Healthy Home | Healthy Air |

Homeowner Know-How: DIY Air Quality Tests

2 minute read

Air quality is important. That’s easy to say, but it can sometimes be tough to put into practice. First off, it’s not always obvious when there’s a problem with your air quality. Maybe something smells a little bit off or the air feels different in certain rooms compared to others. If you want to know for sure, it’s helpful to run some DIY air quality tests in your home.

Let’s take a look at the different DIY air quality tests available, see how much they generally cost, and decide when it’s time to enlist professional help.

Types of DIY Air Quality Tests + Costs

Mold

Sometimes the best test for mold is your nose. You or a relative likely have smelled mold before, and you shouldn’t be afraid to trust your instincts. But if you have a recurring problem area in which you want to confirm the source and type of mold, DIY kits can be useful.

Remember that mold is often the result of trapped moisture, so proper ventilation is important in preventing its growth.

Typical Cost: $8-85

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

VOCs are the result of cooking, cleaning, and the presence of chemicals. They’re why it’s important to ventilate the kitchen and any area in which you’re cleaning, painting, or storing chemicals. There are a range of options available, so make sure you’re getting one that tests for the specific concerns you have in your home.

Typical Cost: $90-400

Carbon Monoxide

Constant monitoring is more important than testing for carbon monoxide. There should be a CO detector on every level your home. And if you have an attached garage or share walls or entryways with a neighbor in a condo or apartment, there should be a detector installed in that area.

Typical Cost: $15-30

Lead Paint

The dangers of lead paint have been known for decades, but some old construction might be at risk. So if you’re moving into or renovating a home built before 1978, you need to test for lead paint.

Typical Cost: $12-50

When to Call a Professional

It can seem cost-prohibitive or intimidating to hire a professional to test and analyze the air quality in your home. But it’s important to keep in mind that the sooner you can identify and remedy a problem, the less exposure you’ll have and the less you’ll have to pay to clean it up down the road.

The DIY air quality tests mentioned above are a great place to start, and it’s helpful to think of them as preliminary screening tools. If they reveal anything out of the ordinary, then you’ll want to call in a professional who can fully diagnose the problem.

Find a pro in your area. Among other offerings, they can test and repair your air filters and ventilation systems, two crucial aspects of creating a quality air environment in your home.

Airborne issues can form any time, but always remember that you can take control of the air quality in your home.

what is dust

AA Homepage Articles | Healthy Air |

What Is Dust Made Of? And How To Manage It For A Clean Home

2 minute read


Click the play button to listen to the article.

Anywhere you look around your home, you’re bound to see dust. From the coffee table in the living room to the shelves in your bedroom, all home surfaces require some regular cleaning to get rid of dust and the allergies often associated with it.

But beyond being unsightly, what is dust exactly? And what are the risks of an unmanaged dust problem in your home?

What Is Dust?

Dust is commonly made up of the following (skip this section if you’re a bit squeamish):

  • Dead skin cells
  • Hair from humans and pets
  • Clothing fibers
  • Dust mites
  • Soil particles
  • Pollen
  • Microscopic specks of plastic

Additionally, all of these particles can also serve as hosts for other harmful things like air pollutants, bacteria, chemicals, and metals. These substances attach themselves to dust particles, which can make it easier for them to be inhaled.

Dangers Of Dust Inhalation

It’s not just an eyesore—dust can also be harmful to your health in large quantities. Here’s why:

Airways can filter out many of the harmful substances from the air we breathe, and lungs are self-cleaning organs that can heal once they’re no longer exposed to pollutants.

But if the body is constantly breathing in dust, it can add up to serious problems down the road. That problem has been seen for years in workers who are consistently exposed to dust. Pneumoconiosis is a lung disease that affects millions of people who work in dusty conditions that aren’t properly ventilated. It’s typically caused by inhaling asbestos fibers, silica dust, or coal mine dust.

But you can be impacted by dust even if you don’t work around it every day. Signs of excessive short-term dust inhalation include shortness of breath, coughing more than usual, and excess mucus. Over the long term, this can lead to inflammation, scarring, and one of several lung diseases. Dust inhalation can also exacerbate existing conditions like COPD and asthma.

How To Reduce Dust In Your Home

Now that many people are spending more time at home than ever before, it’s important to ensure the air you breathe there is as healthy as possible. Here are some strategies to consider:

House Rules

Dust accumulates faster when more particles are brought in from the outdoors. Try removing shoes before coming in the house, or have a rug for people to brush off their shoes with. You can also make sure windows and doors are sealed properly, to avoid small holes where dust can enter.

Vacuum Regularly

A good rule of thumb is to vacuum all floors once a week. You can increase the frequency in high-traffic areas like the entryway and living room. Some homes could benefit from a robotic vacuum that automatically takes care of cleaning on a regular schedule.

Air Filtration

In addition to removing things like viruses and pollen, air filtration systems will make a huge difference in dust accumulation in your home. By filtering the air that’s entering and removing stale air, an Aprilaire ventilation system with air filters can noticeably reduce the amount of dust and help prevent allergy triggers. Use an Aprilaire MERV 16 filter for maximum performance in your home.

breathing exercises

AA Homepage Articles | Healthy Air |

2021 Stress Awareness Month – Breathing Exercises You Can Do Anytime

2 minute read

Listen to the article by clicking the play button above.

Feeling more stressed than usual?

According to the American Psychological Association, nearly 70% of Americans have reported feeling increased stress over the course of the pandemic. With uncertainties over health, finances, and the future, it’s no surprise that these anxieties have compounded for most people in the past year.

Because of that, we could all use a little (or a lot of) relaxation. One place to start? Breathing exercises. They’re an effective, convenient, and versatile way to relieve stress and reduce the ill effects of chronic stress.

April is Stress Awareness Month, and we wanted to highlight some new techniques that can be used in addition to the previous breathing tips we’ve shared.

First, let’s review why deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in your body and mind.

Your whole body is affected by the way you breathe. When your breath is controlled and deep, it sends your brain a message to calm down and relax. That message also gets sent to the rest of your body, allowing it to regulate your heart rate, steady your breathing, and lower your blood pressure.

The ease and convenience of breathing exercises take down the barriers of incorporating them into your life. And they don’t require any special equipment or tools–just time and consistency.

Breathing Exercises to Try Today

1. Box Breathing

All you need for this technique is a comfortable chair that allows your feet to be flat on the floor. Then, closing your eyes, breathe in through your nose while slowly counting to four. Experience the feeling of the air entering your lungs and then hold that breath inside while slowly counting to four again. Make sure to keep your posture relaxed while holding the breath; don’t forcefully clamp your mouth or nose shut. Then, begin to slowly exhale for four seconds. Repeat those steps (inhale, hold, exhale, hold) at least three times, and if possible, continue for four minutes or until your body and mind are calm.

2. Tactical Breathing

This technique is best used when your fight-or-flight response is kicking in. Breathe in through your nose, counting 1,2,3,4. Stop and hold your breath, counting 1,2,3,4. Exhale, pulling your belly button toward your spine, counting 1,2,3,4. Practice this until you are comfortable with a full, deep breath and then repeat it making the exhale twice the length of the inhale this time.

3. Lion Breathing

This exercise has you imagine you’re a lion, which is a very powerful image for times when you’re feeling powerless or overwhelmed. Sit in a comfortable position in a chair or on the floor, if you prefer. Breathe in through your nose, filling your belly all the way up with air. When you can’t inhale any more, open your mouth as wide as you can, like a lion. Breathe out with a “HA” sound. Repeat as many times as necessary.

Breathing Quality Air

With all of this deep breathing, you want to be sure you’re taking in Healthy Air. That’s where Aprilaire can help.

It’s Time to Care About Healthy Air
Breathe a sigh of relief.

Learn More

Check out our blueprints for a Healthy Home. They include tips and easy changes that can improve the air quality of your home, making it even simpler to deal with stress in a clean, healthy environment.

Raise a Happy, Healthy Home
Breathe easy with the blueprints to a Healthy Home.

Learn More
St. Vincent de Paul

AA Homepage Articles | News |

2021: Aprilaire’s Good Neighbor Values

2 minute read

Click the play button to listen to the post

We take the importance of caring for others to heart at Aprilaire. We believe we have a purpose beyond the individual work we do and that being a successful company also means “Being a Good Neighbor.” It’s one of our core values, and something we put into action each year.

We remain committed to helping our local communities in a number of ways, including financial contributions and volunteering. In the past, we’ve raised funds to provide pack-n-plays to mothers in need, volunteered at local blood drives, and held various donation drives throughout the year.

While our partnership opportunities may look different in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re excited to continue our work with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, whose mission statement reads:

“A membership organization, the Society began working in Madison in 1925 with two parish-based groups of members serving their neighbors in need. Today, programs the Society operates in Dane County include a large customer-choice food pantry, a charitable pharmacy, storage for the goods of persons who are homeless, seven thrift stores offering direct charity, housing at Port St. Vincent de Paul and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton House, and several other forms of assistance for people struggling with poverty.”

We’ve been working with St. Vincent de Paul – Madison since 2014, giving us a number of incredible opportunities to give back and live out our mission of being Good Neighbors.

We believe the work they’re doing to provide assistance for our community is more important than ever right now, which is why it’s our honor to be a 2021 Platinum Sponsor for St. Vincent de Paul’s 6th Annual Care Café fundraising breakfast on May, 5th 2021. The theme is “Love Made Visible.”

They’re going virtual this year, which means they have unlimited capacity to reach their goal of $140,000. If you live in Dane County, we encourage you to attend the virtual event and support our neighbors in need through your contributions to the food pantry, free pharmacy, and housing programs.

 Click here for more information on St. Vincent de Paul – Madison to see how you can get involved.

Or find a charity in your area that you may be able to connect with to make an impact.

AA Homepage Articles | News |

Experiencing the Fight For Air Climb

2 minute read

Before the Fight For Air Climb

Entering the US Bank Center for the American Lung Association’s Fight For Air Climb was a rush of energy.

This seemed less like an arduous trek up 1,000 stairs and more of an indoor festival. There were volunteers ready to greet you and pump you up for the ensuing climb and people from different companies sitting at tables ready to hand out souvenirs.

They were probably also there to distract you after you just got done instinctively looking up toward the top of the 47-story US Bank Center in downtown Milwaukee becoming a little uneasy at the prospect of your journey upward.

Before you made your climb, you gathered as a team and took several escalators down to the basement level before getting warmed up with a quick aerobic routine. Then you took a long and winding tunnel where you greeted by more volunteers who were cheering you on. It was hard not to feel inspired and excited.

During the Fight For Air Climb

One-by-one people took off up toward the top of the US Bank Center to begin their Fight For Air Climb. I, like most, started off confidently and quickly. I took the first six flights easily, but then by flight eight, I began to fight for air. I now understand why they title this climb just that. My mind and my body were at odds. I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to continue at the same pace to get it over with as quickly as possible or to slow down and feel better. I went with the former.

Everyone in the stairwell was trudging onward with the same dilemma. We all were gasping for air as we kept pushing up each step and each flight toward the top of the Fight For Air Climb. At several points, I wondered if I was actually making any progress.

Every 10 flights there was a group of volunteers handing out cups of water and words of encouragement. Both were sorely needed to help push me along.

With each passing flight, I kept a tally of how many flights I had left. Twenty flights down, 27 more flights to go; 30 flights down, 17 flights to go; Ok, 40 flights down, 7 to go. By the time I got to the 40th floor, I knew I could make the last push to make it to the top of my Fight For Air Climb journey.

After the Fight For Air Climb

Eventually, I reached the top after 9 minutes and 31 seconds. At the top of the stairwell, I was met by volunteers who were cheering me on and by other climbers who were also catching their breath and taking in the picturesque views of Milwaukee and Lake Michigan afforded to us by the tallest building in Wisconsin.

As I grabbed a water and walked around soaking in both the views of the city and my accomplishment, it was really cool to watch teams taking pictures together or greeting other climbers with high-fives and smiles. There was a certain camaraderie found in a common struggle.

Despite the lingering soreness, I cannot wait for next year’s climb. No matter if I beat my time from this year or not, it’s about fighting for air together and helping those impacted with lung disease.

To join an upcoming climb in a city near you, visit www.lung.org/aprilaire.

flights

AA Homepage Articles | News |

Experts Say Flights Can Resume, But Bring Increased Risks

2 minute read

Air quality experts say that it is safe to resume flying, but travelers must take advanced precautions before traveling like taking shorter flights when possible, wearing masks, and social distancing. 

In an opinion piece for The Washington Post, Joseph Allen, an assistant professor of exposure assessment science at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, makes the case that airplanes do not make you sick. In fact, airplanes have comparable levels of air filtration and fresh air ventilation to a health care facility

Flights May Be Less Comfortable With Recommendations

He argues that airlines should continue disinfecting high-touch areas such as armrests and tray tables, stop in-flight food service, mandate mask-wearing, and ask patrons to keep their above ventilation fan on throughout the flight. While these adjustments make flying less enjoyable, they can help reduce in-flight virus transmission. Masks are currently required on public transportation. 

Allen is not the only one saying it is safe to resume flying. 

‘Safer Than Eating At A Restaurant’

Linsey Marr, an engineering professor at Virginia Tech, in a CNN article writes, “When HEPA ventilation systems are running on a plane and everyone is masked, the risk of Covid-19 is greatly reduced and makes air travel on a big jet safer than eating at a restaurant.”

Activities Create Biggest Risks

She and Allen argue that the biggest risks in airline travel stem from activities like the pre-flight boarding process or when a flight is delayed and people are stuck on the plane. Marr, who has been wearing an air quality monitor when she travels, said CO2 levels are elevated during these aforementioned activities and are indicative of a lack of fresh air ventilation. 

Marr told CNN that “A CO2 (carbon dioxide) level of 3,000 ppm means that for every breath I take in, about 7% of the air is other people’s exhaled breath…like drinking someone else’s backwash!”

The airport also presents other problems for travelers.

Allen suggests airports create more touchless experiences, upgrade their HVAC system, and require masks. Some updates have already been implemented in some airports or will be implemented in the future. 

Other experts suggest carrying your own personal hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and sticking to shorter flights

Even though there are risks to flying, Marr and Allen say you are clear for takeoff this summer