outdoor allergens

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5 Tips for Keeping Outdoor Allergens Out of Your Home

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As the weather warms up, it’s incredibly refreshing to take a step outside and breathe in that crisp spring air. But for the 50 million Americans who suffer from seasonal allergies, being outdoors this time of year can quickly lead to symptoms–even when they return indoors.

So how do you keep those outdoor allergens from coming inside your home? Here are some tips on maintaining a healthy and happy indoor environment throughout the allergy season:

Tips for Keeping Outdoor Allergens Out

Monitor Pollen Levels

Having allergies doesn’t mean you have to spend all your time indoors, but it does help to plan your outdoor activities around pollen levels. Try your daily walk in the morning for example, when levels are typically very low.

Freshen Up

If you do spend time outside, just remember that your skin, hair, and clothes can carry pollen into your home. It’s a good idea to shower, wash your hair, and change your clothes once you get inside. At the very least, it’s helpful to shower before you go to bed so you keep allergens out of your bedding.

Wash Your Pets

Pets can carry pollen and mold on their coats after spending time outside. So before you cuddle up with your furry friend, be sure you’re regularly grooming and bathing them to keep allergen levels down. This will benefit your pets and your family.

Keep Your Home Clean

Keeping your windows closed will help prevent outdoor allergens from coming inside, but oftentimes that’s not enough. Here are some cleaning methods that can help minimize dust and allergens:

  • Wash your bedding once a week
  • Vacuum off any non-washable items like the comforter
  • Steam clean and/or vacuum curtains
  • Sweep and mop all hard surfaces at least once a week
  • Vacuum carpets and rugs daily; using a vacuum with a HEPA filter is especially effective

Use An Air Filter

Filtering air is crucial during high allergy season. With an Aprilaire air filter in your HVAC system, you can reduce allergy triggers by removing damaging airborne particles, reducing dust and dirt around your home, improving respiratory health, and ensuring your family is breathing clean, fresh, and Healthy Air.

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breathing exercises

AA Homepage Articles | Healthy Air |

2021 Stress Awareness Month – Breathing Exercises You Can Do Anytime

2 minute read

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Feeling more stressed than usual?

According to the American Psychological Association, nearly 70% of Americans have reported feeling increased stress over the course of the pandemic. With uncertainties over health, finances, and the future, it’s no surprise that these anxieties have compounded for most people in the past year.

Because of that, we could all use a little (or a lot of) relaxation. One place to start? Breathing exercises. They’re an effective, convenient, and versatile way to relieve stress and reduce the ill effects of chronic stress.

April is Stress Awareness Month, and we wanted to highlight some new techniques that can be used in addition to the previous breathing tips we’ve shared.

First, let’s review why deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in your body and mind.

Your whole body is affected by the way you breathe. When your breath is controlled and deep, it sends your brain a message to calm down and relax. That message also gets sent to the rest of your body, allowing it to regulate your heart rate, steady your breathing, and lower your blood pressure.

The ease and convenience of breathing exercises take down the barriers of incorporating them into your life. And they don’t require any special equipment or tools–just time and consistency.

Breathing Exercises to Try Today

1. Box Breathing

All you need for this technique is a comfortable chair that allows your feet to be flat on the floor. Then, closing your eyes, breathe in through your nose while slowly counting to four. Experience the feeling of the air entering your lungs and then hold that breath inside while slowly counting to four again. Make sure to keep your posture relaxed while holding the breath; don’t forcefully clamp your mouth or nose shut. Then, begin to slowly exhale for four seconds. Repeat those steps (inhale, hold, exhale, hold) at least three times, and if possible, continue for four minutes or until your body and mind are calm.

2. Tactical Breathing

This technique is best used when your fight-or-flight response is kicking in. Breathe in through your nose, counting 1,2,3,4. Stop and hold your breath, counting 1,2,3,4. Exhale, pulling your belly button toward your spine, counting 1,2,3,4. Practice this until you are comfortable with a full, deep breath and then repeat it making the exhale twice the length of the inhale this time.

3. Lion Breathing

This exercise has you imagine you’re a lion, which is a very powerful image for times when you’re feeling powerless or overwhelmed. Sit in a comfortable position in a chair or on the floor, if you prefer. Breathe in through your nose, filling your belly all the way up with air. When you can’t inhale any more, open your mouth as wide as you can, like a lion. Breathe out with a “HA” sound. Repeat as many times as necessary.

Breathing Quality Air

With all of this deep breathing, you want to be sure you’re taking in Healthy Air. That’s where Aprilaire can help.

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Check out our blueprints for a Healthy Home. They include tips and easy changes that can improve the air quality of your home, making it even simpler to deal with stress in a clean, healthy environment.

Raise a Happy, Healthy Home
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Fresh Air Ventilation

Healthy Air |

FAQs: Aprilaire Fresh Air Ventilation

3 minute read

What is fresh air ventilation and why do I need it?

Ventilation is the term used to describe the process of bringing fresh air into a home. Modern building practices have made homes energy efficient, allowing less natural airflow in and out of the home.

Mechanical ventilation introduces fresh air into the home by way of a controlled, normally closed damper. Bringing in fresh outside air dilutes the amount of VOCs (volatile organic compounds), airborne contaminants, and odors present within the home.

What settings should the controller be set at for my Aprilaire ventilation system?

The settings of the controller should be determined by calculating the amount of ventilation needed in a specific house. This will vary from house to house, due to factors such as region of the country and square footage. Aprilaire’s new controllers (Model 8126X) have a built-in program, whereas older controllers require a formula based on the size of your home and the number of occupants. This should be completed by your Healthy Air Pro.

Do I need to use a transformer for the damper in the Model 8126X?

Yes, the controller does not transfer power over to the vent terminals.

Should I use the Code or the Comfort setting? What’s the difference?

The answer depends on how important proper daily ventilation requirements are to your home’s needs among other factors like how much cooking you do, how often you clean, and the number of occupants.

codE (Code) – No RH limits and any missed ventilation due to the temperature being outside set parameters is made up per ASHRAE code 62.2. This will result in no missed daily ventilation requirements.

cFrt (Comfort) – Adds indoor RH limits to ventilation; ventilation missed due to limits is not made up. This may result in missed daily ventilation requirements.

For changing these settings after installation, consult your owner’s manual or Healthy Air Pro.

What maintenance is needed?

After installation, an Aprilaire ventilation unit that utilizes a filter should be checked and cleaned after three months. After that, the unit should be checked every six months.

What is an ERV and what does it do? Does Aprilaire make a HRV?

There are two types of air exchangers: Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRVs) and Energy (or Enthalpy) Recovery Ventilators (ERVs). Aprilaire currently offers an ERV, which simultaneously moves an equal amount of air out of the home and into the home. The two airstreams never mix but pass each other through an energy transfer core to efficiently maintain temperature and humidity. It is an effective way of way balancing the airflow into and out of the house.

What are the Aprilaire Model 8140 and 8145 Ventilation Systems? What are the differences?

The Model 8140 and 8145 are both powered fresh air ventilators. They have a powered fan, powered damper, and a MERV 6 filter. They are primarily installed in new homes where fresh air ventilation is required by building codes. The 8145 was introduced as a successor to the outgoing 8140.

The 8145 is lighter, more durable, and has a lower CFM compared to the 8140 (210 CFM vs. 250 CFM), which greatly improves the unit’s energy efficiency. The 8145 is recognized as ENERGY STAR® Most Efficient 2021. The 8145 also allows for easier filter removal and replacement.

Why does the ventilation intake need to be 10 feet away from an exhaust?

A 10-foot separation reduces the likelihood that stale air is drawn back into the home through the fresh air intake. The code requirement for an intake is that it must be 10 feet from any hazardous or noxious contaminants. The most likely qualifying contaminant sources in a house would be plumbing vents and/or combustion exhausts.

 

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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