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Air Quality Awareness Week: How To Use The EPA’s Recommendations

3 minute read

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced that Air Quality Awareness Week for 2020 will be celebrated May 4-8. This year’s theme is Better Air, Better Health.

For each day, there will be a focus on different aspects of  air quality to raise awareness and encourage people to check the Air Quality Index (AQI) daily. As we head into the summer months, this is a great time to review how the air outside impacts our lives.

Below, you’ll find the highlights of each day’s topic, along with some questions you may want the answers to. For further information, check on the EPA site during Air Quality Awareness Week.

First, we wanted to include some ways in which Aprilaire is thinking about Air Quality in the midst of the COVID-19 epidemic.

Aprilaire’s Plan for Healthy Air Awareness

At Aprilaire, our focus is on the health and wellness of your home environment. We’ve assembled a Healthy Air System to help protect you and your family from viruses and other illnesses. It’s made up of three parts:

  1. Fresh Air Ventilation – Helps dilute and remove contaminants because indoor air can be up to 5 times more polluted than the air outside
  2. Air Filtration – Aprilaire MERV 16 Allergy & Asthma Filters capture up to 96%* of virus-size airborne particles (*Contaminants removed based on air passing through the filtering system)
  3. Humidity Control – Keeping humidity between 30-60% minimizes virus survival rates

We will provide updates as the situation progresses, and we wish all the best for you and your family.

Air Quality Awareness Week

Monday: Wildfires and Smoke

Wildfires produce a lot of air pollution, from smoke to fine particles that can cause several health problems. Recent years have shown that extreme wildfires may become a regular occurrence that we need to learn to live with.

Questions:

  • How can I get myself and my home ready for fire season?
  • How can I protect my family and pets from smoke and ash?
  • How can I stay safe if I need to go outside?

Tuesday: Asthma and Your Health

Air quality is a major concern for individuals fighting asthma, a disease that affects the airways of your lungs. Discover more about the effects of the air we breathe on our overall health through action plans, trigger avoidance, allergen avoidance and more.

Fitting in physical activity may be difficult for asthma and allergy sufferers as we deal with “stay-at-home” orders and a lack of available indoor workout space. Use this day to discover fun, creative ways to stay active in the indoor space you have available.

Questions:

  • How do I know if going outside will impact my asthma?
  • Are there specific questions I should ask my doctor regarding air quality?
  • How can I stay active when unable to go outside?

Wednesday: Where Is Your AQI Coming From?

According to the National Weather Service, “The Air Quality Index (AQI) is used for reporting daily air quality. It tells you how clean or polluted your air is, and what associated health effects might be a concern for you.”

The AQI is calculated by the EPA for five major air pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act:

  • ground-level ozone
  • particle pollution or particulate matter
  • carbon monoxide
  • sulfur dioxide
  • nitrogen dioxide

The Air Quality Index is divided into six categories:

Green=Good

Yellow=Moderate

Orange=Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups

Red=Unhealthy

Purple=Very Unhealthy

Maroon=Hazardous

Questions:

  • Are there any steps I can take when I need to go outside on days with less-than-ideal air quality?
  • Is there anything we can do to improve the air quality in our area?
  • What’s the fastest way to check the AQI? Does it change throughout the day?

Thursday: Air Quality Around the World

The EPA reported that over one-fifth of all U.S. citizens spent significant time abroad in recent years. In order to provide those travelers with air quality data while overseas, the Department of State partnered with the EPA to install and operate state-of-the-art AirNow monitors at U.S. embassies and consulates in over fifty countries around the world.

  • When will it be safe to travel abroad?
  • What resources are there in foreign countries in case of an asthma attack or other medical issue?
  • What should I know about the air quality on airplanes and other transit options?

Friday: Air Quality Resources for Families and Teachers

Throughout Air Quality Awareness Week, the EPA will share air quality resources from lots of different organizations across the country. If you have any activities, videos, or materials for students and teachers, you can send links to lee.debra@epa.gov to be added to the Educational Resources page. You can also tag @airnow in your social media posts and include the hashtag #AQAW2020.

Questions:

    • What are some ways I can show kids the importance of air quality? (Try starting with this simple experiment.)
    • How will I know if my child is impacted by outdoor air quality issues?
    • How do I optimize the air quality inside my home?

It’s Time to Care About Healthy Air
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AA Homepage Articles | Healthy Air |

Spring Allergy Season 2021: What’s in Store for Your Region?

2 minute read

Listen to the story by clicking the play button above

Spring is fast approaching, and according to our current weather trends, this spring allergy season could be a rough one for those who suffer from asthma and allergies. This is thanks, in part, to our rising temperatures and harsher weather, and their impact on pollen production.

Here’s what spring allergy sufferers should know for spring 2021:

The quantity and location of pollen in the air are largely determined by weather conditions, as well as the time of day and the season.

Allergy symptoms are at their worst in the morning hours, as well as on warm, dry, and windy days. On the contrary, cold and wet or windless days result in lower pollen counts and less symptomatic days.

Looking at allergy rates by region, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America found these cities to be the most challenging places to live for spring allergy sufferers:

  1. Richmond, Virginia
  2. Scranton, Pennsylvania
  3. Springfield, Massachusetts
  4. Hartford, Connecticut
  5. McAllen, Texas
  6. New Haven, Connecticut
  7. San Antonio, Texas
  8. Bridgeport, Connecticut
  9. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  10. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Allergies and COVID-19

As symptoms like congestion and runny nose pop up this spring, it’s important to understand the difference between allergies and COVID-19.

COVID-19 symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, and loss of taste or smell.

Allergies are different in some crucial ways, the main one being that they’re rarely associated with a fever. Instead, the most common allergy symptoms are nasal congestion, sneezing, dry cough, and itching.

Allergies and Masking

The CDC recommends everyone over the age of two, including allergy sufferers, wear a mask to slow the spread of COVID-19. The only exceptions are for individuals with breathing problems, or those who are unconscious or incapacitated and would need assistance removing a mask.

Masks can also offer mild protection against spring allergies by keeping larger particles from being inhaled. So, you may benefit from wearing a mask outdoors if you’re engaging in an activity that stirs up pollen.

Be sure to wash cloth masks after each use, especially when worn outside on a day with a high pollen count.

Managing Spring Allergies

Keep these factors in mind as you try to reduce spring allergy symptoms:

  • Monitor allergy and pollen levels
  • Stay indoors in a clean air environment on dry, windy days
  • Save outside activities for after a rainfall when the pollen will be cleared from the air
  • Ask friends or family members who don’t suffer from allergies to help out with lawn mowing, weed pulling, and other outdoor chores that can stir up allergens
  • Remove clothes worn outside, and shower to rinse your skin and hair
  • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from pollen
  • Wash sheets in hot water to get rid of dust mites
  • Don’t dry laundry outside as pollen can stick to sheets and towels, and be carried into your home
  • To remove pollen, mold, and other particles from the air in your home, install an Aprilaire air filter in your HVAC system
  • Keep your indoor air humidity between 30-60% with a humidity control system from Aprilaire. This helps keep your lungs and nasal passages hydrated and can help filter out allergens from the air you breathe

Raise a Happy, Healthy Home
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AA Homepage Articles | Healthy Air |

UV Light Can Be Harmful Tool In Fighting COVID-19

2 minute read

During a crisis, gimmicks can replace tried and true methods. As businesses and the general population look to remedy the health and safety issues of COVID-19, many have turned to ultraviolet (UV) light to help inactivate the airborne viruses.

UV Light Is ‘Potentially Hazardous’

While UV light is used as a disinfectant in hospital’s non-occupied spaces, it is not a credible solution to fight airborne viruses like COVID-19 in populated indoor spaces. UV light is harmful and increased exposure can cause health issues. In addition, any use of ultraviolet light in populated spaces should pass the burden of proof provided by the National Toxicology Program’s 14th Report on Carcinogens.

This is the primary reason that UV light should not be used as a primary tool to fight COVID-19 and other airborne viruses.

Despite the best intentions of businesses to keep patrons safe, using a quick scan of UV lights as patrons enter their business to inactivate COVID-19 aerosols does little to reduce the risk and could be harmful. In these short bursts, users would have to be exposed to high levels of UV light that would likely be harmful in order to be effective.

“However, UV portals that are meant to disinfect people as they enter indoor spaces are likely ineffective and potentially hazardous,” said Dr. Karl Linden, Ph.D., University of Colorado Boulder.

Adding UV light onto your ducts is proven to inactivate airborne viruses that flow through the ducts, but these add-ons are expensive and less beneficial than a MERV 16 or HEPA filter.

Alternatively, an Aprilaire Healthy Air System TM, a three-part, award-winning suite of whole-home Indoor Air Quality products, do not add any ozone or other harmful radiation levels into the air. It can be used in populated indoor spaces to help fight COVID-19 without any increased risk to the population.

Invest in greater health, virus protection, fewer
allergens, more productivity, and better sleep.

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By leveraging the power of humidity control, fresh air ventilation, and air filtration, you can help reduce the transmission rate of airborne viruses like COVID-19.

Humidity control allows you to keep your home between 30-60 percent relative humidity. This is the optimal range where viruses remain less viable and your body’s natural defenses and immune response are most viable.

Fresh air ventilation dilutes the home of particles and germs and fills your home with fresh, breathable air while maintaining airflow. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information of the National Institutes of Health, ventilation is an important tool in reducing airborne pollutants in indoor air.

Air filtration captures particles that flow through the home and the filter. An Aprilaire MERV 16 filter captures up to 96% of airborne virus-sized particles passing through the filtering system.

To get the Aprilaire Healthy Air SystemTM installed in your house so you and your family can breathe easier with effective virus protection, contact a local Healthy Air Pro.

Healthy Air Is on the Way

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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.

Healthy Air | News |

Aprilaire Partner Contractor Joins Fight For Air Climb

2 minute read

“What can you do or say when your family is suffering such losses? It’s devastating,” said Christopher Ciongoli, HVAC salesman/estimator with Aprilaire partner Whalen & Ives.

Chris is participating in the NYC American Lung Association Fight For Air Climb on April 4, 2020. When he heard that Aprilaire was the national Healthy Air sponsor of the event he signed on to the Aprilaire team.

“An opportunity to make difference just appeared to me on Jan 10th in an email from Aprilaire informing me about the Fight for Air Climb. This was it. This is how I would help make a difference and support my wife as well as so many others that are impacted by lung disease”.

Lung disease became an all too familiar fixture in Chris’s life last year when his brother-in-law, mother-in-law, and father-in-law all died from lung disease.

As of February 7, he’s raised 90 percent of his fundraising goal. Not only is Chris excited to help raise funds and awareness, he told us he’s already reaping the benefits of training for the 849-step climb.

“My blood pressure has dropped, my pants are getting loose, and my dog Crosby is getting back in shape too!”

Every morning he goes out with dog Crosby and strengthens his legs and increases his stamina to make sure he can make it to the 44th floor of the 1290 Avenue of Americas building in New York City.

Read more of Chris’s incredible journey by going to his page. Thank you for your efforts, Chris and we cannot wait to hear more.

For more information about the Fight For Air Climb and to find an event in your area, go to https://www.lung.org/aprilaire. To learn how to train for your own climb, head to our page where we share training tips to help you prepare for your own Fight For Air Climb.

It’s Time to Care About Healthy Air
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News |

Aprilaire Partners with Wellness Within Your Walls

2 minute read

Aprilaire is the exclusive Presenting Sponsor for 2020 for Wellness Within Your Walls.

Wellness Within Your Walls (WWYW) is an award-winning education and certification organization which supports reducing and eliminating toxins in living environments to improve overall health and wellness.

The organization’s one-of-a-kind education and certification process enables consumers and professionals to increase awareness about toxins in building materials and furnishings and guide them toward making homes healthier.

Wellness Within Your Walls partnership for national campaign

WWYW will partner with Aprilaire to launch a national “Breathe Healthy” awareness campaign in 2020 to educate consumers, homeowners and the build/design community about the latest products and services that help improve air quality in homes.

“We believe everyone deserves to breathe healthy air, and we believe in the power of education,” said Dale Philippi, president of Aprilaire. “Our mission is to enhance everyone’s health by improving the air in their homes. We are proud to partner with WWYW– an organization building awareness with consumers and professionals about the importance of healthy air.”

“We are excited by our new partnership with Aprilaire. They offer products that solve multiple issues relating to affordable ventilation and humidity control for homes and we’re proud to work with Aprilaire to further elevate the dialog about health and wellness in living environments,” said Jillian Pritchard Cooke, founder of WWYW.

In addition to the “Breathe Healthy” campaign with WWYW, Aprilaire is the FY20 National Healthy Air Sponsor for the American Lung Association Fight For Air Climb events which support raising awareness of the importance of indoor air quality. The two initiatives will dovetail to further educate consumers and professionals alike about why healthy air – especially in the home, is vital for good health. Good air quality improves overall wellness, helps prevent irritating allergens and pests, and helps shield homes from costly damages.

About Wellness Within Your Walls

Wellness Within Your Walls® is an award-winning informational resource group created to provide education and guidance on chemicals commonly found in living and working spaces. With a goal to empower and guide consumers and professionals toward healthier living environments, WWYW certifies people, places, products and programs globally through education and health and wellness protocols. WWYW’s 10-step holistic approach, known as the Healthy Living System™, results in a legacy of health, harmony and sustainability in living environments. WWYW was founded by Jillian Pritchard Cooke, a 30-year industry veteran with experience as president of interior design firm DES-SYN and owner of the eco-living lifestyle boutique BEE. While designing Atlanta’s EcoManor in 2006, the first Gold LEED-certified single-family residence in the U.S., a cancer diagnosis became the catalyst for turning Jillian’s expertise into a passionate commitment to create healthier living environments by reducing toxins. Wellness Within Your Walls was born. The organization provides frequent and sought-after speakers at trade shows, educational opportunities, workshops, seminars and other industry events. For more information, visit: http://www.wellnesswithinyourwalls.com.