Healthy Air | Family |

Crafts for Kids: DIY Air Quality Experiment

2 minute read

Air pollution and allergies are concerning in certain areas and at different times of the year. No matter where you live, it’s important to help children understand the concepts of air quality and how it impacts their health and wellness.

Air Quality Experiment for Kids

The reality of air pollution is best understood when it can be physically seen.

Try this simple activity with kids to show them there really are things in the air that we cannot see.

Materials

  • 3-4 clear plastic plates
  • Permanent marker
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Masking tape/poster putty
  • 3-4 blank pieces of paper
  • Magnifying glass

Procedure

  1. Use a permanent marker to label each of your plates with a different location around the house (bedroom, kitchen, living room, etc.). The experiment is about Indoor Air Quality, but you could place at least one plate outside too.
  2. After your plates are labeled, spread a thin layer of petroleum jelly on each. To make the experiment fair, be sure to use the same amount of jelly on each plate.
  3. Use your masking tape or putty to hang the plates in their respective rooms.
  4. Wait 2-3 days and then collect your plates.
  5. Place each plate on a piece of white paper and use the magnifying glass to observe the different particles that were collected.

Teach Kids Air Quality Awareness

Whether you use the above experiment or just want to talk with your kids, awareness in children is a great first step in getting them to care about air quality and their daily health.

Children who suffer from asthma and allergies especially have reason to be aware of the air around them because of the direct consequences air pollution can have on their breathing.

Teach kids to always get the help of an adult when they are experiencing shortness of breath, and show them ways to help themselves if they’re on their own when they can’t breathe.

Here are Some Helpful Reminders:

  • Find the Source: Now that kids are aware of air pollution, it can help them identify if the air around them is causing their shortness of breath. Cigarette smoke or mold spores are two examples of possible causes. In the fall, mold from leaf piles is a concern. In these cases, remind kids that getting some fresh air can help.
  • Deep Breaths: Try some of these deep breathing exercises with your kids. These can come in handy when kids leave a polluted or allergen-filled area and can breathe in fresh air to relax.

*Note: This is not intended to be medical advice for those with serious breathing or health issues such as asthma. Please consult your healthcare professional for in-depth instructions and strategies in these scenarios.

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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OAS

AA Homepage Articles | Wellness |

Foods That Can Trigger Ragweed Allergies Causing OAS

2 minute read

Oral Allergy Syndrome

Are you one of the 23 million Americans who suffer from a ragweed allergy? Ragweed is everywhere in the U.S., especially in eastern and midwestern states. Its season starts late in July and early August and ends in mid-October. This common allergen can feel impossible to escape. While a ragweed-producing plant typically lives for only one season, each plant can release up to 1 billion pollen grains that have the potential to travel great distances on the wind. And being outside on a day with elevated ragweed counts isn’t the only way you might be affected. It can also travel into your home on the foods you eat causing Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS).

Foods and Oral Allergy Syndrome

“Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) is a form of a contact allergic reaction that occurs upon contact of the mouth and throat with raw fruits or vegetables. The most frequent symptoms of OAS include itchiness or swelling of the mouth, face, lip, tongue, and throat. Symptoms usually appear immediately after eating raw fruits or vegetables, although in rare cases, the reaction can occur more than an hour later…OAS can occur at any time of the year.”

American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology

Foods that may cause OAS in a person with a ragweed allergy include:

  • Banana
  • Cantaloupe
  • Honeydew melon
  • Watermelon
  • Chamomile tea
  • Cucumber and zucchini
  • Honey that contains pollen
  • Sunflower seeds
  • White potato

Eating these foods, especially during allergy season, can result in any of the following symptoms:

  • Itchy throat/tingling sensation
  • Watery eyes
  • Stuffy nose
  • Swollen lips

How to Avoid OAS

In order to manage your OAS symptoms, it’s important to avoid eating any of these foods raw. Baking, cooking, or microwaving food reduces cross-reactions because the high temperatures break down the proteins that cause OAS.

Peeling foods before eating helps remove the high concentration of proteins found on the skin. And canning your fruits and vegetables or eating canned produce can also limit your reaction.

Talk to your doctor if you experience any adverse reactions when consuming raw fruits and vegetables. They can help you identify your allergies and learn how to avoid them.