safe haven

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Making Your Home A Safe Haven

3 minute read

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In the past year, our homes have become so much more than the place we live. Our homes are where we work and relax; go to school and spend the weekends; work out and rest; where we shelter in place and where we find new interests. So, during a time when home is everything, how can we be sure it’s really a safe haven?

Acknowledge What’s Happening

There’s really no hiding the fact that we are living in a very difficult time, and we shouldn’t try to ignore that. Learning the facts can be a great way to curb anxious feelings, ease tension in your home, and model resilience.

Look to trusted resources, like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for information on combating the virus and staying healthy. Stay informed on the news with your local NPR station. These aren’t things you need to be checking every hour of the day, but knowing the latest facts and recommendations can help you stay in control of your day and your health.

Build Firm Boundaries

Home used to offer freedom from the worries of work or the burdens of school. Now that the line between those areas is blurry, it’s more important than ever to set up some space and time where your family can still experience the freedom and relaxation of a home environment.

This will, of course, look different for every family, but here are some things you can try:

  • Slow down
  • Schedule time together free from any work or distractions
  • Designate study/work spaces
  • Limit screen time
  • Provide uninterrupted alone time
  • Establish consistent workout routines
  • Make time to virtually connect with others outside your home
  • Set bedtimes that allow for adequate rest

Cultivate a Healthy Environment

While the intellectual, physical, emotional, and social wellness of the home might be the most obvious, the environmental wellness also plays a huge role in the safety of your home.

Did you know:

  • The air inside your home can be 5x more polluted than the air outside. That’s because homes are being built tighter than ever, making it hard for your home to inhale and exhale (or turn over stagnant inside air with fresh outside air).
  • The average person lives to be 79 years old. Of those 79 years, 70 of them are spent indoors. Of those 70 years indoors, 50 of them are spent in your own home.
  • Just one cubic foot of air can have more than 30 million air pollutants including dust, mold spores, allergens, and more. These irritants can trigger asthma and allergy symptoms.

With the Aprilaire Healthy Air System, you’re bringing three award-winning, key components into your home environment.

Fresh Air Ventilation – In order to stay well at home, Indoor Air Quality has to be a priority. With an Aprilaire whole-home ventilation system, you can let the dirty air out of your home and bring fresh, clean air in. This helps dilute and remove contaminants—airborne viruses, mold spores, allergens, and more—so you can breathe easy at home.

Air Filtration Now that the fresh air is in, it’s time to purify it. An Aprilaire whole-home air purifier can decrease stagnant air in your home and minimize your family’s risk of allergy symptoms, asthma triggers, and long-term respiratory irritants. A purification system, paired with Aprilaire air filters, can capture up to 96%* of airborne particles the size of viruses and reduce other contaminants from lingering in your home’s air. Purification is crucial to keeping your family healthy year-round and your children protected from seasonal allergy triggers and viruses.

*Contaminants removed based on air passing through the filtering system.

Humidity Control Keeping your home’s humidity between 30% and 60% can minimize virus survival rates in addition to helping keep your home protected from the impact of dry or moisture-riddled air. Depending on which issue you’re looking to combat, there’s a tailored solution available to help you keep your home healthy. An Aprilaire dehumidifier can protect your home from the dangers of high humidity by stifling mold growth, decreasing allergens such as dust mites, and preserving your home overall. An Aprilaire humidifier can not only help keep your home feeling warmer in the cold months, but it also helps lower the survival rates of virus-sized particles that may linger in the air.

What difference does Healthy Air really make? Take a look at some of the basic benefits of breathing Healthy Air:

  1. Reduces Illness – Remove airborne contaminants from your home so you and the family can breathe easy
  2. Alleviates Allergies – Stay healthy and avoid the sniffles throughout the year
  3. Provides Better Sleep – Every night you’re not sneezing or scratching from allergies is a good night’s sleep
  4. Increases Home Value – A Healthy Home is less likely to be damaged by pests or humidity, and may increase property value
  5. Lowers Stress Levels – In addition to better health, sleep, and energy efficiency, Healthy Homes can improve our mental health
radon knowledge

AA Homepage Articles | Healthy Home |

Test Your Radon Knowledge

4 minute read

Do you know everything you need to know about radon? While you may have checked out our previous article, you may not know everything about testing for radon. Since radon is known to be odorless and colorless, it can be difficult to tell if your home’s air contains radon just by looking or smelling for it. And, while some people report experiencing exposure-related health symptoms as a result of radon in the home (like worsening cough or hoarseness), radon can often float in your air undetected for long periods of time. With 1 in 15 homes recording high levels of radon, this is not just another concern to sweep under your rug.

Whether you’re a new homeowner or a long-time resident, it’s important to check up on the radon levels in your home every so often…but how often exactly? And how do you even test for radon? Are these tests even accurate? Find the answers to these radon-related questions and more below!

Test Your Radon Knowledge

Is Testing the Only Way to Check for Radon?

The short answer: Yes! According to the CDC, testing is the only true way to know if your home has a radon problem. If you suspect you have a radon problem, there are two types of testing routes that you can explore: Passive and active tests.

  • A passive test is one that doesn’t need power to operate. These tests can usually be found in your local hardware store but can also be ordered by phone. Passive testing devices work by being exposed to your home’s air for a specific period of time to collect data. After collection, the testing device is sent to the lab for further inspection.
  • An active test is one that does require power. With an active test, you are able to continuously measure and record the amount of radon that’s in your air.

Are Radon Tests Accurate and Reliable?

Like any test, there’s always a chance that errors can occur, like false negatives or positives. But there are many ways to ensure accuracy and reliability while testing your home for radon, including considering the duration of your test.

Both active and passive tests are available in the following testing lengths: Short-term and long-term.

  • A short-term test monitors your radon levels for about two to seven days. Because of the length, short-term tests are usually the more common choice among homeowners. However, since the level of radon in your home is known to fluctuate, experts suggest that if you choose to perform a short-term test, you should administer the test twice for increased accuracy.
  • A long-term test is one that monitors your home’s radon levels for three to 12 months. Because the levels of radon in your home are known to fluctuate, a long-term test can account for potential changes in levels due to its longer monitoring time.

While test kits are not necessarily inaccurate, it has been proven that results from a professional will always be more accurate than an at-home DIY test. Why exactly? Keep reading to find out!

Should I Call a Pro or Purchase a DIY Testing Kit?

Doing it yourself or choosing to call in a pro is completely up to you! If you suspect there’s a radon problem in your home for any reason, use a DIY test first to see what results you discover. If you know your home already has a problem (and are not sure to what extent) or are planning to buy a new home or sell an older one, calling a professional is the recommended route. Not only can a pro’s test be more accurate, as we mentioned above, but it’ll also give you the peace of mind you’re looking for.

If you’re planning to use a DIY test, review this checklist from the EPA prior to testing. Some key steps the EPA recommends taking prior to using an at-home, short-term radon test include:

  • Ensuring all windows and outside doors are closed at least 12 hours prior to testing
  • Placing the device at least 20 inches above the floor, away from drafts, heat, humidity, and exterior walls and on the lowest livable level of your home
  • Avoiding testing during any major weather events or storms

If you’re planning to hire a professional to come test for radon, the EPA has a checklist for you too! Hiring a pro can be beneficial since they can provide an independent testing result. Plus, they can further educate you on the best ways to perform a radon test—just in case you plan to use a DIY test in the future.

What Level of Radon is Considered Hazardous?

The results of your radon test can help you conclude whether or not the radon level in your home is hazardous. Radon levels are typically measured by pCi/L or picocuries per liter of air. A ‘picocurie’ is a measure of the rate of radioactive decay of radon, with the suffix ‘curie’ meaning unit of radioactivity. For scaling purposes, a picocurie is measured as one trillionth of a curie, making a picocurie almost six times smaller than the thickness of human hair!

Having a radon reading of 4 pCi/L or higher is considered hazardous. Even if your test reads less than 4, it can still pose a health risk to those living in your home. Reducing your level of radon below 4 pCi/L is not only necessary, but it’s easy, too. Most remediation options promise to reduce your home’s level to 2 pCi/L or lower, although it isn’t too common to get below 2. Regardless, remediation can help reduce your home’s radon levels and help you create a Healthy Home environment once more.

How Often Should You Test for Radon?

Since we know that radon levels can continue to fluctuate, the EPA recommends homeowners test their home’s radon levels every two years.

Radon can be hazardous to your home and health. Luckily, discovering you have a problem—as well as fixing it—is easy! No matter where you live, it’s important to prioritize the health of your home and family. Even if your home doesn’t have a radon problem, there could still be other pollutants lingering inside your home and in turn, impacting your Indoor Air Quality.

With Healthy Air solutions from Aprilaire, you can keep your family breathing easy and protect them from other common airborne contaminants, like dust, viruses, and more, which can be dirtying the air in your home. Find a Healthy Air Professional in your area to learn about how the air in your home could be impacting your health and learn more about what you can do to fight back.

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green spring cleaning

AA Homepage Articles | Healthy Home |

Green Spring Cleaning Tips For A Healthy Home

3 minute read

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Believe it or not, spring is almost here. This changing of seasons brings to mind the themes of renewal and refreshment—both of which we could all benefit from this year!

Before you get started with the renewal and refreshment of your home, you might need to do some “spring cleaning” of your cleaning supplies. The American Lung Association recommends avoiding air fresheners and any products that contain fragrances, irritants, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and flammable ingredients and purchasing green spring cleaning supplies.

So how do you get a fresh space without all your go-to cleaning supplies?

Here are some tips for greener room-by-room cleaning this spring.

Green Spring Cleaning Room-by-Room

Bedroom and Living Areas

Fans: Dust your ceiling fans with an extendable duster and protect furniture or carpets with a drop cloth that can be shaken out outside after dusting.

Walls: Quickly wash walls with a microfiber mop or microfiber cloth wrapped around a broom.

Windows and Glass: Microfiber cloths with a spritz of vinegar and water will do the trick. Just be sure to do this task on an overcast day to prevent streaking from the sun.

Blinds: Use a dusting mitt or microfiber cloth to get in between each blade.

Carpets and fabric couches/chairs: Use this simple carpet deodorizer recipe to freshen your carpets and other fabric-covered surfaces.

Throw Pillows: Because they can be a breeding ground for dust mites, throwing your pillows in the dryer on the high heat setting is an effective, non-toxic way to clean them.

Mattress: Similar to the carpet freshener, combining 2 cups of baking soda with 10 drops of your favorite essential oils is the magic recipe. Brush the mixture into your mattress and let sit for 30 minutes before vacuuming up.

Wood Furniture: This DIY furniture polish is just what you need to keep your woodwork fresh.

Bathrooms

Tub/Shower: Use this DIY Bathroom Scrub to get a deep clean without the chemicals.

Showerhead: Vinegar can remove buildup on the showerhead or faucet. Pour a cup of vinegar in a plastic bag, tie it around your showerhead and let it soak for one hour, and then scrub clean with an old toothbrush.

Surfaces: You can make your own all-purpose cleaner for countertops, around the toilet, and other surfaces.

Faucets: Water spots can be removed by rubbing half a lemon over the surface.

Toilets: Yes, there is a non-toxic way to clean your toilet! This DIY cleaner uses just five simple ingredients.

Drains: You can’t go wrong with the classic baking soda and vinegar combination. It will work on simple clogs as well as a general refresher.

Kitchen

Microwave: Heat a cup of vinegar mixed with a cup of water on high for two minutes and you’ll be able to easily wipe away all the stains and grime afterward.

Fridge: You’re going to want to wait until your fridge is close to empty to make this process easier. Start by removing everything including any removable drawers or shelves. Wash all parts with warm soapy water and use a baking soda/water paste for any tough stains. Wipe down the exterior, including handles and door seals. Finish by using the brush attachment of your vacuum to clean the coils.

Stainless Steel Appliances/Sinks: Use a small amount of coconut oil to polish your stainless steel. A magic eraser can also help restore shine to your stainless steel sink.

Floors: Hot water and a microfiber mop can get your floors clean without any chemicals. Use the all-purpose cleaner for any caked-on spots.

Laundry Room

Washer: Mineral and detergent residue can be removed by running two cups of white vinegar through a hot water cycle (without clothes.) You can repeat this as many times as needed to get your machine smelling and looking clean.

Dryer: Scrub your lint tray with a brush, and use a vacuum cleaner on your dryer vent, vent pipe, and hoses.

Detergent: Make your own laundry detergent to skip the toxins and save big on your laundry expenses.

Stains: A homemade stain remover can gently, but effectively remove stains.

Bleach: Use a DIY bleach alternative.

For all other natural cleaning solutions, check this list of non-toxic home cleaning formulas. When you stay away from harsh, abrasive chemicals in your home, you’re taking a first step towards creating a Healthy Home for you and your family.

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This can help prevent the presence of VOCs in your home and maintain Healthy Air all year round. Click here to see how you can achieve Healthy Air at home with Aprilaire, and enjoy the benefits of reducing dust, mold, and pet dander before you even need to sweep or vacuum.

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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.

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flights

AA Homepage Articles | News |

Experts Say Flights Can Resume, But Bring Increased Risks

2 minute read

Air quality experts say that it is safe to resume flying, but travelers must take advanced precautions before traveling like taking shorter flights when possible, wearing masks, and social distancing. 

In an opinion piece for The Washington Post, Joseph Allen, an assistant professor of exposure assessment science at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, makes the case that airplanes do not make you sick. In fact, airplanes have comparable levels of air filtration and fresh air ventilation to a health care facility

Flights May Be Less Comfortable With Recommendations

He argues that airlines should continue disinfecting high-touch areas such as armrests and tray tables, stop in-flight food service, mandate mask-wearing, and ask patrons to keep their above ventilation fan on throughout the flight. While these adjustments make flying less enjoyable, they can help reduce in-flight virus transmission. Masks are currently required on public transportation. 

Allen is not the only one saying it is safe to resume flying. 

‘Safer Than Eating At A Restaurant’

Linsey Marr, an engineering professor at Virginia Tech, in a CNN article writes, “When HEPA ventilation systems are running on a plane and everyone is masked, the risk of Covid-19 is greatly reduced and makes air travel on a big jet safer than eating at a restaurant.”

Activities Create Biggest Risks

She and Allen argue that the biggest risks in airline travel stem from activities like the pre-flight boarding process or when a flight is delayed and people are stuck on the plane. Marr, who has been wearing an air quality monitor when she travels, said CO2 levels are elevated during these aforementioned activities and are indicative of a lack of fresh air ventilation. 

Marr told CNN that “A CO2 (carbon dioxide) level of 3,000 ppm means that for every breath I take in, about 7% of the air is other people’s exhaled breath…like drinking someone else’s backwash!”

The airport also presents other problems for travelers.

Allen suggests airports create more touchless experiences, upgrade their HVAC system, and require masks. Some updates have already been implemented in some airports or will be implemented in the future. 

Other experts suggest carrying your own personal hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and sticking to shorter flights

Even though there are risks to flying, Marr and Allen say you are clear for takeoff this summer