keep-pillows-fresh-during-allergy-season

AA Homepage Articles | Healthy Home |

Keep Pillows Fresh During Allergy Season

2 minute read

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Nature is blooming as cold winter weather gives way to the sunny days of spring and summer.

While the outdoors are becoming more pleasant for many of us, these changing seasons can also bring allergy flare-ups from things like pollen and ragweed.

When you go outside, allergens can get caught in your hair and clothing and follow you indoors. There, they can end up on your furniture and bedding, causing issues long after you’ve left the outdoor environment.

Before you lay down your head after a long day in the sunshine, consider some ways to keep your pillows fresh and avoid irritants while you sleep.

How Pillows Get Dirty

  • Over time, your bedding can accumulate hair and dead skin cells, which turn into food for dust mites and may cause allergic reactions.
  • In the hotter temperatures of summer, it’s normal to sweat more at night and leave moisture and odor behind in your bedding.
  • Propping open windows is a great way to ventilate your home and cool off without using the energy required by an air conditioner. But, depending on the conditions outside, an open window can allow allergens to enter your home and settle on things like kitchen surfaces, furniture, and your pillows.
  • Yep, it’s one of life’s joys to snuggle with your furry friends as you drift off to sleep or wake up in the morning. But pet hair can hold dander and other irritants, which can end up on your pillows and bedding.

How To Clean Pillows

  1. Throw Out Old Pillows
    Most recommendations say that bed pillows have a useful life of 1–2 years. After that amount of time, most pillows have accumulated moisture and allergens that can compromise the quality of your sleep.
    If the pillow is lumpy, flat, or stained, it’s time to find a new addition to your bedtime routine. There are plenty of options specially made for those who prefer to sleep on their back, belly, or side.
  2. Use Pillow Covers
    It feels great to find the perfect pillow for your sleep style. And once you’ve got a winner, you want to keep it in healthy shape for as long as possible.
    Use pillow covers that offer moisture and allergy protection. You’ll put them on before you add the regular pillowcase, and they help protect your health and the longevity of the pillow. Plus, most pillow covers are easy to machine wash on a regular basis. Like pillows, covers should be replaced when needed.
  3. Wash Pillows
    Pillows come in all sorts of materials, from memory foam to down or down alternatives. Some pillows can be machine washed (down, polyester, and down alternative), and it’s best to do it on the gentle cycle. Others should never be machine washed, but can be dry cleaned, hand washed, or refreshed in direct sunlight (memory foam, polyfoam, latex, and buckwheat). The Sleep Foundation has a great chart with recommendations for washing different types of pillows.
  4. Dry Pillows
    Moisture in your bedding can come from sweat, drool, body lotion, or that spilled sip of water. If you don’t air out excess moisture, it can lead to mold and mildew growth and cause nighttime allergy issues.
    Drying pillows thoroughly is just as important as washing them. Waterproof pillow covers are a great first step, and you can also dry most types of pillows on low heat in your dryer. Otherwise, place them in direct sunlight until they’re refreshed and ready to go back to bed.
how-vacuuming-impacts-your-indoor-air-dust

AA Homepage Articles | Healthy Home |

How Vacuuming Impacts Your Indoor Air Quality

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Vacuum cleaners are often relied on for managing dust and dirt on the floors and furniture in your home. But with so many types of vacuums available at different levels of quality, how can you be sure that your vacuum is actually improving the cleanliness of your home?

You may find that allergy symptoms pop up after you vacuum, dust, or sweep. That’s because these household chores can kick up more dust than they capture, especially if your vacuum cleaner doesn’t have a HEPA filter or isn’t sealed properly. A HEPA filter prevents dust from being blown back into the air, and can capture over 99% of airborne particles. For maximum effect, the vacuum cleaner also needs to be fully sealed, which reduces the ability of trapped particles to escape the vacuum’s bag or canister.

Dust Allergies

The American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology (ACAAI) has several recommendations for people who suffer from dust allergies, with symptoms that include sneezing, stuffy nose, itching, and red eyes. Because dust is so light, it gets airborne whenever there’s movement, including during vacuuming and dusting. The ACAAI recommends that those suffering from dust allergies wear an N95 filter mask while cleaning, and use a HEPA air filter in high-traffic areas. You can also use an AprilAire whole-house dehumidifier to manage the humidity levels in your home and create an environment less comfortable for dust mites.

Handle Dust Throughout the Home

Air filtration systems can make an impact on the amount of dust in your home, in addition to removing things like viruses and pollen. Use an AprilAire MERV 16 filter for maximum performance in your home. By filtering the air that’s entering and removing stale air, an AprilAire whole-home ventilation system with air filters can help reduce allergy triggers in every room of your living space.

mold on houseplants

AA Homepage Articles | Healthy Home |

What Causes Mold to Grow on Houseplants?

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Ever notice mold growing on your houseplants? While it’s not uncommon to find mold on a potted plant or on flowers that have been in the vase for too long, it’s not something most of us want around the house.

Thankfully, most common plant molds aren’t dangerous to humans. But they are unsightly, and the mold spores can become airborne and irritate allergies.

Let’s look at some common causes of mold on houseplants, and learn a few tips on how to prevent it.

Overwatering

If you find mold on the soil in a potted plant, that typically means you’re watering the plant too often and the soil is persistently moist. Keep in mind that most indoor plants require less water than outdoor plants, in part because they receive less sunlight to evaporate excess moisture.

Try watering your houseplants only when the soil is dry to the touch, and keep them in areas where they’ll receive moderate amounts of sunlight each day. During colder and darker times of the year, plants will need less water.

Poor Water Drainage

Another cause of soil that’s too wet is poor water drainage, which can come from a lack of drainage holes, incorrectly sized pots, and soil that’s too dense.

Most pre-mixed potting soils will include materials like peat moss to keep the soil from becoming too dense. To find the right pot, make sure it has drainage holes and consider the length and spread of the roots—the more roots are allowed to grow and thrive, the more water they can absorb.

Insufficient Air Circulation

Air movement helps dry out plants between waterings, which reduces the risk of mold growth. Certain areas of the home are prone to less air circulation, especially during months when windows and fans aren’t being used. If you keep plants in those types of areas, try adding some form of air circulation or move the plants to more central areas of the home.

Beyond the health of your plants, proper air circulation and ventilation are important for the well-being of you and your family. This is especially true in areas where moisture is consistently introduced, like the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room. Check out AprilAire whole-home fresh air ventilators for more information.

Elevated Humidity Levels

Some plants do well in high-humidity areas, but many common houseplants will suffer from mold and stunted growth when kept in overly humid environments. The soil doesn’t get a chance to dry out, which can lead to mold. And growth is impacted when the plant doesn’t have the ability to evaporate water into the air or draw nutrients from the soil.

Excess humidity levels can cause mold issues all around the home. AprilAire recommends keeping the humidity level in your home between 40–60% for your own health and the health of your plants.

Interview with the American Lung Association

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Breathing Healthy Air: Interview with the American Lung Association

4 minute read

At AprilAire, we encourage breathing Healthy Air because we know it benefits your overall health. The American Lung Association knows it too. That’s why AprilAire air filters are the National Proud Partner of the American Lung Association*, playing a key role in the fight to improve lung health and prevent lung disease.

We got to interview National Senior Vice President of Development Sally Draper about the importance of Healthy Air and how both AprilAire and the American Lung Association are working together to help you Breathe the Fullness of Life.

Could you introduce yourself for the readers and tell us about why you chose a career with the American Lung Association?

“I joined the Lung Association in 2014 because I was attracted to its comprehensive mission—to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. Every day we help Americans breathe easier through our efforts to fund innovative research, advocate for policies that protect our lungs, and educate patients, caregivers, providers, and the public with science-backed information. We were founded more than 115 years ago, and the needs are greater today than ever before, including the youth vaping epidemic, climate change, and COVID-19!”

Can you tell us about the American Lung Association’s mission?

“The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. Our work is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; champion clean air for all; improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and create a tobacco-free future. Whether it’s searching for cures to lung diseases, keeping kids off tobacco, or advocating for laws that protect the air we breathe, the work of the American Lung Association helps to save lives every day.”

How did AprilAire and the American Lung Association come to work together in the first place? What does that relationship look like presently?

“AprilAire and the American Lung Association forged a new relationship in 2018. We quickly realized how much we had in common. Our partnership was developed as we saw an opportunity to educate and help more consumers improve the air in their homes to create a healthier environment.

Since 2020, AprilAire has been a Proud Partner of the Lung Association with its 4” residential air filters. Additionally, AprilAire joined the Lung Association as our FY20 National Fight For Air Climb Partner For Healthy Air. The company has also supported the Lung Association’s “Stand Up For Clean Air” campaign. As part of this initiative, we are driving conversations around air quality, climate, and health. The Lung Association invited people to share their #MyCleanAirStory—knowing that when people realize climate and air quality are impacting the health of their neighbors, friends, and loved ones—they are more willing to act. AprilAire provided prizes for the #MyCleanAirStory contest, including one grand prize of a whole-home Indoor Air Quality upgrade (the AprilAire Healthy Air System™) and nine AprilAire Room Air Purifiers. This year, the company stepped up once again to sponsor the Wisconsin Fight For Air Climb in Milwaukee. Also in 2021, the Lung Association welcomed Dale Philippi, President and CEO of Research Products Corporation, AprilAire’s parent company, to the Lung Association’s Wisconsin Leadership Board of Directors.”

Tell us about the Fight For Air Climb.

“The American Lung Association’s Fight For Air Climb is the nation’s premier stair climbing challenge. At 38 events nationwide, children and adults of all ages participate in this celebratory stair-climbing adventure. Pre-pandemic, the Fight For Air Climb was held in several of our country’s most iconic skyscrapers. This year, the Lung Association invited participants outdoors for a one-of-a-kind adventure to support healthy lungs and clean air. In fact, Dale was among the company’s team of more than 50 employees that climbed the stairs at Milwaukee’s American Family Field on May 22nd, proving he puts his feet, time, and talent behind causes he supports.

AprilAire has been a stalwart partner in the Fight For Air Climb, promoting the event to employees, customers, trade partners, family, and friends. Through this unique vehicle, the company is engaging individuals of all ages to understand and celebrate the importance of Healthy Air.”

AprilAire’s air filters are a National Proud Partner of the American Lung Association. How do you feel our mission aligns with yours?

“Our CEO, Harold Wimmer, has said, ‘Breathing should not be an uphill battle, but for many it is… no one should have to fight for air on a daily basis.’ Similarly, Dale has declared, ‘We believe everyone deserves to breathe Healthy Air.’ As a National Proud Partner, AprilAire’s mission to enhance everyone’s health by improving the air in their homes aligns very closely with that of the American Lung Association, champion of clean air for all.”

What are the benefits of breathing Healthy Air and what are everyday things that people can do to Breathe the Fullness of Life?

“Clean air is essential for healthy lungs. The American Lung Association works to ensure that the air we breathe is clean and safe from harmful pollution. In fact, every year we publish our State of the Air Report, which looks at two of the most widespread and dangerous air pollutants, ozone and fine particulate matter. Our 2021 State of the Air Report found that more than 4 in 10 Americans—over 135 million people—are living in places with unhealthy levels of ozone or particle pollution.

One of the most important things you can do to Breathe the Fullness of Life is to keep sources of pollution out of your home. Check out these commonsense tips on Lung.org. Additionally, ventilation helps reduce indoor air pollution, but it works best if paired with keeping known sources of air pollution out of the building. For tips on how to use ventilation to protect your lung health, check out our section on Ventilation: How Buildings Breathe.”

Fight for Healthy Air

At AprilAire, we believe everyone deserves to Breathe the Fullness of Life, and we’re not the only ones that feel this way. Through our Proud Partnership with the American Lung Association, we aim to fill every home with Healthy Air. Both AprilAire and the Lung Association believe that breathing Healthy Air should be available to everyone, and maintaining healthy Indoor Air Quality is an important step for your lung health. Read more about our partnership and the efforts of the American Lung Association on their website.

*Disclaimer: The American Lung Association does not endorse any product, device, or service.

St. Vincent de Paul

AA Homepage Articles |

2021: AprilAire’s Good Neighbor Values

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We take the importance of caring for others to heart at AprilAire. We believe we have a purpose beyond the individual work we do and that being a successful company also means “Being a Good Neighbor.” It’s one of our core values, and something we put into action each year.

We remain committed to helping our local communities in a number of ways, including financial contributions and volunteering. In the past, we’ve raised funds to provide pack-n-plays to mothers in need, volunteered at local blood drives, and held various donation drives throughout the year.

While our partnership opportunities may look different in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re excited to continue our work with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, whose mission statement reads:

“A membership organization, the Society began working in Madison in 1925 with two parish-based groups of members serving their neighbors in need. Today, programs the Society operates in Dane County include a large customer-choice food pantry, a charitable pharmacy, storage for the goods of persons who are homeless, seven thrift stores offering direct charity, housing at Port St. Vincent de Paul and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton House, and several other forms of assistance for people struggling with poverty.”

We’ve been working with St. Vincent de Paul – Madison since 2014, giving us a number of incredible opportunities to give back and live out our mission of being Good Neighbors.

We believe the work they’re doing to provide assistance for our community is more important than ever right now, which is why it’s our honor to be a 2021 Platinum Sponsor for St. Vincent de Paul’s 6th Annual Care Café fundraising breakfast on May, 5th 2021. The theme is “Love Made Visible.”

They’re going virtual this year, which means they have unlimited capacity to reach their goal of $140,000. If you live in Dane County, we encourage you to attend the virtual event and support our neighbors in need through your contributions to the food pantry, free pharmacy, and housing programs.

 Click here for more information on St. Vincent de Paul – Madison to see how you can get involved.

Or find a charity in your area that you may be able to connect with to make an impact.

air-quality-inside-your-car

AA Homepage Articles | Healthy Air |

Air Quality Inside Your Car This Summer

2 minute read

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Millions of Americans are hitting the highways this summer for travel destinations near and far. All those miles on the road mean hours spent in the car, and that gets us at AprilAire thinking about the quality of the air you’re breathing inside your vehicle.

Sources of Air Pollution in Vehicles

The air in your car can become polluted from three primary sources: dirty air outside, off-gassing from the vehicle’s interior, and the activity of you and your passengers.

Outside air comes in through the car’s ventilation system and open windows, and can often contain pollutants like automotive exhaust from surrounding traffic, allergens, and particulate matter from industrial and farming practices.

Inside the vehicle there are hundreds of components made out of different types of plastic, metal, paint, and more. Think of that “new car smell”—this typically comes from the off-gassing of these materials and is more noticeable in newer cars and whenever your car is sitting in the sun. It’s dangerous to breathe in these volatile organic compounds (VOCs, like benzene and formaldehyde) over time.

Lastly, air can be saturated with carbon dioxide by the exhalations of the car’s occupants, especially with multiple passengers in the same cabin for multiple hours. And adding things like air fresheners, or not cleaning up food waste and debris will also impact the car’s air quality.

How to Clean Your Car’s Air

Start by making sure your cabin’s air filter is updated and effective at removing dust, allergens, and other pollutants. Some manufacturers recommend changing it every 15,000 miles.

If your car has been sitting in the sun for a long period, open up the windows when you first get in to release some of the VOCs that have been trapped. It’s tempting to let the air conditioner do all the work, but by letting out the trapped air, you’re both lowering the interior temperature and removing pollutants. After a few minutes, you can roll up the windows and enjoy the chilled air.

When you’re on the open road without much surrounding traffic or other sources of pollution, consider using open windows to control the temperature rather than the air conditioner. This allows more fresh air to enter the cabin and prevents the buildup of carbon dioxide.

Most modern vehicles have a setting on the air and temperature controls that will recirculate the air inside the vehicle, and block out air from outside. This is a good option when you’re stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic or driving through an area with construction, farming, or other sources of air pollution.

Recirculation mode will prevent the external pollutants from entering your car, but keep in mind that this setting can also cause carbon dioxide levels to rise if used for an extended period of time.

Keep your car’s interior clean to prevent airborne dust and the formation of mold and mildew. Clean up liquid as soon as it’s spilled, and avoid using chemical sprays or air fresheners.