Healthy Home | Healthy Air |

4 Air Quality Questions to Ask Your Home Inspector

3 minute read

Buying a home can seem like one endless checklist. But it’s better to be safe than rush into such a big investment with uncertainty. One of those people you’ll want to be in constant communication with is your home inspector. So as you’re checking off boxes, make sure to consider something that will impact your home experience for years to come: air quality.

This can be tough to manage since there are so many factors to consider (Especially if you’re buying an older home). That’s why it’s helpful to involve a home inspector, and to make sure they look at a few key areas.

If your home inspector sees any potential issues, they can put you in touch with experts who will take a closer look.

Getting all of this in order can seem like a big task, but there’s no overstating the peace of mind that comes with knowing your family is living and breathing inside of a Healthy Home environment.

Ask A Pro About…

  1. Basement Moisture

Having a basement is wonderful. You can make it into a guest room, build out a craft room or workshop, or use it as storage to free up space in the rest of the home.

No matter what you’re using a basement for, you want to make sure that it’s moisture level is optimal for Healthy Air. Unwanted moisture can attract pests, lead to unhealthy growths, and even compromise the structural integrity of the home.

Circulating air pushes mold and mildew spores from your basement into your other floors.

Some minor problems can be managed with a dehumidifier. But if there are leaks and foundation cracks that are causing moisture to build up, they need to be addressed. And because these repairs can be costly, you want to have them fully inspected and resolved before committing to purchase a home.

So make sure your basement and crawl space are inspected for moisture. Musty smells are a dead giveaway, but also have the home inspector look for bloated walls and ceilings, or any attempts to cover up moisture damage without fixing the underlying issues.

  1. Asbestos

    Formerly used for fireproofing and insulation on pipes and ductwork, most asbestos was outlawed under the Clean Air Act because it can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other chronic respiratory conditions.

Where to look for asbestos:

  • Old floor tiles and ceiling tiles
  • Roof shingles and siding
  • Insulation around boilers, ducts, pipes, and fireplaces
  • Joint compound used on seams between pieces of sheetrock
  1. Air Systems

    Outdoor air enters your home for ventilation, heating, and cooling. Each of these systems has a filter that needs to be checked.

It’s crucial to have this barrier between the outdoors and your home to prevent allergens and pollution from entering. This is especially true if you’re living in an area with consistent wildfire concerns.

Other information that your home inspector should provide is the expected lifetime of the HVAC systems and if there is any warranty remaining.

  1. “Tightness” and “Looseness”

“Tightness” means the house is well-insulated, meaning there isn’t much air exchange between the indoors and outdoors.

But these “super efficient” constructions also have a reputation for poor air quality because they lack the ability to replenish fresh air or to properly ventilate the home’s machinery.

But the same concerns ring true for “loose” homes, because you can’t control what’s coming in to and going out of the home.

So you want to find a middle ground that keeps the indoor environment protected from the changing outdoor conditions, while still allowing for proper ventilation, especially around indoor machinery.

Where to consider tightness/ventilation:

  • Seals around windows and doors
  • Attic insulation
  • Attached or detached garage (and how it’s insulated)
  • Seals and ventilation around HVAC, water heater, and other machinery

Resources:

Indoor Air Quality: http://nasdonline.org/1442/d001242/questions-about-indoor-air-quality.html

Checking For Asbestos: https://www.asbestosnetwork.com/Worker-Safety/Asbestos-In-The-Home.shtml

Tight Construction: http://www.healthyhouseinstitute.com/a-929-Tight-Construction

Little girl standing in the rain to represent discussion about how rain may affect pollen allergies.

Healthy Air |

Are Rain Showers Good For Pollen Allergies?

2 minute read

Before Aprilaire had established itself as a worldwide leader in Indoor Air Quality solutions, the company needed a name.

Legend has it that the company’s first president was sitting at home with his wife one spring day when she opened up the kitchen window, smiled, and breathed in deeply.

“I just love the smell of April air,” she said.

Kind of catchy, isn’t it?

April Rains, No Allergy Pains?

So what is it that makes April air so appealing? You may have heard it said before that the consistent rain showers in April clear out allergens and pollution from the air, leaving behind a clean, refreshed environment.

But doesn’t rain equal more plant growth, which in turn creates more pollen and other allergens?

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), pollen counts are higher when conditions are dry. That’s because, without any moisture to weigh them down, pollen grains can blow further in the wind and create higher concentrations.

So when it rains or there’s high humidity, pollen grains became too heavy to travel far.

But is too much rain a bad thing?

Moderate Rain is Best for Allergies

Some rain is good, but heavy rain showers can lead to problems for people who suffer from mold, dust, and grass allergies.

Rain causes plant growth (like weeds and grasses), and it can also create damp conditions that lead to mold and mildew.

Additionally, during a rainstorm (especially heavy ones), the force of the falling rain can splinter clumps of pollen into many, many smaller particles that can spread more rapidly. For this reason, it’s a good idea to stay out of rainstorms if you’re sensitive to pollen.

To wrap up, is rain good for allergies? Moderate showers can knock down pollen levels temporarily, but heavy showers can actually increase several types of allergens.

So keep an eye on the weather this spring, and after light showers hit your area, take a step outside and breathe in that fresh April air.

Sources:

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: https://community.aafa.org/blog/how-does-rain-affect-pollen-levels

The Weather Channel: https://weather.com/health/allergy/news/allergies-worse-or-after-rain-allergists-say-20130912

Jar-of-honey-honeycombs-wooden-honey-dipper-to-represent-discussion-about-local-honey-for-allergies

Archive |

Local Honey for Allergies — Does It Really Work?

2 minute read

Truth v. Fiction: Using Local Honey for Allergies

Allergy season has begun and some allergy sufferers may already be experiencing symptoms that can last through August or September.

These symptoms can include:
● Sneezing
● Runny or stuffy nose
● Watery or itchy eyes
● Itchy sinuses, throat, or ear canals
● Postnasal drainage

While there are many over-the-counter treatments available, the theory of using local honey as a remedy for spring allergies has gained some popularity among those looking for a natural approach, but does it actually work?

The Theory

Allergy shots are a useful comparison for this theory about honey. Your body takes small shots of the allergen to build immunity. As immunity builds, your body is provided with more of the allergen.

This same theory applies to the idea of using doses of local honey for allergies. The raw, unprocessed honey is made close to where you live, and contains the pollen and other allergens that may be causing your allergy symptoms.

It sounds reasonable.

Except for a couple important facts.

The Science

1. Allergy shots isolate the specific allergen that patients are allergic to. Alternatively, there is no way to know exactly what is in the local honey you’re consuming, or if you’re allergic to it in the first place.
2. Seasonal allergies are caused by pollen from trees, weeds, and grasses, not insect-borne pollen from flowers which is predominantly the pollen found in honey.

The Real Benefits of Honey

While local honey might not cure you of your seasonal allergies, it can still deliver a lot of benefits:
● Sore throat remedy
● Cough suppressant
● Good source of antioxidants
● Strong source of prebiotics and nutrients
● Immune booster
● Sweetener alternative to processed sugar

If you want to give raw honey a try, make sure you source it from a local and trusted producer. This beekeeper will be someone who doesn’t use any chemicals or other treatments, has bee hives within 5 miles of where you live, does not feed or move their bees, never filters or heats their honey, and uses wooden frames and natural wax foundation. If you can’t find a beekeeper that meets all those criteria, aim for as many as you can to ensure the most beneficial raw/local honey.

*As a reminder, it’s important to keep in mind that honey is not safe for children under 12 months, as it can lead to a serious condition called botulism.

Clean Air Everywhere

Don’t suffer through allergy season! One of the best things you can do for your health is to ensure a clean, healthy indoor environment. That means using air filters, keeping temperatures and humidity in check, and having your house inspected for any potential problem areas.

Check out all the tips and best practices we’ve included in the Aprilaire Clean Air Everywhere campaign. We want you to enjoy the spring weather without worrying about allergies!

Sources:
https://acaai.org/resources/connect/ask-allergist/will-honey-relieve-my-seasonal-allergies

https://www.healthline.com/health/allergies/honey-remedy#conclusions

https://www.webmd.com/allergies/features/does-honey-help-prevent-allergies#2

https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/top-raw-honey-benefits

https://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/how-to-find-the-best-local-honey/

 

 

5 easy ways to transition your family to a sustainable lifestyle

Archive |

Transition Your Family to a Sustainable Lifestyle

2 minute read

We’ve seen it a lot in the news lately: cities, states, and even restaurant chains are banning or limiting the use of plastic straws. It’s becoming more  apparent that we need to make more ec0-friendly decisions to help transition our family to a more sustainable lifestyle.

Why is this important? Because the use of plastic around the world has polluted our oceans, endangered sea life, and raised concerns about the long-term effects of creating non-biodegradable substances.

Banning straws is a small step (straws make up just 0.025% of all plastic in the oceans), but it’s an achievable one that has the potential to lead to larger, more impactful changes.

That’s a good reminder for all of us, and this is a great time to reevaluate the way your family views and interacts with the world around them.

It can be tough at first, but by consistently choosing to incorporate eco-friendly principles and practices, you can start down a lifelong path of greener living and creating a better environment for generations to come.

5 Ways to Transition Your Family to a Sustainable Lifestyle

Recycle:

Make a conscious effort to recycle as much as possible

○ Use Recycle Nation to find out where to locally recycle almost anything from paper and plastic to electronics and tires
○ Commit to buying products that are packaged in recyclable materials
○ Start a compost pile in your backyard
Make sure to wash and separate recyclables – this is crucial to the recycling process

Use Alternative Transportation:

Air pollution levels are greatly increased by the pollutants released by vehicles

○ Carpool when you can
○ Use public transportation if it’s a realistic option in your area
○ Walk and bike whenever possible, it’s good for you and the environment!

Buy Reusable:

Stop using and or buying disposable products whenever possible

○ Shop with reusable bags
○ Stop drinking water from a plastic bottle!
○ Your dollars make an impact. When you purchase sustainable goods, that sends a signal to manufacturers that they should make more things like it
○ Take a cue from Hawaii and stop using plastic straws and one-time use plastic altogether

Make Sustainable Food Choices

The fossil fuels and chemical fertilizers used in the production, processing, packaging, and transportation of food can greatly harm our health and the health of our environment

○ Be aware of the impact of your choices as a consumer
○ Look for local and environmentally responsible food that supports rural communities and farmers
○ Choose foods that are healthy, nutritious, and that come in eco-friendly packaging

Conserve Water

Water is one of the most valuable resources we have

○ Purchase water-efficient dishwashers and washing machines
○ Take shorter showers (make it a family competition for fun)
○ Turn the faucet off while you brush your teeth

Try incorporating just one of these five practices into your family’s daily life. Once that becomes habit or second nature, add another. Any change makes a huge difference towards creating a better environment and living a more thoughtful life.

For even more sustainable living inspiration, check out Eco-Cycle, Global Stewards, or The Story of Stuff.

Sources:

http://www.globalstewards.org/sustainable-lifestyle.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/sustainability/lifestyle/index.htm

https://www.tomsofmaine.com/good-matters/thinking-sustainably/living-a-sustainable-lifestyle-a-starter-guide

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2018/07/news-plastic-drinking-straw-history-ban/

 

Little girl playing

Healthy Air | Family |

Ways Recess Helps Kids

2 minute read

The Benefits of Recess

We’ve known since the invention of recess that kids love it.

Swinging as high as they can. Tearing around playing tag. And, most importantly, not sitting at a desk.

So, yes, they love it. But more and more research also shows that kids need recess. From building social skills to instilling positive exercise habits, recess exposes kids to crucial parts of development.

In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics says that recess “serves as a necessary break from the rigors of concentrated, academic challenges in the classroom.”

So, what exactly are those benefits that make the “necessary break” of recess such an important part of childhood development?

Social Benefits:

● Socialization free from structure
● The chance for new modes of communication with friends and classmates
● Allows for play time without electronic distractions

Emotional Benefits:

● Reduces stress
● Exposure to outdoor light offers several positives for health and wellness
● Provides a much needed break from workload and expectations
● Gives children control of the world around them

Intellectual Benefits:

Increased mental focus after physical exercise
● Gives children a break from incoming information
● Allows processing time

Physical Benefits:

● Burns calories and stretches muscles
● Practices emerging physical skills and can help kids find the sports/games they’ll play for life
● Provides exposure to fresh air. And speaking of fresh air, if you have concerns about the Indoor Air Quality in your child’s school, take a look at some of our recommendations for improving IAQ in schools.

And just like schooling doesn’t stop once kids go home, all the benefits of recess can extend to family time as well. Try one or all of these family spring activities to keep your kids healthy and active as the weather warms up.

Sources:
AAP News & Journals Gateway: The Crucial Role of Recess In School

Mother and child.

Archive |

Mom’s Health Tips for Kids during the Winter

< 1 minute read

Every year, moms and dads everywhere know that when winter hits – so does the endless cycle of colds, coughs, and flu. We asked some partner moms about health tips they use to keep their family healthy during the winter months.
But guess what? You can do something about that, and no it doesn’t involve keeping your kids in a plastic bubble.
We feel pretty confident that our products are the bee’s knees, but we wanted to put it to the test. We wanted to find out – does having a whole home humidifier or air purifier really make a difference in how often your family gets sick?

Health tips from moms

Kris and the McDonald family reported tons of health benefits and improvements, not just in winter, but all year long!
Dani Marie is a former RN and mom of littles – she counts having a humidifier as one of the main ways to keep your family healthy during winter months!
Michele’s family had a massive reduction in indoor allergy symptoms, which is a huge plus when you’re spending tons of time indoors!
Clarissa loved having an air purifier running to help control pet hair and allergens, which build up when you cannot open windows to clear the air!

To read more about keeping your family well this winter, click here.

Image of Aprilaire air filter types

Healthy Clean Air | Healthy Air |

Air Filter Types: Here’s What You Should Know

2 minute read

Allergies? Pet hair? Odors? Each home has air issues that need to be filtered out. But it’s not always easy to find the right air filter for your home’s ventilation or purification systems, and for your specific needs.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about our most popular air filters and how they can help you create a Healthy Home.

Self-Seal

Each Aprilaire Air Filter removes airborne particles including dust, pollen, mold spores, bacteria, pet dander, and dust mites, thanks to the patented Self-Seal Technology, which minimizes the amount of air bypassing the filter.

Easy Installation

It’s easy to swap out Aprilaire filters (we recommend once a year) thanks to the unique Interlock Rail System.
1. Unpack the filter
2. Slide it into the vent or purifier
3. Close the door to fully secure the filter

A Filter for Every Need

Find the filter that fits your air purifying needs. Make sure to match the size of the filter to your system requirements.

Clean Air Filter MERV 11
● Removes 98% of pollen and mold
● Vacuum and dust less often by preventing airborne particles from settling on furniture and flooring
● Ideal for fall months when mold and pollen are the biggest allergy triggers across the U.S.

Healthy Home Filter MERV 13
● Removes 97% of airborne bacteria
● Creates a Healthy Home environment by preventing airborne allergens from circulating through the air
● Ideal for homes that use pesticides, including products used to kill household pests (insecticides and disinfectants) and products used on lawns and gardens that drift or are tracked inside the house

Allergy and Asthma Filter MERV 16
● Removes 99% of airborne allergy and asthma triggers
● Prevents allergy and asthma triggers from circulating through the air by trapping them in the filter
● Ideal for asthma and allergy sufferers

Odor Filter MERV 13
● Reduces odor with activated carbon
● Odors from pets, cooking, and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are reduced by passing through the carbon filter
● Most commonly used to remove gases