Does Your Dog Have Seasonal Or Other Allergies?

Does Your Dog Have Allergies?After a long winter, your pet may enjoy spring as much as you do – and be just as allergic to what he uncovers on those long spring walks. While most people are aware that people can be allergic to dander, pets are subject to a host of allergic reactions as well. Some allergic reactions come from exposure to pollen, but your pet can also be allergic to foods and items commonly found in your house.

Symptoms Of Allergy Prone Dogs

Dogs with allergies exhibit some of the same respiratory symptoms that humans do: sneezing, runny eyes, sore throat, and itching in different parts of the body. The symptoms are often accompanied by vomiting, diarrhea, increased scratching, paw chewing/ swollen paws, and constant licking. In addition, you may notice skin that is moist, red, or scabbed. Your dog may snore as a result, or develop a secondary bacterial or yeast skin infection that leads to hair loss, and scabby, crusty skin.

The sources of dog allergies are diverse:

  • Common outdoor allergens: Pollen from trees, grass, weeds, mold, fleas, and other pets.
  • Common food allergies: Chicken, beef, pork, corn, wheat, or soy.
  • Common indoor allergens: Dust, dust mites, mold spores, dander, and cigarette smoke.
  • Common chemical allergies: Cleaning products, insecticidal shampoo, or perfumes.
  • Other common allergies: Rubber, plastic, fabrics, and feathers.

Diagnosing And Treating Dog Allergies

While you need a trip to the vet to diagnose and treat the problem, you might be able to determine the most likely cause.

  • Atopy is a seasonal allergy that shows up in April or May for spring tree pollen, in the fall for ragweed, or in the winter for dust mites. Your vet may treat this condition with allergy injections. Antihistamines might help some dogs, but make sure to ask your vet for advice. Since dogs with atopy often have skin infections, fatty acid supplements, special shampoos, and sprays containing aloe, oatmeal, and other natural ingredients may relieve the symptoms.
  • Contact dermatitis is an allergy to carpets, cleaners, rubber, plastic, or other products. You should keep your pet away from chemicals, but if symptoms persist, your vet may suggest eliminating certain items that your pet comes in contact with, such as tennis balls, rubber or plastic toys, and plastic dishes to see if the allergy clears up.
  • Food allergies, responsible for 10 to 15% of allergies in dogs and cats, can show up and exhibit the same symptoms as allergies to dust or pollen. Your pet may be allergic to fillers, dyes, and processed meats, grains, and proteins in certain foods. Try changing him to a different brand, even an organic food, or one without fillers. If your informal testing does not reduce symptoms, your vet may put the pet on an elimination diet to determine the cause of the food allergy.

Allergies can be serious in dogs, and even result in hives, facial swelling, or anaphylaxis within 20 minutes of exposure to allergens. Your vet may even equip you with an Epi-Pen for your dog so you can counteract certain allergic reactions if they occur.

Proactive Allergy Prevention

Proper treatment of allergies, in conjunction with a preventative program to control fleas and ticks, should keep your dog symptom-free. The cleanliness of your home can impact your dog’s health as well. Make sure to vacuum and dust your home, including pet bedding, once or twice a week. To reduce problems with airborne allergies, keep your furnace filter, air filter, whole house filters, and humidifier filters clean.

Looking for a source of filters when you need them? Consider Air Filter Buy, an online supplier with 600 different filters in stock. With fast shipping that’s free on orders over $30, you can make a quick filter change without having to store bulky filters in limited space. Just order on our website or call (855) FILTBUY.

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Allergic To Fish And Shellfish? Watch Out For Hidden Ingredients

Eating fresh fish and shellfish is truly a delight of spring and summer, but can be deadly if you have allergies to these delicious foods. Whether they are consumed raw, cooked, or processed, or they constitute an ingredient in other food items, fish and shellfish can trigger anaphylactic shock. The first signs may be hives, itching, flushing, and swelling in the mouth, tongue, and lips, but the reaction often leads to difficulty breathing, and tightness in the throat and chest. If not stopped in time, anaphylaxis can kill you.

As with other food allergies, fish and shellfish allergies result from an immune system problem. When your body recognizes certain proteins as harmful, it produces antibodies that signal your immune system to release histamine and other chemicals. Each type of fish and shellfish has its own particular allergy-causing proteins, which means that if you are allergic to shrimp, you may be able to eat trout with no problem. In shellfish, the protein tropomyosin is the same one that is present in cockroaches and dust mites.

Who Is Susceptible?

This allergy can occur in people of all ages, although children may outgrow certain allergies, particularly to shrimp. If you have conditions such as asthma or allergies to other foods, you are more likely to develop allergies to fish and shellfish. To protect yourself from severe reactions, you should carry an EpiPen with you. For more mild reactions that you think might be caused by fish or shellfish, consult your doctor.

Ingredients To Watch For

For people with this allergy, the problem is more serious than just avoiding shrimp in the wedding buffet line or the all-you-can-eat fish fry. Fish and shellfish, and their byproducts, are common ingredients in many condiments and in recipes made with them.

  • Seafood is often an ingredient in Worcestershire sauce, barbecue sauce, Caesar dressing, soup stocks, and in other sauces, dressings, and condiments used to flavor food. Something as seemingly innocent as meatloaf, chili, or marinara may contain Worcestershire.
  • Fish is often used in stock and sauces in Asian restaurants.
  • In seafood restaurants, there is a risk of airborne fish protein and contact with fish or shellfish from grills and utensils.
  • Restaurants that serve fried fish may use the same fryers for other foods, so make sure to ask if they use separate fryers.
  • Gelatin and foods that contain it, such as marshmallows, use fish bones in processing.
  • Bologna, hot dogs, and imitation seafood may contain fish.

Fish and shellfish are also used in the making of other common items you should avoid or ask your doctor about:

  • Pet food, pet treats, fish food, and fertilizer.
  • Arthritis supplements such as glucosamine or coral calcium.
  • Some cosmetics, lip balm, vitamins, paint, soap, and insects that may contain oil from Manhattan and Atlantic fish.
  • The contrast dye used for cardiac CTs.

To avoid allergic reactions, you need to carefully read ingredient labels to make sure there is no fish or shellfish content. While it’s easy to spot ingredients such as fish oil, fish and shellfish flavoring, fish stock, or ones that mention specific fish such as anchovies, clam extract, scampi, etc., you need to watch for other terms such as roe, disodium inosate, agar, alginic acid, alginate, or tomalley.

Reduce Allergens At Home

Be careful if you cook fish in your home if you or a family member has allergies. To create an environment that fosters clean air, replace your furnace filter, air cleaner filter, whole house filters, and humidifier filters every year. For a reliable source of filters when you need them, consider Air Filter Buy. We ship over 600 types of filters quickly and offer a 10 percent discount on recurring orders. Check out our website or give us a call at (855) FILTBUY.

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Announcing the AFB Scholarship Program

We are proud to announce the inaugural AFB scholarship for environmentally conscious students. Our goal is to provide assistance to students that show a keen awareness of environmental issues as well as how the decisions each and everyone of us makes on a daily basis effect the world in which we live. For our first scholarship, we are asking that students submit an essay on some everyday tips that each and everyone of us can implement in order to reduce our individual contribution to greenhouse gas emission.

We will pick a winner and share the winning submission on this blog. There is nothing more important than the air that we breathe, and for us at AirFilterBuy.com clean air is our mission. Through our scholarship program, we hope not only to support thoughtful young individuals, but also to raise awareness of the environmental issues of our time.

For further details, visit our scholarship page.

De-clutter Your Dusty Home For Spring

When you open your blinds on a bright spring day, you might notice that the rays of light appear to be filled with dust particles. This is probably true all year long, yet there’s something about that first burst of light in the spring that makes you aware of it. If you suffer from allergies, you must do this carefully, so as not to trigger respiratory ailments.

Before you start your spring cleaning, you might want to start by de-cluttering each room. Aside from limiting your space and looking unsightly, the clutter that builds up is often a source of mold spores, dirt, and dust.

Tips For De-cluttering Each Room

How should you approach each room? You should focus your efforts on both the seen and the unseen sources of clutter. What’s hiding in your closet adds to the dust and pollutants in your home as well as what you have lying around on a shelf.

1.     De-clutter first. When you go through that pile of clothes that needs to either be hung up or put in your donation bag, you release additional dust in the air, so hang up or de-clutter before you vacuum the room.

2.     Capture the dust. Weeding out that old pile of games or going through boxes? Wipe off or vacuum flat items covered with dust to prevent pollutants from going into the air. If the boxes have a moist feel or a musty smell, consider wearing a mask to prevent breathing in mold spores.

3.     Be merciless in your de-cluttering. According to many homes stagers, you might be able to get rid of up to 30% of the items in your home without noticing the loss. Make every item subject to questions such as “When was the last time I used this item?” or “What does this item add to my life?” Keep in mind that this tip applies to you whether you live in a tiny studio or a spacious four-bedroom home.

4.     Re-evaluate what you have sitting on tables, shelves, and counters. While it’s convenient to have what you need accessible, what you leave out offers more surface area for dust to collect.

5.     Don’t forget cord and cable clutter. That pile of computer cables, and even the cords that emerge from outlets and power strips, contribute to your clutter and collect dust. Aim to de-tangle and label them, loosely tie them together with cable ties, and get them out of sight.

6.     End catalog clutter. Many retailers have an online store, yet still send weekly catalogs. If possible, get off the mailing list to prevent future clutter, but for now send most of those catalogs to the recycling center and resolve to do so weekly in the future.

Don’t Forget To Change Your Filters

Once you have de-cluttered and vacuumed your home, don’t forget to replace your furnace filter, air cleaner filter, whole house filters, and humidifier filters. Many new modern HVAC systems suggest annual replacement, so spring is a good time to discard a year of dust and pollutants. For an on-demand source of filters when you need them, consider Air Filter Buy. As an online supplier of brand name and proprietary filters, we ship quickly and offer a 10% discount on recurring orders. Order on our website or give us a call at (855) FILTBUY.

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Prepare Your Air Conditioner For A Year Of Use

Check Your Air Conditioning Each SpringWith the brutal winter of 2014 behind us, what’s ahead for this summer? Prepare your air conditioner to handle whatever challenges Mother Nature has planned.

Change Your Filters

Since part of your air conditioner is located inside and part outside, you need to make sure that both parts are ready to go when you need the unit to operate. Spring is a good time to clean or replace your air filters since dirty filters block air circulation, blow more dust into your home, and can lead to system breakdowns. If your system uses permanent filters, you need to vacuum it or wash it with mild soap and water every three months. Been negligent about filter maintenance? Now is the time to get on track. If you have replaceable filters for your central air or window unit, you need to put in a new one.

Outside Care

On the outside of your home, remove the weeds from around the area where the air conditioner sits. This is a good time to think about a plan to better protect the area, especially if it sits in an area where you get full sun. If you plant shrubs and plants around the unit, you create a cool zone that lowers the temperatures between 2-9°, so your system does not have to work so hard.

The housing that protects your air conditioner may have let in leaves, yard debris, and dirt through the slats in the side, and needs to be cleaned to make sure that the condenser can work freely without obstruction. If you attempt to do this yourself, turn off your power and remove the housing. You can remove debris and clean the coils with a refrigerator coil brush or the soft brush on a vacuum, and then use a commercial coil cleaner to remove stubborn dirt.

Call For Service

Most homeowners should avoid potential problems by calling for service. Many local companies offer specials to clean your condenser and also:

  • Inspect wiring and connections.
  • Oil fans, blowers, and any other moving parts.
  • Check and adjust cooler levels.
  • Level and calibrate the thermostat.
  • Ensure that the unit cycles on and off properly.
  • Clean drains and tubing.
  • Inspect and clean compressor, condenser, and evaporator coils.

Many companies even offer a special that will inspect your furnace as well as your air conditioner, so you are ready for the summer ahead, and for next winter too.

You can also buy a service contract for your heating or cooling system that schedules periodic visits to keep the equipment in good condition. Many consumer groups warn that this can be a waste of money. However, if you have allergy sufferers in your home, making sure that your HVAC equipment is working right is crucial to their health. In this case, a service contract can make sure your systems are performing at top efficiency, and keeping your in-home air quality at its best.

Find A Reliable Source Of Filters

Make sure you have a good supply of filters when you need them. Air Filter Buy offers furnace filters, air filters, whole house filters, and humidifier filters with fast shipping that’s free if you spend over $30. You can even get discounts on recurring orders. Check us out today on our website, or by calling (855) FILTBUY.

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What Type Of Air Purifier Should You Consider?

What Type Of Air Purifier Should You Consider?If you have allergies or asthma, you may feel desperate to find a way to improve the air quality in your home, and willingly contribute to the annual $250 million Americans spend on air purification devices. Experts from the EPA and Consumers Reports question whether home air purifiers will have much effect on indoor pollutants and note that more thorough cleaning, confining smokers to outside, and opening your windows can improve air quality without a device. However, if you are bothered by dust, pet dander, smoke, and pollen that accumulate in your home at higher levels than outdoors, you may be motivated to give an air purifier a try.

Popular Air Purifiers

The most popular types of air purifier or air cleaners use one of three processes:

  • Filtration. Often part of your heating and cooling system, some air cleaners use filters to remove contaminants from all air that passes through them. Made of foam, cotton, fiberglass, or synthetic fibers, pleated filters in HVAC systems have a rating of MERV 14 or above, remove air particles of .3 micrometers or larger, and move more air at a lower initial investment than a portable machine. Such filters lack an airtight seal, however, and can lead to higher energy costs.

Some portable machines use a HEPA filter that can remove 99.97 percent of particles in the same range, and are even more effective on larger particles.

  • Ionization. Purifiers use the method of corona discharge to create an electrical field where air particulates pick up a charge, and then move toward positively charged collection plates within the unit. Unfortunately, the plates within the unit easily clog with dust and the charge particles attach themselves to walls or TV screens. Some units are noiseless because they lack the motor and fan, but the most effective ionic purifiers use a fan to distribute air more quickly. These units have some risk because they produce small amounts of ozone, a pollutant that can irritate allergies.
  • Ozone generation. Ozone generators alter the molecules of oxygen and turn them into ozone after contact with a corona discharge or a UV light. Manufacturers claim that ozone has the helpful effective effect of deodorizing and disinfecting the air. While professional restoration companies use ozone to kill odors after fires and floods, home purifiers that rely on ozone can worsen respiratory diseases for those who have them, and trigger them in those who don’t.

What To Buy

If you decide to try an air purifier, you can compare air cleaners by comparing the Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) assigned by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM). Based on the results of their standard tests to see how effectively air cleaners remove contaminants from the air, the AHAH assigns a CADR number for tobacco smoke, pollen, and dust. The best cleaners approach the maximum ratings of 450 for pollen and smoke, and 400 for dust.

To determine the best air purifier for your home, the AHAM suggest that it be two-thirds the area of a room. For a 10 X 12 room with 120 square feet you would need a tobacco smoke CADR rating of at least 80. For rooms with higher ceilings, you should buy a unit with a higher rating.

Go For A Filter System If You Buy An Air Purifier

Your best choice for an air cleaner might lie with a filter system. To find a great source of filters, whether you need a furnace filter, air filter, whole house filters, or humidifier filter, visit the Air Filter Buy website, where we offer over 600 types of filters. We offer a great selection of brand name and proprietary filters, and pride ourselves on our fast shipping that’s free with orders over $30. You can order online or by phone at (855) FILTBUY.

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Tips For Preparing Your Home For Spring

Tips For Preparing Your Home For SpringEven if you’re in the part of the country that is still alternating between bursts of spring weather and winter storms, it’s nearly time to start thinking about how to prepare your home for spring.

Winter can do a number on your home. When you do an inspection on a nice day, you may see signs of damage from harsh weather, debris on the lawn, and signs of impending problems you’ll want to take care of as soon as you can.

Check For Moisture Problems

Once the ice and snow are gone, make sure that they did not leave you with a moisture problem that could breed mold. If you had ice dams form on your roof, melting snow may have met a heavy barrier of ice when trying to melt. Rather than falling from your roof, the water might have leaked inside your home through cracks and openings in the roof covering. As a result, you may have unexpected moisture in your attic, insulation, and interior walls and ceilings. If this happens, frequently check for signs of mold growth. Otherwise, since the problem is caused by heat loss, your plan of action before another winter is clear:

• Repair leaks and any damage to your roof.
• Seal air leakage path between the attic and your house.
• Increase insulation on your ceiling and underside of your roof.

As you inspect the exterior of your house, make sure to check for any other areas where you see loose siding, damage on decks or other outside structures, dislodged weather stripping or caulk, or damaged gutters. When you’re done, prioritize what needs to be fixed.

Clean Up Your Yard

After a winter, your lawn may appear dingy, an issue you can address with fertilizers in a couple months. For now, pick up the tree branches, old leaves, and trash that has blown into your yard to make it easier to work on the lawn when the time comes, and to instantly improve curb appeal. At this point, you can assess what decks, walkways, retaining walls, etc. need to be power washed. If you’ve been dreaming about your garden all winter long, now’s the time to make sure you have all the tools and supplies you need, so that you can start working on it when it gets a bit warmer.

Replenish, Recharge, Replace

Springtime is a good time to check that all safety equipment in your home is working correctly. Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors may need the battery changed, and fire extinguishers need to be checked for potential recharging.

In the spring, even the inside of your house needs a break. During heating season, your furnace has probably worked overtime to keep you warm, and in the process accumulated plenty of dust and dirt. Make spring a good time to check your furnace filter, air filter, whole house filter, and humidifier filters to see if they need replacing. While equipment manufacturers don’t recommend that you change filters as often as they did in the past, a quick look will tell you if the filters are dirty and need replacement.

Looking for good source of filters? Consider Air Filter Buy, an online supplier of all types and brands of filters. They feature quick shipping that’s free if you order over $30, plus discounts on recurring orders. Just check our website or call us at (855) FILTBUY to order.

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An Overflowing Sink Can Lead To Mold & Mildew

An Overflowing Sink Can Lead To Mold & MildewAn overflowing sink is a good example of an irritating homeowner problem that you might clean up and then forget about. Unfortunately, you can have long-term effects from an overflowing sink, especially if it happens a few times, or if you do not promptly clean up the water.

When water flows onto the floor, there’s a good likelihood that it has moved toward the wall and gone under the vanity. As a result, you could be plagued by:

• Mold and mildew growth.
• Weakened floor joists.
• Dripping in rooms below.

What To Do If Your Tub Or Sink Overflows

All of these are hidden dangers that might never occur to you. Especially if the overflow was caused by the sink backing up, you need to take a few steps to make sure that you won’t have problems in the future.

• Determine the reason for the problem. If you ran out of the bathroom to answer the phone and left the water running, you might come back to a minor problem that you can fix by shutting off the water, mopping up the mess, and hoping for the best. However, even if clean water was causing the overflow, and you did not turn off the faucet in the sink or tub for 20 minutes, the likelihood of water damage is greater. If you find that the overflow was sewage or an unknown source of water, you may have contamination of your home as well.

• Determine what got wet. Tile or vinyl flooring is not easy to pull up, but wet carpeting is an obvious source of potential mold if you do not pull it up and dry it out. Drywall on walls and ceilings is a likely casualty, as this product often develops mold or mildew as it dries, and must be replaced if it is soaked through.

• Be proactive in stopping mold growth. Some experts suggest spraying what got wet with a 50-/50 bleach water solution, or cleaning the area with a professional product such as ZEP or Odorban to counteract mold, mildew, and odor.

• Consider if you need professional help. Professional remediation firms can suck the water out of carpeting and analyze damage more thoroughly than you can. Also, if you feel increasing weakness in a floor that got wet, you need to have a professional pull up the floor covering and strengthen the subfloor and the joists below.

While you do not want to overreact to a minor mishap, the risk is that you can develop mold and mildew that can provoke or aggravate allergies and affect the air quality in your home.

Preserving Your Home Air Quality

As a general precaution for maintaining your interior air quality, make sure you keep your furnace filter, air filter, whole house filters, and humidifier filters changed on schedule. For good source of filters, consider Air Filter Buy, an online supplier of the best names in filters. Just call us at (855) FILTBUY.

Do You Really Need To Clean Your Air Ducts?

Air Duct Cleaning May Not Always Be NecessaryThe air ducts in your home, located in walls and under floors, may be out of sight, but if you ignore cleaning them, or have them cleaned improperly, do you compromise the interior air quality of your home? As your air is conditioned, whether to make it cooler or warmer, it passes through air ducts that accumulate dirt and dust. Are some of these microscopic fibers then circulated throughout your home when the blower on your heater or air-conditioner starts up again?

Why The EPA Questions The Value Of Air Duct Cleaning

As the EPA points out, most people survive in their home just fine if the ducts are dirty. Why? Dust clings to dust, so what clings to the sides of the ducts may never re-enter the house, which is continually polluted by activities such as cooking, smoking, cleaning, or even moving around. There is neither evidence nor studies showing that particulates in air ducts pose problems to health. There are, however, exceptions:

• You have evidence of visible mold growth on the metal or other parts of the heating or cooling system. Often this happens if insulated ducts are exposed to water, and mold results.
• Your ducts have infestation of insects and rodents.
• The ducts are so clogged with dust and debris that particulates flood your home.

Unless you have evidence of a problem, the EPA makes no recommendations about routine duct cleaning, and even warns about potential dangers of improper cleaning. Air duct cleaning is not a good DIY project. Using a vacuum can loosen dust and bring it into your internal airflow, which can bother anyone in the home.

What To Watch For If You Have Your Ducts Cleaned

Many cleaning firms promote air duct cleaning as an important part of home hygiene, and even send coupons through the mail in the monthly value pack to encourage you to do it. The service can cost up to $1,000, depending on the size of your system, how accessible it is, your climate, and how contaminated your ducts prove to be. Typically, a provider will examine your system to give you an estimate of cost.

The process of air duct cleaning encompasses cleaning supplies and return air ducts and registers, grills and diffusers, heating and cooling coils on heat exchangers, drip pans, fan motors and housings, and the housing on your air handling system. When these systems are partially disassembled for cleaning, more allergens can be released into the air than if you left them alone. Unless every part of the system is cleaned, other parts of the system will be contaminated, which makes the expenditure useless. You should only entrust air duct cleaning to a competent service provider.

Some companies claim that is necessary to use chemical biocides to kill microbiological contaminants in the duct, and even go further to suggest applying sealants to encapsulate the inside surfaces of the ducts. They claim this controls mold growth and keeps dust particles from disseminating through your air ducts, but these techniques have not been well researched. If they work at all, they only do so once the system is thoroughly and correctly cleaned.

In addition, the chemicals can often be more toxic and more allergy-triggering than if the dust were left alone. If the company you employ to clean your ducts wants to use chemicals, make sure that they are safe, natural pH balanced enzyme cleansers.

Don’t Neglect Changing Your Furnace Filter

While air duct cleaning may not be necessary, keeping your furnace filter, air filter, whole house filters, and humidifier filters clean definitely is important. For a good source of filters, order from Air Filter Buy, an online company that stocks all types of filters at a great price. Just call (855) FILTBUY or check out our website.

Helping Wildlife in Your Garden

 

At AirFilterBuy.com, we are hoping that if we keep thinking (and writing) about gardening, soon Spring will actually arrive and we will be able to actually do some gardening ourselves!

So we assume you’ve already stopped using chemicals, started a compost heap and stopped wasting water in your garden. Heck, you’ve probably even read up on how to protect your rain barrel with air filters. If you want to take more action to help local wildlife, try turning your garden into a miniature nature reserve. This doesn’t mean letting weeds take over; far from it. A nicely-designed wildlife garden can be as or more attractive than what you already have, or if you prefer it can look much the same, just with added butterflies and birds.

Dig a Pond

With the advent of modern agricultural methods, small bodies of water such as ponds and ditches are disappearing from the countryside, causing a huge problem for frogs, dragonflies and many other animals. Digging a pond, no matter how small, is probably the single biggest way you can help local wildlife. Add a bucket of water from an established wildlife pond if you can and plant a variety of floating, submerged and marginal aquatic plants. Don’t include ornamental fish, which are liable to just eat tadpoles. If you must have fish, go for small local species such as minnows.

Help Pollinators

Pollinating insects, notably wild bees, are in trouble as a result of habitat destruction, pollution and, sometimes, disease. Here your garden can make a big difference by acting as a replacement for some of the wild habitat that has gone to modern agriculture or development. A good selection of insect attracting plants, preferably native species, helps. You can find lists of suitable plants for your area on local university extension or government websites. To further help butterflies and moths, include the plant species that the caterpillars feed on. A butterfly table with slices of fruit, a bowl of damp soil and sugar-water soaked cotton balls helps the creatures instantly while you are waiting for the plants to grow. Pollinating birds, which usually means hummingbirds, appreciate feeders too. Fill them with a solution of plain white sugar and water, not commercial prepared “hummingbird food”, which might not be that safe.

Create a Meadow

Your lawn is not exactly a hot-spot of biodiversity, doing little for the environment and possibly requiring a lot of water and care. Consider turning it into a hay meadow instead. This won’t look messy if you seed it with a mixture of grass and wildflower seeds, and if you want to make it very obvious that the meadow is a feature, not a symptom of neglect, make a winding path through the middle. At the end of each summer, harvest the hay. If you have pet rabbits, they’d love it (pick out weeds first), otherwise compost or use as a mulch.

Make Homes

Along with food, wild animals need places to breed and shelter. Bird box plans for almost every species are widely available online or, if simple woodwork doesn’t appeal, just buy some ready-made from a garden center. Don’t stop at birds either. Bats, amphibians and bees also need homes. Bat boxes are similar in design to bird boxes except that they have a gap at the bottom rather than a hole near the top. Houses for wild bees are incredibly simple to make, starting with a selection of holes drilled in a piece of wood. If you have some clay plant pots going spare, knock a frog-sized piece of the rim of each one before upending them in a sheltered spot near your pond to make toad and frog homes. Small mammals and reptiles like a pile of loosely stacked scrap wood in a quiet part of your garden. Wear heavy gloves if you need to move the pile since some of these animals may bite.

Allergy Issues Caused By Fire Extinguishers

Allergy Issues From Fire ExtinguishersHaving a fire extinguisher on hand is essential in any home, to protect you in case of small fires. Filled with chemicals to combat fires with different causes, any of them can provoke allergic reactions in the process of doing their job.

Types Of Extinguishers

Extinguishers are rated A-D and K, depending on what type of fire they’re most effective in quashing. Each class also contains different chemicals and is typically housed in different color casings. Each fire extinguisher, with the exception of Class D, bears a pictogram to remind the user of the type of fire the extinguisher will fight,

• Class A (Ash) extinguishers fight ordinary solid combustibles such as wood, paper, cloth, rubber, trash, and plastics, and are usually red in color.
• Class B (Barrel) extinguishers fight flammable liquids, solvents, oil, gasoline, paints, and other oil-based products and are usually red in color.
• Class C (Current) extinguishers fight energized electrical equipment, wiring, motors, and appliances, and are usually red in color
• Class D (Dynamite) extinguishers fight combustible metals and are usually yellow in color.
• Class K (Kitchen) extinguishers fight oils and fats, and are usually silver in color.

You can buy all-in-one extinguishers that fight A-C class fires, but you should have a separate one on hand for fighting kitchen fires.

Risks With Chemicals In Fire Extinguishers

Each class of extinguisher uses a variety of substances to produce results, which include dry chemicals, foams, water, wet chemicals and water additives, clean agents, and carbon dioxide. The composition of chemicals is necessary to fight different types of fires, but many of the ingredients can provoke allergies. Here are some examples:

• Halon, a clean agent that leaves no residue after discharge, can cause frostbite, burns to the skin, eye and skin irritation, cardiac problems such as irregular heartbeats or heart attacks, and nervous system symptoms such as dizziness, unconsciousness, or tingling in the extremities. Halon is seldom used in extinguishers made after 1994.
• Dry powders can cause nasal irritation and throat irritation after inhalation, especially for people with asthma or other respiratory disorders.
• Carbon Dioxide, often used as an alternative to halon, poses health risks depending on the concentration that range from headaches, breathing difficulties, high blood pressure, shortness of breath, dizziness, sweating – all the way to death at concentrations of over 17%.

Safety Tips For Handling Fire Extinguishers

Having fire extinguishers in your home can save your life, but due to the dangers the contents hold, you must be extremely careful when using them.

1. Make sure to have the right type of extinguisher on hand for each fire. Pouring water on a grease or electrical fire is dangerous.
2. The fire extinguisher is not a toy. Do not spray it as a joke.
3. Keep a mask to cover your nose and mouth near the extinguisher, and put it on when you use it.
4. If you do use the extinguisher, wear safety glasses, a facemask, and gloves when you clean up any residue left behind. This reduces the chance of eye or skin irritation, or damage to appliances, computer equipment, and other surfaces.
5. Make sure to have your fire extinguisher serviced after use, and recharged on the schedule recommended by the manufacturer to make sure it is ready to use when you need it.
6. If you are highly allergic to chemicals, try to have someone else who is less prone to allergies set off and clean up after the fire extinguisher. This may not be practical if you live alone. In that case, try to extinguish the fire to prevent it from spreading, call the fire department, and evacuate your home as soon as you can.

These tips were brought to you by Air Filter Buy, a great source when you need a furnace filter, air filter, whole house filters, or humidifier filters. Just order from our website or call us at (855) FILTBUY, to get free shipping with orders over $30, and discounts on recurring orders.

10 Tips for Saving Energy in the Office

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Devising ways to save energy in our homes is becoming second nature to many people, but very often this doesn’t extend to the working environment. Considering that most working people spend on average around eight hours a day in the office, plus the time it takes to commute there and back, this is a large chunk of our day. It therefore goes without saying that if we can save energy in the office too, we will be reducing our carbon footprint even more substantially, and in doing so, we will be making a positive contribution to a healthier planet.

The key areas where energy wastage commonly occurs in an office environment includes paper usage, lighting, inefficient use of electronic equipment, and commuting habits.

The following 10 tips will get you on your way to reducing your energy consumption in the office:

1. Change printer and photocopier settings to enable double-sided printing – printing on both sides of the paper will effectively halve your paper output.

2. Share documents electronically wherever possible to save on unnecessary printing and paper costs. Every printed page consumes electricity, paper and ink/toner, which produces carbon during the manufacturing and printing process, and decimates trees, which take up carbon dioxide.

3. Instead of distributing printed memos, or other general documents to every member of staff, print one copy and attach to a staff notice board, or circulate electronically.

4. Use scrap paper for note taking, and recycle all office paper.

5. Switch off lights in offices and other rooms, such as kitchens, bathrooms, and photocopier rooms, when not in use. Ensure that lights are turned off at the end of the day. Consider installing motion sensors to automatically switch lights off when a room is not in use, or timers that automatically switch lights on and off at times that coincide with the office working hours.

6. Replace incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient bulbs that are Energy Star certified. Not only do these last ten times longer, they reduce energy output by up to 75%, and also reduce heat output, which will reduce your need for air-conditioning.

7. In summer use blinds to filter or block out sunlight, to keep offices cool. This will also reduce the need to run air-conditioners that consume energy.

8. Use the energy saving settings on computers and laptops. Set them to enter hibernation mode when not in use during certain periods of the day, as this is more energy efficient than turning computers off and then rebooting when you return from your lunch break or meeting. Turn computers off at the end of the day.

9. Unplug electronic devices and equipment that are not in use, including cellphone and laptop chargers, coffee machines, photocopiers and printers – only plug them in when you need to use them.

10. Make an effort to reduce your carbon footprint while commuting to work. Try to organize a car-pooling system with colleagues that live along your route. Alternatively take public transport, or bike to work, or consider telecommuting, if this is an option, even if it is only for part of the work week.

Every office generates substantial amounts of paper, leaving a very long, and often unnecessary, paper trail in its wake. This is often an area where huge reductions can be made by changing habits to more efficient use of office resources. Office lighting is estimated to contribute to more than 40% of the energy consumed by an average office, and consequently this, together with the more efficient use of electronic office equipment, is another area where substantial energy savings can be made. Finally, changing your commuting habits can not only reduce your carbon output and carbon footprint, but could also save you money while you are doing your bit for the environment.

Going Green in the Garden

Now that we have officially entered Spring (though it certainly doesn’t feel like it in most of the country), we thought that it was time to start thinking about gardening! As we all know, plants are vital to the clean air that we breathe, so at AirFilterBuy.com we have a number of avid gardeners!

Your garden could be a miniature wildlife sanctuary or it could be making a substantial contribution to soil and water pollution and even your carbon footprint. If you’d prefer your garden helped rather than hindered the environment, get started with these basic ways to have a genuinely green thumb.

Go Organic

The main environmental problem caused by gardening is pollution. Gardeners often use more chemicals per acre than commercial farmers, sometimes a lot more. Pesticides and herbicides are by their very nature toxic, poisoning local ecosystems. They are especially dangerous to aquatic life. Artificial fertilizers are not benign either. Their nutrients leak easily into water systems, where they lead to dangerous algal blooms because algae use much the same nutrients as plants.

Therefore, the obvious first step in becoming a green gardener is to eliminate, or at least drastically reduce, the use of chemicals. You have lots of alternatives for pest control, ranging from companion planting to simply picking the pests off by hand, which is practical on the small scale of a garden. Some gardeners keep a few chickens as a pest control team, although you should check local regulations first. It goes without saying that if you have neighbors, don’t get a rooster. Few people enjoy being woken up at the crack of dawn every day by over-enthusiastic poultry. Alternatively, encourage wild animals such as snakes, frogs and birds to visit your garden as they will also keep the slugs down.

Compost

The best alternative to fertilizers is of course compost. Starting your own compost heap or bin helps the environment in several different ways at once. It means you don’t have to use artificial fertilizers, it is a convenient on-site form of recycling organic material and it forms a home for beneficial creatures such as worms. On a normal compost heap you can put fruit and vegetable kitchen waste, paper, cardboard, eggshells, pet waste from herbivores and small rodents (e.g. horses, rabbits, mice, guinea pigs), lawn clippings and dead weeds. Just don’t add pet waste from carnivores (e.g. dogs, cats), cooked food or living weeds. These form respectively a health risk, a smell risk and a weed risk. Food scraps may also attract pests.

Conserve Water

Avoiding water waste saves on the energy and resources required to store, transport and treat the supply, while reducing the pressure on existing sources (and the need to develop new ones). If you garden appropriately to the climate, you should rarely need to use extra water at all. For watering during exceptionally dry spells, use grey water. Grey water isn’t dirty but it has been used for something else, such as washing clothes. Elaborate grey water systems exist or you could simply collect the water used for washing dishes in a jug. Grey water is safe for lawns, decorative plants and trees (including fruit trees) but don’t use it directly on vegetables.

Grow Your Own

Growing your own organic fruit and vegetables helps, albeit in a small way, to reduce your carbon footprint. The further something has to travel, the more fossil fuel consumed. For example, a pound of grapes from the other side of the world has a carbon footprint of a pound – that’s the equivalent of driving half a mile.  A pound of apples from your own garden has a carbon footprint of practically zero. It might even be negative if you take into consideration the carbon dioxide an apple tree absorbs.

Buy an eBook Save a Tree – Are eReaders better for the Environment?

 

It seems like a no-brainer- eReaders don’t use any paper to produce their books. Real physical books use a lot of paper to produce books. Therefore, eReaders must be more environmentally friendly, right? It turns out the answer is: it depends. There are several more factors involved in both the production of physical books and the production of eReaders that must be considered before you can make a final verdict about which reading method is more environmentally friendly in regards to your reading habits.

Paper

Traditional paper books require massive amounts of paper to produce (obviously). In fact, it takes over 24 trees to make just one ton of paper for book production, and most of those books are destroyed before they ever reach the shelves.  In 2008, the book and newsprint industry in the United States alone destroyed over 125 million trees. The books that don’t sell at the bookstore are then returned to the publisher and burned or recycled. Either way, it’s a massive waste of paper. Ereaders don’t have this problem.

Water and Fossil Fuels

It takes over seven gallons of water to produce one regularly sized printed book. The water doesn’t just disappear, either- it comes out of the other end of the production cycle as wastewater that is non-potable. Producing a regularly sized digital book requires only 2 cups of water. Manufacturing an eReader requires 79 gallons of water initially, but that is offset by the water saved when you purchase a digital book instead of a regular book. Traditional books also require fossil fuels to transport to the bookstore. Ereaders also require transportation, but not on the same scale as physical books.

Carbon Footprint

Cleantech, an environmental consulting firm, states that the production of one traditional book creates 7.5 kg of carbon dioxide. The iPad creates 130 kg of carbon dioxide, and the Kindle creates 168 kg. A reader would need to download around 20 books instead of purchasing them in order to offset the carbon dioxide emissions created by their eReader. Of course, you also need to add on the power consumed during the use of an eReader, although this is comparatively small.

Bottom Line

Traditional books and eReaders both have environmental costs when it comes to production, just like any other facet of modern consumption. Which option is more environmentally friendly? It depends on what kind of reader you happen to be. If you only get your books from the library, you are participating in the most environmentally friendly mode of reading. If you only shop at second hand bookstores and then pass the books on when you’re done with them, that is also more environmentally friendly than using an eReader. However, if you purchase new books on a regular basis, then an eReader is more environmentally friendly than what you’re currently doing. You could offset the environmental effects of your eReader within one year, according to the New York Times. When you upgrade to a new device, don’t forget to recycle it!

How To Reduce Odor And Allergens From Pet Accidents

How To Reduce Odor And Allergens From Pet AccidentsIs a puppy in your future this spring? Many parents whose kids wanted one for Christmas put off adding a new member of the family, since potty training can be a little more challenging with snow and ice outside. Now, with spring upon us in a month, it’s almost time for Rover to come home. As with babies, potty training a puppy can be challenging. Unlike with human babies, baby dogs often mark spots in the house to pee or poop, like their personal porta-potty. This can lead to long-term odor problems and allergies.

Why Puppies Pee In The House

Puppies have small bladders that they tend to empty when the need comes upon them. By nature, they don’t know how to “hold it,” and without training, they don’t know where they are supposed to take care of business. If they do it in-house, especially on a carpet surface, they can find the spot again, even if you have cleaned up the mess. Once urine has dried on the carpet, walls, or furniture, you might not be able to smell it at first, but traces of the uric acid in it remains to lure the puppy back to the same spot.

In addition, puppies and even older dogs can urine-mark a spot to communicate that they have been there. When urine marking, they often do not completely empty their bladder, but just leave a small amount of urine. Regardless of whether your pup is just learning about house training or leaving a message, the impact is the same: germs and odor in your home that can activate allergies.

Problems With Pet Pee

There are several problems with this.

  • Dog urine is mostly water, but the odor of ammonia can irritate the lungs, especially in small children whose lungs are still developing, and in adults with autoimmune disorders, including HIB or cancer.
  • Odors from pet waste can be airborne and distributed through your home when you turn on the blower of your furnace. The same is true for pet dander, which usually contains dried pet urine.
  • Residual dog urine can breed bacteria and fungi in rugs, mattresses, other bedding, and furniture if not properly cleaned. This can be a health risk, especially if you have babies who crawl on the floor or older kids who play on it.
  • If your pet has a disease, even if unknown to you, it can be passed along through dog urine.
  • Just as importantly, who wants to live in a smelly house?

Try To Change The Conversation

Pet waste needs special treatment to remove odor and germs and to discourage your puppy from revisiting the same spot when he needs to pee or send a message to the world. Fortunately, there are many commercial products that will neutralize odors such as UrineOff, Petastic, Clean+Geen, and Anti-Icky-Poo that you should keep on hand. In conjunction with a black light to identify areas you can’t smell, these products will remove the evidence of pet accidents and the incentive to pee there.

Unfortunately, if a pet has used a particular area as a toilet for a long time, the carpet, the pad beneath it, or even the subfloor can be so damaged that they need professional cleaning or even removal oand replacement.

Train Your Pet, Train Yourself

As a pet owner, you don’t want to let things get to that point. Clean up accidents as soon as you discover them, and get on a schedule where you take your pet out after meals and at regular intervals about every two hours at first. Make sure to use a product designed for neutralizing pet urine.

Having a pet as a member of your household can be a wonderful experience for your kids. Just make sure you are committed to helping your littlest household member learn good bathroom habits and get your kids involved in the process.

Improve Whole House Air

While filters can do only so much in absorbing orders from your home, they do play a role in the air maintenance, especially filters designed to absorb pet odors. Have a new furnace filter, air filter, humidifier filter, as well as whole house filters, on hand for when it’s time to replace them. Air Filter Buy is an online supplier of all types of filters. Just order online with free shipping for orders over $30, and 10% off recurring orders. Visit our website or call (855) FILTBUY.

Are Memory Foam Mattresses Hazardous To Your Health?

Are Memory Foam Mattresses Hazardous To Your Health?Buying a new mattress? There are few items in your home that get as much use as your mattress, and are as important to your general well-being. Though you may not get as much sleep as you want, restful sleep is necessary to good health, and the mattress you choose has a lot to do with whether you toss and turn all night, or sleep soundly. For the benefit of your health, you should also make sure that the mattress you choose does not trigger allergies or cause you health problems.

What Type Of Mattress Should You Buy?

When you go mattress shopping these days, you’ll find many competitors to the traditional innerspring mattress, including soft latex or memory foam mattresses, water beds, futon, and air beds. Mattress selection is very personal as the right one for you might not be the right one for someone else. Of nearly 20,000 respondents interviewed by the research group Sleep Like The Dead, every type of mattress has its satisfied customers.

A memory foam mattress offers above-average comfort and pain relief, especially for back pain sufferers, as it tends to mold around your body. It is also a good choice if you sleep with a partner as it reduces motion transfer, which means that your partner can move around without impacting your sleep. About 81% of foam mattress owners in the study noted above were very satisfied with their foam mattress choice.

Are Memory Foam Mattresses Dangerous?

Memory foam mattresses may have their downside, especially for those particularly sensitive to allergens. Many who buy them complain that they have a peculiar odor when first purchased that may last for a few weeks. This is because memory foam is made of chemicals, rather than the latex, air, water, and natural and chemical fibers found in most mattresses.

What you smell first is the chemical smell of polyurethane. Even after the smell goes away, the material is still off-gassing volatile compounds that may irritate your skin and respiratory system. The formaldehyde adhesive that binds the mattress together can lead to lung, nose, and throat cancer. To make the mattress flame resistant and pest resistant, more chemicals are pumped into it. As Duke University researcher Heather Stapleton points out, memory foam sends 61 toxic chemicals into the air, even though the levels emitted are low.

Bye, Bye, Memory foam?

Does this mean you should lug your extremely expensive, extremely heavy memory foam mattress to the curbside? Surprisingly, there is not enough evidence to suggest that a memory foam mattress is any more dangerous than the majority of mattresses on the market today that also include flame retardants, petroleum-based chemicals, foams, and plastics. There are no studies that indicate long-term effects.

Based on current evidence then, you can sleep in peaceful ignorance on your memory foam mattress. However, if you or your kids start exhibiting unexplained respiratory symptoms, you might look to your mattress as a possible source of your problem.

Should you avoid possible side effects from your mattress by buying one that claims to be hyper allergenic? According to Doctor Paul V. Williams, of the University of Washington School of Medicine and the Northwest Allergy and Asthma Center, “There are a lot of claims made by mattress manufacturers that their mattresses are hyper allergenic or don’t support the growth of dust mites, but I don’t know of scientific evidence to support these claims.” Why not? As Williams puts it, dust mites live anywhere there is food, and your dead skin cells are always on the menu! A better choice than buying a costly allergy free mattress is to use a washable mattress cover that forms a barrier between the dust mites and yourself.

Fight Indoor Air Pollution With Filters

Furnace filters, air filters, whole house filters, and humidifier filters play a role in reducing house pollutants. For good source of filters, consider the advantages of handy online ordering from Air Filter Buy. We offer unbeatable prices, fast, free shipping on orders over $30, and a 10% discount on recurring orders. Just order from our website or call us at (855) FILTBUY.

Reducing your carbon footprint – tips and video

While browsing YouTube today we came across this ‘how to’ video listing 10 ways to reduce your carbon footprint. We thought it would provide a good re-enforcement to our recent post on 5 ways to minimize your carbon footprint, with a bit more detail.

1) Turn your thermostat down by 2 degrees in the winter or up by 2 degrees in the summer. You will be shocked the amount of energy this small sacrifice can save.

2) Turn off your computer, TV, and other electronics when you are not using them (At AirFilterBuy.com, we have a strict policy about this) – think about this at both home AND work.

3) Change all incandescent bulbs in your home to compact florescent bulbs – these use over 75% less energy. Soon, we will be offering a deal so you can do this on the cheap!

4) Do your laundry or run the dishwasher only when you have a full load – it saves water AND energy.

5) Eat local. While out of season vegetables from other parts of the World may sound appealing, think about how far they have to travel and the energy cost of delivering them to you. Also, don’t forget your canvas shopping bag -we should all be saying no to BOTH paper and plastic.

6) Bring your own cup or mug when you buy coffee. One additional tip – for those salad lovers (like me) that order a salad at the local deli every day for lunch. You can now buy reusable salad containers to replace the plastic containers that the stores use. Not to tease you again, but we will be offering another deal related to this in the near future so stay tuned.

7) Cut back on bottled water – most tap water (especially in the United States) is perfectly safe to drink. If you are still worried, there are plenty of water filter options available.

8) Plant a tree. Trees help reduce greenhouse gases, and can provide at least a partial carbon offset to some of your other daily activities.

9) Don’t jump in your car every time you want to run an errand. Plan out your trips to make sure you are utilizing each of your car trips in the most efficient way that is feasible.

10) Carpool, use public transportation, ride your bicycle, or best of all, WALK when possible. It can be good for your social life or your health AND for the environment.

10 Ways to Save Energy in the Home

Carbon footprint

Cutting down your energy consumption will not only reduce your carbon footprint and impact on the environment, it will also save you money. It is therefore a win-win situation for both the environment, and your wallet if you conserve energy. Start by following the energy saving tips below to reduce your electricity bill and your carbon footprint.

1. Only use the dishwasher and washing machine when you have a full load. Some washing machines have a half load setting, in which case a smaller load is okay as long as you remember to adjust the setting accordingly. Use the cold water setting to wash clothes wherever possible, as this substantially reduces the energy consumed per load.

2. Choose Energy Star electrical appliances, which are energy efficient and more economical to run. Unplug chargers for laptops, cellphones, and other electrical gadgets when not in use.

3. Replace incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient fluorescent light bulbs, which last up to ten times longer and use 75% less energy than standard incandescent bulbs.

4. Turn your water heater off when you are not going to be home, or are not going to be using hot water. This can be set to switch off when you are at work during the day, and switch back on in the evening when you a wanting a hot shower. Invest in an insulating blanket for your water heater to retain heat for longer. This can reduce your carbon footprint by up to 1100 pounds of carbon per year.

5. Set the thermostat on your water heater to a lower setting. Water heater temperatures are usually set much higher than necessary. By turning your heater down ten degrees you can reduce your carbon footprint by up to 600 pounds of carbon per year – a 1200 pound reduction if you turn it down by twenty degrees.

6. Do the same for your refrigerator – reduce the thermostat setting to 37°F, and that of your freezer to 3°F. Check that the seals around doors are intact and functioning properly to prevent cold air escaping. The refrigerator consumes about 20% of the average household energy budget, and consequently it is an area where energy can be saved if your refrigerator is set too high.

7. Fit low-flow water saving shower heads, which reduce hot water usage while still providing a high powered stream of water for your shower. This can reduce your carbon output by 300 pounds per year.

8. Conduct an energy audit of your home to determine where there are drafts, poor insulation, and where improvements can be made to be more energy efficient. Weatherproof your home to prevent air leaks and drafts from allowing hot/cold air to enter or escape, by wasting energy with unnecessary heating and cooling.

9. More drastic home improvements, such as installing insulation in walls and ceiling, and replacing old windows with modern energy efficient windows with double glazing, can make huge inroads on your energy expenditure.

10. Planting trees in the garden can provide natural shade to keep the home cool in hot weather. Trees also absorb carbon dioxide, so you will be reducing your carbon footprint twofold.

By implementing some of the above energy saving tips into your home and lifestyle you will save money while substantially reducing your carbon footprint.

Plan Ahead For Home Projects To Make Next Winter More Comfortable

Plan Ahead For Next Winter's ProjectsDuring this seemingly endless winter of 2013/2014, you may dream of spring and the promise of warmer days ahead. While you might want to put thoughts of winter out of your mind for the next eight months, now is the time to assess how your home has performed during this winter, and plan ahead for next year. There are some things that might make your home more comfortable or more capable of surviving bad weather that can be costly, and require some budgetary planning to assure they are in place for next year.

Questions To Ask Yourself About Home Performance This Year

To discern possible areas where you need repairs or upgrades, ask yourself some questions.

  • How did your furnace perform this year? Did it keep your home warm and comfortable? Did it go out at any time during the winter? How old is it? Typically, a furnace lasts an average of 15 years. If your furnace is older than that or if it is breaking down frequently, you might want to consider a new unit. Many new furnaces are more efficient than in the past, so you will get some of your initial outlay back in reduced heating bills over the next few years. Furnaces start around $1,000 plus insulation; your local utility company might have financing or insulation deals available.
  • Was your bill much higher this year than in the past? In most areas of the country, fuel rates were higher this winter. However, a programmable thermostat might help you reduce usage by lowering the temperature during the time you won’t be home, have the house just right when you come home from work, and even adjust the temperature during the night. A relatively minor investment, a programmable thermostat can help you reduce fuel consumption during heating season and later during air-conditioning season.
  • Did you have a problem with pipes freezing this past year? Pipes on outside walls are subject to freezing, especially when the temperature hits 0° and below. Insulating the pipes and adding heat tape can protect the pipes in the future. It’s not a foolproof solution, but heat tape and insulation can be fairly economical to have installed. If you had a problem with your outside water spigot freezing, you can also have the faucet replaced with a frost free model that is insulated.
  • Did you feel harsh coldness near your windows, or feel a draft around windows and doors? Replacing old windows with double or triple pane windows and adding weather stripping around them can make your house warmer and more energy efficient. Aside from being comfortable, you should also receive lower energy bills. Window companies usually offer a better deal the more windows you replace, so determine which windows should be swapped out for newer ones.
  • Is one room particularly cold? If so, you might need insulation added. This usually means opening the wallboard, spraying in the insulation, and essentially remodeling the room. Adding insulation in the walls can make a huge difference in how comfortable the room is.

Plan For A Reliable Filter Source

As the season changes, don’t forget to check the condition of your furnace filter, air filter, whole house filters, or humidifier filter. If you need a good source of filters, consider Air Filter Buy, an online supplier of a wide selection of filtration products. You get quick free shipping for orders over $30, and a 10% discount on recurring orders. Just order from the website or call us at (855) FILTBUY.

Do Dye & Fragrance Free Detergents Really Help Allergies?

Do Dye & Fragrance Free Detergents Really Help Allergies?Few people love to do the laundry, but when they do, they want to use an effective detergent that leaves their clothes clean and smelling great. For many with allergy sensitivities, what makes the detergent do its job and leave pleasant fragrance often triggers dermatitis, asthma, headaches, and more.

Fortunately, allergy sufferers have a wide range of choices when selecting a high-performing, yet gentle detergent. Virtually every major brand has non-allergic products in its line, while many products that consider themselves green or organic are free of components that typically provoke allergy symptoms. Many brands also have a variation made for babies that are often gentler and without fragrance.

What’s In Detergent?

While the myriad brands of laundry detergent contain slightly different ingredients, most formulas contain three components: builders (50% by weight), alkylbenzenesulfonate surfactants (15%), and bleaches (7%), plus enzymes.

  • Builders in detergent are water softeners that remove calcium, magnesium, and other metallic elements in hard water. As a result, the water is more compatible with soap and helps plumbing last longer. Typical builders include soap, sodium carbonate, complexation agents, and zeolites. Sodium triphosphate is a widely used builder.
  • Surfactants, or surface active agents, allow a detergent to spread and wet the fabric surface evenly by breaking down the surface tension of the water. In detergents, surfactants are both soluble in water (hydrophilic) and soluble in oils (lipophilic) so that they can break down stains and prevent the dirt from redepositing itself on the item you are washing.
  • Bleaches in detergent make clothes look brighter and whiter, as they battle vegetable-based stains, including chlorophyll, tannins, humic acids, carotenoid pigments, and more. Bleaches are made more effective by activators.
  • Detergents typically contain other enzymes that keep dies from transferring from one item to the other, reduce the chance of damage to the equipment, prevent soil from reattaching itself to the item, and add color and scent to the product. Specific enzymes break down different types of stains. A product that promises to soften clothes or bleach them, or make them smell like a mountain stream, a pine forest, or an ocean breeze achieve that through the balance of enzymes.

The elements that make a detergent effective are also what make it provoke allergies and cause environmental problems. By reading the labels or checking online, you can find alternative detergents that lack common irritants and dies. Not all of them are judged by consumers to be of equal quality, but there are enough choices that you can try different products to see what is effective while not irritating. Some of the greener products are hard to obtain and may be expensive, especially when considering shipping.

What’s important to realize is that all detergents are not alike, as their formulations make them more or less effective in combatting certain problems. However, by doing a little research, you can find one that removes the type of soil you have without provoking allergic relations.

Reduce Airborne Pollutants

Reduce pollutants in the air with furnace filters, air filters, whole house filters, and humidifier filters. For a good source of these products, consider Air Filter Buy, an online supplier of filters from major manufacturers as well as proprietary lines. Shipping is fast and free if you order over $30, and you can even get a 10% discount on recurring orders. Just check out the website or call (855) FILTBUY.

How Safe Are Plastic Food Storage Containers?

Are Plastic Food Storage Containers Safe?Reusing plastic bottles and containers is a controversial topic. The bottom line question is: Do the containers offer an unwanted bonus – harmful chemicals that leach out when you reuse them? Research has shown that the biggest risk for plastic water bottles is germ contamination, but do the same conclusions hold for plastic bowls, tubs, and other items frequently used for storing and reheating food in the microwave?

The Plastics Controversy

As with bottles, the controversy centers around whether the plastic contains BPA (bisphenol A) or phthalates, an ingredient in PVC plastics. Since products containing these compounds have been banned for use in baby bottles in Canada and Europe, many people in the U.S. question the safety of plastic containers. The research on whether they are harmful to humans is inconclusive, but the way a plastic is labeled can help you decide whether you want to use things made from it to store and reheat. Plastic products that bear the recycling number #3 or #7 may include these controversial chemicals, called plasticizers, while ones labeled with #2, #4, or #5 are deemed safe. These guidelines are not always valid, as Rubbermaid, a major manufacturer of plastic products, does not use BPA or phythalates though it labels products with #7.

Does “Microwave-Safe” Mean Safe?

Whether a container is listed as “microwave-safe” is an indicator of potential hazard. Margarine tubs, takeout containers, and similar products are only meant for one-time use and do not have to meet current FDA standards for microwave-safe grades of plastic. If you put these containers in the microwave they will probably warp, which indicates they may release plastic chemicals into your food. Products specifically made for reheating in a microwave claim to be food grade and able to withstand higher temperatures.

Some critics remain skeptical and go so far as to say that you shouldn’t reheat food in plastic at all, and that you should even refrain from washing plastics in the dishwasher as the heat is enough to release chemicals. Instead, they advocate only using microwave-safe glass, which refers to the ability to resist heat, not any tendency to leach chemicals. Most of these critics never claim that heating one meal in a BPA laden plastic dish will kill you, but the long-term effects may affect hormones.

Common Sense Rules To Follow

For anyone who enjoys the convenience of plastic containers, this position may be extreme. However, there are a few good sense tips to follow.

  1. Avoid using containers never intended for reheating. They may survive a spin or two to in the microwave, but may also expose you to chemicals you don’t want in your body.
  2. When you cover your food with plastic cling wrap, make sure that the brand you use is marked microwave-safe.
  3. Even though most plastic food storage bags are microwave-safe, small varieties such as sandwich bags are too thin to hold up under microwave use.
  4. Throw away containers that are distorted or discolored. Even if they were safe, they are past their prime.
  5. Don’t reheat fatty foods full of cream, butter, and cheese in plastic, as the high fat content will make them absorb more chemicals when microwaved.
  6. Don’t store food in plastic containers not intended for food use, such as a new mop bucket or trashcan. Big containers like this might seem like a good place to store 25 pounds of flour or the punch for your neighborhood block party, but you can’t be sure of what’s in the plastic.

Though a person with a normal immune system will undoubtedly survive food stored and reheated in plastic, someone with chemical sensitivities or allergies may have an adverse reaction. In these situations, be safe and use glass containers for reheating rather than risk potential problems.

Improve Home Air Quality

To cut down on airborne allergens in your home, make sure to routinely replace furnace filters, air filters, whole house filters, and humidifier filters. Want to have an extra set of filters on hand? Order from Air Filter Buy, an online supplier of all brands of filters. With free shipping on orders over $30 and a 10% discount on recurring orders, you’ll always want to order online or have them on speed dial at (855) FILTBUY.

Should You Reuse Plastic Water Bottles?

Are Plastic Water Bottles Safe To Reuse?Ever been tempted to reuse a plastic water bottle? After you’ve paid for bottled water, it’s convenient to refill the bottles with juice, water, or other beverages. You may even think that you are reducing landfill waste by using bottles multiple times.

A Step Toward Conservation

From the standpoint of conservation, this thinking makes sense. Americans drink 21 gallons of bottled water per person per year, at a total cost of $11.8 billion. That means that 30 billion bottles or 150,000,000 tons of plastic waste are potential fodder for landfills. Producing all those containers takes 1,500,000 gallons of oil and a considerable amount of energy to make bottles, fill them, store and chill them, and ship them throughout the country. Many bottles are carelessly discarded and have become a major source of ocean pollution and a threat to water life. You might think that any bottle you save would be a tiny step in the right direction of conservation.

The Water Bottle Hoax

Unfortunately, there has been a lot of controversy about whether the bottles themselves are safe. Most bottles are made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and contain the chemical BPA (bisphenol A), which is been linked to breast cancer, prostate cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and reproductive development disorders.

The theory is that when the bottles are exposed to sunlight and heat, they leach out these chemicals. The same thing happens if you stock up on 24 packs of bottles when they’re on sale at the store and keep them in your garage. The more you use a bottle, the more likely it is that you are exposed to harmful chemicals. When you wash the bottle in between with hot soapy, water, you further break down its structure to make the leaching process more likely. The more you use a bottle, the more likely it is to develop tiny nicks when it is dropped or squashed in a backpack, which leads it to release other chemicals. While it’s unlikely you will drop dead from drinking a bottle of water, the cumulative effects of chemicals can lead to illness.

In case you’re wondering why dangerous bottles containing PET and BPA are on the market, it’s because the FDA determined that much of the bad press that water bottles receive resulted from an email hoax that was later disproved. Both the American Cancer Society and Cancer Research UK claim that scares over the bottles were unfounded and that the bottles pose minimum cancer risks from chemical leaching.

So for the average person, reusing a bottle is safe as long as you clean it between uses.

The Real Danger With Plastic Water Bottles

Here’s where the real threat comes in. After coming in contact with your hands and mouth, the bottles are covered with bacteria that contaminates the new liquid that you add to the bottle. Because the throats of the bottle are narrow, they’re hard to clean. A Canadian study in 2003 examined 75 plastic water bottles from an elementary school classroom and concluded that their bacteria levels were so high that, were the water coming straight from the tap, a boil-water order would have to be issued by the city. However, the bacteria was not due to the water or even the bottles themselves, but due to bottle hygiene.

Protecting Your Family

Bottled water itself has come under scrutiny because test after test has shown that it is often no purer than tap water. If the water in your area does not meet your own personal taste tests, a better alternative is to install a water purification system in your house or even use a pitcher purifier to remove impurities and improve taste.

Need a good supply of furnace filters, air filters, whole house filters, or humidifier filters to keep the air in your home clean? Choose Air Filter By, an online supplier of both major and proprietary brands of filters. We offer quick shipment that’s free for orders over $30, plus a 10% discount on recurring orders. Just call (855) FILTBUY or check out our website.

How To Control Moisture And Mold Growth In Your Home

Mold Growth In Your Home Can Aggravate AllergiesWhether your home is dry and dusty or damp and musty, you might find yourself sneezing, wheezing, and having a variety of respiratory symptoms. If it’s too dry, the cause of your distress might be dust mites, pet dander, and other airborne allergens. On the other hand, if it’s too damp, you could be breathing in mold spores.

The Trouble With Mold

Mold is a type of fungus that can develop in the presence of moisture. When conditions for nutrition, moisture, and temperature are ideal, the result is yeast. Fungus that becomes mold does not lead to contagious diseases, but can lead respiratory infections and a variety of other ailments from long-term exposure:

  • Allergic alveolotis, rhinitis, and hypersensitivity pneumonitis, even in people with no known allergies.
  • Asthma, which can be triggered or even brought on.
  • Skin infections, such as ringworm or athlete’s foot.
  • Stachybotris atra (chatarum), an infection known to cause infant death.
  • Other fungal infections among those suffering from immunodeficiency or recovering from surgery or burns.

Sources Of Mold And The Home

Fungi produce volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and odors. Studies in the UK, Canada, and Finland have found that moisture found in homes from water damage, leaks, condensation, and even high humidity from the local climate can lead to respiratory ailments, coughs, colds, and eye and skin irritations.

Fungal spores usually come from environmental sources and vary in composition according to geographic location. As buildings age, the spore population inside increases. In some cases, this mold can effect large groups of people, as in the case of sick building syndrome. Homes and buildings with high mold concentrations need to have moisture sources eliminated and water damaged materials removed. Moisture can even affect building materials, carpeting, furniture, clothes, books, and stored food. Once contaminated, these items can contribute to ailments.

How Can You Counteract The Effects Of Mold Growth?

While it is natural to have some level of mold concentration in a home, you must take steps to keep levels as low as possible.

  • Keep air ducts clean, as mold feeds on dust.
  • Filter air intake sources to prevent airborne spores from entering the building.
  • Filter indoor air with high-efficiency ASHRAE filters, which block mold spores in the 1 to 4 micron size range.
  • Keep HVAC systems free of dust and make sure that drain pans are free of standing water and clogs.
  • Clean drain pans in refrigerators, air conditioners, humidifiers, and dehumidifiers.
  • Employ ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) on cooling coils and internal surfaces.
  • Frequently inspect air handling systems and areas of the home or building where condensation or water damage is likely.
  • Employ a system of daytime cooling and nighttime dehumidification to reduce fungal growth in air handling systems.

Regularly changing your furnace filter, air filter, whole house filters, and humidifier filters are an important part of keeping mold spore growth in check in your home. At Air Filter Buy, a reliable source of filters of all types, you can buy filters with MERV ratings that can trap fungi. Order today by checking our website or calling (255) Air Filter Buy.

What Kinds Of Chemicals Are In A Couch?

Alternatives to Polyurethane Filled Couches and FurnitureYour definition of comfortable furniture is probably something that’s overstuffed, at least in the seat, back, and arms. However, what’s inside that furniture can be harmful to your health, no matter how much you spent on it.

The wood frames that give your furniture shape and strength may contain formaldehyde in the glue used for construction and finishes. As noted in our previous blog Is Cheap Furniture A Health Risk?, wood that contains any type of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can trigger allergic reactions long after the furniture store delivers that new couch, chair, or bookcase to your home.

What’s In That Couch?

Most upholstered furniture is padded with polyurethane foam in the back and arms, while having foam cushions on the seats. Since the 1970s, there have been standards in place that have made furniture less susceptible to fire from a smoldering cigarette. Since that time the foam has been imbued with flame retardants to compound the synthetic materials in the foam itself, in an effort to improve fire resistance.

“Couch” is an easy word to say, unlike much of what is in one:

  • Polyurethane is made of toluene diisocyanate, a known indoor air pollutant and possible carcinogen. This chemical can produce severe lung problems, along with bronchitis, coughing, and skin irritations.
  • The most common flame retardant, polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE), can cause liver, thyroid, and neurodevelopmental problems as they accumulate in our bodies. This material has been banned in Europe since 2004.
  • Yet another flame retardant used in furniture is Tris (1-3 dichloroisopropyl) phosphate, banned since the 1970s as a flame retardant for children’s pajamas due to its known cancer risks. Tris is considered a Persistent Organic Pollutant (POP) that does not break down into safer chemicals, builds up in people and animals, and is harmful to life.

The flame retardant chemicals are sprayed on the foam, but not bound to it. This means that they off-gas from the foam and become part of dust that children and adults ingest through to hand to mouth contact. Ironically, though PBDE and Tris accumulates in human fat cells and affects fertility and endocrine functioning, it does little to stop the spread of fire from an open flame.

Safe Alternatives

If you want to avoid furniture full of unpronounceable chemicals, what can you do?

  • Consider alternate fillings. Most furniture includes polyurethane foam, as it adds good structure to the furniture. Some furniture, however, is filled with down, wool stuffing, or polyester fiberfill that usually has no flame retardant chemicals in it.
  • Soy Foam. Proponents of green furniture suggest buying furniture filled with alternatives to polyurethane foam. Soy foam includes about 20% soy foam, added to a polyurethane base. Though this product has potential for use in furniture, current formulations have a strong, rather unpleasant odor that has limited its popularity.
  • Latex Foam. Another green alternative is natural latex foam gathered from rubber trees. Latex foam resists mold, mildew, and dust mites, and can be imbued with fire resistant chemicals. Since rubber trees are scarce, the product is expensive. There is a synthetic formulation that includes a mix of synthetic and natural latex that may be a good alternative, but the created product off gases a mucous membrane and eye irritant called 4–PC.
  • Buy Newer Furniture. New laws in California require manufacturers to merely pass a smolder test, not an open flame test. This may encourage manufacturers to stop using current flame retardants. Furniture that meets the new standards will be labeled TB 117-2013. Not all manufacturers will use the new standard, so make sure to ask about whether the furniture contains flame retardants.

Co-Existing With Killer Furniture

Assuming that you are not in a position to discard your furniture in favor of more costly alternatives, what can you do to minimize risk?

  1. Clean frequently with a vacuum with a HEPA filter and a damp cloth to attract dust.
  2. Wash your hands frequently, especially before eating. Make sure to wash your kids’ hands often too, as they tend to put fingers in their mouths.
  3. Discard foam pillows and cushions that are crumbling and replace the foam with different types of filling materials. At the least, make sure that the foam is inside a case and perhaps even wrapped with fiberfill to reduce the proximity of the flame retardants.
  4. Plan ahead for furniture replacement. If you know you’ll be needing new living room furniture or other pieces, make sure to keep abreast on alternatives to polyurethane.

Keep Household Dust In Check

Reducing harmful furniture dust is one important function of home air filtration systems. Make sure that your furnace filters, air filters, whole house filters, and humidifier filters are clean and replaced according to the manufacturer’s schedule. For a good source of filtration products, consider Air Filter Buy, a supplier of all types, brands, and sizes of filters. Just order online, or by phone at (855) FILTBUY.

What Causes Biological Pollutants In The Home?

What Causes Biological Pollutants In The Home?Anyone who’s ever had allergies knows the drill. Because there are so many potential sources of allergy symptoms, your doctor will grill you as to potential causes in your environment. Once you have shared information about your home and lifestyle, he will attempt to isolate the causes, often by removing potential allergy triggers one by one.

Some allergens come from organisms that were once alive, such as animal dander, insect parts, pollen, and more. Many people coexist with biological pollutants, but you may be hypersensitive to these byproducts.

Are There Biological Pollutants In Your Home?

Before your doctor tests you for specific allergies, he will ask you about likely sources of biological pollutants found right in your home. First though, he will ask you whether your symptoms appear just at home, or if they follow you wherever you go. If you just find them at home, have you moved recently? Did your symptoms suddenly appear after you moved to a different home? If you answer ‘yes’ to these questions, the source of the problem might be in your home.

Sources Of Biological Pollutants

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are 13 likely sources of biological pollutants right in your home. These include:

  1. Dogs, cats, or other pets that leave skin cells, hair, or feathers in your home.
  2. Dirty air conditioners with clogged filters and pans of standing water.
  3. Dirty humidifiers and dehumidifiers that are not cleaned on a regular schedule.
  4. Dirty air-conditioning or heating system.
  5. Dirty refrigerator drip pans.
  6. Water damage around windows, roof, or basement.
  7. Carpeting in damp basements or in areas that have suffered water damage.
  8. Closets on outside walls that can transmit moisture to clothing and other items stored there.
  9. Bedding, which collects your skin dander as well as that of animals if they sleep in the bed.
  10. Unventilated attics.
  11. Bathrooms without vents or windows to remove moisture.
  12. Kitchens without vents or windows to remove cooking odors.
  13. Laundry rooms with unvented dryers.

Potential Damage

Toxic reactions to biological pollutants in your home are not well understood, but the damage they can do is devastating. They can involve your liver, digestive tract, central nervous system, and immune system, in addition to your respiratory system.

What doctors do know is that moisture, whether it comes from leaks or standing water left in humidifiers and portable air conditioners, can lead to allergy-provoking mold and mildew. Building supply products, pet dander, and insects fragments can also contribute to harmful internal air, as can lack of ventilation.

How To Reduce Or Remove Sources Of Biological Pollutants

You can remove or reduce many biological pollutants in your home by taking a few simple steps:

  1. Empty, wash, and disinfect drip pans from refrigerators, air conditioners, humidifiers and dehumidifiers.
  2. Replace both home and appliance filters according to manufacturer’s instructions, or when they are visibly dirty
  3. Improve ventilation in rooms such as kitchens and bathrooms by adding exhaust fans, or at least cracking the window to remove moisture and improve air quality
  4. Wash bedding in hot water every 7 to 10 days.
  5. Be on the lookout for signs of mold and mildew on household items such as shower curtains, as well as in the rooms of your house

Air Filter Buy Can Help

To supplement your own vigilance and good housekeeping, you need to have a reliable source of furnace filters, air filters, whole house filters, and humidifier filters that you can obtain on a moment’s notice. For a good source of these products, consider Air Filter Buy, an online supplier of filters from major manufacturers as well as proprietary lines. Shipping is fast and free if you order over $30, and you can even get a 10% discount on recurring orders. Just check out the website or call (855) FILTBUY.

When Would I Need A Humidifier?

A Humidifier Can Improve Air Quality - When Do You Need One?Finding balance in life is important, including when it comes to air quality. While having too much moisture in the air make you sweat and feel uncomfortable, too little can lead to a variety of health problems as well. Often, having a humidifier in your home can assure that you have the proper balance. And, when the moisture is at proper levels, you may be less reliant on raising the temperature.

Why You Might Need A Humidifier

What causes the moisture to be out of balance in your home? There are times when you need more moisture:

  1. First, you may live in a climate that requires you to heat your home for part of the year, often with forced air. The hot air from your furnace makes the air so dry that you get symptoms that might range from chapped lips to serious viral conditions. As you are coughing and slathering your body with lotion, your home exhibits other signs of dryness, such as cracking of walls or loosening of the joints on your chairs.
  1. Second, you may live in an arid climate where you have high heat and low humidity most of the year. Though you might feel more comfortable in dry heat, your skin suffers from dry skin all year long. Not just an irritation that can be treat with creams and lotions, dry skin can lead to a variety of skin diseases such as psoriasis and eczema. If you have conditions such as diabetes, liver or kidney diseases, lymphoma, or HIV/AIDS, the dryness can aggravate your condition.
  1. Third, if you have some sicknesses or certain physical conditions, moist air will help you breathe. Moms with kids with chest congestion have known this for years, and often use a vaporizer, a type of humidifier that boils the water to produce steam vapor to clear the nasal passages. Due to the hazards of keeping pots of steaming water near small children, cool mist or ultrasonic humidifiers are often the best choice in this case. Those who suffer from sleep apnea also need a continuous supply of moist air to be blown on the nostrils to prevent a disruption of breathing. CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machines that provide the air are often used in conjunction with a humidifier, which may be built in.

How Big A Humidifier Do You Need?

When you are looking for a humidifier, you can opt for a whole house solution, or one that serves a single room. Sold by gallons, a nine gallon model will serve 2,000-3,200 square feet, while a 12 gallon will serve 2,500-3,200 square feet. These sizes will usually moisturize an average home.

A three-gallon unit located in a bedroom will usually make a whole upstairs bedroom area comfortable, as the moist air attracts and equalizes the dry air. A one-or 1 ½ gallon unit moisturizes 100-400 square feet, and is just right for a single small room.

Though you might buy a humidifier to meet the health needs of a sick family member, you need a larger unit when the whole house needs the benefits of moisture. Not only will skin and hair feel less dry, but other health conditions will improve. There will be less static electricity in the house, and furniture and flooring are at less risk of damage.

Maintaining Your Humidifier

To reap the benefits of a humidifier, you need to fill the unit frequently with distilled water. To determine how often the unit needs filling, you should observe the hygrometer on the unit and aim for a moisture level of 30—50%. If the unit runs most of the day, you may need to fill it twice a day. To prevent the hazards of standing water, you should regularly clean the unit.

A humidifier filter must be changed per the manufacturer’s direction, just as you would change your furnace filter, air filter, or whole house filter. For a good source of filters, check out Air Filter Buy. You can order filters online or by calling (855) FILTBUY. You get free shipping for orders over $30, and a 10% discount on repeat orders.

Is Cheap Furniture A Health Risk?

Cheap Furniture Can Be Hazardous To Your HealthWhen you are a struggling college student or young married couple trying to furnish your first apartment, you may opt for a few pieces of ready to assemble furniture. The product looks nice, is easy to bring home, and fits your budget, even though it is not solid wood and may have a finish that peels off. It’ll do, you figure, until you can do better. Though the price is appealing, are there any hazards in buying cheap furniture?

The Dangers Of Pressed Wood Furniture

Surprisingly, the answer is yes. Cheap furniture is often made of plywood or pressed wood, aka particleboard, a composite product made of wood scraps, sawdust, and other leftovers. While this sounds environmentally responsible, the problem is that the materials are bound together with adhesives that often contain formaldehyde and other toxic chemicals. The finishes on cheap furniture will not only chip or peel off, but often contain excessive limits of chemical gases, which can trigger allergies and pollute indoor air.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air quality is the fourth greatest pollution threat in the US. Furniture, along with carpeting, computer keyboards, cabinets, and other items in the home often contain and disperse chemicals into the air in excess of the maximum suggested by the EPA.

Imagine The Impact Of A Whole Room Of Cheap Furniture

Recently, the morning show Good Morning America, with the help of the Green Guard Environmental Institute, part of Underwriters Laboratories, investigated a room of furniture used in a child’s nursery. They bought a crib, rocker, changing table, and decorations. After tests, they found that the air in the nursery contained 300 different types of chemicals. The chair had over seven times the permissible level of formaldehyde, while the crib mattress emitted 100 different chemicals, including industrial solvents and alcohol. Even the paint in the room had five times the amount of industrial gases recommended.

While none of these products were recalled or even violated any law, they could still wreak havoc with internal air. While many adults might not notice the effects, children can be more sensitive. In addition, some of these products have long-term effects and links to cancer, irrespective of whether an odor is noticeable. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) notes that pressed wood, composite board, particleboard etc. puts those with compromised respiratory systems, allergies, or asthma at risk of attacks, irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, headaches, nausea, dizziness, and more.

More Risks

Especially when you’re talking about furniture used for children, there are other risks. The finish, whether a paint or a laminate, is subject to peeling or chipping, while corners of furniture are often knocked off in the course of normal use. Both the chips from the finish and the furniture fragments can be choking hazards for children. In addition, ingesting these chemical products could introduce harmful substances into the body.

Adding to the list of potential hazards with pressed wood furniture is the fact that these products easily warp in the presence of moisture and humidity. This means that the products can also harbor mold and mildew, pollutants to inside air that could cause similar respiratory distress.

Protecting Yourself From The Hazards Of Cheap Furniture

The price makes cheap furniture hard to pass up in many circumstances. If you are concerned about the health aspects, how can you protect yourself and your family? Here are a few tips.

  • Check for certifications. Most furniture lacks a label that indicates low chemicals submissions, but in the future, more pieces will display this information.
  • Avoid buying pressed wood furniture, if possible – especially for those with asthma or known allergies. If you do buy it, make sure the room is well ventilated for the first few weeks to allow some of the chemicals to dissipate.
  • Consider buying good used wood furniture. Older pieces tend to be solid wood. If you refinish the furniture, make sure to use low VOC paints, stains, and sealants.

One way to help improve the air quality in your home is to frequently replace your furnace filter, air filter, whole house filters, and humidifier. Choose Air Filter Buy, an online supplier of filters from a variety of manufacturers, in sizes to fit your needs. Just order from our website or call us at (855) FILTBUY.

10 Reasons To Plan Ahead For Spring Remodeling

Use The Winter To Plan For Spring RemodelingAfter the ice, snow, and cold that people in many areas of the country have experienced this winter, there is nothing like thinking ahead to spring remodeling projects to make the time go faster. Just curl up with your favorite home improvement magazine or your laptop on an Internet site such as Houzz.com, and dream of the possibilities! While this may seem like an idle winter pastime, there are 10 good reasons to plan ahead a few months before you actually undertake home repair projects.

10 Good To Reasons To Plan Ahead For Spring Remodeling

  1. You need to estimate the cost on a project so that you can more accurately budget. When you visualize before you spend, you can narrow down the scope of your project and keep costs in line. Dreaming is free; doing costs money.
  2. You can read and research the materials to do each job. Whether you are replacing cabinets, renovating a bathroom, adding a backsplash, or adding new flooring, there are exciting new choices available.
  3. As you familiarize yourself with new materials, you will also learn about what is more environmentally friendly and sustainable, and what you should avoid.
  4. While some environmentally conscious products, such as low VOC paints and stains, are readily available, you might have to search harder for sustainable materials, or custom items like affordable all-wood cabinets that are made without adhesive containing formaldehyde and other chemicals. You can easily find the sources online, but locating appropriate suppliers takes time.
  5. Some materials and products you will want in your remodeled room are special-order. time. Ordering well before you need them allows time for the materials to be on hand.
  6. Green materials sometimes are more costly. Make sure to figure these additional costs into your budget.
  7. Often, the most sustainable method of remodeling is to recycle what you have. Refinishing or reproducing cabinets or furniture can save you money, yet offer you a new look. Just plan to use low VOCs finishes and non-toxic trim on your project.
  8. Home repair can be fun and economical, but be honest with yourself about your limits. Hiring a contractor to handle the project or using subcontractors for various parts of it can appear costly but offer great value. Winter is off-season for many home improvement professionals, so research people you’d like to use and booked them now. Planning a modest project? There’s time to take a class.
  9. Many projects require tools that you will have to buy or rent if you don’t own them. Use the off-season to plan ahead for what you need to acquire.
  10. Home repair projects can blow up significant amounts of dust in your home, which can irritate allergies. Make sure that you will have access to a vacuum with a HEPA filter, and budget for supplies such as respirator masks, gloves, and goggles to use during the project.

Don’t Forget The Filters To Improve And Protect Air Quality

Anytime you undertake a project in your home that blows up dust, either from cutting and sanding wood or introducing new chemicals into your air, you need to make sure that the workspace is well ventilated. It is also likely that you will need to check your furnace filter, air filter, whole house filters, and humidifier filters during this time to make sure that they are not clogged with additional particulates from your remodeling effort.

Always make sure to have replacement filters on hand. To make sure that you are never without the filters you need, connect with Air Filter Buy, a reliable online source of filters from major manufacturers and proprietary sources. Ordering is fast and easy, and delivery is free if your order is more than $30. You can even get a 10% discount on recurring orders. Take a look at our website to see our wide selection of filter products, and place your order online or by phone at (855) FILTBUY.

How To Combat Biological Pollutants In Your Home

Biological PollutantsThough it is disgusting to consider what comprises your indoor air, the fact is that it is full of biological pollutants. Once living organisms, these particles of animal dander from hair, feathers, dust, dust mites, cockroach parts, pollen, and other infectious agents are waging warfare within your home. In addition, your indoor air can help spread infectious diseases and toxic reactions. What triggers Sick Building Sickness (SBS) in public buildings can be found in your home as well.

No matter how well you clean, biological pollutants are all around you, and can be found in damp areas of your home such as the bathroom, in wet appliances such as humidifiers and air-conditioners, and even in carpets and furniture. Studies in the US and Canada have found that 30 to 50% of all structures have damp conditions that promote the growth of biological pollutants; numbers are even higher in moist, warmer climates.

The Dangers Of Biological Pollutants

Having biological pollutants in your home can lead to symptoms such as watery eyes, nasal congestion coughing, wheezing and difficult breathing, itching, headache, or fatigue. While you might tie the symptoms to allergies to a cat or dog, you might not know what is actually causing the problem for you.

As with all pollutants, you are more likely to be susceptible to biological pollutants if you or another family member suffers with asthma. Since 1970, the number of people diagnosed with asthma has increased by 59%, so that 9.6 million people are affected. Meanwhile, in the age group of children under 15, the percentage has increased by 41%, with 2.6 kids affected. Asthma now accounts for 4,400 deaths per year, up 68% since 1979. The statistics suggest that coexisting with biological pollutants is not a good idea.

What is even more serious is that is that your indoor air can be a breeding ground for infectious diseases such as the flu, measles, tuberculosis, chickenpox, and more. Since such diseases pass from person to person, you are more likely to contract them from other family members if you have poor air quality. Also, toxic reactions to biological error pollutants, though not widely studied or understood, can lead to liver, nervous system, digestive or immune system damage.

How To Reduce Sources Of Biological Pollutants

Do you have biological pollutants in your home, and what can you do about them? If your home smells musty or you see evidence of moisture, inspect your home, track down, and, if possible, eliminate the source of moisture. Here are a few of the many suggestions offered by the Consumer Product Safety Commission:

  1. Fix leaks and seepage of water from the outside, which might require adding or replacing gutters, changing the slope of your lot, adding drain tile, or waterproofing your basement.
  2. Prevent crawlspace moisture from invading your house by using plastic covers.
  3. Turn on exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens to pull moisture out of your home.
  4. Regulate air quality with humidifiers, dehumidifiers, and air conditioners, but empty and clean drip pans and water tanks.
  5. In areas where moisture condenses, raise the temperature of cold surfaces. Install insulated or storm windows in your home, open doors between rooms to increase circulation, and promote their circulation by turning on your ceiling fan.
  6. Prevent moisture from seeping into carpets on concrete floors by using a vapor barrier and insulated subflooring under the carpet.
  7. Pay attention to your climate, as different areas of the country require different solutions to moisture problems.
  8. Control both dust and moisture with a thorough cleaning regimen.

Use Filters To Control Biological Pollutants

Maintaining your furnace filter, air filter, and whole house filters aid in controlling biological pollutants in your home. For a good source of quality filters, consider Air Filter Buy, a reliable online source of filters of all types, sizes, and manufacturers. We offer free shipping on orders over $30, as well as a 10% discount on recurring orders. Order today from our website, or by calling (855) FILTBUY.

What Is Sick Building Syndrome (SBS)?

Sick Building SyndromeWhen it’s cold outside, the TV news people are quick to encourage people to stay inside where it’s warm and dry. Ironically, this can cause a whole new set of problems, especially if the building where you stay can make you and other occupants sick. “Sick Building Syndrome” (SBS) is a documented condition that describes unspecified illnesses associated with time spent in a particular building or room in a building. This documented condition results from unsafe indoor air.

Sick Building Syndrome Hits The News

Occasionally, examples of SBS hit the news. Back in 1976, a group of convention goers developed fatal lung diseases after staying in a Philadelphia hotel. 200 people were diagnosed with pneumonia, while 34 died. The problem was found to be bacteria that grew in warm water found in large air-conditioning systems, and was spread when the air conditioner blew cool air. There are many other similar documented cases and in a 1984 report, the World Health Organization Committee claimed that 30% of new and remodeled buildings worldwide had compromised interior air quality.

Signs Of SBS

Common symptoms of SBS include:

  • Building occupants complain of symptoms such as headache, irritations of the eyes, nose or throat, dry, itchy skin, coughing, dizziness and nausea, fatigue, and difficulty in concentrating.
  • The cause of the symptoms cannot be linked to anything in particular.
  • Symptoms seem to disappear when they leave the building.

In certain circumstances, the causes are traceable and the affects long-lasting, with “Building Related Illness” (BRI). In this case:

  • Building occupants exhibit similar symptoms as noted above, which may escalate into fever, chills, muscle aches, or chest tightening.
  • Symptoms have identifiable causes and can be clinically defined.
  • When occupants leave the building, they may require prolonged recovery.

According to the EPA, SBS and BRI have several causes. These include:

  • Inadequate ventilation. Many buildings constructed since 1973 provide less ventilation per occupant. Standards were changed from about 15 cubic feet per minute (CFM) to 5 CFM, in the name of energy conservation. Over time, as the link with SBS became clearer, this low ventilation standard has been returned to 15 CFM per person, with even more ventilation per person in closed office spaces and smoking lounges.
  • Chemical contaminants from indoor sources. Inside a building, diverse sources such as copy machines, manufactured wood products, carpeting, posters, pesticides, and cleaning products may emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and compromise air quality. When you mix in tobacco smoke and other toxins, along with combustion products such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and particles from unvented space heaters, wood stoves, and fireplaces, you have error that can easily trigger respiratory diseases and other chronic health effects.
  • Chemical contaminants from outdoor sources. Poorly located air intake vents can create a toxic internal environment, if they do not take into account motor vehicle exhausts and plumbing vents.
  • Biological contaminants. As was the case in Legionnaire’s Disease, mold, bacteria, pollen and viruses can accumulate in ducts, humidifiers, drain pans, or even ceiling tiles, carpeting, or insulation. Sometimes even insect or bird droppings can further contaminate the environment, and lead to respiratory symptoms or even death.

Fixing SBS And Similar Problems In Your Home

“Healing” a sick building requires improving ventilation, removing or modifying the source of the problem, and putting an aggressive air cleaning system in place. Needless to say, identifying and remediating a building with SBS requires that building occupants report signs of illness and work closely with management and maintenance to improve conditions.

While your own home does not create a public health emergency as SBS or BRI do, your indoor air can contribute to respiratory disease and other physical discomforts. To keep your indoor air as healthy as possible, clean and disinfect your home regularly, be aware of the harmful effects of VOCs, maintain good ventilation, and change your furnace filter, air filter, and whole house filters frequently.

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