wildfires

Aprilaire Partners Logged In Homepages | Environment |

Wildfires, Focus of Western States, Threaten Air Quality Throughout United States

4 minute read

On the heels of the American Lung Association’s (ALA) 21st annual State of the Air report, California is experiencing a rash of wildfires that threaten homes, land, and the health of its residents. The 2020 report pointed to wildfires as one of the biggest threats to healthy, clean air.

“This shows growing evidence that a changing climate is making it harder to protect human health. All three years ranked among the five hottest years in history, increasing high ozone days and widespread wildfires, putting millions more people at risk and adding challenges to the work cities are doing across the nation to clean up…Overall, cities in the western United States dominate the list, with 15 cities among the 26 most polluted (total) annual particle. California continues to claim more places on the list than any other state, with six of the 10 most polluted, including each of the worst five – and six of the nine cities that fail to achieve the national standard” – ALA, 2020 State of the Air Report

Increasing Wildfires Are Result of Climate Crisis

Dry conditions, due to rising temperatures, increase the possibility of wildfires due to a tossed cigarette, campfire, debris burning, or lightning strike destroying America’s prettiest state and national sites.

Recent wildfires have led to the closure of 200 parks in the Bay Area and 29 state parks.

Many residents of northern California are seeking refuge from the ash and smog that has overtaken their palatial outdoor setting. Unfortunately, wildfires have become commonplace for these residents. In 2018, California saw the worst wildfire outbreak in its history. The fires burned 2 million acres, destroyed more than 20,000 buildings, and caused around $3.5B in damages. In 2019, 7,860 fires burned just over 259,000 acres. This year, more than 7,000 fires have already torn through 1.6 million acres of land, is on pace to eclipse the 2018 outbreak.

Finding respite from the smog-induced air can be troublesome. Residents are forced to close their windows, which is for some, their only source of fresh air ventilation. Cracks in a home’s foundation can also be a source for air pollutants to seep into a home. Without proper care, these pollutants can cause major health issues.

Air Pollutants Can Travel Thousand of Miles Away

The EPA estimates that air pollution can have adverse health effects leading to a shortened lifespan. The World Health Organization has cited air pollution as a leading global health crisis.

Protecting yourself from these large airborne particulates is important in helping reduce the impacts of air pollution, especially PM2.5. This references fine airborne particulates that are at a maximum of 2.5 microns in diameter or smaller. For example, pet dander is about the size of these airborne irritants that can have severe impacts on human health. Wildfires have shown to increase the amount of these types of particulates in the air. Once they get into the air, they can interact with gases in the atmosphere and create ozone.

This data is especially vital and underpins an already severe airborne virus, which increasingly affects those who have underlying health conditions and face more significant health risks.

Protect Your Home’s Air

Protecting your home and health from these contaminants can be aided with the installation of a whole-home air purifier. An air purifier filters out airborne contaminants that flow through your home’s HVAC system. Capturing these particulates can reduce the risk of indoor air pollution.

Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, or MERV, a system designed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), rates air filters. The higher the MERV rating the better the filter is at capturing particles. A MERV 11 air filter captures up to 80 percent of these particles, while a MERV 13 filter captures up 90 percent, and a MERV 16 filter captures up to 99 percent.

As mentioned before, air pollution from wildfires is not limited to California. As temperatures continue to rise throughout the country due to climate change, California and its bordering states may not be the only ones susceptible to the air pollution caused by wildfires.

Interactive Map Displays Air Quality and Wildfires

This interactive map from AirNow, a collaboration between the EPA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Park Service, NASA, Centers for Disease Control, and tribal, state, and local air quality agencies determine air quality in your area and throughout the country. It also determines if any wildfires are currently active in your area.

These types of resources are important to help communicate air quality to vulnerable populations so they can avoid any detrimental effects from poor air quality.

Mechanical ventilation is a solution to help bring in fresh, clean air into the home. Mechanical ventilation helps filter out airborne contaminants from the outdoor air. Our air filtration and ventilation systems can be combined to help remove these particulates more efficiently.

Stay Current on Air Pollution

As the American Lung Association stated in its most recent report, wildfires are a major threat to clean air. For the second time in three years, California is on pace to break its worst wildfire outbreak in history. We must confront the challenges of climate change with sound solutions and positive reformations. One of those solutions is ensuring that the air inside our homes is fresh and clean.

For more information on wildfires, air quality, and air pollution, go to the AirNow website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

winter climate

Aprilaire Partners Logged In Homepages | Environment |

4 Climate-Related Events That Could Impact Your Air Quality This Winter

3 minute read

Click play to listen to the article 4 Climate-Related Events That Could Impact Your Air Quality This Winter. 

We know that severe winter weather can cause havoc on the roadways and make you, well, really cold. But how does the winter climate impact the quality of the air we breathe?

Let’s look at four winter events that can jeopardize the health of our air, and discuss ways to combat those risks.

For localized information about the air quality in your region, check out the Aprilaire State of Your Air tool.

The State of Your Air
We’re shining a light on the link between
local weather and air quality.

Learn More

Blizzards

Extreme snowstorms are increasingly common in the United States, with the eastern part of the country seeing the worst of it in recent years. These relentless snow showers test local infrastructure and often radically change the course of daily life during the winter season.

Loss of electricity is one of the most impactful consequences of blizzards, forcing people to find alternative heating methods like fireplaces, generators, and wood stoves. While the use of these is often necessary for keeping warm, they also introduce air pollutants into the home and put people at risk.

When using combustible heat sources, create ventilation by cracking a window (when possible) or using an Aprilaire air purifier.

Blizzards also sap moisture from the air, creating dry and uncomfortable conditions. This extremely dry air creates an ideal environment for viruses while simultaneously drying out your mucus membranes and making you more susceptible to illness.

So while you’re snowed-in during the winter, try to keep the relative humidity in your home between 40–60 percent. It’s simple with an Aprilaire whole-home humidifier.

Breathe the Fullness of Life.
Don't lose sleep over dry air this winter.

Learn More

 

Snowmelt

Towering snow piles are a winter staple in many areas of the country. But once the weather starts to warm up, the resulting snowmelt can release contaminants into the ground and the air.

Here are some of the most common ground pollutants released by snowmelt, that may end up in drinking water and impact fish and wildlife:

  • Oil, grease, and other motor vehicle chemicals
  • Pesticides and nutrients from lawns and gardens
  • Viruses, bacteria, and nutrients from pet waste or failing septic systems
  • Road and sidewalk salts
  • Heavy metals from roof shingles, motor vehicles, and other sources

Meanwhile, airborne pollutants get trapped in snow and are then released in higher concentrations and altered chemical states once the snow melts. Most of these pollutants come from car emissions.

For information on ways to offset snowmelt pollution, check out this Aprilaire guide.

Extreme Cold

During long stretches of cold weather, airborne contaminants typically increase because of heating systems and idling vehicles.

For instance, wood burning causes an increase in particulate matter and carbon monoxide during the winter. And the colder it gets, the more wood burning is required. The same goes for vehicles. When it’s cold, people will keep their cars running for longer to make them warm. Plus, icy roads can mean more time spent behind the wheel with the engine running.

Additionally, extreme temperatures keep people indoors, where the air can be 5x more polluted than outdoor air. During these periods, it’s important to consider ways you can refresh the air in your home by increasing fresh air ventilation and air purification.

It’s Time to Care About Healthy Air
Breathe a sigh of relief.

Learn More

Temperature Inversion

The air pollutants created from heating and transportation can be more of an issue in the winter because of a climate situation known as a temperature inversion.

Warm air is lighter than cold air. Typically, when warmer surface air becomes polluted with smoke and other contaminants it will eventually clear out by rising into the cooler air above it. But in the wintertime, the air at the surface can often be cooler than the air above it (an inversion), which causes the cooler, polluted air to remain at the surface and put humans at risk. This air can contain things like smog, smoke, and carbon dioxide.

In situations where the surface air is polluted, it can be helpful to purify the outdoor air before it comes into your home. An Aprilaire whole-home air purifier can improve the air in your home by removing contaminants and circulating fresh air.

Healthy Air Is on the Way

Find an Aprilaire professional near you.

Environment |

What Does the UN Mean by Its “Code Red” Climate Warning?

3 minute read

[/audio

Click play to listen to the What Does the UN Mean by Its “Code Red” Climate Warning article.

Global warming and climate change have been discussed for decades. And in recent years, we’ve seen the impact of our changing planet in the large number of severe weather events that have hit all over the world.

Recently, the United Nations (UN) labeled the status of the climate as a “code red for humanity.” While there are obvious signs of climate change’s impact, what does “code red” mean in this context, and what can we do about it as individuals?

A Changing Planet

Many of the luxuries we enjoy in modern society—rapid transportation, the easy availability of goods, widespread land use—come with a cost. Human activity increases the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which raises the global temperature and changes the planet in several ways.

The earth will keep on spinning through these changes, but the reason they matter so much for society is that the world is becoming less and less habitable for humans, especially those of lower economic status. Extreme weather, lack of access to freshwater, poor air quality, and reduced land masses will all impact large populations in our lifetimes and beyond.

The UN says that to preserve a climate that’s livable for humans, we must reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. “Net zero” would mean that the amount of greenhouse gases we are producing is equal to the amount being recaptured or absorbed.

Here are five real, noticeable ways that climate change will be felt all over the world:

  1. Warming Waters
    Impact: rising sea levels, loss of coastal cities, freshwater shortages
  2. Agriculture Pressures
    Impact: food scarcity, less crop diversity can strain soils, certain crops will be viable only in specific areas of the world
  3. High Temperatures
    Impact: higher average temperature, more wildfires, more pests and diseases
  4. Extreme Weather
    Impact: loss of homes and infrastructure, power outages, higher insurance premiums and cost of living in some areas
  5. Added Health Risks
    Impact: outsize impact on lower economic classes, housing and food insecurity, decreased life expectancy

Acting Now for the Future

The “code red” designation is a justified warning, but all hope is not lost. There are changes we can make globally that will prevent us from experiencing the most extreme impacts of climate change down the road.

There is some debate about the level of responsibility placed on individuals to offset climate change. Various reports estimate that around 100 corporations are responsible for about 70% of all greenhouse gas emissions, making individual actions seem minimal in comparison.

While it’s true that the largest impact will come from decisions made by governments and corporations, individuals can embrace the role they have in the equation.

As part of their “Act Now” program, the UN has picked out 10 actions that individuals can take to both contribute to lower greenhouse gas emissions, and spread awareness of the importance of this issue:

  1. Save Energy at Home
  2. Drive Less
  3. Eat More Plant-Based Foods
  4. Fly Less
  5. Cut Food Waste
  6. Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Recycle
  7. Get Wind or Solar Energy
  8. Switch to an Electric Vehicle
  9. Choose Eco-friendly Products
  10. Speak Up

Voting for Change

Let’s focus on the final action, “Speak Up.” Politicians and corporations, alike, will not make widespread changes on their own. But they will listen and start to change the status quo when there is massive pressure from voters and consumers to do so.

Vote for politicians who recognize the urgency of the climate crisis, and use your dollars to support businesses who act sustainably and support climate initiatives.

Because air quality will be greatly impacted by climate change, Aprilaire supports the American Lung Association’s “Stand Up For Clean Air” initiative, which aims to address the “public health crisis of climate change.” This program offers information on personal changes you can make to improve your air quality, and resources for contacting officials who make decisions on air quality standards and climate change strategies.

American Lung Association

Aprilaire Partners Logged In Homepages | News |

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 | News |

2021: Aprilaire’s Good Neighbor Values

2 minute read

Click the play button to listen to the post

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.

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