Environment | Healthy Air |

Highway Air Pollution: How To Breathe Healthy Air When You Live Near Busy Roadways

2 minute read

Increasing evidence shows that air pollution levels along busy highways are of major concern for the people who live or work near the heavily trafficked areas.

Roughly 30-45% of the North American urban population is being exposed to the harmful effects of living next to a busy road. And while children and teenagers are most vulnerable, they are not the only ones at risk. According to a study by the Health Effects Institute, long-term exposure to traffic air pollution to those that live or work within 300-500 meters from the highway can result in an increased risk of any of the following:

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Premature death
  • Decreased lung function
  • Dementia
  • Poor overall cognition
  • Asthma attacks in children
  • Death from cardiovascular morbidity

Overcoming Highway Air Pollution

There are environmental benefits to urban density. Living close to a transportation hub, for example, reduces the number of cars on the road.

Current best-practice mitigation measures to reduce air pollution exposure, such as better air filtration systems and vegetation barriers, are also making a difference.

But the consensus is clear, the farther out you live or work from the high-volume roads, the greater the health benefits.

There are measures you can take to protect your respiratory health if moving is not an option, starting with monitoring the air quality by visiting the EPA website airnow.gov.

When air quality is low, follow these tips.

Tips from an Air Quality Official

  • Try to avoid rush hour on your commute to work if possible by taking back roads or going through a park if you need to walk
  • Keep your home clean by using a vacuum with a HEPA filter, a wet mop on floors, and never dry dusting. Bare floors are much safer because they don’t hold on to dirt and dust like carpets do
  • Don’t smoke, burn candles, or use a fireplace
  • Never wear your shoes in the house and change clothes when you get home for the day
  • Keep windows closed
  • Remain indoors as much as possible in a building with air filtration (home, office, etc.)
  • Install air filters with a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) of 13 in your HVAC system for the cleanest air possible without decreasing efficiency

Sources:

https://www.healtheffects.org/air-pollution/traffic-related-air-pollution

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

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Wellness |

Your Wellness Goals: 5 Steps to Better Health

3 minute read

Ever heard the saying, “low expectations, high satisfaction?” It might be a good one to keep in mind when it comes to those grand lifestyle changes we resolve to make at the start of every new year. Wellness goals are important when it comes to improvements in your health. But remember that big changes don’t happen overnight.

Breaking your wellness goals down into smaller, more realistic steps has proven to be most effective in achieving long-term changes in behavior and creating healthy habits that will last a lifetime.

Wellness Goals: Nutrition, Fitness, Health

Read below for ideas on small steps that can have a big, positive impact on your overall health. Decide which steps are right for you and pick one or two to accomplish each week.

Continue this slow build until you’ve incorporated all the steps necessary to tackle your wellness goals. The secret is to repeat the behavior every day once you start it so that it becomes a habit that is firmly set in place.

Nutrition Goals

  1. Start your day with a glass of water to jumpstart your metabolism, and try to drink eight 8oz. glasses of water throughout your day.
  2. Make it a priority to add healthy foods to your diet as opposed to taking unhealthy foods away.
    • Eat a piece of fruit with breakfast to add fiber and antioxidants.
    • Include greens (spinach, romaine lettuce, kale) at lunch and dinner
    • Replace pasta with veggies.
    • Fill half your plate with veggies for two meals a day.
    • Choose a protein AND a fruit or vegetable for each snack to keep you feeling full for longer.
  3. Don’t skip meals or snacks. Ignoring hunger cues can lead to overeating, so pack a lunch, and healthy snacks, to take to work to keep in control of what you’re eating.
  4. Stick to your shopping list every time you go to the market and eat before going to avoid impulse purchases. Read the Nutrition Facts and Ingredient List on all food packages. This will open your eyes to what you’re putting in your body. Consider using, “if you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it” as a rule of thumb.
  5. Keep a food journal or an app to track your food intake.

Fitness Goals

  1. Stretch as soon as you get out of bed to maintain range of motion in the joints.
  2. Choose to be active during your work day.
    • Take the stairs.
    • Park as far away from your destination as possible in parking lots.
    • Walk on your lunch break.
    • Walk for five minutes at the end of every hour and you will have walked for 40 minutes by the end of an eight hour day.
  3. Incorporate weight lifting two days a week.
  4. Enjoy your workout. If you hate running, don’t use running as your form of exercise. Find something that you take pleasure in doing so that it doesn’t become punishment. Invest in quality workout apparel that makes you feel comfortable and ready to move.
  5. Workout with others. Finding like-minded people not only keeps you accountable but helps motivate you.
    • Try meeting a friend for a walk or bike ride as opposed to coffee.
    • Organize a neighborhood walking party in the mornings or evenings a couple nights a week. Even 10-15 minutes around the block is better than nothing.
    • Join a local gym or attend regular fitness classes.

Health Goals

  1. Go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday to help regulate your sleep schedule.
  2. Do some digital detoxing to relieve stress and anxiety.
    •  A digital fast: Giving up all digital devices for a set period of time (a day, a week, or even just an hour every night before bed).
    • Recurrent digital self-denial: Pick a day of the week to be device-free. It can be helpful to let family and friends know that every Sunday, for example, your devices will be off.
    • Social media limitations: Set a daily time restriction or even completely eliminate your social media use for a specific period of time.
    • Focused detox: If there is an app, game, site, or digital tool that consumes too much of your time, set some restrictions on that specific problem area.
  3. Put an emphasis on good posture. Just sitting up straight can improve blood flow and increase energy to all parts of your body.
  4. Spend some time everyday doing something you love.
    • Read, draw, sing, listen to music, dance, meditate, laugh.
  5. Do some “ditching and switching”: Start with one room at a time and take a close look at the chemicals in your home. Brightly colored dish soap, fragrant filled cleaning liquids, even personal care items and cosmetics, they all contain toxic chemicals that can leak into your living space. Look into natural alternatives for a safer way to clean your home.

Healthy Home | Healthy Air |

New Year, New Air: 4 Quick and Easy Healthy Air Resolutions

2 minute read

Healthy Air Resolutions for the New Year

Purify Your Air

  • Having clean air in your home environment is vital to the health of your family. A few simple steps can make a world of difference for your everyday life:
    • Invest in an air purifier to help reduce the concentration of air pollutants all year long, whether it’s allergens in the spring or stuffy heated air in the winter.
    • Increase ventilation to reduce moisture levels by using exhaust fans while cooking or taking a shower.
    • Stop burning scented candles that are full of toxic chemicals. Instead, burn beeswax candles, which act as natural air purifiers.
    • Add some greens to your home! Houseplants are amazing for improving air quality; think one large plant for every 100 square feet in your home to help purify the air.

Change Your Filters

  •  Regularly cleaning or changing your air filters will make a huge difference for your Indoor Air Quality. Resolve to check your filters on the schedule that’s recommended by the manufacturer. (Aprilaire filters should be changed once a year, so with our filters this resolution is pretty easy to remember!)

Test For Radon

  • According to the EPA, nearly 1 out of every 15 homes in the U.S. is estimated to have elevated radon levels. Radon exposure can eventually lead to lung cancer and other respiratory issues. Testing your indoor air is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon. The EPA and the Surgeon General recommend testing all homes below the third floor for radon. The EPA also offers information on radon test kits.

Change The Batteries In Your Smoke Detector

  •  According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), you should test your smoke detectors once a month and replace the batteries once or twice a year.

Wherever your New Year’s journey takes you, we are here to help with Healthy Home tips and professional support. We want to make it easy for you to create a better home environment for yourself and your family.

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

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Healthy Clean Air | Environment |

Snowmelt and Pollution: How To Minimize The Impact This Winter

2 minute read

Winter is here. For many, that means slippery roads, icy roofs, and frozen driveways or sidewalks.

Most areas use rock salt (sodium chloride) to clear the ice and snow. While effective, it also has the potential to release harmful levels of chloride into the environment, which can pollute nearby bodies of water.

Additionally, melted snow and ice turn into water runoff that can carry many types of contaminants.

Types of Contaminants:

  • Oil, grease, and toxic motor vehicle chemicals
  • Pesticides and nutrients from lawns and gardens
  • Viruses, bacteria, and nutrients from pet waste and/or failing septic systems
  • Road salts
  • Heavy metals from roof shingles, motor vehicles, and other sources
  • Thermal pollution from dark, impervious surfaces like streets and rooftops

These pollutants harm fish and wildlife populations, kill native vegetation, spoil drinking water supplies, and make recreational areas unsafe for the people who use them.

Thankfully, local governments are mandated by the Clean Water Act to deal with runoff pollution by developing a “stormwater best management practices system”.

In addition to those larger efforts, here are some key ways you can help out:

How To Prevent Snow Melt Pollution

  • Minimize impervious surfaces around your home. Porous pavement materials such as bricks, gravel, cobbles, natural stone, or permeable pavers are available for driveways and sidewalks. This allows water to filter through the ground rather than flow unimpeded into bodies of water.
  • Plant native vegetation and use mulch to replace high maintenance grass lawns. Check out http://www.wildflower.org/plants or http://plants.usda.gov/java for native plant listings in your area.
  • Keep driveways, sidewalks, and roads clean by sweeping, as opposed to hosing them off. Start a compost pile for yard waste.
  • If necessary, homeowners should use fertilizers sparingly and learn to use Integrated Pest Management(IPM) to lessen the use of harmful pesticides.
  • Pick up after your pets. Bagging up pet waste and disposing of it in the trash helps prevent the spread of harmful bacteria.
  • Keep your septic system well-maintained. To prevent leaks and practice water conservation measures, a professional should inspect and pump your septic system every 3-5 years.
  • Check your vehicle for any leaks and be sure to promptly clean up any spills. You can also recycle your motor oil and antifreeze if you change these fluids yourself. Automotive repair shops will accept 5 gallons of used motor oil per resident per day.
  • Don’t over-apply salt. Minimize the amount of ice-melt you use and choose an environmentally-friendly alternative when possible, such as, organic salt-free deicer, alfalfa meal, or even coffee grinds.

Healthy Clean Air:

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

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Healthy Humidity |

Cleaning & Maintaining Your Aprilaire Humidifier

2 minute read

What is humidity? Humidity is the presence of water molecules in the air. As more water evaporates, the more water vapor rises into the air, making the humidity level rise.

💧 What should the humidity in my home be? 💧

Mold and overheating can result from too much moisture. While too little moisture can cause dry eyes, chapped lips, and an environment where bacteria and viruses can thrive.

For optimal comfort and health, you should keep the Relative Humidity of your home between 30-50%.

If you live in an area that experiences drastically different weather throughout the year, it can be difficult to stay in that healthy zone. To find the right balance, you can use a humidifier or a dehumidifier.

Cleaning Your Aprilaire Humidifier

Before we reach the driest months of the year, take the time to make sure your humidifier is in proper working order. While crucial to the comfort of your home, a humidifier can become a health risk if not properly maintained.

Tips to keep your Aprilaire Humidifier running smoothly:

● Change your humidifier’s water panel. The water panel is essential to increasing the moisture level in your home and is meant to be replaced on a regular basis to allow your humidifier to function at its highest potential.
● Clean out the humidifier’s reservoir. Bacteria and mineral deposits can build up rather quickly inside this tank and make their way back into the air if not taken care of. You should clean it out about every three weeks during frequent use. Simply add mild soap and water to the bucket and gently scrub it down. Rinse it thoroughly and let it air dry before putting it back.
● Clean mineral buildup from the orifice, solenoid, and all other components.
● Be sure the humidifier is level for proper operation.
● Do a check for any leaks or standing water around your humidifier unit.
● Check humidistat for proper operation.

Healthy Humidity Plays a Key Role in Wellness
Breathe Healthy Air no matter when or where.

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healthy hot chocolate

Archive |

4 Healthy Hot Chocolate Recipes to Try

2 minute read

Turns out there’s more to cozying up with a steaming mug of hot chocolate than the nostalgia of it all. There’s research that shows that cocoa has a number of health benefits and several disease-fighting properties. But we have 4 healthy hot chocolate recipes listed below to give you even a truly healthy hot chocolate.

Cocoa Benefits

  1. Rich in polyphenols, cocoa can help reduce inflammation and improve cholesterol levels, helping to decrease your risk of heart attack or stroke.
  2. Flavanols in cocoa can improve nitric oxide levels and blood vessel function, resulting in lower blood pressure
  3. Neuron production, brain function, and improved blood flow and supply to the brain are also a benefit of the rich flavanols in cocoa. There’s hope they could play a role in preventing brain degeneration
  4. Significant skin benefits such as improved surface texture, hydration, and sun protection also result from long-term ingestion of the polyphenols in cocoa

Healthy Hot Chocolate Recipes

But before you run to the store and stock up on your favorite boxed hot chocolate off the shelf, keep in mind that those are often very high in sugar and very low in cocoa flavanols.

 

Thankfully, it’s rather simple to prepare a cup of healthy, chocolatey goodness all on your own. Not only is homemade hot cocoa healthy and delicious, but it’s totally customizable:

  1. Dairy-Free Hot Chocolate Recipe

    Almond Milk
    Raw Cocoa Powder
    Pure Maple Syrup
    Vanilla Extract

    Full Recipe from Detoxinista

  2. Vegan, Low Sugar Hot Chocolate Recipe

    Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
    Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

Dairy-free Semisweet Chocolate

Stevia

Full Recipe from Minimalist Baker

  1. Protein-Rich Hot Chocolate Recipe

    Milk
    Chocolate Protein Powder
    Cocoa Powder

    Try With Dr. Axe’s Chocolate Collagen

  2. Healthy Hot Chocolate Recipes With A Flavor Twist

    Try adding these flavor combinations to a mixture of cocoa powder and milk:- Vanilla Bean + Coconut Butter
    – Chai Spice: Cinnamon + Nutmeg + Cloves + Cardamom
    – Banana: Blend into hot cocoa + Coconut Milk for added creaminess
    – Peppermint Extract
    – Cayenne Pepper + CinnamonFull Flavor Additions from Healthy Maven

How-to-avoid-kids-toys-that-contain-vocs-and-other-toxic-substances

Healthy Clean Air | Family |

Avoiding Toys that Contain VOCs and Other Toxic Substances

< 1 minute read

The gift giving season is upon us and the pressure is on to find the perfect toys to light up the eyes of the children in your life.

Even with aisles and aisles of toys to choose from, it might be harder than you think to find a toy that is both fun and educational, and is also safe for kids.

What are VOCs?

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are chemicals/compounds that easily become gases or vapors and can be found in a majority of consumer products:

Building Materials

● Paint, varnishes, caulks, adhesives
● Carpet, vinyl flooring
● Wood preservatives
● Upholstery and foam

Home & Personal Care Products

● Air fresheners
● Cleaners and disinfectants
● Cosmetics
● Fuel oil, gasoline

Activities & Hobbies

● Cigarettes
● Dry cleaning fluids
● Photocopiers/ printers
● Cooking
● Burning wood

VOCs and Other Substances in Toys

Some of the toys that are designed for, marketed toward, and sold to kids contain toxic chemicals such as BPA, PVC, lead, phthalates, cadmium, chlorine, and arsenic. These substances can be found in:

● Paint
● Tents and Tunnels
● Glue
● Bath Toys
● Soft Plastic
● Electronics
● Wooden Toys
● Cosmetics
● Perfumes in kids lotions, body washes, etc.
● Slime
● Balloons

Safe toys are made from sustainable, non-toxic wood, organic cotton, and other natural materials. You may have to avoid some of the big stores with cheap toys to avoid containing toxic chemicals, but it’s worth it to ensure the safety of your kids.

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

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