uncomfortable odors and harmful pollutants trapped inside. A whole-home ventilation system allows for fresh, clean air.

Consider an air purifier and other whole-home solutions 

After all, if you could see the air you breathe, think about what you’d want it to look like.

Environment |

Summer’s Most Common Bugs

2 minute read

When it comes to a love of humidity, humans and pests are on opposite ends of the spectrum. While we tend to despise air that is thick with heat and water vapor, most bugs actually thrive in it and need it to live.

Unfortunately, this means that the impending summer humidity in certain parts of the country is about to bring these summer pests out in a big way.

Summer’s Most Common Pests

Cockroaches

The German cockroach is the most common roach species infesting our homes in North America. They are attracted to warm and humid places, making your kitchen and the water heater in the basement their most frequented hideaways.

Silverfish

These small, wingless insects are nocturnal and need to keep their bodies moist at all times in order to survive. You are likely to find them beneath boxes or furniture in your basement, the shower, or hiding in your kitchen.

Centipedes

Carnivorous and nocturnal, with their 100 feet, these pests can move quickly and spend most of the day hiding in humid, secluded places. They are highly attracted to the moist, humid parts of the home because they need to rehydrate constantly in order to live.

Earwigs

Known to burrow into topsoil outside, these nocturnal bugs can also infiltrate dark and humid areas of your home. You are most likely to find them around floor drains, bathrooms, or under rugs or furniture.

Roly-Poly Bugs

Also known as pill bugs, sow bugs, potato bugs, or armadillo bugs, these bugs often infest damp basements.

Tips to Prevent/Eliminate Summer Pests:

Healthy Home |

Professionals Needed: Here Are The Home Projects You Should Never DIY

2 minute read

So you bought your first house and can’t wait to rip up that crummy carpet. Go for it! But if you hit dirt, you might need to call in backup. As more millennials take the plunge into home ownership, it’s becoming more and more common to see DIY projects big and small. Things like carpet removal are doable. But no matter how many tips and tricks you’ve picked up from HGTV, Pinterest, or YouTube, there are some projects that simply aren’t worth the money, time, or risk to do yourself.

Setting Limits on DIY Home Projects

Skill Level for DIY Home Projects:

For some people, DIY is a way of life. For the rest of us, we need to be honest about our skills and level of experience. Sometimes a “simple” job can actually be a lot more complex than it appears. Hire a professional for these projects before you try it yourself and make a mistake that costs way more to fix.

  • Paving your driveway
  • Custom kitchen and bathroom jobs – backsplashes, flooring, countertops
  • Pest removal
  • Window Installation

Time Commitment for DIY Home Projects:

Some home improvement jobs can take weeks to complete when you try to do them yourself. For big projects, hiring a professional will mean a quicker and more efficient job done well so you can get back to enjoying your home without interruptions.

  • Large landscaping projects
  • Flooring
  • Demolition

Permission for DIY Home Projects:

Some home improvement projects require permits due to building codes. Save yourself the headache, and possible code violation, by hiring a professional who’s familiar with the process when it comes to these types of jobs.

  • Additions and remodels
  • Deck or patio addition
  • Major electrical/plumbing work
  • Pool installation and repairs

Safety Risk for DIY Home Projects:

If there’s any question of your ability to do something without injury or structural damage to your home, it’s most definitely a job for a professional.

  • Mold, asbestos, lead removal
  • Tree removal
  • Roof and foundation repairs
  • HVAC system installation and repair

When you’ve decided you need a pro, try to keep the process simple to save you time and headaches. Start by reaching out to a few trusted contractors in your area to get estimates on the work, (recommendations from friends are a great place to start) and then consider price and professionalism before making your decision.

When it comes to HVAC work, we make it easy to find a pro. Along with plumbing and electrical work, HVAC is an area where it’s crucial to get the job done right the first time.

Sources:

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/millennials-take-on-diy-projects-with-more-confidence-and-budgeting-discipline-than-previous-generations-300813538.html

https://www.familyhandyman.com/smart-homeowner/10-home-projects-you-should-always-hire-a-pro-for/

https://www.ahs.com/home-matters/quick-tips/8-household-projects-to-leave-to-professionals/

https://www.rd.com/home/improvement/diy-home-improvement-projects/

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/projects-you-should-not-diy_n_3923456

https://www.hallerent.com/blog/when-to-call-professional-for-home-improvement-repairs/

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AA Homepage Articles | Healthy Air |

Stand Up for Clean Air

3 minute read

50 Years Later: The Clean Air Act of 1970

50 years ago, Congress signed a landmark bill – The Clean Air Act of 1970. This bill helped reduce air pollution, spurred energy-efficient machines, cars, and helped Americans breathe easier, but there’s still more work to be done. Now, the American Lung Association is asking everyone to join the Stand Up For Clean Air initiative to help make healthy air accessible to everyone.

Stand Up for Clean Air Initiative

The initiative focuses on creating clean air at home, at work, at school, and outdoors. It also focuses on reducing climate change and addressing air quality concerns after a natural disaster. Lastly, people can read about the state of the air in their community in the American Lung Association’s annual State of the Air report.

Its most recent State of the Air report states that nearly half of Americans live with unhealthy air. Most of that unhealthy air is a result of the byproducts of climate change.

“Climate change results in increased levels of wildfire smoke, worsened ozone pollution, more extreme storms and frequent flooding, which leave behind mold, polluted floodwater residue and other damage, exposing people to indoor air pollution as they clean up and repair homes. Many sources of climate pollution – power plants, oil and gas operations, and cars and trucks – also produce air pollution that is directly harmful to lung health.” – Harold Wimmer, American Lung Association CEO and President 

Air pollution contributes to premature deaths, heart attacks, strokes, cancer, and asthma attacks. Children, older adults, and those with underlying health conditions are most vulnerable.

Resources to Create Healthy Indoor Air Quality

Indoor Air Quality for Workplaces

With its Stand up for Clean Air initiative, the American Lung Association wants to create better indoor air quality. In doing so, the ALA provides several resources to help users advocate for these changes.

Fortunately, the ALA is not only the group advocating for healthy buildings and better indoor air quality.

The TH Chan School of Public Health at Harvard has been advocating for healthy buildings for 40 years. Through its advocacy, the school has completed and promoted studies that indicate production declines when employees are in an unhealthy workplace. Workers in these poor conditions type slower, take more sick days, and are generally less productive. Healthy insurance provider Kaiser Permanente estimates that the net result of this absenteeism and poor production costs businesses thousands of dollars per employee.

Indoor Air Quality for Schools

Students in poorly ventilated schools face similar problems. They lack focus, are more likely to get sick, and subsequently are more likely to be absent. This can result in lower performance. The American Lung Association and Environmental Protection Agency have collaborated to create a toolkit to help schools improve their indoor air quality with low-cost initiatives. Benefits include improved academic performance, higher rates of attendance, and healthier children.

Advocate for Clean Air

To join the fight against poor indoor air quality and air pollution, you can visit the American Lung Association and become an advocate.

“Everyone has a role to play in addressing climate change and ensuring clean air for all,” Wimmer said. “Our hope is that everyone – from individual citizens to industries, federal and state governments, and companies and brands – recognize that everyone is needed to ensure clean air for all and address an obstacle as unprecedented as climate change. I hope you’ll join us in realizing our vision of a world free of lung disease.” – Harold Wimmer

Please note: Aprilaire is a partner of the American Lung Association. We are a national sponsor of the American Lung Association’s fundraiser Fight for Air Climb FY20.