NOTE FROM CHRISTA: Spring and almost-summer are upon us. Temperatures are rising; in fact, in my home state, we’re already hitting 90 degrees. When I remember to turn the sprinklers on, the flowers are blooming, and I’m spending more time outside-just to avoid housework if nothing else! However, for people who suffer from allergies, this is a time of itchy eyes and sneezes. Pollen forms a protective layer over the car dirt, and makes our driveway glitter in yellow and white. During this season, one of my daughters would have a panic-attack if she didn’t have her inhaler within two seconds of her reach. Her asthma debilitated her. We learned how to eliminate as much as we could to help her indoors. Knowing about FILTRETE then would have helped us all the more.
While the tendency may be to head indoors for relief, United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) studies indicate that indoor levels of many pollutants may be two to five times higher than outdoor levels, making it one of the top five urgent environmental risks to public health. In fact, many seasonal activities such as cooking, spring cleaning and redecorating can spread indoor pollutants. Did you know:
· Poor indoor air quality can cause a lack of concentration in school-aged children (Journal of Indoor Air)
· Every year, asthma accounts for an estimated three million lost work days for adults and over ten million lost school days for children (American Lung Association’s Trends in Asthma Morbidity and Mortality)
Dr. Neil Schachter, M.D., past president of the American Lung Association of the City of New York, suggests a “home health check-up” to help make your home a healthier place to live. He recommends avoiding cleaning products that contain ammonia or chlorine, and limiting your pet’s access to certain areas of the home, including the bedroom. A high performance air filter, such as a Filtrete filter, may also help improve indoor air quality. Listen to these tips and more on Dr. Schachter’s podcast on www.Filtrete.com. While you’re there, play the Filtrete Clean Air Fact or Fiction to test your knowledge of indoor air quality. You could win a home inspection from Steve Ramos, featured home inspector on HGTV’s House Detective.
It’s recommended to change your air filter at the start of every season, or every three months. Recognizing that this may be the last thing on the mind of a busy Mom, 3M, the makers of Filtrete filters, offers the Clean Air Club. Moms can receive seasonal e-newsletters featuring special offers, filter change reminders, better home living tips and more. Plus, the first 50 people to sign up each week will receive a free bamboo plant – a natural air purifier.
Most of us are aware that outdoor air pollution, such as vehicle exhaust, ozone, dirt, soot and smoke, can be dangerous. However, indoor levels of some pollutants may be two to five times higher than outdoor levels. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified indoor air pollution as one of the top five urgent environmental risks to public health .
“Many people don’t realize that their home can be a breeding ground for allergens, such as pollen, dust mite debris, mold spores and other particles that may be airborne. Other things in the air, such as chemicals from everyday household items such as furniture, carpeting, paints and cleaning products, can also contribute to poor indoor air quality. For people who are sensitive to these types of things, irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, headaches, dizziness and fatigue may result,” said Dr. Neil Schachter, M.D., past president of the American Lung Association of the City of New York and author of Life and Breath. “A ‘home health check-up’ combined with some simple changes can help make your home a healthier place to live.
Follow these tips from Dr. Neil Schachter to give your home a healthier boost:
1. Avoid cleaning products with ammonia and chlorine – Ammonia and chlorine are volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can irritate the respiratory tract in people who are sensitive to these chemicals. They can cause watery eyes and sore throats and even can trigger coughing and shortness of breath. Choose milder yet effective cleaning aids like those that use baking soda, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide and citrus oils.
2. Houseplants...a clean air ally – Common indoor houseplants, such as bamboo plants, English ivy and peace lily, can provide a natural way to help fight against rising levels of indoor air pollution by absorbing some potentially harmful gases. A six-inch potted green plant can clean a room of excess carbon dioxide in eight hours
3. Lay area rugs instead of wall-to-wall carpeting – Wall-to-wall carpeting can attract and hold indoor dirt, pollen, pet hair and mold spores and many contain chemicals. Vacuuming can remove some surface dirt, but often, the vacuum can actually push pollutants deeper into carpet fibers. Area rugs are best since they can be picked up and cleaned thoroughly.
4. Use high performance air filters – Use a high performance filter, like the Filtrete 1” Advanced Allergen Filter from 3M, to help capture particles such as pollen, smoke, dust mite debris and pet dander from the air that passes through the filter. Be sure to change your filter at the start of every season. Test your knowledge of indoor air quality facts and blow away some fictions by playing Clean Air Fact or Fiction at http://www.filtrete.com/factorfiction.
5. Restrict your furry friends – People who are allergic to cats and dogs are actually allergic to the dander that pets shed. To help minimize exposure to pet dander, keep pets out of the bedroom and especially off the bed.
6. Turn up the air conditioning – Air conditioners not only cool the air in your home, they can also help reduce humidity levels. During the warm months of the year, turn up the air conditioner to help keep humidity levels lower, which can help keep mold from growing.
7. Turn off the humidifier – Room air humidifiers are moisture-generating sources that can spread bacteria, mold spores and chemical deposits into the air in your home. Keep relative humidity between 30% and 50% to help prevent mold growth.
8. Leave shoes outside – Avoid bringing contaminated outdoor pollutants indoors by removing your shoes before entering the home. Wearing shoes indoors can track particles that can become airborne, including animal dander, mold spores, pollen and bacteria.
About Neil Schachter, M.D.
Neil Schachter, M.D. is considered one of the leading authorities on respiratory disease in the United States. Professor of Medicine and Community Medicine and Medical Director of the Respiratory Care Department of the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, Dr. Schachter has served as president of the American Lung Association of the City of New York, the Connecticut Thoracic Society and the National Association of Medical Directors of Respiratory Care. He has authored of six books on pulmonary disease, and contributed to 16 chapters in medical textbooks and more than four hundred articles and abstracts in peer-reviewed journals.
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