Healthy Clean Air | Wellness |

Fact or Fiction? Local Pollen Counts

2 minute read

Keep an Eye on Pollen Counts

Spring and fall allergies are a bummer. If you have a pollen allergy, you know how important it is to keep an eye on pollen counts all season long.

Like most allergies, a pollen allergy is simply your body is trying to protect you from a foreign substance. By keeping an eye on your local pollen count, you should be able to gauge how severe your symptoms might be, and therefore take the necessary preventative steps.

It’s kind of like being able to predict and alter the future.

You may be wondering though: how is my local pollen count measured, and is it even reliable?

What’s a Rotorod?

A rotorod measures your local pollen count. This device spins at a high rate to collect particles from the atmosphere, which can then be analyzed and measured.

Per the American Council on Science and Health: The sampling device uses silicone grease-coated clear rods that test the air on a schedule, usually over the course of 24 hours. The rods are then examined for the number of pollen grains covering the rod or portions of it. This count can then be converted into units of grains per cubic meter of air, and eventually into a calculated amount that makes sense to the general public: low, moderate, or high.

Who Tracks Pollen?

Secondly, as far as reliability, there are actually no government pollen trackers, only private companies.

In fact, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, anyone can become a pollen counter. All you have to do is pass an exam and earn a certification to be a pollen tracker.

Because of this, the majority of pollen counts available to the public only show trends and therefore aren’t 100% accurate. Still, some information is better than no information. Perhaps the best way to get a 100% accurate reading is to become a pollen counter yourself!

Tips to Proactively Alleviate Your Pollen Allergy

  • Opt into allergy alerts from Pollen.com to stay up to date on trending pollen activity in your area
  • Dust and clean your home often as you and your family are surely unknowingly tracking pollen into your home every day
  • Shower at night to wash pollen out of your hair and keep it off your bed, leading to a more restful night’s sleep
  • Ask a doctor about your allergies to rule out any underlying concerns that may not be the result of pollen
  • Use an air purifier to remove pollen as well as dust, mold spores, and other airborne pollutants from your air

Clean air is Healthy Air, pure and simple. Air purification acts as a natural remedy to spring and fall allergies. If it’s not in your air, it’s not in your lungs.

That said, each home has different needs. For a whole-home air purifier solution, find a trained professional near you to talk about the pollen in your home. For a case-by-case air purification solution, look into a room air purifier designed to remove up to 99.97% of allergens, including pollen, pet dander, mold spores, germs, and other airborne impurities.

Sources
https://www.acsh.org/news/2016/04/01/how-do-we-count-pollen-anyway
https://www.pollen.com/allergy/allergy-prevention
https://www.aaaai.org/global/nab-pollen-counts/counting-stations
https://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/health-answers/not-all-pollen-counts-are-equal/

Let’s Clear the Air
Clean air is Healthy Air, pure and simple.

Learn More

Healthy Air | Wellness |

Healthy Air is Missing Cornerstone of Wellness

2 minute read

“Wellness” can be defined as optimizing both physical and mental health with nutrition, exercise, and sleep acting as crucial cornerstones. But there’s one missing wellness cornerstone that can help you perform at your peak: Healthy Air.

Aromatherapy and Essential Oils

Fortunately, an emphasis on Healthy Air is beginning to pick up. If you look in the right places (particularly on Instagram) you’ll see numerous people touting various essential oils as a way to diffuse Healthy Air into your home. It’s called aromatherapy, and it’s said to help treat both mental and physical conditions.

For example, breathing in:

  • Peppermint oils allegedly help physical health by boosting energy and aiding digestion
  • Lavender oils allegedly help mental health by acting as a stress reliever
  • Tea tree oils allegedly help physical health by fighting infections and boosting immunity
  • Chamomile oils allegedly help mental health by improving your mood and promoting relaxation

The problem is, essential oils aren’t regulated and can sometimes cause side effects like rashes or allergic reactions. It’s great that there’s an emphasis being placed on air quality. Unfortunately, there’s no proven record of any essential oils having actual health benefits.

However, there is a simpler solution that doesn’t fill your home with clouds of diffused mystery vapors: improving your overall Indoor Air Quality.

Healthy Air, Healthy Home

How does improving your overall Indoor Air Quality improve wellness? Let’s start with some basic facts. For one, indoor air can be up to five times more polluted than outdoor air, which is concerning considering we spend, on average, 90% of our time indoors.

Improving your Indoor Air Quality ties to wellness because it helps optimize both your physical and mental health.

Physically, Healthy Air helps you breathe easier. It reduces allergies and can help prevent respiratory conditions such as bronchitis or sinusitis, among others.

Mentally, Healthy Air helps you improve sleep and reduce stress, simply because you’re literally able to breathe.

How Can I Breathe Healthy Air in My Home?

Proper HumidityWhether you live in a dry or a humid climate, maintaining humidity is essential to wellness. Your humidity should be set between 30-50% year-round, which can reduce illness, eliminate pests, alleviate allergies, improve sleep, and lower stress levels.

Air Purification: Just one cubic foot of indoor air can contain more than 30 million pollutants, which can contribute to allergies and asthma. Clearing the air not only helps you feel better physically, it allows you to get deeper sleep, which can reduce stress. You may choose between a whole-home air purification system or a room air purifier. Both have their benefits, depending on the type of home you live in.

Fresh Air Ventilation: Think of everyone in your family blowing up a balloon and releasing its contents into your home over 20,000 times a day, every day. Since today’s homes are built so tightly, all the contents from those balloons could be wafting through your home each day with nowhere to go. Ventilation is key. It helps your house breathe, which in turn…helps you breathe.

Clean air is Healthy Air, pure and simple. It’s a crucial component to overall wellness, just like nutrition, exercise, and sleep. We can’t survive if we can’t breathe.

Person holding a small tree seedling planted in dirt to represent discussion of how trees are beneficial.

Healthy Clean Air | Environment |

Arbor Day by the Numbers: Trees and Healthy Living

2 minute read

Arbor Day is important to us here at Aprilaire. We’re focused on fresh air and healthy living, and trees are a big part of that for people all over the world.

In fact, a study found that residents in urban neighborhoods with more trees reported feeling healthier than those who lived near fewer trees.

Plus, those people had fewer medical conditions, like heart disease and diabetes, and had better mental health.

Thanks, trees!

To celebrate, let’s take a look at Arbor Day by the numbers, with a focus on the impact of trees on your home environment, the local level, and worldwide.

Arbor Day: By the Numbers

Home

260 : 675

One tree produces nearly 260 pounds of oxygen each year. The average person consumes about 675 pounds of oxygen per year. Try to plant enough trees on your property (as space allows, of course) to match the number of people in your home!

12% Savings

If you plant a tree today on the west side of your home, in 5 years your energy bills could be about 3% less. In 15 years, the savings could be about 12%. The shade from trees helps lower cooling costs in the summer, and  can block winds to reduce heating costs in the winter.

$7,000+

In Portland, Oregon, homes with street trees sold for $7,130 more, on average. That’s a lot of green.

Local

2.6 tons

One acre of trees removes up to 2.6 tons of carbon dioxide each year. Think about that the next time you drive past trees or go for a walk in the woods. Breathe in the freshness!

50%

Roadside trees can reduce nearby indoor air pollution by more than 50%. That’s a great way to start creating a Healthy Home.

5% : 30%

The United States accounts for about 5% of the world’s population, and consumes around 30% of the world’s paper. This is a good reminder to stay mindful of the paper products we consume. And whenever you can, rely on reusable goods.

Worldwide

1/3

Global forests removed about one-third of fossil fuel emissions annually from 1990 to 2007. Along with finding alternative energy sources, trees and their purification abilities are crucial in keeping pollution in check.

3 Cities

See how trees remove air pollution in different types and sizes of cities:
– Los Angeles: 2,000 tons of air pollution removed each year
– Chicago: 18,000 tons of air pollution removed each year
– Greater Kansas City: 26,000 tons of air pollution removed each year

20%

More than 20% of the world’s oxygen is produced in the Amazon Rainforest. That’s part of the reason that groups and countries are passionate about preserving the area from logging and deforestation.

Sources:

Arbor Day Foundation:
https://www.arborday.org/trees/treefacts/

Growing Air Foundation:
http://www.growingairfoundation.org/facts/

Human Oxygen Requirements: https://www.nasa.gov/pdf/146558main_RecyclingEDA%28final%29%204_10_06.pdf

One Tree Planted:
https://onetreeplanted.org/pages/tree-facts

Scientific Reports:
https://www.nature.com/articles/srep11610

Family |

Dyeing Eggs That Are Safe To Eat

2 minute read

For many of us, dyeing eggs is an Easter tradition that goes back for generations. It’s timeless fun. And you never know what designs and color combos the kids will come up with each year.

But what do you do with the eggs after they’re dyed?

Display them on the table? Hide them for an egg hunt? Make them into a tasty egg salad? You know your great-grandma wouldn’t let those eggs go to waste, and neither should you!

Here are some quick tips on dyeing eggs that are still safe to eat.

Boiling Eggs

Before you get to the dyeing process, make sure the eggs you’re boiling will be safe to eat.

Before Buying:

  • Buy eggs from refrigerated cases
  • Check for cracks in the shells
  • Make sure the “use by” date hasn’t passed

To Boil:

  • Place the eggs in a single layer in a pot, cover them with cold water, and heat them on high just until the water boils. Then remove the pot from the burner, cover it, and let the eggs stand in the hot water for 12 minutes.
  • Once you drain the hot water, run the eggs under cold water to stop the cooking process and to prepare them for dyeing.
  • If a shell cracks in the boiling process, don’t worry, it will still be safe to dye and eat.

Dyeing Eggs

The colorings that you find in most egg-dyeing sets are perfectly safe to eat, as are common food colorings that you might use for icing or other baking.

Even if some of the dye leaks through to the egg, it’s still safe to eat.

Keep in mind that the boiling process opens up the pores of the egg shell, allowing easier access for bacteria and other substances. With that in mind, here’s what you want to avoid when dyeing eggs.

  • Shaving Cream: This method is fun for kids and results in some awesome designs, but you shouldn’t eat eggs that have had shaving cream on their shells for any amount of time.
  • Egg Hunts: Eggs can pick up dirt and bacteria if they’re sitting outside. And if you’ve hidden them too well, they will be unrefrigerated for a long time. Go with plastic eggs that you can fill with kids’ favorite candy. Plus, you can reuse them year after year.
  • Display: Colored eggs look great in an Easter centerpiece, but even if you have the eggs unrefrigerated for a couple hours, they may be unsafe to eat.

Eating Dyed Eggs

Refrigerate eggs shortly after they’ve been dyed. Make sure to let the kids admire their art work, but then cool them down so they stay safe.

Anything more than two hours adds some risk of contamination. And once you peel the eggs, you’ll want to eat them or add them to a prepared dish within an hour.

Like all hard-boiled eggs, the dyed eggs will stay fresh for eating for about one week.

 

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/