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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Breathe Easy: How to Measure Your Home's Air Quality

Mohammed J/flickr

We may breathe it everyday, but people rarely pause to consider how important the quality of our air really is. 

Each day, local governments across the country evaluate the atmospheric purity in their jurisdictions using the Air Quality Index. True to its name, the AQI assigns any area a number that places it somewhere on a spectrum between polluted and clean.

That number tells us about any health risks connected to an area’s given air quality, aiming in particular, to enlighten people about potential health risks after hours or days of exposure to polluted air. 

But how many people regularly check the AQI? Despite the potentially harmful air that surrounds us, we breathe on obliviously, exerting ourselves or spending long days outdoors without truly knowing the dangers that face us. Knowledge is power, so make the effort to learn what lurks in the air around you and how to protect yourself from contamination. 


Steven Buss/flickr

The Clean Air Act requires that the EPA measure five major air pollutants: carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, ground-level ozone, and particle pollution (or particulate matter). In North America, airborne particles and ground-level ozone are the greatest threats to human health.

The EPA had to create a standardized national air quality criteria for the offending pollutants in order to guard public health. As a result, the AQI was born. 

The exact measures of the AQI range from zero to 500, zero being crystal clear air fit for a newborn’s lungs. As the AQI number rises, air pollution and health risks do as well.

The EPA has established an AQI level of 100 as the national definition of a “polluted” atmosphere, and if a reading goes above that number, the air can be harmful to sensitive immune systems. When the number reaches 200, cities are obligated to issue warnings to inhabitants. 

Inside Job


Now that we know a little more about air quality at large, let’s take a look at the situation in the house. Indoor air quality is multidetermined, and it's important to keep tabs on it to avoid harmful repercussions, according to How Stuff Works.

Although the calculations that go into an AQI can be complicated, its meaning is simple: the higher the pollution, the more dangerous your air is.

So what could be the cause of your home’s dirty air? Anything from pet dander to tobacco smoke, as Colorado State University reports. If you feel significantly fresher outside, it’s probably time to scour the house for the three worst enemies of air quality. 

Mold and mildew tend to happen out of sight and out of mind, growing on building material, furniture, heating and cooling systems, and wet carpets, to name just a few suspicious spots. Although innocuous in name, these spores are not to be trusted. 

A colorless and odorless gas, carbon monoxide is a silent killer. When incomplete combustion occurs in household items like stoves, furnaces, water heaters, and fireplaces, the dangerous fume takes flight, entering your lungs and impeding the flow of oxygen into your body.

Extended exposure has lethal consequences, and only a carbon monoxide detector can alert you when the gas rises to risky levels. 

Similarly, the gas radon exists without color or odor and enters unnoticed. The gas naturally lifts from soil and penetrates the home via the drainage system, cracks in the walls, and the floors of the basement, as well as through dirt floors. The invisible gas is a major perpetrator of lung cancer. 

Catch your Breath

Ann Worner/flickr

Are you holding your breath yet? Even though there’s no way of knowing the exact level of pollutants in your home environment, there are ways to keep it breezy. Mold and mildew can be cleaned, and detectors can protect us from carbon monoxide and radon. 

For everything else, Rabbit Air is here to help you catch your breath amid the air quality stresses. Their air purifiers quietly remove 99.97% of allergens and pollutants without further fallout. So breathe a sigh of relief: your home and office just got a little less toxic. 

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How To Clean and Detect Mold

Brian Moloney/flickr

You step inside your home and notice an unpleasant, pungent odor. After making sure you really did take out last week’s trash, you decide that there’s only one explanation: you may have a mold problem.

According to the EPA, mold can create and worsen a number of medical problems, most of which are triggered by their production of allergens. Inhaling or touching mold can elicit allergic reactions, which can include sneezing, red eyes, a runny nose, and skin rashes. Mold can also contribute significantly to asthma attacks.

Even with your emerging suspicions, it’s hard to act against mold — especially at first. Mold reproduces through the expansion of tiny spores that float through the air, and may begin to reproduce inside if its spores land on wet surfaces.

Oftentimes, it can only be found in hidden, hard-to-reach places, like behind walls, beneath wallpaper, inside ductwork, or beneath roofing panels. Despite potential challenges, once you’ve become suspicious of mold, it’s important that you act fast.

Taking Action

Since mold is commonly hidden from view, you have to be diligent about locating its source. Even before looking around obvious places, check parts of your home that get little sun exposure, according to Answers.

It’s important that your investigation be thorough and careful, especially in certain situations — if you discover a great deal of mold growing behind your wallpaper, for example, it’s imperative that you be careful in removing it, as this process, if done hastily, can release a great number of airborne spores.

After locating the source of mold, you must also attempt to restrict the area — this will save you trouble and money down the road.

Covering the moldy region with plastic bags and then fastening them with duct tape will prevent the mold from spreading, and also keep spores from becoming airborne. In minimizing the expansion of the mold, you’ll have an easier time successfully removing it.

Once you do make an effort to clean and remove the mold, you should be sure to use proper equipment. Again, be sure not to let the spores get released into the air, which is difficult to avoid while actively cleaning. It’s good to wear a mask, and you should conduct research on which cleaning agent will be best for your situation.

While cleaning the area, make sure to repeat the scrubbing process multiple times.

Future Prevention

Of course, even after you’ve dealt with your current mold issue, you’ll want to come up with a strategy for avoiding another one in the future. It’s wise to consult a professional about your problem, though many precautions can be conducted on your own.

In general, you’re looking to prevent the expansion of moisture within your home. Whenever something spills, act quickly. You should clean and repair your roof gutters frequently, and make sure the ground slopes away from the foundation of the building so that moisture doesn’t collect around it.

It’s also very helpful to keep the humidity in your home as low as possible. If you can dramatically lessen the amount of moisture in your building, then mold won’t feel welcome any longer. 

The air purifiers offered by Rabbit Air are a fantastic way to start living in a safer, mold-free home. Both useful in preventing future mold outbreaks and fighting against current ones, Rabbit Air’s products also eliminate 99.7% of allergens and pollutants from the air.

Each purifier is designed to adapt to your space and help it to maintain its usual equilibrium. Treat yourself to a mold-free existence with a Rabbit Air purifier.

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What Is Sick Building Syndrome?


That sick and tired feeling after a day at the office or in your home might not just be in your head — it may actually be in the walls around you.

How much time would you guess you spend inside on an average day? If it feels like it’s almost all the time, that’s because it probably is.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American spends 17.5 hours a day either working, sleeping, or performing indoor household activities – that’s almost three quarters of their time! So what happens if during that entire period you were actually inside of a room or building that was harmful to your health?

Would you be surprised if that space was your home or workplace? It turns out that toxic buildings are actually quite common, and the human effects of that toxicity are called Sick Building Syndrome (SBS).

The reality is that not all buildings were created equal. EPA research points out that many buildings were built before there was a cohesive scientific understanding of what constitutes a healthy interior space. It’s often the case that indoor air quality, ventilation rates, the amount of sunlight, and various other metrics of a building’s safety are not up to par, contributing to suboptimal living conditions. SBS is a serious, albeit relatively unknown, issue that affects virtually all of us in some way and at some point. Here’s what you need to know:

There’s No Discernible Cause

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), one of the biggest red flags for SBS is the experience of one or several acute symptoms, like headaches, nausea, coughing, chest pain, dizziness, or fatigue. These varied and somewhat commonplace health problems make it very difficult to identify a specific cause or illness. As expected, these symptoms will generally balloon while a person is in a particular building, then abate shortly after leaving. 

And while these might seem like minor irritants, SBS can eventually contribute to things like increased absenteeism, brought about by general sickness and lower levels of overall productivity. It’s common sense that employees work better when they feel better, and unfortunately, most people will look to almost every other cause before suspecting the very room they’re sitting in.

More than just a temporary setback, the symptoms of SBS can actually become chronic and turn into a persistent condition referred to as a Building Related Illness (BRI), according to the Global Healing Center. This means that, even after leaving a hazardous building, symptoms may require a prolonged recovery time to fully cease.

Ventilation and Contamination

The EPA also states that one of the principal causes of SBS is inadequate ventilation. Many carpets, pieces of furniture, and construction components consistently release potentially harmful or toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs), particulate matter, and even formaldehyde directly into a living space.

Unwanted contaminants are typically present in homes at relatively safe levels, but if they’re not consistently flushed out of the air, they can build up to intolerable volumes — certainly enough to cause a headache, or maybe something worse. Even a buildup of carbon dioxide from residents’ everyday breathing is enough to make someone feel fatigued and unproductive.

There are plenty of other contaminants floating around, too. Things like outdoor vehicle exhaust and cigarette smoke can be easily drawn into a building’s heating and ventilation system, accidentally cycling pollutants into living areas. Biological contaminants like mold, bacteria, pollen, and viruses can also easily create inhospitable working environments. 

Reclaiming Your Air

Luckily, you have some options to make sure you’re not living in an unhealthy environment on a daily basis. The EPA recommends performing a building walkthrough to address easily recognizable contaminants like mold, paint, and adhesives. You may also want to work with a professional to determine that your HVAC equipment is functioning at proper levels, which may include actually increasing your ventilation rates.

Some of the simplest fixes can be the most helpful ones — sufficient lighting, comfortable temperature, and adequate humidity are crucial to a healthy space. The importance of access to natural light cannot be overstated, and contributes significantly to overall mood and contentment.

One of the most proactive solutions, however, is to buy a quality personal air purifier, which ensures that your breathing space is always clean and healthy — and some of the best models in the industry are available through Rabbit Air. Whatever your method, maintaining a hospitable living environment and curating fresh air is critical to healthy living and working. We spend most of our time inside, and that time shouldn’t, under any circumstances, be detrimental to our health.

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What Is Indoor Air Quality and Why Does it Matter?

Thomas Angermann/flickr

We hear the words “indoor air quality” get thrown around quite a bit, but what are they actually referring to?

Indoor air quality (IAQ), also known as “indoor environmental quality,” measures how the air inside a given building impacts a person’s overall health and comfort. According to a study by the EPA, the air quality inside a typical home is up to five times more polluted than the air outside. Considering the fact that the average American spends approximately 90% of his or her time indoors, the impact of IAQ is of significant concern to nearly everyone.

Typical indoor air pollutants can easily lead to an assortment of ailments, including eye, nose, and throat irritation, headaches and dizziness, respiratory disease, heart disease, and even cancer.

What Qualifies as “Good” Air Quality?

A building with good IAQ will be adequately ventilated, allowing the space to maintain a comfortable temperature and humidity along with a steady supply of fresh air from outside. That being said, it’s important that the building is structurally sound so that both indoor and outdoor pollutants are kept under control.

What Causes Bad Air Quality?

Bad IAQ can be traced to a wide variety of sources. Most IAQ problems originate from indoor pollutants that release gases or harmful particles into the air. Problems can arise when poor ventilation prevents enough outdoor air from circulating in and out to sufficiently dilute the harmful emissions.

Indoor sources of pollution include gas stoves, tobacco products and furnaces, which can release toxic by-products like carbon monoxide directly into the home environment. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and chemicals found in certain types of paints, cleaning products, building materials, and insecticides can also be somewhat dangerous.

Bad IAQ can also originate from outdoor sources — outdoor air pollutants can enter buildings through open windows, doors, ventilation systems, and improperly sealed structures. Some pollutants, like radon, can even creep in through a building’s faulty or dilapidated foundations.

Humidity is also a principal concern when it comes to IAQ. Inadequate moisture levels can lead to airborne illnesses and respiratory attacks stemming from chronic dryness in the nose, throat, and bronchial membrane. Conversely, an excessively humid environment can result in harmful molds and fungi. Indoor humidity levels should remain somewhere between 30-50%, with the ideal level being about 45%.

How Can I Improve My IAQ?

With all of these potential pollutants to contend with, good IAQ can often feel impossibly out of reach. There are, however, a number of ways that you can improve the air quality in your home without stretching your resources too thin.

The first step is identifying a space’s principal sources of indoor air pollution and removing as many of them as possible. The levels of dust and other dirty particles can be greatly reduced just by vacuuming once a week. Linens and stuffed toys should be washed regularly, and household chemicals and cleaning supplies should be stored securely and used sparingly.

It’s also important to keep tabs on the structural integrity of your home or workplace. Make sure that windows are sealed properly and building foundations are solid and crack-free. Radon and carbon monoxide detectors are also a helpful line of defense, and can alert you to the presence of undetectable hazards before it’s too late.

Technology Is Your Friend

While keeping your home neat and tidy is certainly helpful in terms of improving IAQ, sweeping and vacuuming can only go so far. Innovative technologies, however, can help you get the jump on harmful indoor pollutants before they get the chance to negatively impact your health.

A quality air filtration system, like the Rabbit Air BioGS 2.0, can capture particles that are small enough to escape through the vacuum and remain airborne indefinitely. The BioGS 2.0 employs a four-stage purification and deodorization system that captures everything from dust-mites and pollen, to car exhaust and VOCs. At the end of the day, the struggle for better IAQ will be significantly easier if you’re willing to do the research and utilize the proper tools.

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