Friday, October 03, 2008

The Fall of Sharper Image’s Ionic Breeze Ushers in a New Age of Air Purifiers

When Air Purifiers burst onto the scene, Sharper Image’s Ionic Breeze quickly became a household name and alerted people with the importance of air purifiers. After a couple of rough years and a flurry of controversy about the its actual effectiveness, the Ionic Breeze began to fade from the public's mind. However, the importance of air purifiers began to grow. New technology, smaller and more energy efficient machines began to permeate the market. While the Sharper Image might have made air purifiers “cool”, other companies made them work and have been taking the time to educate the public about these important tools.

2007 has showed that Air Purifiers are no longer just a “niche” market. They have had over 511.2 million dollars in sale alone. The internet is the leading source of sales and information about air purifiers. Consumers go online to discover vital information about new technology, trends and consumer reports. Vendors have also learned from Sharper Image by making information readily available to potential buyers, to help educate them about the importance and difference between the various types of air purifiers.

Air purifiers offer plenty of options to get desired effects. A fallout from Sharper Image’s Ionic Breeze, is the effectiveness of HEPA technology. HEPA filters can remove 99.97% of airborne materials down to the 0.3-micrometer. These filters are often used in hospitals for their effectiveness. It is important to make sure to purchase a true HEPA product and not on labeled “HEPA-type”, “HEPA-like” or “99% HEPA” as they do not perform effectively when compared to HEPA.

Other market trends include the rise of portable air cleaners. These are great for rooms outside the home whether in offices or dorm rooms. Perhaps one of the reason of the gain in popularity is that people are not content to have clean air merely at home. They realize it is important to keep air clean where germs have the largest area to spread. Companies have taken this opportunity to add different styles, shapes and colors to their models letting consumers pick portable air purifiers for that suit them best. Air Sanitizers are adding to the variety of air purifiers.

Of, course companies have decided to offer “green” air purifiers designed specifically to be eco-friendly and energy efficient. An Energy Star Label goes a surprisingly long way to reassure customers that they are purchasing an energy efficient product that will save them money on their electric bill.

Outside of creating more effective air purifiers, companies have been including additional features on air purifiers like change-filter indicators and sensors or automatic fan control to detect air quality. Vornado Air Circulation Systems marketing director Mark Zarich has this to say. “Most of us are trying to establish a path for consumers to believe in after the Ionic Breeze fell…Consumers want to have a healthier home environment.”

By no means is the air purifier dead, after the Ionic Breeze. Studies have shown that customers still crave them, they only wish a more information and more variety. You can expect that as time goes on air purifiers will offer more options, be even more effective and have new designs that you will never have to hide in the room.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Combat Your Allergies with your Portable Air-Conditioner? Who knew?

Reader's Digest recently had an article about the top twenty ways to combat those annoying summer allergies. As I skimmed through, I found most of the concepts I expected: Eat fruit with vitamin C, don't let your pets on your bed, and clean your furniture often.

What I didn't expect to see was number three: Turn on your AC.

Turn on your air conditioner to supplement anti-bacterial activities? If it would've said "air purifier," I wouldn't have given it a second thought, but an air conditioner? As I read on, though, it started to make more sense. Air conditioners have natural dehumidifying properties, meaning they remove moisture from the air, making it less humid. "So what?" I said, but what I didn't realize was that bacteria loves moist areas, and when the air itself is really moist, then your lungs can become the perfect breeding ground for microbes that make your throat itch, your eyes dry and red, and your nose run. Keeping a dry, more sterile environment makes things uncomfortable for bacteria breeding, on top of the fact that all portable air conditioners, wall air conditioners, and central air conditioners have some sort of air filter to block debris and bugs from being sucked in and pumped into your home. The air filter is also key to keeping the allergen levels low. Make sure to check it and clean it often.
Concurrently, you can go the extra mile and get a portable air conditioner with an actual air purifier within it. This saves you having to go out and buy two seperate appliances, and saves you space and energy costs in your home. A few portable air conditioners with this all-in-one feature set are the NewAir ACP1000E and ACP1000H, and the NewAir ACP1300E and 1300H. These four units are great for medium to large size rooms, the "H" models have a built-in heater as well, and they ALL have ionic air purifiers inside, so you can cool off, heat up, and keep your nose dry, your asthma risk low, and sinuses unclogged. They're all pretty reasonably priced, too, especially for how much you get out of one little box. Naturally, they dehumidify the air as well, keeping the moist, bacteria-friendly humidity to a minimum.

So while it might sound strange to think that a machine that sucks in outside air can actually make the air inside your home cleaner and free of allergens, the proof is in the purifier! So turn on those portable AC's this summer and keep your body cool and your lungs healthy.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Cleansing Power of the Sun in the NewAir ACP-1400E and ACP-1400H

Air purifiers and central heating and air systems have used UV (ultra violet) lamps to destroy unhealthy, airborne bacteria for some time now, but it's a relatively new trend in portable air conditioners. UV lamps are installed into HVAC systems, where they irradiate AC coils and kill bacteria in the stagnant waters of drip pans, on top of the main purpose of keeping the air pumped out cleaner and healthier.

But what about the millions of Americans that are apartment-bound or in other rental situations? Usually they're at the mercy of ancient room air conditioners that are only up to the air-quality standards of twenty years ago, and they're the lucky ones! Many have to spend the unbearable summer months at the mercy of electric fans stuck inside a window, which not only do a mediocre job of actually cooling a room, but have no sort of filtration system to purify the polluted air it's pulling in and pushing right down into their lungs.

The solution to this problem has been, in recent years, the portable air conditioner, and they've done a great job at incorporating some of the qualities of an air purifier into their standard operations. Most come with at least some sort of HEPA filter or carbon filter to keep the big microbes and dust particles from circulating back into the room, but what about going that one step further? As I stated earlier, the bigger HVAC systems and air purifiers have been using UV lamps to kill even more bacteria for some time now, so why have portable air conditioners (and heaters), on the whole, not followed suit?

Thankfully, one portable air conditioning company, NewAir, realizes that the future should not only be climate controlled for people in all living situations, but they should have every opportunity to breathe the cleanest air they can, and that means taking that extra step and bringing UV technology to the "central-air-impaired" masses.

One of the first of its kind, the NewAir ACP-1400E (portable air conditioner) and NewAir ACP-1400H (portable air conditioner and heater) do their utmost to give you the power to relax in the most comofortable and clean environment possible. This model not only uses germicidal UV lamp technology to kill bacteria, but has both a carbon filter, washable dust filter, and ionizer to keep the circulating air sterile. The ACP-1400H also has a built in heater, giving you clean, healthy comfort all year round. NewAir wants to be a company you can trust, and does not overrate their portable air conditioners' power ratings. The ACP-1400E and ACP1400H are rated at 14,000 BTU's, and actually have that cooling capacity in reality. Other comapanies inflate their ratings, on top of the fact that they aren't using the lastest purification technology, as NewAir does.

Hopefully, with the ACP-1400E and ACP-1400H, NewAir will be setting a new standard for the ideal portable air conditioner, so help them, and the health of everyone that comes into your home, by checking these units out, and let the other companies know that you and your family won't settle for anything less than the benchmark set by the NewAir ACP-1400E and NewAir-1400H, so that, in time, more and more people can beat the heat, and beat those microscopic menaces!

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Friday, April 04, 2008

Why Buy a HEPA Vacuum Cleaner?

For the past few years, numerous studies and government organizations have sung the praises of HEPA filters, and this was especially true immediately after the September 11 attacks. Due to the potential for contaminated dusts from the World Trade Center Disaster and other hazardous airborne substances, this has prompted the need for appropriate air filtration systems, and HEPA has been shown to be most effective.

As an acronym for “High Efficiency Particulate Air,” HEPA filters originated in the 1940’s and were introduced to commercial markets shortly thereafter. A True HEPA filter has the ability to remove up to 99.97% of particulates 0.3 microns or larger, including contaminants such as dust, animal dander, smoke, mold, and other allergens. Thus, HEPA filters are most often used in air purifiers and cleaners.

However, in addition to air filtration devices, HEPA filters can now be found in many other appliances such as vacuum cleaners because of their ability to remove allergens from the air in a room. A HEPA vacuum cleaner is a vacuum that utilizes a HEPA filter as the last filtration stage, and because traditional vacuum cleaners tend to kick up large amounts of dust, HEPA vacuum cleaners are especially useful for those suffering from respiratory problems such as allergy and asthma.

With that said, when selecting a HEPA vacuum cleaner, be sure the model utilizes a True HEPA filter, as lesser grade filters with names like “HEPA-like” are not as efficient when it comes to particle abatement. Also, it is equally important to ensure that the vacuum be designed and constructed so that all the air taken in is passed through the HEPA filter before it is exhausted (often referred to as a “HEPA sealed system”).

Lastly, when comparing different HEPA vacuum cleaners, keep in mind that HEPA vacuum cleaners are usually more expensive than conventional vacuums. Also consider factors such as the cost of replacement bags and filters; noise levels; and performance specifications like CFM, water lift; and the power of the motor.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Can Your Cat’s Allergies Make Yours Worse?

Springtime not only brings warmer weather, but also seasonal allergies as well. Hay fever-like symptoms are common, as are exacerbated allergy and asthma side effects, but it’s interesting to note that humans aren’t the only ones who suffer. Blooming grasses, flowers, and plants can also trigger allergic reactions in dogs and cats, and this will often lead pets to persistently scratching, licking, and biting to get relief.

Unfortunately, when your pets suffer from allergies, your symptoms can also be affected. Particularly in cats, the real culprit behind cat allergies stems from cat saliva, and not fur, as commonly thought. This allergen is called Fel d1, and when a cat licks or bites itself, the saliva is deposited on its fur. This saliva then dries into dust which is released when your cat scratches, moves, or when stroked or brushed by humans. With that in mind, if your cat is itching, it will bite and scratch to get relief, and this will disperse more of the Fel d 1 allergen into the air you breathe – making your allergies even worse.

To counter pet allergies, many people try to regularly brush the animal, vacuum, change coverings, and even use sticky rollers on clothing, but cat hair can still end up floating in the air. Allergy furnace filters and air purifiers can keep you from sneezing, but what about your cat’s allergies?

While the above methods work well at keeping pet allergies to a minimum, one of the best ways to control pet allergies is to address the problem before it begins, and the key to minimizing pet dander is to keep your cat’s skin properly moisturized. In warm, arid climates, cats tend to shed because of dry skin, and installing a humidifier can help alleviate this problems. Switching your cat’s food from dry kibble to canned will also work, as this introduces more moisture into your cat’s skin from within.

Following this advice is sure to keep you and your pet’s allergy symptoms at bay.

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Are You Breathing in Polluted Air?

We often think that air pollution only occurs outdoors, but unfortunately, studies have repeatedly shown that the air inside our homes or offices can be many times more polluted than the air outside due to building materials, smoke, and consumer products. In fact, according to a 1987 study conducted by the EPA, indoor air pollution was ranked fourth in cancer risk among the top 13 environmental problems analyzed. Also, because buildings constructed after the 1970’s were built to be more air-tight and energy efficient, these indoor pollutants can build up at a much higher rate than outdoor levels.

Therefore, to educate the public on the effects of indoor air pollution, the California Air Resources Board has published information about the sources and potential health effects of indoor air pollutants in an attempt to educate the public. Here is a brief overview:

Pollutant: Tobacco smoke
Major Indoor Sources: Cigarettes, cigars, and pipes
Potential Health Effects: Respiratory irritation, bronchitis, emphysema, lung cancer, and heart disease

Pollutant: Carbon monoxide
Major Indoor Sources: Unvented or malfunctioning gas appliances, wood stoves, and tobacco smoke
Potential Health Effects: Headache, nausea, impaired vision, and death at high concentrations

Pollutant: Formaldehyde
Major Indoor Sources: Pressed wood products, furnishings, wallpaper, and durable press fabrics
Potential Health Effects: Eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches; allergic reactions; cancer

Pollutant: Particles
Major Indoor Sources: Cigarettes, wood stoves, aerosol sprays, house dust
Potential Health Effects: Eye, nose, and throat irritation; respiratory infections; bronchitis; lung cancer

Pollutant: Radon
Major Indoor Sources: Soil under buildings, construction materials, and groundwater
Potential Health Effects: Lung cancer

Pollutant: Biological agents (bacteria, viruses, fungi, animal dander, and mites)
Major Indoor Sources: House dust; pets; bedding; humidifiers and dehumidifiers; wet or moist structures; and furnishings
Potential Health Effects: Allergic reactions, asthma, eye, nose, and throat irritation; influenza; humidifier fever; and other infectious diseases

Of course, the above is just a partial list, but to decrease exposure to indoor air pollution, the Resources Board recommends preventing or minimizing the release of indoor pollutants in the first place. This involves using products safely, restricting smoking, using appliances properly, selecting building materials and furniture carefully, and providing adequate ventilation. In addition, using a quality air purifier with True HEPA filtration will also help eliminate up to 99.97% of large particles 0.3 microns or larger, such as dust, dander, and mold.

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Do You Have an Asbestos Problem?

Asbestos is a mineral composed of long, thin fibrous crystals, and the name is derived from a Greek adjective meaning inextinguishable. The Greeks named asbestos the “mineral miracle” because of its soft texture and pliant properties, as well as its ability to withstand heat.

Asbestos became very popular among builders and manufacturers during the late 19th century because of its resistance to heat, electricity, chemical damage, sound absorption, and strength. In fact, many building materials manufactured before 1975, including insulation, floor tiles, cement shingles, roofing, and ceiling tiles, contained large amounts of this mineral. However, due to the health effects associated with asbestos, the EPA and Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) have banned it from use, and most products made today do not contain the mineral.

Nonetheless, as mentioned above, long-term exposure to asbestos fibers have been associated with a range of health problems. Asbestos fibers are too small to be visible and they can become airborne when materials containing asbestos are disturbed or improperly removed. Once inhaled, asbestos can lead to increased incidence of lung cancer, mesothelioma (cancer of the abdominal lining and chest), and even irreversible lung scarring that can be fatal (also known as asbestosis). Unfortunately, symptoms of these diseases often do not show up until many years after exposure begins, and most people suffering from asbestos-related diseases were exposed to high concentrations while on the job.

To address asbestos problems, it is sometimes best to leave asbestos material alone, assuming it is in good condition, because material in good condition will not release asbestos fibers. However, these materials should also be periodically inspected for damage and properly handled and disposed according to appropriate officials. Also, if the asbestos material is even slightly damaged, the EPA recommends removal by a professional.

If you have had asbestos removed or sealed from your home or workplace, your second level of clean up can involve using an air purifier with a high-quality, warm-rolled, True HEPA filter, or even vacuuming floors with a HEPA vacuum. Asbestos fibers range anywhere from 0.1 to 50 microns and length, and HEPA filters must be capable of removing at least 99.97% of airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns in diameter. Therefore, while a HEPA air purifier or vacuum should not be your only line of defense against asbestos, it can certainly help filter out large fibers and keep you breathing cleaner air.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Quiz: Is Your Indoor Air Unhealthy?

We've all heard about recent reports regarding home structural problems and illnesses associated with indoor airborne contaminants such as fungal problems, toxic mold, dust, and chemicals. These pollutants can cause health problems such as eye and nose discomfort, skin irritation, increased asthma and allergy attacks, airway stress, and even cancer after long-term exposure. Although you may think your immaculate home is free from these pollutants, think again. Take this quiz and see if your air may be affecting your health.

1. Do you live near a street, commercial area, or farm?

2. Does your home have carpeting?

3. Do you have other occupants in your home?

4. Do you have an attached garage?

5. Do you get some of your clothes dry cleaned?

6. Do you have any pets?

7. Do you use cleaning products in your home?

8. Do you smoke in your home?

If you answered yes to three or more of these questions, you may be breathing in polluted air. Read below for the reasons why:

1. Cars, businesses, and animals can create large amounts of pollution such as odors and chemicals which can enter your home.
2. Carpets have the ability to capture dust, chemicals, and dirt that is tracked in from outdoors.
3. People constantly shed skin, cough, and sneeze; therefore, we’re naturally pollution producers.
4. Even if a car is running for a few minutes, carbon monoxide can enter the home (regardless of how well insulated it is).
5. Dry cleaners use many chemicals to clean clothes, and these can oftentimes offgas into the air.
6. Pets are notorious for creating dander, dust, and odors in the home.
7. Ninety-nine percent of cleaning products available in stores are toxic, and the fumes often linger in the air and on surfaces.
8. Smoke is composed of over 400 chemicals, and is one of the most difficult odors to remove.

Indoor air pollution is among the top five environmental risks, and one of the best ways to control this risk is to eliminate the source of pollutants and ventilation a home with clean air from outside. Due to weather restrictions and/or contaminants, this may be impractical, and for this reason, an air cleaning device such as an air purifier may be extremely useful, as they help control the levels of particles, chemicals, and gases.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Air Purifiers - Buyer Beware!

With so many air purifiers on the market today, choosing one may seem difficult. Most consumers who purchase air purifiers do not perform sufficient research prior to settling on a model. Unfortunately, because air purifiers are considered “health products,” making a mistake in your purchase can cost you money or even your health. Here are some important factors to look for when purchasing an air purifier:

Can an Air Purifier HARM Your Health?

While you may think an air purifier is a harmless appliance, think again. Certain types of air purifiers utilize components which may be hazardous to your health, such as ionizers which emit small amounts of ozone, or even plastic parts which can off gas harmful VOCs and chemicals.

The Ozone Controversy
Ozone is known for its ability to filter out UV light in the upper atmosphere, and many air purifier manufacturers claim that ozone air purifiers are safe because ozone found in the lower atmosphere can be used to reduce airborne pollutants. However, the EPA notes the following: "When inhaled, ozone can damage the lungs. Relatively low amounts can cause chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath, and throat irritation." Therefore, many consumers may not be aware that ozone is a severe respiratory irritant. In actuality, ozone is a reactive oxidizing agent that reacts with chemicals and forms oxygen as a byproduct. While it is true that ozone can change the chemical structure of a pollutant and neutralize it, exposure to ozone has been shown to cause lung, nose, throat, and eye irritation. In fact, California has even recently signed a bill that will ban ozone air purifier sales in the state by 2009. If you are sensitive to ozone, be wary of air purifiers which utilize ionizers or ozone to clean the air.

The Problem With Plastic
Materials such as plastics and Styrofoam are made from hundreds of different chemicals, and they all off gas. Plastics release toxic chemicals into the indoor environment; they are usually made from petro-chemicals and are compounds of VOCs. If air is blown through a plastic air purifier, these harmful chemicals are quickly released into a room. To prevent this chemical off gassing, look for air purifiers constructed of quality, all-metal housing.

Air Purifiers & Parkinson's Disease?
Activated Carbon is commonly used in air purifiers to help adsorb odors, gases, and chemicals. However, certain types of activated carbon are coated with potassium permanganate to increase VOC adsorption. Although this is an effective way to remove VOCs, potassium permanganate also releases manganese, and even in low concentrations, exposure to manganese can cause a form of Parkinson’s disease called Manganism, as well as other neurological disorders. Check with an air purifier’s manufacturer to see if they use potassium permanganate in their carbon filters.

Design Flaws

Unfortunately, poorly engineered air purifiers are also not uncommon. Many consumers may find themselves spending money on products with design flaws when a well-designed model can be had for a comparable price.

How Effective is the HEPA Filter?
HEPA Filtration is the most common method of air purification employed by today’s popular air cleaners, but many air purifiers do not use it well. True HEPA filters must be able to remove 99.97% of particulates as small as 0.3 microns, and the only way to ensure this is through the use of warm-rolled HEPA filters. If the HEPA is not warmed prior to installation, it can crack and lose its effectiveness. If you are in the market for a HEPA air purifier, make sure that the filters are warm-rolled and pleated to increase filtration efficiency.

Combination Filters Save Time But Waste Money
You may also find air purifiers that utilize combined HEPA and Activated Carbon Filters. While this may seem convenient, combination filters may actually cost you more money, as you are forced to change both filters at the same time. HEPA filters typically last 5 years, carbon filters should be changed every 2 years, and combination filters can add a significant amount to the overall cost of the unit.


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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

DIY Air Purifier

The EPA has noted that indoor air can be almost ten times worse than the air outside. Thus, air purification has rapidly become a multi-billion dollar industry. While a small, no-frills air cleaner for your personal space can be had for less than $100, a state-of-the-art medical-grade air purifier aimed at microbiological abatement can cost over $1000. For those who wish to breathe in healthier air without spending a lot of money, read the directions below on how to create your own air purifier from inexpensive materials:

1 PVC water pipe
1 Replacement window screen (a piece of cloth will also suffice, or for aromatherapy, use a scented dryer sheet)
1 cardboard box
1 HEPA filter
1 small fan

1. Drill a small hole in the wall to the outside
2. Place a section of the water pipe in the hole and extend it all the way through the wall
3. Place your filter material on the outside of the pipe to prevent insects, pollen, and other particulates from entering inside
4. Place your HEPA filter inside the cardboard box and mount the box on the pipe
5. Cut a hole in the box and mount the fan inside the box. This will help draw outside air through the HEPA filter and blow the clean air into the room.

Keep in mind that although this air purifier may not be able to completely remove pollutants from your air, it may help filter your air in a pinch.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Houseplants Can Save Your Life

Because we often spend up to 90% of our time indoors, we are susceptible to many health problems associated with poor indoor air quality. These problems can often be the result of poor ventilation, toxic mold, and chemicals. Therefore, in addition to being exposed to outdoor pollutants, pollutants can also be found in our homes and workplaces.

In an attempt to find solutions to indoor air pollution, NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) participated in a two year study which suggested a common, but sophisticated pollution-absorbing device: the common houseplant.

Plants remove substances out of the air through their stoma, or the tiny openings in their leaves. As well, they breathe through their leaves, and allow their roots and soil bacteria to help remove trace levels of toxic vapors. Essentially, houseplants create a "living air cleaner" by combining activated carbon and a fan with the plant. The roots of the plant grow in the carbon, and they slowly degrade the chemicals that are absorbed. Dr. Bill Wolverton, former senior research scientist at NASA, stated the following: "We feel that future results will provide an even stronger argument that common indoor landscaping plants can be a very effective part of a system used to provide pollution free homes and work places."

In order to conduct the study, each plant type was placed in sealed, Plexiglas chambers in which chemicals were injected. Philodendron, spider plants, and gold pothos were the most effective in removing formaldehyde molecules. For removing benzene, flowering plants such as gerbera daisies and chrysanthemums were extremely efficient. Other good performers were the Dracaena Massangeana and Spathiphyllum. In conclusion, the study consistently showed that living, green, and flowering plants were able to remove several types of toxic chemicals from the air in building interiors.

Fortunately, because houseplants are plentiful, inexpensive, and relatively easy to maintain, they make great, "natural air purifiers." As Dr. Wolverton noted, "Combining nature with technology can increase the effectiveness of plants in removing air pollutants."

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Monday, October 08, 2007

Fun Flu Vaccine Facts

According to the National Institutes of Health, influenza is a respiratory infection caused by a number of viruses which pass through the air and enter the body through the mouth or nose. It is estimated that roughly 5% and 20% of all Americans will contract the flu each year. While the flu may be little more than an unavoidable annoyance indicative of the cooler months for some people, for the elderly, newborn babies, and adults with certain chronic illnesses, the flu is serious and can even be deadly.

Therefore, in light of the fact that a large percentage of Americans will get the flu this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced that the week after Thanksgiving, November 27 to December 2, as National Influenza Vaccination Week. Because the flu vaccine is the main way to keep one from getting the flu, this weeklong event is aimed at highlighting the importance of continuing flu vaccinations, as well as encouraging the public to get vaccinated during the months of November, December, and beyond.

Here are a few facts about the flu and the flu vaccine:

1. Flu season runs from October through May, and the best months to be vaccinated are October and November.
2. The injected vaccine actually contains a killed virus, and is recommended for those over the age of 6 months.
3. The nasal form of the vaccine (sometimes called LAIV for “Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine”) is made from a weakened virus and is recommended for those between the ages of 2-49, but not recommended for pregnant women.
4. Two weeks after receiving the flu vaccine, your body has developed the antibodies needed to protect itself against certain strains of the flu virus.
5. While you cannot get the flu from a flu vaccine, you may experience minor side effects such as aches, pains, a low-grade fever, and swelling. As well, you cannot develop the flu from the nasal spray vaccine, but headaches and sore throats are possible side effects.
6. Each flu vaccine contain three flue viruses: one A (H3N2) virus; one A (H1N1) virus, and one B virus. The viruses in the vaccine change every year based on international surveillance and scientists’ estimations about which types and strains of viruses will be circulated in a given year.
In addition to getting the flu vaccine, you can prevent influenza symptoms by improving your hygeine, eating a diet rich in whole foods, using supplements containing probiotics, getting additional sleep, reducing stress, and by improving your indoor air quality through sufficient ventilation and/or with the use of an air purifier with HEPA filtration.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

UC Irvine Professor Warns Consumers About Ozone Air Purifiers

Sergio Nizkorodov, a renowned professor of chemistry at the University of California, Irvine, has focused his academic career on the relationship between ozone emissions and air purifiers.

Produced naturally in the upper atmosphere, ozone plays an extremely critical role on earth by filtering out harmful UV rays that are known to cause skin cancer, as well as other serious ecological effects. In the lower atmosphere, ozone can be used to reduce airborne contaminants and to reduce indoor pollution such as mold sources and odors.

However, at the same time, scientists and doctors are questioning the safety of ozone exposure. When inhaled, ozone can cause health defects such as respiratory problems and lung functions, and it can be generated by common appliances such as laser printers, copiers, and yes, even some air purifiers.

Because of this predicament regarding ozone exposure, Professor Nizkorodov has been conducting extensive research on the connection between air purifiers and ozone levels. He has found that many air purifiers which purposefully use ozone to clean the air can generate ozone in levels above the standards set by the EPA. When used in small, enclosed spaces, these air purifiers can cause especially serious health problems in the elderly and children. In addition, Nizkorodov and his research team have found that ultrafine particles are generated by these air purifiers as a result of chemical reactions between the ozone and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in indoor settings.

In addition to his research, Professor Nizkorodov has also participated in UC Irvine’s Community Day and showed how the ozone levels produced by an ozone air purifier inside a chamber was high enough to be considered a first stage air quality alert. Professor Nizkorodov has also rallied with consumers against Sharper Image’s debacle with their Ionic Breeze air purifier, and has prompted many concerned citizens to urge their legislators to ban the sale of these air purifiers.

While most air purifiers on the market are extremely safe, consumers should take caution when purchasing an air purifier which exclusively uses ozone to clean the air.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

How to Deal with Pet Allergies

Millions of American pet owners suffer from pet allergies, but the benefits of owning a pet oftentimes outweigh the drawbacks of experiencing hay fever symptoms, coughing, wheezing, and itchy, watery eyes. Studies have shown that 15 percent of the American population is allergic to dogs or cats, and one third of Americans who are allergic to cats live with at least one cat in their household.

To people who are allergic to animals, all dogs and cats are considered allergenic. Contrary to popular belief, pet allergies are not always caused by an animal’s fur. Rather, the glands in an animal’s skin secrete tiny allergy-triggering proteins that both linger in the fur and float in the air. Allergens can also be present in an animal’s urine or saliva, which may become airborne when dried. Also, more people are allergic to cats due to the cat glycoprotein Fel d 1, a substance excreted a cat’s sebaceous glands and most commonly found in a cat’s saliva and skin. This substances is oftentimes more prevalent because cats constantly lick themselves to stay clean.

In order to live comfortably with your best friend, follow these few simple suggestions:

Create an “allergy-free” zone in a specific area or room in the house where the pet is not permitted to roam.

Use a HEPA air cleaner throughout the rest of the home and avoid dander-catching furnishings such as curtains and carpeted floors.

Bath your pet on a weekly basis to help reduce the allergens in the fur by as much as 84 percent. Cats can even be bathed this often after they slowly become accustomed to regularly baths.

Look into immunotherapy shots which desensitizes one’s immune system to allergies (though they cannot eliminate them completely).

Prevent excessive shedding in your pet by regular brushings, feeding nutritionally-rich food, and by the addition of supplements containing fish oil with Omega-3 fatty acids which help moisturize the coat.

Although suffering from allergies and keeping a pet may not be easy, through the adherence to the above guidelines, you can experience the joy of keeping a pet without exacerbating your allergy symptoms.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Toxic Mold Found in College Dorm

Last week, students attending Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland were forced to evacuate their living spaces after toxic mold was found growing in a dormitory bathroom.

Promptly after returning to campus for the fall semester, several students living in the Charles B. House (a housing unit on campus) started to complain of cold and flu-like symptoms such as sore throats and stuffy noses. Other occupants of adjacent dorms then began developing similar symptoms within the following weeks, and several students were admitted to the Chester River Hospital due to worsening symptoms.

After closer inspection of the students’ living quarters, a foot long patch of mold was found growing behind a toilet due to a leaky pipe that was supposed to be repaired six months prior. The students’ suites also had mold coming out of the vent in the bathroom and was seeping into the bedrooms. Increased humidity and dirty air conditioning units were also considered possible culprits of the students’ health problems.

Shortly after the mold growth was discovered, Washington College promptly hired an environmental company to perform both indoor and outdoor air tests. The results from these tests are still unknown, but the students have since been evacuated and relocated to different housing. In the interim, the school plans to replace the affected walls in the bathrooms, and to sanitize all of the surfaces in the dormitory suites, including the ceilings.

Upon moving out of his old dormitory, Austin Murphy, a junior at Washington College, remarked, “Now that I’m out of that environment I’m starting to feel better.”

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Friday, September 14, 2007

A Sharp Downturn for Sharper Image

According to a recent article in Forbes, Sharper Image may be heading into some financial trouble. Less than one month ago, Sharper Image shares plummeted 31.2% as a result of a news report which stated that the company may go bankrupt.

For the past two years, the company has seen sales steadily decline due to an onslaught of bad publicity, lawsuits, and a sub par range of merchandise. In 2005, Consumer Reports published an expose criticizing Sharper Image’s Ionic Breeze air purifier, and in response, Sharper Image retaliated with a libel suit against the magazine’s publisher. Unfortunately, they lost.

Since 1999, Sharper Image has sold an astounding 3.2 million units of the Ionic Breeze, and this product once made up almost 40% of the company’s total revenue. However, in 2005, a class action lawsuit was then filed by consumers who claimed Shaper Image misled them into purchasing the high-tech air purifier. Consumers felt that the Ionic Breeze did not perform up to the company’s claims that these air purifiers would clean the air of airborne contaminants such as allergens, pollutants, and indoor odors.

Finally, in January of this year, Sharper Image agreed to issue a $19 dollar merchandise credit to the 3.2 million customers who have purchased the Ionic Breeze since 1999, as well as an “Ozone Guard” attachment for floor models of the Ionic Breeze. However, Michael Tein, an attorney representing about 2 million customers in a separate lawsuit in California, argues that these customers should instead be compensated in cash, instead of having to spend more money at the high-tech gadgets retailer.

It is speculated that Sharper Image may go bankrupt as a result of this separate lawsuit which will end up costing them $900 million. Nevertheless, in response, Sharper Image issued a statement saying that this was “speculative,” and that such a settlement would not force their company into bankruptcy. Until then, consumers will just have to wait, as at this point in time, U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga will have to decide whether the already agreed-upon settlement will be sufficient.


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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Its Portable Air Conditioner Season right? Well spring is also Air Purifier Time

right now its portable air conditioner season, get your cooling products before the summer rush right? Get the new more efficient models right? Right. But its also spring, and that means its also air purifier time.

I will keep it simple. DONT buy just an ionizer. Honestly they are usually worthless for removing particulates (small things in the air that bother us). Now some HEPA air purifiers have option ionizers and thats fine but just make sure you get a HEPA filter. The Airsopure MS-980 is the best model that i know of as it uses a multilevel process.

A HEPA air puifier can usually only clean smaller areas like the bedroom but at least it will clean that area compared to the promises of ionizers cleaning your whole house

So save a few $ on your portable air conditioner purchase so you have enough to get a good HEPA air purifier also, it will last you for years and energy use is usually pretty limited

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Monday, May 15, 2006

This is how air purifiers work

HEPA Air Purifier Information: HEPA filtration technology was developed by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission to remove airborne radioactive particles. In order to be considered a true HEPA filter, it must be capable of removing 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microns, which is 1/75,000 of an inch, or 1/300 the diameter of the human hair. HEPA filters are used in other places such as hospitals and manufacturers’ clean rooms where clean air is absolutely vital. The HEPA filter maintains its efficiency over it's two (2) to five (5) years of life.

HEPA filtration is rapidly coming into many medical applications such as isolation of patients under treatment involving immunological isolation, care for burn victims, orthopedic surgery, etc.

Ionic Air Purifier Information: Ionic air purifiers contain negative ion generators that charge airborne particles so they become attracted to and settle on room surfaces, effectively removing harmful particles from the air you breathe. However, room activity may stir up and release the particles back into the air. For this reason many ionic air cleaners contain electrostatic precipitators which trap particles on oppositely charged metal plates. The plates need to be cleaned periodically for optimal performance.

Ultraviolet Air Purifier Information (UV): Ultraviolet light is one of the more effective methods to reduce and control airborne pathogens. For this reason ultraviolet purifiers are commonly used in hospitals. As contaminated air is passed through intense ultraviolet light, bacteria, viruses and some organic compounds are destroyed. In short, the ultraviolet light damages the DNA of microorganisms and renders them harmless and unable to reproduce. Ultraviolet light is used in much the same way for water purification systems. Because viruses are too small to be trapped by HEPA filters, ultraviolet light is one of the only ways to eliminate airborne viruses.

Ozone Air Purifier Information: Ozone is popularly known for its ability to filter ultraviolet light in the upper atmosphere. Ozone in the lower atmosphere can be used to reduce airborne contaminants. The basic oxygen molecule in the air we breathe is composed of two oxygen atoms. Ozone is composed of three oxygen atoms. Ozone's extra oxygen atom can become detached from the ozone molecule and reattach to molecules of other substances, altering their chemical makeup and often leaving only carbon-dioxide, oxygen and water. This is the basis for ozone air purifiers. Ozone air purifiers release an ozone enriched gaseous plasma into the air that seeks out airborne contaminants. This purification method does not draw the surrounding air into a central filter, allowing for large areas to be purified efficiently.

Activated Carbon Information: Activated carbon filters behave as sponges and trap most airborne gases and odors. Activated carbon is charcoal that has been treated with oxygen to open millions of small pores between the carbon atoms. These pores adsorb harmful gases and odors. Due to the large surface area of the carbon granules, carbon filters are excellent at trapping gases that pass through traditional particle filters. However, as the pores become filled with trapped contaminants the filters loose effectiveness and will need to be replaced.

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Friday, May 12, 2006

HEPA Filter Quality

HEPA Filter Quality is not a strongly regulated item when it comes to manufacturer claims. Items such as the AirSoPure S-980 come with a HEPA filter that removes more that 99% or particulates down to 0.3m microns. Filters that can remove particulates at this rate are considered high quality filters. Other manufacturers claim that they have have high quality HEPA filters but claims might just be that. These filters might very well be HEPA quality but often only to 95% - that's a big difference. Other examples of high quality HEPA purifier makes are AllerAir HEPA Air Purifiers and IQAir HEPA Air Purifiers. For orange county wedding photographer The point is, not all HEPA filters are equal.

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Advertised Square Footage...

Advertised numbers are often exaggerated to make the sale. You can see that with car sales where mileage usage and horsepower are often exaggerated. This is also true of air purifiers.

Most often this is seen with HEPA air purifiers. Remember that these air purifiers must draw the air through to purify. To do this in a large house is difficult, in a two story house - almost impossible. The reason is that the air has to circulate around the house to do this; moreover, if windows are open the volume of air is effectively increased further.

what to do? Use HEPA air purifiers in areas under 1000 sq. ft. and generally under 400 sq. ft. for best results and run the units continuously.

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Air Purifiers?? Air Cleaners?? What Should I Buy?

We have all heard the claims - "perfect clean air" "safe for anyone anyware" "No filters needed".

How do you tell if the air purifier you are buying is going to work or do the job it is intended or guaranteed to do. Will that Ionic Breeze Air Purifier really purifier and clean the air? In the past 10 years a great deal of new technologies have entered the market. Consumers can still purchase traditional HEPA air purifiers but now have the option to buy UV air Purifiers, Ionic Air Purifiers, PCO Air Purifiers and more.

We hope to make your decision a bit easier by providing the information below.

An article written by the EPA concludes that "Recent research showed that efficiency of filters with permanent electrostatic fields (electrets) drops significantly when the filters become dirty. The filters show this drop in efficiency when collecting particles in both ambient (outdoor) air and indoor air".Moreover this report has questions regarding air purifiers intended to remove VOC's concluding that "it appears that the useful life of organic vapor air cleaners is a strong function of the chemical composition and indoor concentration of the organic vapors being collected and the relative humidity and temperature of the indoor environment. Lifetimes of typical commercially available air cleaners, under typical indoor conditions, are less than 1 year; under conditions of high pollutant concentration, they are less than 1 month."

Does this mean that VOC air purifiers or Active Carbon Air Cleaners do not work? Not really, it just means that we need to make better decisions as consumers look for true quality when purchasing air cleaners and air purifiers. Look for testimonials, don't by the least expensive system that just happens to promise the world. We are working right now on setting up a consumer comparison reference to help you out, in the meantime keep reading and send us your comments.

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Too Much Ozone is not a Good Thing

Although many manufacturers are now producing air purifiers that emit ozone, this may be more of a cost saving feature than quality addition. Read below what the EPA has to say regarding ozone air purifiers.

"The same chemical properties that allow high concentrations of ozone to react with organic material outside the body give it the ability to react with similar organic material that makes up the body, and potentially cause harmful health consequences." Read More?

Looks like "old" HEPA and Carbon technology may not be outdated yet...

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