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The Air Quality Blog by Rabbit Air

What Is Radon?

Pollutants are everywhere these days -- even in our homes. Take measures to protect yourself and your living space.

When was the last time you changed the batteries in your smoke alarm? Do you own a carbon monoxide detector? Have you checked your home for radon?

Okay, don’t panic. Yes, it’s easy to push away the idea of danger in the home, our place of refuge from the outside world. But too often, we’re unprepared for situations that endanger us the most. The radioactive gas, radon, is among those hazards we should be monitoring -- according to the American Lung Association, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, causing roughly 14,000 deaths per year.

The Culprit

Radon is produced when uranium, a naturally occurring element in rock and soil, decays. Outdoors, the atmosphere dilutes the gas, ensuring it poses no health risk, but the problems occur, when radon builds up in closed spaces -- the gas seeps into the home through openings in the foundation or building materials when pressure inside is lower than the soil outside. Radon can slip through even the tiniest cracks, and like carbon monoxide, its odorless, invisible, and tasteless composition makes it indiscernible to the human senses.

According to an indoor air pollution safety guide created by the EPA and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, wells less than 150 feet deep can also become contaminated by radon emissions from surrounding rocks. However, radon in the air is the most pressing danger, so any kind of home is susceptible to it. The EPA also recommends that all rooms under the third floor be tested.

Fend it Off: Simple Prevention and Detection


While difficult to completely prevent from entering the home, you can make it harder for radon to infiltrate by sealing openings in the basement with caulk and securing sump pump lids airtight. Make sure your home has ample airflow by opening windows and installing fans. Signs of  deficient ventilation include moisture condensation, stuffy air, dirty central heating/cooling systems, or mold around the house.

Fortunately, radon can easily be detected with low-cost, do-it yourself test kits, available online and in hardware stores. Look for test kits that pass EPA requirements, which should be advertised on the packaging, or alternatively, you can arrange a home visit from a qualified radon contractor by calling your state radon office. Further precautions should be taken if you are a smoker and discover that your home has high radon levels, as your chance of developing lung cancer increases dramatically.

Breathing Easy

If you’re still concerned about indoor air quality after radon-proofing your home (and you should be -- the EPA has determined that the air inside your home may be ten times more polluted than the air outside), an air purifier will bring relief to the situation as houses usually have more than one kind of pollutant.

Luckily, air purifiers from Rabbit Air trap airborne allergens, like dust mites, mold spores, pollen, and pet dander. They also trap odors and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), gases that are emitted by commonly used household items, like air fresheners. That’s right -- even our sweetest-smelling tools have dirty secrets.

So keep vigilant and check up on that list of household safeguards. The reward will be a breath of fresh air. 

Hattie McLean is a writer, student, and health fanatic living in Brooklyn

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8 Ways to Get Clean Air in Your Home

You may not realize it, but indoor air is most likely anywhere between two and five times more polluted than outdoor air. Since we spend most of our time inside our homes and offices, you might as well make sure that the air you and your family are breathing is as clean as possible. Use these eight methods to effectively clean the air circulating in your home and keep it clean for as long as possible.

 

  1. Improve the Ventilation in Your Home

While opening the windows in your home is a good way to bring in fresh air, it’s not necessarily effective for bringing in clean air. The reason is that the air outside of your home is filled with mold, industrial pollution and dust in addition to harmful by-products created from the gas emissions expelled by vehicles. What you’ll want to do is utilize trickle ventilation, which is a screen with a series of filters that helps bring in fresh air and screen out harmful pollutants.

 

  1. Always Smoke Outside

Never allow anyone to smoke inside of your residence. Not only can smoke cling to the walls, ceiling, floor and your furniture, it’s also harmful to everyone, not just the individual who’s smoking. You might not realize it, but roughly 7,500 to 15,000 children are admitted to the hospital or become sick every year because of a respiratory tract infection. Anyone in your house who has a lung or cardiovascular illness will be at risk of further health complications.

 

  1. Install an Air Purifier with a HEPA Filter

A quality air purifier is one of the best ways to improve your home’s indoor air quality. There are air purifiers that scrub the air in a single room and larger ones that can clean the air in your entire home. It’s best that you use air purifiers that offer quiet operation rather than models that can be quite noisy, since you are more likely to use a quiet air purifier at all times of the day. There are several different types of air purifiers for you to choose from, depending on the size of the room and which harmful particulates you’d like to filter out.

You can also install HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters in your air conditioner as a way to increase clean air in your home. If you do decide to use HEPA filters, make sure that you change them regularly for maximum efficiency.

 

  1. Turn on Your Air Conditioning Unit

Running your air conditioner is also a great way to clean the air in your home in addition to cooling it down or warming it up. A majority of water pollutants are water-soluble, which means that while your air conditioner pulls water from the air inside of your home it’s also pulling pollutants out. Another advantage to using your air conditioner to improve your air quality is that it can get rid of particulate matter and pollen.

 

  1. Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector

It’s estimated that more than roughly 400 people die every year as the result of carbon monoxide poisoning in addition to thousands of people who either become sick or require medical assistance as a result of being exposed to carbon monoxide.

The largest issue with carbon monoxide is that you can’t smell it, which makes it harder to determine whether or not it’s present in your home. Some of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include flu-like symptoms. You may notice that you feel better when you’re not in your home, and there’s a chance that you may notice a difference in your pets. It’s best that you install carbon monoxide detectors close to bedrooms and that you have all of the appliances in your home that burn fuel inspected every year by a professional technician.

 

  1. Clean the Gas Jets of Your Stove

If you use a stove that uses propane or natural gas, it’s recommended that you have your gas jets cleaned and maintained at least once a year by a reputable technician in order that you can be sure the gas is burning cleanly.

Your stove gives off nitrogen dioxide, which can create ozone if it’s exposed to sunlight. The irritating gas has been known to cause wheezing in perfectly healthy individuals. In addition to having your gas jets clean, it’s a good idea to open up a window so that any nitrogen dioxide your gas stove creates can be dispersed. You can also turn on the exhaust fan to keep the gas from building up.    

 

  1. Choose Your Cleaning Products Wisely

While keeping your home clean can also improve your air quality, you can do more harm than good if you aren’t careful of the cleaning products you use. It’s best that you use products that contain either low or no VOCs, which or volatile organic compounds. You might also want to switch to cleaning products that are fragrance-free, no matter how much you might like having your home smell like a blossoming lemon tree.

Another good idea is to use liquid or paste cleaning products since they don’t spread as many particulates in the air as sprays. As you’re cleaning, keep an eye out for spots of mold since there might be spores spreading through the air of your home.

 

  1. Take Care of Leaks

Have your basement, roof and foundation checked for leaks and signs of leakage and have any problem areas repaired as soon as possible. Rain and high humidity can enter your home through leaks and lead to mildew and mold, which can lead to coughing, wheezing and other asthma symptoms. In addition to having your home inspected at least once a year for leaks, you’ll also want to make sure that rain and water runoff is channeled away from your home’s foundation as much as possible to keep runoff from seeping into your basement.

Put these methods into practice and see if your breathing and health in general don’t improve. Not only can you save your indoor air, you might also be able to save on medical bills by introducing clean air into your home.

 

Let us help you choose the correct air purifier for your needs. Our knowledgeable, friendly and honest customer service representatives are available to you 24 hours a day. Just contact us or call 888.866.8862.

 

 

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What is Air Pollution?

Anyone concerned about breathing better has probably thought about air pollution at some point. We know that it is unhealthy and we should take action to protect ourselves from it, but what exactly is air pollution and how does it affect our bodies?  Air pollution refers to the introduction of chemicals, particulate matter, or biological materials into the atmosphere that can cause harm to living organisms or damage the environment. Here in the United States, densely populated areas tend to have the highest levels of air pollution.  Every year the American Lung Association ranks the most polluted cities in America; you can view the 2011 rankings here.

Smoke While some forms of air pollution are not visible to the eye, smog is usually very noticeable. It is a mixture of smoke and fog commonly found in major metropolitan areas, and is notorious for turning the air an ugly color and obstructing views. A number of particulates can be found in smog, including carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, soot, ozone, dirt and dust.  Most of us know that these nasty substances are produced by cars and gas stations, but smog can also be caused by the smoke from fires or as a byproduct of waste treatment and industrial facilities.

The effects of breathing in air pollution differ depending on the duration and concentration of exposure; this means that those living in highly populated areas are more at risk.  Young children, the elderly, and those with illnesses are also affected more than others. The short term effects of breathing in air pollution can cause a host of unpleasant health issues.  Nausea, headaches, and irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat are common reactions.  Breathing in polluted air can also aggravate existing conditions such as allergies, asthma, or emphysema and can even cause respiratory infections.  Air pollution is even more dangerous in the long term, and can cause or exacerbate serious conditions such as chronic respiratory disease, lung cancer, heart disease, and damage vital organs.

Luckily, we can help protect ourselves from air pollution. Monitoring air pollution levels during the day is a good way to find out the best times to venture outside and when you should try to stay indoors. Making changes to help reduce pollution in your city benefits everyone, and can be as simple as switching from plastic shopping bags to reusable canvas ones.  Of course, we at Rabbit Air know that if you want to protect yourself in your home or office, using an air purifier is a great way to keep the air clean and safe.

Visit the links below for more information on air pollution.  If you have other facts or knowledge about air pollution that you want to share, please let us know by leaving a comment!

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