Celebrate Indoor Air Quality Month with Filters Fast

Halloween isn’t the only thing to celebrate this month. October is National Indoor Air Quality Month, and several states, including North Dakota, Michigan and Montana are celebrating by spreading the word about the dangers of harmful indoor (and outdoor) air contaminants.

Seasonal changes often result in higher incidences of allergy problems and illnesses. Pollen is prevalent in the spring and fall opens the door to ragweed. Asthma, often caused by air pollution, is a growing epidemic among children and adults, resulting in missed school and work days, along with emergency room visits, and in extreme cases, even death. Indoor air pollution deserves way more attention than it currently receives. Though many people are aware of air contaminants such as mold, tobacco smoke and carbon monoxide, they may not be fully aware of just how dangerous these allergens can be. It is important to raise awareness and educate others on how they can avoid the problems caused by air pollution.

Here are some tips to help you improve the indoor air quality in your home:

1. Take our Indoor Air Quality Quiz to find out how dangerous your home environment is.

2. Quit smoking and avoid secondhand tobacco smoke.

3. Regularly change the A/C filters and microwave and hood range filters in your home.  Air filters with a higher MERV rating are more efficient at removing microscopic particles. You may also want to purchase an air purifier.

4. Use a HEPA vacuum cleaner and change the HEPA filter regularly.

5. Clean furniture regularly (more if you have pets in your home). Use non-toxic household cleaning products. Use hypoallergenic bedding.

Like any other national holiday, the  month of October is a time for recognition and remembrance – specifically the recognition of the importance of clean air. Join the observance and celebrate by spreading the word and sharing this post.

Go Green for Independence Day

This Fourth of July, some environmentalists are ditching the traditional red, white and blue patriotic fireworks display in favor of a greener option. The environmental pollution caused by fireworks has been a concern for several years, but the smoke in the air is even more potent this year in La Jolla, CA. An environmentalist group is suing the city in an effort to stop the fireworks display, which is of particular concern because it takes place near one of the most biologically important marine areas in California.  The court hearing was set to take place today.

Fireworks contain toxic heavy metals that are linked, not only to air and water pollution, but also to cancer and respiratory problems. And this does not just affect the La Jolla community. Many people around the country will celebrate with fireworks this Independence Day, despite the potential harm to personal and environmental health.

If reading this doesn’t make you want to do away with the fireworks altogether, perhaps you should look into other, more eco-friendly options.  This list of creative ways to celebrate the Fourth of July bypasses the typical fireworks display in favor of more educational ways to mark the day’s importance, like visiting a local cemetery in honor of war veterans or throwing a patriotic-themed potluck party. If you must insist on lighting some fireworks, consider the nitrogen-rich variety, which produce less toxic fumes and smoke.

American Lung Association State of the Air 2010

May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month.  For some of you this is an understatement.  You may be thinking, “Well, of course it is.  I was well aware of asthma and allergies when I walked outside this morning, saw what I thought was my car covered in a thick yellow mist, and began sneezing fifteen times in a row.”

It’s easy to be aware of something when the majority of the United States population is suffering because of it.  Many people attribute this suffering to pollen, but pollen doesn’t deserve all of the credit.  Automobile emissions and coal-fired power plants are among some of the largest contributors to particle and ozone pollution.  The State of the Air 2010, recently published by the American Lung Association, found that despite great progress, over half of U.S. residents live in cities where the air is unsafe to breathe.

The ALA’s State of the Air 2010 ranks cities in three categories for 2006, 2007 and 2008: ozone air pollution, year-round particle pollution and short-term particle pollution.  Among the most polluted cities in all three categories are Bakersfield and Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, Calif.  Fargo, N.D. and Lincoln, Neb. ranked among the cleanest cities in all three categories.  Use the “Report Card” on the left hand side of the State of the Air website to determine your area’s ranking.

Environmental air pollution causes many health problems, and long term exposure can significantly decrease life expectancy, not to mention, quality of life, as many of us have witnessed in the midst of countless sneezing fits.  According to the ALA, people who work or exercise outside are at a greater risk.  However, indoor air pollution is also a threat to your health, as you may recall from one of our older posts.  The ALA lists several things you can do to reduce air pollution outdoors, but don’t forget to take steps to improve the indoor air quality of your home and office buildings, as well, with a high quality air filter.