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The Air Quality Blog by Rabbit Air

How Do Air Purifiers Help With Asthma?
Asthma, a chronic disease that affects 26 million Americans, is an inflammation to the air passages that results in a temporary narrowing of the airways that carry oxygen to the lungs. Causing nearly 2 million emergency room visits ever year, asthma sufferers should take caution as there are many factors and triggers in your home that can cause an asthma attack.

 

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Stop, Drop and Prevention

While there are medications for asthma, the first line of defense should be identifying possible asthma triggers as prevention and environmental control can minimize asthma symptoms from the beginning. Some asthma triggers and ways to manage them are:

  • Smoke: Inhaling smoke from cigarettes and cigars can cause an inflammation of the bronchial tubes. This produces an excess of mucus production, which in turn leads to cough and phlegm. Prolonged smoking can also create an irreversible narrowing of the bronchial tubes from inflammation and scarring that can cause permanent breathing problems. Smoke from wood burning and fires also contain harmful gases and small particles, so areas that are affected by fire should be avoided to prevent particles from being inhaled.
Although staying far away from a smoker is highly recommended, if someone insists on smoking indoors, have a well ventilated    room or use an air purifier with an effective Charcoal Based Activated Carbon filter to help trap harmful chemicals and toxins that can get dispersed from smoke. For those who want an extra layer of filtration against odors, the MinusA2 from Rabbit Air gives you the option of choosing an Odor Remover Customized filter option that increases the efficiency of trapping odors to 91%.
  • Dust Mites: Dust mites are tiny bugs that feed off your dead skin and can be found in mattresses, carpets, furniture and bedding. They thrive in moist and humid environments and peak around July and August due to the weather. If you have asthma, dust mites can trigger an asthma attack, so prevention is important to keep dust mites at bay. Put airtight plastic dust-mite covers on pillows, mattresses, and box springs and wash all bedding in very hot water (over 130 degrees Fahrenheit) and dry in a hot dryer. It’s also recommended to vacuum your home with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter to trap the microscopic dust mites.
  • Pets: Pet allergies are very common, and for the 15 to 30 percent of Americans who suffer from them, relief can be hard to obtain. Pet dander, which are dead skin cells from animals, fur, saliva, and even urine, are allergens that can be transported via clothing and other surfaces, so even if a home has never had an animal inhabitant, the allergens can still become settled into a home. Washing your hands after petting an animal, and using a HEPA vacuum cleaner or air purifier, can be beneficial in helping trap the allergens. Since pet dander can also stick to your walls, wiping down surfaces is also a good step.
  • Mold: Mold can be found both indoors and outdoors, and while everyone breathes in airborne mold spores, in some, this can trigger asthmatic symptoms. If you find that you have mold, it will have to be removed from the source, and in some cases, professionally. But once the mold has been removed, it is recommended that an air purifier or whole house air system that uses a HEPA filter be used to trap any airborne mold spores from regrouping and taking over your home again.

Technologies

While air purifiers can be an asthma sufferer’s best friend, we should not assume that they are all the same.

  • HEPA filters (high-efficiency particulate air) were developed during World War II to prevent the spread of radioactive particles and are the most effective ways to trap airborne particles, such as bacteria, viruses, smoke and pollen. To qualify as a true HEPA filter, the air filter must be able to capture airborne allergens and contaminants down to 0.3 microns in size, 99.97% of the time.
  • Stay away from air purifiers that create ozone, a known respiratory irritant, such as Electrostatic Precipitators and ozone generators.
  • A whole-house air cleaner may be used if your home is heated or air-conditioned through ducts. HVAC systems include replacement filters that range from less than a dollar to about $20 and are designed to reduce the accumulation of dust and dirt in the ducts and coils of the system. Simple filters, while inexpensive, need to be replaced every month or two, and only remove large particles, not the small particles in the house that are inhaled into the lungs while the more efficient replacement filters (usually for 6 to 20 dollars each) will remove many smaller particles and are often pleated or coated with an electrostatic charge. 

Know your environment before purchasing replacement filters as some can become clogged quickly in dusty environments, reducing airflow through the system and causing a reduction in the heating or cooling efficiency.

  • Another option for your home is a permanent whole-house air cleaner, which can be added to an HVAC system, but the cost is several hundred to a few thousand dollars for the unit and the installation. Other disadvantages include frequent maintenance of the plates, the need to keep the fan running continuously (24/7) to clean the air, and the electricity cost and noise associated with the large blower fan running continuously. 

Although an air purifier can trap particles, such as dust, pollen and chemicals, it can only trap them in the general area of the air purifier and the room that they are placed in. It cannot trap particles that have already settled onto objects, such as furniture, beds, carpets, and if the source of the allergens is a pet, as animals release dander and fur continually. Depending on the air purifier and the size of your room, most room cleaners take 15-30 minutes to remove particulates in the air, and for the most effective use, it is recommended to have the air purifier operating in your room 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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 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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5 Things You May Not Know About the Air Quality in Your Home

The majority of our lives are spent indoors, whether sleeping, in school or working. Unfortunately, the lack of ventilation found in many homes and buildings can result in higher quantities of contaminants, creating poor indoor air quality. This, in turn, can result in a number of health ailments. The type of air you breathe in your own house has quite the effect on your life in general. Here are five things you may not know about the air quality in your home.

A Little Mold Can Have Big Effects
Mold finds its ideal home when the tiny spores locate an area containing moisture. It doesn’t have to be a large area of wetness or even an obvious one, so if you have had a flood, a broken pipe or a slow leak, you want to be proactive in drying the area and getting humidity under control. Once mold finds its way in, it quickly becomes invasive, growing and damaging your property at a rather fast pace. However, it can affect more than just the structure of a building. Mold is transferred in small spores that are lightweight and easily airborne, making it easy to breathe in the contaminants without realizing it. For someone with an allergy to mold, this can result in sneezing, rashes, itching and other symptoms of hay-fever. It can also exacerbate asthmatic symptoms. Even if allergies aren’t present, mold can irritate one's eyes, skin, and respiratory system. Extended exposure can result in even more serious conditions and ailments. While the first step is to remove the conditions that helped create the mold in the home, such as fixing leaks and ensuring all areas are dry, the air needs to be purified as well to ensure the airborne spores have been removed.  

Better Air Quality = Higher productivity
If you have a home office, you might want to take measures to increase your air quality if you want to get more out of your workday. A study published by the International Centre for Indoor Environment and Energy, an organization from the Technical University of Denmark, shows that the better the indoor air quality is, the higher the output of productivity you can achieve. In fact, there can be upwards of a 9 percent difference based solely on the air around you. While it may cost a little extra to make the initial changes, it is projected that those particular expenses can be recouped by the boost of productivity that will come afterwards.

Radon May Be Present
Radon may sound like something out of a science-fiction film, but unfortunately it’s more than just a fictional plot twist in many homes. When naturally occurring uranium breaks down in the soil, radon is released. Openings in your home that are near this part of the earth can become a portal for the odorless, colorless – and very dangerous -- gas to enter your home. It can be a slow but deadly process. Once it is breathed in, it breaks down further in your lungs, resulting in increasing damage to your respiratory tissue. Over 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year are now being attributed to radon poisoning.

Pets Affect Air Quality
Most people associate pet allergies with an animal’s fur. However, this isn’t actually the case. The allergen is found in the dander (dead skin cells that have been discarded) and secreted fluids from the animal’s saliva or urine. These allergens can easily attach themselves to the hair, which is why the presence of the fur is commonly associated with allergic reactions. However, even when that fur is cleaned from an area, that doesn’t mean the dander is gone. Micro in size, dander is lightweight and can become airborne for some time before finding another surface on which to attach itself, whether fabric, flooring, carpets or clothing. Vacuuming and dusting can remove some,  but these activities also stir up the air, causing some dust and dander to become airborne again. Even if a person with an allergy keeps their distance from a pet, they are still exposed to the dander simply by breathing in the air, which can trigger an allergic reaction. Air purification is necessary to filter out these pollutants that are too small to be visible, thus difficult to remove by manual cleaning methods.

What Gets Inside Stays Inside
Today’s homes are built with amazing precision and with much tighter construction, which is usually viewed as a positive characteristic. After all, that means warm air stays in during winter months, less conditioned air seeps out in the summer, and nature is kept outdoors. Unfortunately, this all means there is less natural ventilation in today’s homes. When doors and windows are opened, outdoor pollutants that make their way in can’t easily make their way back out again. This also goes for indoor contaminants such as chemicals associated with cleaning products, byproducts of heat sources, allergens, smoke and pet dander, which become trapped.

The risks associated with poor air quality are seldom visible to the naked eye, making them difficult to pinpoint and rectify. It is important to remain vigilant in removing pollutants from the air you breathe in your own home with purification and continued testing to ensure it remains the highest of quality.

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Using an Air Purifier for Pets and Pet Dander

 If you’re like many Americans, your pets are as much a part of your family as the kids. They love you unconditionally, they think you can do no wrong, and they seldom roll their eyes at you. While their furry little selves can be a comfort to their humans, they can also have quite the impact on the air quality inside your home. Over 60 percent of households today include pets, with many of the animals spending all or at least part of their time indoors. Since our furry friends clearly aren’t going anywhere, the next best bet for an animal lover is the use of an air purifier throughout the home.

Breathing Easy

When people have allergies to animals, it is not the actual hair they are allergic to but the dander from discarded skin cells or fluids secreted by the animal that attaches to the hair. These are the actual allergens causing the reaction, however it is so small that we often assume that the larger particle that we can see, the pet’s hair, is the cause. The dander can adhere to just about any object throughout the house, including furniture, walls, carpets and other flooring. The animal doesn’t need to be in close contact to the area where the allergens land as the small particles can be airborne for quite some time. The fluids are often produced through urine and saliva and can remain on surfaces and in areas where there has been contact. Both the fluids and dander easily attach themselves to a pet’s coat.

Dander and the allergens in fluid are both micro in size and can be difficult to eliminate. A person cannot locate them with the naked eye and so often doesn’t even realize the severity of the issue in their home. It can take reoccurring respiratory ailments or allergy attacks before many realize the source of the issue is in their own living space. Asthma sufferers can be affected greatly by this. About a quarter of those with asthma have allergies to animals or have severe sensitivities, which can result in tightening of the chest and wheezing when they come into contact. Since dander can remain in the air for a while, cleaning surfaces have no effect on removal of many of the allergens. Air purifiers work specifically to remove these small particles from the air, decreasing the occurrence of both respiratory and dermal ailments.

Due to its lightweight size, dander is easily transferred. Even if you do not have pets, there is likely dander in your home, as well as in public spaces that you frequent such as schools, stores, offices and hospitals. Petting, holding or being licked by an animal is a surefire way to become a vehicle for it but even visiting an area where dander has been present can result in the same. The airborne particles can attach to ­hair and clothing, moving into your personal space with you none the wiser.

Removing Odors

Pet odors don’t just come from having dogs and cats. Birds, gerbils, ferrets, guinea pigs, and even fish at times can create strong and unwelcome odors in your home. A quick fix is to use a deodorizer or air freshener that is sprayed throughout the room containing the offensive smell. Unfortunately, that technique simply masks the problem without eliminating the cause. In addition, you are often spraying chemicals and newer – albeit prettier smelling – pollutants into your living space. Using an air purifier can get to the root of the problem, removing the actual odor causing particles. ­­

Traditional Cleaning

While traditional cleaning methods do make an impact on the air quality of your home in relation to pet dander and the allergens that come with it, it may not be the impact you are thinking. When you vacuum or dust, large surface pollutants may be removed but many times allergens that are too small to be visible are sent flying. Disrupting areas in your carpet where dander has settled can actually increase the amount of allergens that become present in the air you and your family then breathe. Coupling traditional cleaning methods with a filtering system assists in removing these disrupted particles from the air quickly before they find their way into your lungs.

How Purifiers Can Affect Your Pets

Having an air purifier in the home can be as advantageous to your pets as to the human residents. It is not uncommon for animals to have allergies themselves and removing allergens from the air can help to reduce their symptoms, such as scratching, biting, or licking their paws and legs. Animals, especially those of the smaller variety, can also be sensitive to chemicals released from cleaning products and synthetic fragrances. Mold particles can also cause detriment to your furry friend. When pollutants are removed from the air, their respiratory system benefits much in the same way yours does.

Having pets in your home should be a positive part of your life without causing worry as to how their dander is affecting your indoor air quality. Making a simple change such as placing an air purifier in your home can help you and your pets breathe easy and maintain a clean and healthy lifestyle.

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What Is a HEPA Air Purifier?

Most everyone knows and understands that the air outside is full of pollutants that can irritate the respiratory system and make allergies and asthma worse. What many people do not realize is that the air inside their homes can be just as polluted, and cause just as many health issues, as the air in a big city. Those who suffer daily with allergies, sneezing, itchy eyes, or chronic coughing know just how frustrating it can be to live in an environment that keeps them from feeling 100 percent. As a result, many are on the lookout for a way to improve the air quality inside their homes in order to find a little relief. A HEPA air purifier can be that relief if used properly and if the right one is chosen.

What Is HEPA?
A HEPA filter is also called a high-efficiency particulate air filter. The United States Department of Energy has certain standards in place that an air filter has to meet in order to be qualified as a true HEPA filter. According to those government standards, an air purifier must remove 99.97 percent of particulates at an incredibly small size (0.3 microns) from the air that passes through it to earn a true HEPA standing. These small particles include pet dander, mold, dust mites, and pollen. Larger particulates are usually filtered even more efficiently, being almost completely removed from the air.

Who Uses HEPA Filters?
While many people like to have a HEPA air purifier in their homes to ensure that their air quality is at the best level possible, there are many other uses for these filters in different industries. Some of the other applications include:

  • Hospitals
  • Laboratories
  • Aircraft
  • Cars

When HEPA filters are used in places such as medical facilities, many incorporate UV light to help kill off any live bacteria that could be a threat to the health of patients.

How do HEPA Filters Work?
Removing particles from the air inside your home is the main job of a HEPA air purifier. These machines do so with the help of filter mats that are inside the purifier. The mats are composed of fibers arranged in a random pattern that trap the particulates, keeping them from getting back out into the air. In order to function properly, a HEPA filter uses three mechanisms to ensure that particles are caught when travelling through the mats:

  • Impaction: Where particles stick to any fibers that close to
  • Interception: Where large particles run into the fibers directly
  • Diffusion: Where the smallest particles collide with gas molecules, impeding their way through the filter.

By forcing the air in your home through these fine mesh traps, you are able to get rid of the majority of the pollutants that are causing you problems.

Choosing a HEPA Filter
These days, there are many knock-off air purifiers that do not meet HEPA standards. Some products claim to be “HEPA-like” or even “99 Percent HEPA.” Unfortunately, if a filter does not meet the Department of Energy’s standards, it will not provide the air-cleaning power that a true HEPA filter will. When choosing a HEPA filter, watch out for phrases that suggest that the purifier does not actually meet HEPA requirements. Make sure that whatever product you choose to buy is up to par and will do the job that you need it to do. Some of the other factors you should consider before you make a purchase include the following:

  • Is the purifier large enough for the room where you intend to use it?
  • Does the purifier emit any unhealthy byproducts, such as ozone?
  • Do you need professional installation?

Doing a little research beforehand can leave you with a purchase that you feel comfortable with and that you will be happier about in the long run.

Whole Home Versus Single Room Filters
There are a few ways that you can use a HEPA air purifier in your home, but two of the most common include filtering the air in a single room with a small machine or filtering all of the air in your home with a whole-house filter. Deciding which option is right for you depends on your budget and your specific needs.

A single room filter is best used in the room or rooms where you spend most of your time. Many people prefer to install purifiers in their bedrooms, since a huge portion of their time is spent sleeping. Others would rather use the purifier in their home’s living spaces so that all residents can enjoy the benefits of cleaner air.

A whole-home system can be used in conjunction with an HVAC system, but requires installation by a professional. However, having all of the air in your entire home purified from the particles that negatively affect your health can be a huge benefit that many homeowners enjoy.

No matter which HEPA air purifier you choose to have in your home, you can reap the benefits of cleaner air and reduced respiratory irritation caused by common household pollutants.

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New Research on Trees and Air Quality

New Tree Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are shedding some light on an air quality mystery that has had scientists stumped for some time.  While we know that plants have a positive effect on air quality by helping to remove carbon dioxide from the air and providing us with oxygen, scientists had long suspected that isoprene, a molecule emitted by trees as a means of protecting their leaves from harm, played a part in creating particulate air pollution; they just were not sure how.   Surprisingly, the study found that when the isoprene molecule was heated by the sun, it reacted with nitrogen oxides in the atmosphere to create tiny particulate matter that became suspended in the air, which has the possibility to cause or exacerbate respiratory ailments, such as asthma.

But wait! Don’t blame the trees for these dangerous particulates – it is the abundance of nitrogen oxide that is the real problem. These polluting chemicals are man-made by-products of cars, factories, and other coal burning sources.  The more that scientists investigate the ways that particulate pollution occurs, the more effective our efforts at improving our air will be.  Over the past decade many major cities in the United States have been able to improve their air quality, but smog and ozone remain in much higher concentrations than what is healthy.  We can help to continue reducing these levels by being mindful about our daily choices – for example, making efforts to carpool or switching from plastic bags to reusable canvas ones. As we work on decreasing the amount of pollutants emitted into the atmosphere, we can protect ourselves from particulate matter by monitoring city air pollution levels before leaving the house, and by filtering particulates out of our indoor air by using an air purifier with a true HEPA filter like our MinusA2.

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The Benefits of an Air Purifier for Your Vacation Home

Summer is just around the corner, and many families are getting ready to start going to their vacation homes. While many have fun accessories at their vacation homes, like a pool, barbecue grill or an outdoor deck for entertaining, most have forgotten one of the most important accessories for their vacation homes: an air purifier. Let’s talk about the benefits of adding a HEPA air purifier to your vacation home.

An air purifier can add a little fresh air to a stale house. You’ve probably noticed when you first go to “air out” your vacation house that it smells a little stale. This is because it has been sealed or boarded up all winter long. If you’re like most, you haven’t been there in months! Running an air purifier while you are there will help make the air fresher, smell better, and even make it better for you to breathe. While we’re not advising you to stop opening your windows to freshen the air in your homes, turning on your purifier will help keep your vacation home fresher and allow you to breathe high quality air for you and your family.

CHARLES WELEK Charles Welek, Realtor, poses in front of a vacation home in Lake Ozark. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Having a home by the beach can have its challenges when it comes to air. Many beach vacation homes have the tendency to attract mold. If you have someone in the family with a mold allergy, be careful of mold spores as they can trigger allergic reactions. While you need to remove and/or clean the mold from the home – an air purifier in addition to this process will remove the tiny mold spores that still stay in the air after you’ve cleaned or gotten rid of the mold.

A Great Way To Welcome Guests

There’s nothing like a deep, relaxing night of sleep in a vacation home. There’s also nothing more memorable than tossing and turning, and not being able to sleep in someone’s vacation home. We’ve probably had both experiences, and we all know which one we’d rather have again! Putting an air purifier in your guest room will purify the air and let your guests breathe deeper and sleep more sounder. Any guest staying with you will certainly appreciate this thoughtful touch.

The Perfect Addition To Your Baby Or Child’s Room

Today, many air purifiers are “whisper quiet” so there’s usually no worry about an air purifier keeping your child up at night. If you’ve used one at home, you’ll especially want to use a purifier in your vacation home. Not only will your child sleep deeper and more comfortably, you’ll have the peace of  mind knowing that they’re sleeping with healthy, clean air.

Air purifiers are easy to maintain in your vacation home. While some things need a lot of maintenance, your air purifier doesn’t have to be one of them. When you arrive at your vacation home, you’ll want to bring extra filters for your air purifiers so that you can be sure to start your vacation on a clean slate. Check that your air purifier turns on and that all the functions work, just as you would with any appliance you haven’t used in awhile. That’s it!

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