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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
Breathe a sigh of relief.

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HVAC system

AA Homepage Articles | Healthy Air |

HVAC System Upgrades Crucial to Reopening Country

2 minute read

For the first time in nearly 50 years, the United States is facing dire consequences from a global pandemic. As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the country, it has elevated the topic of indoor air from an afterthought to top-of-mind. Even though prior to the pandemic, nearly ninety percent of our day was spent indoors where, according to the EPA, the air is up to 5 times more polluted than the air outdoors.

Weighing the Risks of Going Out

Americans weigh the risks of eating in restaurants, drinking in bars, going back to work, and sending children back to school. States have been forced to try to walk the tightrope of balancing those freedoms and mandating public health measures such as mask-wearing, social distancing, and cleaning.

President-elect Joe Biden detailed how his incoming administration would address those concerns on his transition team website. His website states that the government would provide money to help businesses reopen safely and to “pass an emergency package to ensure schools have the additional resources they need to adapt effectively to COVID-19.”

HVAC System  Upgrades Needed

An HVAC system equipped with proper ventilation, humidity, and air filtration can potentially help reduce the transmission rate of airborne viruses. Although it is not going to eliminate COVID-19, it will allow businesses, their customers, schools, student’s parents, and public health directors to both reopen safely and adapt effectively – requirements of President-elect Biden’s emergency package.

For many schools, the current HVAC systems are antiquated and are in need of revamping. Equipping schools and businesses with proper HVAC systems is not cheap, but utilizing the power and magnitude of the federal government to implement this type of overhaul is the only way to move toward a healthier future.

Reduce Airborne Diseases with HVAC System

These updates will even help when dealing with seasonal illnesses like influenza or other respiratory illnesses like allergens and asthma. While airborne diseases may affect the body differently, they all transmit through the air. By controlling humidity, increasing ventilation, and purifying the air – indoor air gets cleaner. The effectiveness of these mechanical solutions increases amidst other protocols such as mask-wearing and social distancing.

Healthy Air Better for Everyone

The benefits of providing healthy indoor air quality standards stretch beyond just physical health too. Multiple studies have established that healthy air contributes positively toward increased creativity, attention, and productivity. A study found that people who worked with a pollution source, such as carpet, were less productive than those who worked in a room without a pollution source.

Lastly, healthy air should be a right for everyone. Equipping schools and businesses with proper HVAC equipment will help to ensure that future generations are healthier and better protected from future airborne diseases. In addition, If every business and school were capable of providing healthy indoor air, then the government could establish national indoor air standards, per recommendations from leading indoor air quality experts. This type of initiative by the incoming administration is a start to help provide healthy air to everyone and allow people to breathe a little easier amidst a global health crisis.

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

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Aprilaire Partners Logged In Homepages | Healthy Air |

Sleep Better: How Healthy Air Affects Your Sleep Environment

2 minute read

November is the perfect time to start thinking about your sleep environment. For one, you’re going to need plenty of it after your Thanksgiving feast. On top of that, November is known by some as “Sleep Comfort Month.” Coincidence?

Sleep plays a vital role in your overall health. Not only how much you sleep, but also the quality of that sleep. You may already have your pillow game down and your favorite flannel sheets put on for the winter, but what about the air you’re breathing in while you sleep?

Fresh Air

In an ideal sleep environment, your Indoor Air Quality would be a top priority–right up there with quietude and light-blocking.

You can begin to prioritize your air with an Aprilaire whole-home air purifier that removes allergens and irritants, helping you fall asleep faster and wake up feeling refreshed.

By programming an “Air Cleaning Event” for about an hour before bed, you’ll be able to breathe fresh air all night and wake up without a stuffy nose or itchy throat as part of your morning routine.

Cool Air

Of course, everyone has a preference when it comes to their perfect sleeping temperature, so do what works best for you. In general, a cooler temperature is better suited for a good night’s sleep.

Our bodies’ temperatures normally fluctuate throughout the day, so we are naturally cooler by nighttime. Creating a cooler sleep environment, somewhere between 60-70°F, helps increase natural feelings of tiredness and allows you to fall asleep faster.

Other Smart Sleep Environment Strategies

Beyond the air you sleep in, add any or all of the following tips to your sleep routine for optimal comfort and rest:

Get in sync with your body’s circadian rhythm.

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every night
  • Don’t sleep in on the weekends
  • Avoid napping for longer than twenty minutes
  • Expose yourself to natural sunlight as close to waking up as possible to kick-start your body’s natural rhythm
  • Try to spend time outside during the daylight or work next to a window with lots of natural light
  • Try a light therapy box if none of these are possible for your living or working atmosphere
  • Avoid any screen time for at least 30 minutes before bed (1-2 hours is even better)
  • Make sure your room is as dark as possible for sleep and keep the lights down if you need to get up during the night

Make wise choices when it comes to what you put in your body.

  • Reduce the amount of sugar and refined carbs in your diet as they can cause wakefulness at night
  • Avoid big meals at night
  • Limit caffeine and nicotine after 2 pm as the stimulants in them can really disrupt sleep
  • Don’t drink a lot of liquids–especially alcohol–within 1-2 hours of bed

Create a healthy routine.

  • Regular exercise as part of your daily routine is beneficial as long as it isn’t within 2-3 hours of bedtime
  • Try some light stretching, yoga, deep breathing, or meditation to relax your mind and body for transitioning into sleep
  • Don’t wear your everyday clothes to bed. Instead wear dedicated “sleepwear” so your body is prompted that it’s time to rest
  • Unload your brain before trying to go to sleep. Make a list of what’s bothering you or tasks you need to complete and set them aside until tomorrow so your mind can relax

 

experiments

AA Homepage Articles | Family |

Family Learning: Child Friendly Experiments For Staying Healthy

2 minute read

There has never been a more critical time to teach children the importance of keeping their germs to themselves. But more than simply telling children they need to wash their hands and wear a mask, you can have a real impact by showing them in enjoyable experiments what germs are and how they spread.

Staying Healthy Experiments For Kids

Glitter, Glitter, Everywhere

In this experiment, glitter is used to represent our germs and how they spread from one thing to another throughout our day if we don’t wash our hands.

Most parents already know that glitter is difficult to get off, which reinforces the importance of washing hands for at least 20 seconds to thoroughly remove harmful germs.

Make A Wish

Typically you want to blow out all the candles on your birthday cake or it means your wish won’t come true. But with this experiment, the more candles left burning, the better!

Everyone’s favorite science guy, Bill Nye, showed how this experiment works in a short video. By trying to blow out the candles through various types of materials, kids can see how some are more effective than others. And it serves as a reminder that masks are an important part of reducing the spread of germs when we cough, sneeze, spit or breathe too close to someone else.

Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are

It can be a hard concept for young children to understand: There are things in the air that we can’t see that can make us sneeze, cause food to go bad, or make us very sick.

With a few simple household items in this experiment, you can help shed some light on the mystery and reinforce the lessons you’re trying to teach kids about staying healthy. This particular experiment focuses on air quality, which is important to keep in mind at home, in school, and wherever kids venture off to.

Goals For Kids

All these experiments share common learning objectives.

The goals are for kids to:

  • Understand what germs are
  • Know that germs are everywhere (the air, our hands, surfaces we touch), but are too small to see with our eyes
  • Understand that everyone has germs and some germs make people sick
  • Understand that washing hands, wearing masks, and keeping our hands out of our mouths, eyes, and noses will help reduce the spread of germs

 

 

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
Breathe a sigh of relief.

Learn More