How Often Should You Change Your Furnace Air Filter?

If you’re simply after a quick and easy answer to when to replace your filter, then skip straight to the “Basic Guidelines for Replacing a Filter” section below.


Dirty Furnace Filter
dirty filter image courtesy of

“I only change my furnace filter when it looks dirty.” Although this is a common assumption of how to know when to replace a furnace filter, it is not good advice. If you can see a buildup of particulates on your filter then it should have most likely already been replaced. A dirty filter not only reduces the efficiency of your furnace but more importantly, negatively impacts the quality of the air you and your family breathe.

But how do you know when to change your filter? The correct answer is: it depends. Many manufacturers recommend that you change your furnace filter every three months. But this is only meant as a guideline. As you might have guessed, every household is different.

A variety of factors may determine how often you change your filter. They include the type of filter, specific conditions in the home, and furnace usage patterns, to name just a few. If you’re looking for a quick and simple answer to when to replace your furnace filter, skip on down to the “Basic Guidelines …” section. But if you’re the inquisitive sort that wants to know everything there is to know about furnace filters, well, you’re on the right site. Feel free to read on.

Do You Need To Change Your HVAC Filter?

snapAir filters in your home central heating/cooling unit don’t last forever. They filter dust, pollen, bacteria and mold from your air, so what you breathe is clean. A clogged-up air filter kills your unit’s energy efficiency. If neglected long enough, it can send air pollutants, dust and spores all over your house, and can eventually clog the vents as well. Clogged vents can cause pressure to build up, causing leaks in several places over time, which effectively defeats the purpose of having them. If you have recently discovered having allergies, or sinus or breathing issues, it could be due to not having clean air running through your house.

Additionally, having your system running efficiently helps it do its job better in extreme weather. During the summer, when you’re faced with extreme heat, a cleaner air filter is going to allow your AC to run more efficiently, keeping you safe, and costing you less. During the winter, clean filters will help you stay heated without your central heating system working too hard, saving the motor and again, saving you money.

Factors Contributing To Filter Replacement

pollenNot all homes are alike, a number of factors can determine when to change the air filter. The type of filter, the number of occupants in the home, the number of pets, the amount the furnace/AC is used, and whether or not doors and windows are left open are some of the main factors to consider when deciding to change an air filter. Be aware of the size and thickness of the filter as well, as it will contribute to the filter’s effectiveness and lifespan.

In addition to these factors there are individual needs and preferences to consider when deciding to change an air filter. For instance, if a person in the home has Asthma, severe allergies, or other respiratory conditions changing the air filter more frequently is recommended. A fresh filter can help relieve or prevent some potential issues and should be considered when determining a timeframe for filter replacement.

Basic Guidelines For Replacing A Furnace Filter

Cut DogAs mentioned earlier, a number of factors will determine when to change your furnace filters. However, below are some guidelines you can use as a general reference.
● Average suburban home w no pets – 90 days
● Average home w pet – 60 days
● More than one pet or allergies – 30-45 days
● Vacation home or single occupant (no pets, no allergies) – up to 6 months

There you have it. When to change your furnace filter depends on more than the thickness and appearance of the filter. Although every three months is the standard, it will ultimately depend on a variety of individual factors. But in general, it is a good idea to err on the side of caution. Changing your filter more often will only ensure the quality of the air you breath while also saving you money on the operation of your furnace.

AFB Scholarship Fall Semester 2014 Winner – Imara McMillan of Wellesley College

We are proud to announce that the inaugural AFB Scholarship was awarded to Imara McMillan of Wellesley College. Imara McMillan is an incoming sophomore majoring in International Relations – History, concentrating in East Asia. Her minor is Education Studies. When she graduates, she hopes to work for the State Department’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs helping both students and diplomats learn more about the world around them. Although she attends college on the East Coast she is a proud resident of Chicago, IL.

AirFilterBuy Fall 2014 Scholarship Winner

AirFilterBuy Fall 2014 Scholarship Winner

After being awarded the scholarship, Imara commented “This essay was actually kind of fun to write, and I hope people will read it and learn something new to help out our environment. In recognition of the droughts in Southern California, although it doesn’t have much to do with air filters, maybe the next prompt will be about water conservation!”

We will be releasing our Spring semester topic shortly and will certainly take this into consideration! The next topic will be released by early September and will be posted on our scholarship page.

Thanks to all the great applicants!

You can find the original version of Imara’s essay below:

The largest percentage of the United State’s greenhouse gas emissions, thirty-two percent, comes from electricity, according to the EPA. This may seem strange, since most people tend to think about greenhouse gases as an industrial problem. However, when you think about it, every room in a house is using electricity for something, at some time. This accounts for why commercial and residential purposes account for ten percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore every room has a big and small solution for not only saving energy, but helping combat the greenhouse gases that are used to produce it by allowing power companies to produce less.

For example, the living room. The center of the home. It is also often home to the largest numbers of plugs and switches in outlets, and, according to my unscientific observation, it is the room most likely to have the lights left on. TVs and video game systems that are not currently in use still use power. By using a surge protector or a power strip with a switch that cuts off the power, you could help stop greenhouse gas emissions, and save on your energy bill. Another easy save is to switch to energy-efficient light bulbs, which not only last longer, but use far less energy than normal bulbs.

The next room is the bedroom. Humans are temperature sensitive creatures, and with modern technology can now heat and cool their homes at will. Unfortunately, this uses a lot of energy. If you have the funds, investing in energy efficient windows and insulation can do wonders for trapping heat and cool air in your house, and stop the drain on your home’s electricity usage. A smaller, less expensive, solution is to invest in blankets and other items that keep you warm during the winter, and to slowly but surely bump up your air-conditioning threshold in the summer. Again, a way to save energy, and stop greenhouse gases.

Now we can make our way to the kitchen, home to several large, energy-sucking appliances that cannot be turned off like televisions and lamps. However by buying Energy Star brand appliances, one can reduce the amount of energy these important products use in the first place. If buying a whole new kitchen isn’t in the cards, then taking care of the one you have can help as well. Make sure to address leaky refrigerators, which can spread hydrochlorofluorocarbons and their blends, known greenhouse gases, into the environment. What you eat – and throw away – can also help reduce greenhouse gases. Buying locally reduces the greenhouse gases caused by transporting food. Eating more vegetables and less meat, or buying organically, can also help reduce agricultural greenhouse gases produced in the production of food. Then, once you’ve eaten, starting to compost can reduce the amount of food waste going to landfills, which in turn reduces greenhouse gas emissions from the natural CO(2) that comes from decomposing food. For the price of a garbage can and a brick, an at home compost bin can save money on potting soil and the environment.

Finally, we can address the core problem: where our electricity comes from. While people are for the most part tied to their power provider, installing solar panels on your roof can help ease your burden on the environment. If that is too difficult, then making a point to search out green-energy providers can make it so that all of the little solutions that have been implemented in your home rack up to one big win for the air we breathe.

Should You Use Baby Detergent For Washing Your Kids’ Clothes?

Should You Use Baby Detergent?When you wash clothes for the baby in your life, you not only want the clothes to be clean, but protective of tender skin. The wide array of detergent products that prevent fading, help clothes last longer, eliminate sorting, and perform other laundry magic may have chemicals in them that can irritate your child. As a result, as a new mom, you may quickly find yourself shopping for a detergent that meets your special requirements.

How To Pick The Best Baby Detergent

Just as there is no handbook for parenting, there is also no hard and fast rule for how to pick out the best baby detergent, or even whether you need one. Some kids develop allergic reactions or rashes to bleaches, fabric softener, and fragrances. Some people, who feel that “regular” detergent does a better job in cleaning, even advocate washing an article or two of the baby’s clothes in the detergent you use for the rest of the family to see if there is a reaction. The only way to see what works for your child is to try a variety of products to verify that they don’t irritate your baby.

There are a few hypoallergenic products on the market, as well as a growing family of environmentally friendly, organic detergents. Even the major brands offer products that are supposedly free and clear of fragrances and other chemicals widely linked with allergic reactions. Some of them even claim their products are dermatologist-tested to reduce your fear that they contain things that will irritate your baby. However, the chemicals that serve as builders, enzymes, optical brightness, and processing aids can pose health risks. These additives are the subject of much current debate as to whether they might cause developmental problems.

If you are going to try a few products until you find the best one, your best bet is to aim for a small box or bottle to see what happens. Many times you can find samples of baby detergents, or good coupons to lower the cost, which means you’re only out a small amount of money if a particular choice does not work.

Online Help To Make An Informed Choice For Your Baby

In this Internet age of instant research, you can find many articles, reviews, discussions, and online forums that discuss issues such as the best baby detergent to buy. You’ll still have to try the products on your own baby, but what other moms have found about safely washing baby clothes might help you, too. You can get an idea of some of the concerns that others have about the chemicals in detergents, so you can make a determination about whether you want to take a chance with what is on the shelf, or search for an organic product. Web discussions will also point you to the best deals on baby detergents.

Of course, if your baby has a rash or eczema, or is showing other signs of allergic reactions and sensitivities, you should ask for a recommendation from your doctor about what to try. Just make note of reactions that your baby has to help the physician narrow down what could be causing the problem.

Keep Your Indoor Air Clean

Protect the air quality in your home by regularly changing filters. For good source of furnace filters, air filters, whole house filters, and humidifier filters, order from Air filter Buy, an online supplier that stocks over 600 different filter products. You can buy from their website or call (855) FILTBUY.

Copyright: erllre / 123RF Stock Photo

Pollen 101: Who Gets Allergies?

Why Do Some People Get Allergies? You may live with the effects of pollen every day of the year, but not realize what it is. How does it come about? Why does it bother some people and not others? Why do some plants and grasses trigger allergic reactions while others don’t?

Pollen 101

You may not think of plants as sexy, but plants come in male and female versions. Male plants produce the pollen that when passed to the female, leads to seed production. Some pollination takes place due to the wind, while for other plants, most of the crosspollination results from visits from insects, flies, humming birds and bees, who pass the pollen grains from flower to flower. There are a few that can pollinate themselves. The pollen that flies in the air is microscopic in size, but grains may affix themselves to others to create a powdery appearance. It is wind-borne pollen that causes trouble, not that from flowers and plants that bees pollinate.

Many people have allergies that result from wind-pollinated trees, grasses, and weeds. The species overproduce pollen, as much of what they produce will be blown away and never fertilize another plant. Much of the extra accumulatess on cars and outdoor furniture.

  • In the spring, trees are the main pollinators, but their pollen production diminishes as the year goes on. The main offenders for pollen production are oak, western red cedar, ash, birch, elm, poplar, sycamore, maple, cypress, and walnut trees.
  • Grasses start producing pollen in late spring through the summer. By its sheer volume, grass is likely to cross the path of an allergy sufferer. The early pollinators are the muted, Bermuda, orchard, sweet vernal, ragtop, and bluegrass.
  • Weeds, particularly ragweed, starts pollinating in mid-summer through the first frost. Other culprits include sagebrush, pigweed, tumbleweed, Russian thistle, and cockleweed.

Who Becomes Allergic?

When people show symptoms after exposure to these plants, what is happening is that the immune system is overreacting to pollen. While 50 million, or one in six Americans, are affected by allergies, most people coexist with plant pollen without incident. Although researchers are not sure what causes allergic reactions, they have identified certain risk factors for developing outdoor allergies:

  • Male gender.
  • Born during the pollen season.
  • Being a firstborn child.
  • Exposure to dust mites.
  • Exposure to cigarette smoke during the first year of life.
  • Family history of allergies.

Allergy Symptoms

In each part of the country, pollination tends to occur around the same time every year, based on latitude. In the South, pollination starts in January, but the season may not start until late April in the North. Changing weather patterns may disrupt the normal schedule, and the timing for allergy flare ups may vary, but in general the universal symptoms are:

  • Itchy, watery eyes.
  • Red eyes.
  • Coughing.
  • Sneezing.
  • Running nose or rhinitis
  • Nasal congestion.
  • Itchiness in the throat, nose, or the mouth.
  • Sinus pressure increased pain.
  • Decreased sense of smell or taste.
  • Sore throat especially in the morning.
  • Asthma symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing.

Keep Allergies At Bay

If you have outdoor allergies, your best course of action is to ignore what triggers the. For example, if you’re allergic to spring pollen, you should keep your windows closed and consider investing in an air purifier with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter that keeps allergens out. You should also visit your doctor to verify that you have allergies, not a cold.

Other survival tips include:

  • Stay indoors when the pollen count or humidity are high.
  • Stay inside from 5am to 10am, prime time for pollen activity.
  • Wash your clothes frequently, but don’t dry them outside.
  • Avoid cutting grass or raking leaves, if you can.
  • Wear a filter mask to prevent keep pollen from entering your nose or mouth.
  • Minimize the number of houseplants you have in your home and don’t overwater them, lest they develop mold.
  • Keep your car windows closed to prevent mold pollen from entering your car while parked or driving.

Clean Filters Improve Indoor Air Quality

Protect your indoor air with a new furnace filter, air filter, humidifier filters, or whole house filters from Air Filter Buy. We offer quick shipping from our stock of over 600 products. Order from our website or by calling (855) FILTBUY.

Copyright: stefanolunardi / 123RF Stock Photo

What Are The Best Breeds Of Dogs And Cats If You Have Allergies?

Some Pets Are Less Likely To Provoke AllergiesHaving a pet in the home can enrich family life, and can teach your children good habits about caring for others, responsibility, and love. However, if you or your kids have allergic reactions in the presence of pet dander, saliva, or urine, you have to either forgo a pet or carefully choose one known to provoke fewer allergic reactions.

“Alternative” Pets

Although the most popular pets are cats and dogs, some other animals are less likely to cause allergic reactions. For example, small mammals such as hamsters, mice, rabbits and guinea pigs don’t shed much. Reptiles and fish have no fur to trigger allergies. Having these type of pet can fill the pet void in many people, but if you’re looking for the “cuddle factor,” none of these fit the bill like a cat or dog. The real question for most allergy sensitive families is “What type of cat or dog is the best choice?”

“Hypoallergenic” Dogs

For the record, there are no cats or dogs that are completely hypoallergenic, but some dogs produce less allergens than others and have been found to cause fewer problems. The source of pet allergies is in the KNF-1 protein found in skin, saliva, and urine. The reason why they cause fewer problems often lies in the type of coat the dog has, how much it sheds, how much it slobbers, and how trainable it is. Shorthaired dogs are not always the best choice, although they tend to produce less hair than large ones. There are many full-sized, large breeds that are less susceptible to provoking allergies, so even hairy dogs such as the Poland Lowlands sheepdog, the Shih Tzu, or the Afghan hound can be good choices.

Dogs known to be good for allergy sufferers include:

  • Portuguese Water Dogs, recently represented in the White House as a presidential daughter is allergic to dogs, can adapt to life outside and have a coat that attracts less allergies with proper maintenance.
  • Poodles, Bichon Frise, and Labradoodle mixes with curled, woolly coats pick up less outdoor allergens.
  • Kerry Blue Terriers, characterized by a soft wavy coat, shed less dander. Many Terriers make a list of best hyper allergenic dog breeds, but not all terriers share the same characteristics. Boston Terriers, for example have allergies of their own that lead to itchy skin and watery eyes, which leads to more scratching and mucus to produce allergens.
  • Schnauzers produce less dander, making daily cleaning easier.

On the other hand, poor dog choices might include St. Bernards or some bulldogs, who produce a large quantity of slobber that can irritate allergy sufferers, and Pekinese, who are a bit challenged when it comes to potty training.

The field of hypoallergenic cats is a bit narrower and often includes breeds with very short hair.

Tips To Reduce Allergic Reactions To Pets

No matter what type of “hypoallergenic” pet you acquire, your reactions may vary, and you may not know until you have the pet in your home. If you welcome a pet less likely to provoke allergies into your home, there are still some good habits you need to follow to reduce allergic reactions:

  1. Don’t let the dog or cat sleep with you. From the time the dog is a little puppy, provide a separate sleeping area outside of your bedroom for him, and don’t fall prey to sad eyes that tell you he would rather be sleeping with you in your bed.
  1. Wash your hands after touching the pet, regardless of what type you have.
  1. Bathe and groom your dog regularly, but don’t overdo it. Excessive bathing can cause dry skin in some dogs, and that leads to more dander when he starts scratching.
  1. Wash pet toys frequently, especially if your pet covers them in slobber, to reduce allergens provoked by saliva.
  1. Consider replacing the carpet in your home with hardwood, laminate, or tile, which are easier to clean and retain less allergens from fur, urine, and saliva.
  1. Ask your doctor about over-the-counter and prescription medications to treat allergies.
  1. Keep your indoor air clean to cut down on the number of allergens in the air in your home.

Filter Your Air

For help in maintaining your indoor air quality, order your furnace filter, air filter, whole house filters, and humidifier filters from Air Filter Buy, an online distributor of over 600 different types of filters. We offer free shipping on orders over $30, and 10% discount on recurring orders. Check out our website or call (855) FILTBUY.

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Multiple Chemical Sensitivity: A Worst-Case Scenario For Allergy Sufferers

Do You Suffer From Multiple Chemical Sensitivity?For most people, having allergies means having adverse reactions in the presence of certain things, such as pets, dust, or pollen, while having no reaction to other common chemical substances. However for some people, any low-level chemical exposure can set off symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, headaches, dizziness, joint inflammation, and other physical symptoms. Those inflicted with multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) develop adverse reactions in many circumstances when exposed to levels of chemicals that present no danger to most people.

Symptoms Of MCS

Although medical professionals used to write off MCS as nonsense, increasing awareness of the environmental impact of chemicals has legitimized the condition. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences defines the condition as a “chronic, recurrent disease caused by a person’s inability to tolerate an environmental chemical or class of foreign chemicals” found in solvents, pesticides, drugs, and air contaminants.

The symptoms of MCS include:

  • The symptoms are reproducible with repeated exposure to chemicals.
  • The condition continues over time.
  • Additional exposure to chemicals increases seriousness of symptoms.
  • The symptoms go away or relent when the chemicals are removed.
  • The responses occur after exposure to multiple chemically unrelated substances.

Symptoms affect many organs and systems of the body, so can range from a runny nose to mental confusion, to stomach upset or diarrhea, for example.

Those who complain of MCS experience sensitivity to common products that people use every day. These might include scented laundry detergents, fabric softeners, perfume, nail polish, acetone, acetate found in hairspray, magic markers, carbon solvents, deodorized cat litter, perfumes, scented shampoos and conditioners, propane, butane, furniture polish, mothballs, bug spray…and the list goes on. For someone with this sensitivity, this means that they cannot wash their clothes, apply cosmetics, clean their home, or weed their garden without potentially sparking a chemical reaction. Someone with this disorder even has trouble finding housing, as many homes and apartments are full of VOCs in carpeting, furniture, cabinets, and paint.

Research On Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

Since there is some skepticism in the medical community as to whether this is a real condition or one that people can convince themselves they have, there has been considerable research on the topic over the last few years. Some researchers are evaluating the ways in which exposure and sensitivity to chemicals can affect brain chemistry to cause emotional and central nervous system disorders. Another area of research is into the immune system to see whether reactions to one chemical can crossover into a reaction to many chemicals.

As with disorders such as sick building syndrome, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome, MCS is finally coming into its own as a disorder that the general public – and the government – recognizes. Since 1991, MCS has been considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities act, while many states maintain registries for chemically sensitive people who need to be notified about pesticide applications in the area.

Clean Air With Filters

While everyone benefits from having clean air in their home, if you have multiple chemical sensitivity, you need to obtain filters with higher MERV listings to assure that pollutants that can harm you are filtered out of the air. When you’re looking for an air filter, furnace filters, whole house filters, or humidifier filters to do the job, contact Air Filter Buy, an online supplier that carries over 600 filtration products. Just order from our website or give us a call at (855) FILTBUY.

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Helping Your Kids Avoid Allergies If They Play Sports

Your Child Can Play Sports Even With AllergiesAs a parent, you realize that having your children involved in sports has many benefits. They get exercise, make friends, learn sportsmanship, develop skills, and if they are good enough, maybe even put themselves in line for college scholarships later. When your child has allergies, it is easy to forget about these positive outcomes in favor of protecting your kids, but there are things you can do to keep them safe while letting them explore the joys of youth and sports.

What Do You Do If Your Child Has Seasonal Allergies?

Your child’s asthma and allergies to pollen and pollutants need not get in the way of participating in sports. To prepare for the season, talk to your child’s doctor about starting him on medications or allergy injections before the season starts. Antihistamines or nasal corticosteroids need two-three weeks to build up in the system and work effectively.

There are a few other measures you can take as well to keep asthma under control during sports season:

  • Try to make sure that your child gets regular exercise long before the sports season starts, to build endurance.
  • Make sure your child is well hydrated, with plenty of water and sports drinks that contain a full array of electrolytes.
  • Especially in the case of asthma, make sure your child always has a bronchodilator inhaler on hand. Experts suggest that if he has to use his inhaler more than twice during a practice or game that he should not play that day.
  • Make sure that your child showers and puts on some clean clothes after being exposed to pollen. This is particularly important before bed when pollutants can infiltrate pillows.

How Do You Prepare Your Child For Severe Allergic Reactions

For a child with anaphylactic reactions, sports provide a double threat: foods and insect bites. There is no risk in playing the game, but:

  • Well-meaning parents send snacks that could contain the Big Eight allergy triggers – milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, seafood, weeds, and soy. Your child eats a sandwich or some cookies during halftime, and goes into full-fledged anaphylaxis.
  • When your child is playing the outfield, he gets stung by a bee or wasp. He collapses on the field and shows signs of breathing trouble.

Regardless of the cause, a child with anaphylactic reactions might exhibit difficulty breathing, swelling of the tongue or throat, difficulty talking, vomiting or stomach pain, persistent cough or wheezing, paleness or dizziness, or collapse due to a blood pressure drop.

Fast treatment is necessary to prevent full-blown anaphylactic shock. If your child has a history of this problem, make sure he is always equipped with an EpiPen to automatically inject adrenaline into the side. At the beginning of the season, you need to have a discussion with the coach about how he or other adults supervising the team can easily be trained to handle an emergency. At this time, as more children are exhibiting food allergies, the training won’t go to waste even when your child is passed on to the next level.

There are several things you can do to lessen the chance of problems arising:

  • The older your child gets, the more he should be responsible for what he ingests – in theory. Kids can get so wrapped up in the game that they are not always careful, so you may have to offer frequent reminders of what can happen.
  • You should notify the coach and other parents about your child’s allergies at the beginning of the season. Be prepared to contribute plenty of snacks yourself, or at least equip your child with something he can eat while others are enjoying what was contributed. Remember that he’s a kid; don’t always send carrots when the other kids are eating candy bars.
  • Bees and wasps are an occupational hazard when playing outdoor sports. Avoiding cologne and wearing light clothes, covering up as much as possible, and wearing insect repellent are the usual remedies. Just make sure your child has his EpiPen on hand if he is allergic to stings.

Preserve Your Air Quality

Make sure that the air quality in your home is as good as it can be by changing the filter on your furnace filter, air filter, whole house filters, and humidifier filters annually. For a reliable source of replacement filters that are delivered when you need them, consider Air Filter Buy your online supplier. Just order on our website or call (855) FILTBUY.


Lawn Care Chemicals Can Trigger Asthma And Other Allergies

Pesticides Can Trigger AllergiesIn the spring, pollen from weeds, grasses, and spring growth are your enemy, but many dangers also result from another rite of spring: applying weed killers and fertilizers to your lawn. Not only are they dangerous to the environment, but the chemicals in pesticides and fertilizers can trigger allergy-like symptoms and an increase in asthma.

The Facts About Pesticide Use

When you use lawn care products, 40 to 60% of the nitrogen contained in the products runs off in surface water or leaches into the ground. Since Americans use about 70 million tons of fertilizer and 70 to 90 million tons of pesticides on their lawns each year, there is great potential for exposure to the chemicals. Even if you wear protective clothing when doing lawn care, you can breathe in chemicals, drag them in from your yard, or ingest them in food and water. Pesticide use has been shown to have detrimental effects on wildlife. Every year, over 60-70 million birds in the US die from pesticide poisoning while genetic studies of frogs has shown that it has detrimental effects on frog endocrine hormones. Even the dwindling population of honeybees is tied to pesticide usage. The impact of these chemicals has not been fully determined in humans, but certain killers such as Atrazine are banned in Europe due to the high levels found in the water system.

Fertilizers, Pesticides, And Asthma, committed to ridding the world of toxic pesticides, cites several studies that show a relationship between pesticides and asthma.

  • In a research study among farmers, who often use large quantities of pesticides, the group found higher rates of asthma and other respiratory problems.
  • A study in Hawaii back in 1960 found that in households where insecticides were frequently used, there was a higher incidence of respiratory disorders such as asthma and bronchitis.
  • A 2004 study of school-aged children in California found that early contact with pesticides increases the likelihood of asthma. Kids exposed to herbicides before their first birthday are 4.5 times as likely to develop asthma before they are five while those exposed as toddlers are twice as likely to get asthma.

These studies have not altered the behavior of homeowners who treat their yards with pesticides and fertilizers, but the links are there to indicate that using chemicals can result in respiratory problems. Other studies have suggested that the rise in the number of people with food allergies might be related to chemical use for lawn care and even to chemicals used for water purification.

What You Can Do To Reduce Chemical Exposure

Since many people use pesticides, it is virtually impossible to prevent exposure that can lead to asthma and other ill effects. However, there are several steps you can take to minimize the impact on your health.

  • Wear protective clothing when applying pesticides. Leave shoes by the door and change clothes immediately upon entry in the house. Wash the clothes separately.
  • Don’t let infants, children, or pets play on the lawn for the time recommended on the label.
  • Just apply pesticides to affected areas rather than your whole lawn.
  • Consider measures to improve your soil after testing its pH. When it is time to fertilize, use commercial fertilizers label “slow-release” or “natural organic” so that your lawn can absorb nutrients as it needs them, rather than having nutrients wash away.
  • Consider organic alternatives to pesticides. Products such as vinegar or corn gluten kill weeds and in the case of corn gluten, adds nitrogen to the soil.

Protect Indoor Air

Protect the quality of your indoor air from pollen and other pollutants. Change your air filter, furnace filter, whole house filters, and humidifier filters annually. For a good source of filters, check out Air Filter Buy for a great selection of filters, fast delivery, and customer loyalty discounts for repeat orders. Call us today at (855) FILT BUY or order from our website. Image credit: evgenyb / 123RF Stock Photo

Spruce Up Your Home With Low VOC Paints This Spring

Use Low VOC Paints This SpringAs the grass comes alive this spring, possibly causing you allergy symptoms along the way, you might be interested in breathing new life into your home after the winter, as well. The trick is to clean, upgrade, and refresh your home without producing more adverse reactions. Many products used in home improvements, such as paints, stains, cleaners, pesticides, fuel, and more contain dangerous chemicals that can lead to allergy- like symptoms that affect your respiratory system and even your liver, kidneys, and central nervous system.

The culprit is often VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, that give off dangerous gases that make indoor air 200 times more polluted than outdoor air, according to Money Crashers in U.S. News & World Report. Although when used outside some of the dangerous effects of VOCs dissipate in the air, they still pose problems to those who use them, and may even pose environmental dangers. If you have windows open when someone nearby is applying coatings with high VOC levels, the fumes can blow into your home. One of the biggest ways to approach spring projects without putting yourself at risk is to consider an alternative to paints with high VOCs.

Why Paints Are Dangerous

Rated the second largest source of VOC emissions after cars, paint releases high levels of solvents into the air as it dries. Of the 10,000 chemicals that compose household paint, 300 are known toxins, while 150 are linked to cancer, according to some researchers. Traditional paints contain solvents such as ethyl acetate, glycol ethers, acetone, aliphatic hydrocarbons, methylene chloride, and formaldehyde. During the drying process, many of these chemicals react with other chemicals to produce ozone, a cause of their pollution and health issues all the way up to cancer.

What is considered low VOC paint? According to the federal government, flat finishes that contain 250 g/l (grams per liter) and other finishes with less than 380 g/l are considered low VOCs, but in California the standard is 50/l for all finishes. Some manufacturers produce paint that has no VOCs, but the levels climb to up to 150 g/l when pigment is added.

Do Low VOC Paints Work?

The paint and stain industry has worked hard to develop alternative products that offer the same color saturation, spreadability, durability, and credibility as their toxic cousins. Currently, most manufacturers offer a line of VOC paints and stains that promise to perform as well without the devastating consequences. There is some debate as to whether some of these products are as effective, but recent testing efforts by Consumers Union and other testing bodies have found that many new low VOC products receive high marks. Even brands of paint promoted as ‘no VOC’ measure up to customer expectations. Just make sure that whatever low or no VOC product you buy contains 30% solids, so you don’t have to apply a third coat.

In addition to low VOC paints, there is also a growing availability of natural paint products that replace synthetic oil products with naturally occurring materials such as linseed oil, chalk, lime, and clay. Many of these earth-friendly products have a way to go to be effective as other paints. Color choices are limited since dark pigments use VOCs, application is more difficult since sitting agents are not as effective, and they also take longer to dry. While low VOC products are priced comparably to traditional paints, natural paints may be 20-80% more expensive. Ironically, many of these natural paints contain unregulated VOCs from citrus oil or terpenes.

Before You Paint…

Before buying paint of any type, do some internet research to see what brands of low or no VOC paint are most effective. You don’t want to spend time applying paint that will fade or fail to cover your wall properly. Regardless of what type of paint you use, make sure to apply it in a well ventilated area.

To improve the quality of your indoor air, replace your current furnace filter, air filter, whole house filters, or humidifier filters with quality name brand from Air Filter Buy, an online distributor of over 600 types of filters. Just shop from our website or give us a call at (855) FILTBUY.

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Deep Clean Your Bathroom This Spring

Deep Cleaning Your Bathroom This SpringEven if you don’t spend much time cleaning your home, your bathroom is one room you can’t ignoreBetween your sink, toilet, and bathtub, the fixtures there accumulate stains and odors that need frequent attention, while hair and dust lurk in the corners. To keep the room reasonably clean and hygienic, you should have a quick routine that takes you 15 or 20 minutes that you perform once a week or more, plus a spring cleaning routine that is more thorough.

Quick Way To Clean A Bathroom

Before you start, remove everything that doesn’t belong in the bathroom, which includes clothes, shoes, old coffee cups, and magazines. Also, gather all your supplies to assure that you can spend your 20 minutes cleaning rather than looking for what you need.

  • Sink: Using disposable disinfectant wipes, wipe down the tub and sink.
  • Counter: Remove items on the counter and use a disposable wipe on this area as well.
  • Toilet: Using toilet cleaner and a brush, brush the inside of the toilet to remove any rings or dirt buildup. Use disinfectant wipes to clean the seat and the outside of the toilet and the rim under the seat.
  • Floor: Sweep and mop, especially in the main traffic area.
  • Wastebasket: Empty the trash, which is easy if you have a bag inside the basket.

Before calling your quick cleanup “done,” check and see if anything else jumps out at you as needing attention. You might need to spray and wipe the mirror, faucets, or light switch.

Step It Up For Spring Cleaning

For spring cleaning, you should thoroughly clean the parts of the bathroom noted above, and work on other areas as well. First, quickly pre-clean fixtures, faucets, and vanity with a dry cloth to remove grime, dust, and hair, to make the surfaces ready for your next step.

  • Sink, counter, toilet: Spray these areas with a disinfectant cleaner and let it sit. After 15 or 20 minutes, wipe all the areas down with a cloth soaked in hot water. Replace water frequently. To make the toilet smell fresh, sprinkle baking soda in the bowl, scrub, and add one half cup of white vinegar to create a foaming action. When the foam subsides, flush the toilet and add a half cup of disinfecting bathroom cleaner.
  • Tub and shower: Clean and remove the shower curtain, keeping it out of the way as you spray a soap scum remover on the walls and floor of the tub and shower. Let this sit as you work elsewhere and then rinse. If you have tile in the area, make sure to clean the grout. If your showerhead has a buildup of lime, apply a product that dissolves lime.
  • Vents, fans, and lighting fixtures: Remove and clean vent covers and lighting globes. While the covers are off, dust the surfaces including fan blades and light bulbs.
  • General dusting: Now is a good time to dust the ceiling, the top of window frames, corners, walls, window frames and spills, shelves, and baseboards to alleviate any cobwebs, as well as dust.
  • Cabinets, shelves, and drawers: Take the time to de-clutter cabinets and drawers and remove expired or unused cosmetics. Wash out the areas. Reassess what you have displayed on shelves before you clean them. For anything that makes the cut to stay, clean it off before putting it back in place.
  • Wastebasket: Besides emptying the wastebasket, wash it out before replacing it in the bathroom.
  • Faucets, towel racks, and mirror: Spray down and polish these parts in the bathroom.
  • Floor: Sweep or vacuum and thoroughly mop the floor, including the corners.

This more thorough cleaning will take you longer than your quick weekly touchups, but will leave you with a sparkling clean, uncluttered, thoroughly sanitized room.

Keep Your Home Fresh

Spring cleaning time is a good time to replace your furnace filter, air filter, whole house filters, and humidifier filters. Air Filter Buy offers competitive pricing on over 600 types of filters. Check our website or call us at (855) FILTBUY.

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How A CPAP Machine Can Help With Sleep Apnea Related To Allergies

CPAP Machines Can Help Sleep ApneaIf you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea, your doctor may prescribe a CPAP machine to keep your airways open during the night. This disorder often leads you to snore so loudly during the night that you wake yourself or your partner up. What is happening is that your breathing actually stops multiple times during the night. You wake up suddenly, feeling shortness of breath, and have difficulty getting back to sleep. The next day, you wake up with a headache, dry mouth, or sore throat and throughout the day you have trouble staying awake and concentrating on what is being said.

Most people with sleep apnea suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) where the airways in the throat relax so much during sleep that they close. A less common form of sleep apnea is central apnea, where the brain’s respiratory centers become imbalanced during sleep. Some people suffer from a combination for OSA and central.

Why CPAP Machines Are Helpful

CPAP machines are used for OSA where they have five major benefits:

  • Keep the airways open.
  • Eliminate snoring so it is not distracting to others.
  • Improve the quality of your sleep and relieve other symptoms of sleep apnea such as extreme daytime tiredness.
  • Decrease or prevent high blood pressure.

Continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP consists of a mask and a hose applied with constant and steady air pressure from a small machine. These machines can be lifesavers, but some users find that the masks are uncomfortable, don’t like the forced air, feel claustrophobic and have a dry, stuffy nose as a result. For some allergy sufferers, the CPAP machine actually provokes allergies. Since most modern masks are silicone free or made of gel material, without latex, allergic reactions are not common. Finding the right mask, perhaps one made of cotton, can be helpful.

Sleep Apnea And Allergies

Since some of the symptoms associated with sleep apnea are similar to what those with allergies suffer, there have been many studies to see whether there is any relationship between sleep apnea and allergies. Many people with allergies suffer from sleep apnea, but sleeping problems during allergy season often involve breathing in airborne particles.

As the National Sleep Foundation points out, when people breathe in allergens such as dust mites, pollen, mold, or pet dander, a chemical is released that causes symptoms such as nasal congestion, watery eyes, sneezing, and a runny nose. These in turn can affect sleep. The chemicals involved in the body’s allergy response rises and falls during sleep, which contributes to sleep disturbance. Nasal passages become blocked, while allergy sufferers also have stuffy noses, itching eyes, and headaches. Some allergy medications have the side effects of sleepiness. Before assuming you have sleep apnea, make sure to talk to your family and allergy doctors, and point out the sleep issues you have that could be linked to the allergies and not require CPAP treatment.

If your doctor decides that you have sleep apnea as well as allergies, there are many types of CPAP masks that can make wearing it less unpleasant. Most masks are adjustable and after some time and patience, you should find that wearing the mask results in better sleep.

Keep Your Air Quality Pure

Regardless of your diagnosis, reducing the concentration of airborne pollutants in the air in your home is a good idea. Make sure to change your furnace filter, air filter, whole house filters, and humidifier filters according to the manufacturer’s schedule or about once a year. For a good source of filters, consider Air Filter Buy, an online supplier of all types of filters. We ship them when you need them, and reward your recurring orders with additional discounts. For information, check our website or call (855) FILTBUY.

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Innovative Ways To Clean For When You Don’t Want To Clean

Innovative Cleaning Tips For When You Don't Want To CleanSome people love to clean, and some don’t. If you are not among the group of people who feel that cleaning is not only necessary but also great therapy, there are innovative ways you can maintain your home without it being an overwhelming, life-sucking task. Technology and some time-saving routines can be your friend in making the process easier.

Create Fun Routines

  • One way to make the process manageable is by developing a routine. You might try picking a room to focus on each day, cleaning in five or 10 minute intervals that hit the most disgusting spots first, or having a quick cleaning routine for the whole house. When it’s time to do more thorough cleaning, you will be able to get right at it rather than having to do basics that haven’t been cleaned for months.
  • Clean up messes quickly. Dried-on spills on the range, floor, or counter are harder to clean than fresh ones, so wipe them up immediately. Keep cleaning essentials such as disposable wipes, microfiber cleaning cloths, and dusters in each room for easy access. Even having a toilet brush and cleaner in every bathroom will make it easier to tend to the bowl.
  • Try a few tricks to keep dust in check. Lightly spray your broom bristles with furniture polish to prevent flying dust. Brush your lampshades with a dryer sheet. To make dusting shelves where you display figurines and knickknacks easy, affix museum putty to the bottom to keep them in place so you can dust around them without moving them. Consider displaying dust collectors in glass-fronted cabinets.
  • Make organizing easier by having less to organize. As you come across clothing, CDs, books, and other items you no longer want or use, put it in your donation bag or box. Try a more minimalist approach to displaying items on shelves and counters by putting everything away and then just putting back just what you really need to have out all the time.

“Automate” The Tasks

  • Don’t be afraid to use technology. Cordless stick vacuums in every room or level of your house offer easy access to cleaning tools while robotic vacuums and floor washers make cleaning even easier. Consider appliances that do more than one function, such as the new steam cleaners that vacuum first before cleaning. Attach an automatic shower cleaner in your tub and shower. Use a duster with a long-handle to get at corners and fan blades.
  • Attack odors the easy way. Pull out the fabric refresher to zap the odors that upholstered furniture accumulate. Set out bowls of white vinegar to soak up kitchen or laundry room odors and sprinkle baking soda on the carpet to absorb smells. Baking soda is also a miracle product around your toilet. Clean the area nearby with an enzyme cleaner and cover with baking soda; when you sweep it up the next day, the odors will be gone.
  • Make spray products your friend. Whether you are cleaning your oven, tile on your kitchen backsplash or in your bathroom, or your kitchen counters, there is a spray product to do the trick. Just spray on the appropriate products and let them do their job for a few minutes before you wipe them away. One caution: don’t leave furniture polish on too long, lest it soften the finish.

Are you the type of person who avoids cleaning because you either think it is boring or not a good use of your time and creativity? Spicing up the process might make it more of an interesting challenge for you. Since you have to clean your house, you might as well enjoy it!

Don’t Forget To Change Your Filters

One easy step you can take to keep your house cleaner is to change your furnace filter, air filter, whole house filters, and humidifier filters on schedule. Most manufacturers recommend once a year, so stock up now by placing your order with Air Filter Buy, an online supplier of over 600 commonly used replacement filters. There is free shipping for over $30 in purchases +10% discount on recurring orders. Order on the website today or call us at (855) FILTBUY.

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Does The Five Second Rule Apply If You Drop Food On The Floor?

Is The Five Second Rule A Myth?If you drop a piece of food on the floor, what’s next? Do you pick it up and throw it away, or pop it your mouth? While some people claim to be nauseated at the thought of eating something that touched the floor, many invoke the sacred “five second rule,” that claims that the food is not contaminated if you pick it up within five seconds of it being dropped. So, is food dropped on the floor safe to eat if you retrieve it immediately?

The Studies Confirm… Or Not

This question was the subject of an academic study by Jillian Clarke at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2003. The researchers placed cookies and gummy bears on rough and smooth tiles covered with E. coli, and noticed a transfer of germs within five seconds. They swabbed the floor in public areas such as the lab, hall, dormitory, and cafeteria to see how many microorganisms were present. Surprisingly, there were few. The study supervisor Meredith Agle commented she thought the “floors were so clean, from a microbiological point of view, because the floors were dry, and most pathogens like salmonella, Listeria, or E. coli cannot survive without moisture.”

In surveys that accompany the study, Clarke surveyed men and women about their familiarity with the five second rule. She found that 70% of women and 56% of men were familiar with it, but women were more likely to invoke it, especially for harder food such as cookies or candy.

Clarke’s study received the IG Nobel prize in Public Health from Harvard University, an honor given to “research that first makes you laugh, then makes you think.” Maybe because people want to believe in the scientific validity of the five second rule, Clarke’s research was only the first of many studies about it.

An additional study in 2006 covered wood, tile, and nylon carpet with salmonella and found the bacteria were still thriving under dry conditions 28 days later. When bread and bologna were dropped on a surface, they were contaminated within five seconds and the contamination was increased tenfold after a minute on carpet and tile. Another study on the Discovery Channel series MythBusters found no increase in exposure after time increased while the most recent studies from Aston University in Birmingham England confirm that there is not much risk when dry food is immediately retrieved from the floor.

Although study results vary, the conclusions were common sense ones: the moisture, the surface geometry of what was dropped, and the location where it was dropped make a difference in how much contamination clings to the food.

Should You Follow The five Second Rule?

Taken as a body, the studies confirmed some interesting points.

  • Any food you drop on the floor can quickly become covered with germs. You may make the choice to eat it anyway under the assumption that your immune system can handle it.
  • If the food is moist or sticky, you assume more risk by eating it than if you eat a cookie or a piece of toast. Washing it off may not remove all the germs.
  • If food falls on a hard surface, there is more likelihood of germ transfer than on carpets. However, when people walk on floors wearing shoes they have worn outside, there is great likelihood that E. coli and other germs have been distributed around the floor.
  • Even though clean floors in your home have great potential for carrying germs, food dropped there is likely to be safer than what you have dropped on the floor of a public bus station.
  • You are unlikely to die if you eat food off the floor, but the germs the food picks up could lead to diarrhea or other intestinal problems.
  • Bottom line? Throwing away food is that has hit the floor the floor is the safest course of action. If you or your child has allergies or immune deficiencies, it is essential that you do so.

A Reminder From Air Filter Buy

Whether or not you buy into the “five second rule,” you should consider the “one year rule” about changing your furnace filter, air filter, whole house filters, or humidifier filters. Make sure to change your filters annually, or on the schedule the manufacturer suggests. For a good source of filters, consider Air Filter Buy, an online supplier that carries over 600 filters to meet your needs. Just order on our website or call (855) FILTBUY.

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Good Summer Habits To Reduce Allergy Attacks

Summer Activities Can Aggravate AllergiesWith spring and summer coming, who wants to stay inside? If you have allergies, you may think that staying inside is your best defense against sneezing, wheezing, and rubbing your eyes, but there are other ways to manage your allergies you might not have thought of. Ironically, some allergy triggers are tied to behaviors people engage in during the summer.

Four Behaviors To Watch For

  1. Do you enjoy a daily swim during the summer? If you swim in a chlorinated pool every day, you have a 3 to 7 times higher risk of developing hayfever than if you swim in non-chlorinated water. Your risk is greatest when you swim at an indoor pool as the gases from the chemicals are more concentrated. Using a mask or goggles can help you, but avoid swimming in chlorine every day if you can.
  1. Looking forward to a delicious salad for lunch or dinner? If you are allergic to ragweed or tree pollen, you may have an adverse reaction to the delicious melons, bananas, pears, peaches, nuts, carrots, cucumbers, and zucchini that are often among the ingredients.
  1. If your idea of a pleasant way to spend a summer day includes having a wine cooler, think again. Alcohol triggers allergies because it contains histamines, which yeast and bacteria produced during the fermentation process. In addition, beer and wine also contain sulfites, which are also linked to allergies. When you couple alcoholic beverages with food containing histamines such as aged cheese, pickled or fermented items, bread, grapes, or cider, you are asking for allergy problems.

You don’t believe it? Here’s the research

  • Studies have shown that people diagnosed with hayfever, bronchitis, and asthma are more likely to experience lower airway symptoms, sneezing, and a running nose after having a drink especially red or white wine.
  • A study reported in the Clinical and Experimental allergy Journal in 2008 linked the onset of allergy symptoms in those who enjoyed more than two glasses of wine a day, even if they exhibited no allergy symptoms at the beginning of the study.
  • Studies in Denmark found that for every alcoholic beverage you consume each week, your risk of perennial allergenic rhinitis increases by 3%. Symptoms associated with this condition include a runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, itching, and problems smelling.
  1. Cigarette smoke, not surprisingly, aggravates allergies. If you enjoy concerts in smoky bars, you put yourself at greater risk from the atmosphere, as well as the beverages. Even if that’s not your scene, you can still provoke your allergies if you are in the presence of those who smoke.

Other Ways To Protect Yourself In The Sumer

Aside from modifying your summer habits and social interactions, what other steps you can take to lessen allergic reactions in the summer?

  • Take antihistamines or other allergy medications. To protect yourself, you should take these morning and night, whether you have symptoms that day or not. When allergy season approaches, start your medication regiment then. One caution – since antihistamines can heighten the effects of alcohol, be careful about mixing the two.
  • Add a nightly shower to rid yourself of the pollen of the day and to avoid bringing remnants of it into your bed, where you will breathe it in all night. After working outside in the yard, take a shower right away, before grinding the pollen into your upholstered furniture.
  • Don’t wear shoes in the house that you wear outside. The treads of your shoes pick up pollen that you will spread around your home as you walk.
  • Wash your sheets in hot water to kill dust mites. Warm water at 105 degrees F destroys up to 6% of dust mites, while raising the temperature to 140 degrees F kills 100% of them.

When you are inside, keep your air clean by changing your furnace filter, air filter, whole house filters, and humidifier filters according to the manufacturer’s schedule. When you need a new one, make Air Filter Buy your go-to supplier. We offer free shipping on orders over $30, and a 10% discount on recurring orders. Just order filters on our website or call us at (855) FILTBUY.

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How To Prepare Your Child With Food Allergies For End Of Year Fun

Protecting Kids With Food AllergiesAs the end of school nears, kids look forward to a month of field trips, picnics, and celebrations. For parents with children with food allergies, the upcoming months are terrifying, as these events will present tempting foods that are dangers to their children.

Shocking Allergy Stats

Statistics from the organization known as FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) are frightening:

  • Up to 15 million Americans have food allergies. One of every 13 children under 18, or about two per classroom, are affected, at an economic cost of $25 billion a year.
  • Between 1997 and 2011, incidences of food allergies increased 50% among children, but the reasons are unclear.
  • Every three minutes, someone checks into the emergency room with a food allergy, for a total of 200,000 emergency room visits per year. Meanwhile, food allergies account for over 300,000 ambulatory care of visits among children under 18.
  • Anaphylaxis, a severe reaction that can lead to death, can strike within minutes unless treated with epinephrine. Other symptoms such as rash or hives may not be present.
  • Food allergies are often found in children with asthma, and can provoke other allergic conditions such as eosinophilic gastrointestinal disease and atopic dermatitis.

The Big Eight Food Allergy Triggers

Over 90% of allergy reactions result from eating even trace amounts of eight foods, which include: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish. Peanut and nuts, as well as shellfish and fish allergies, tend to be lifelong, while allergies to milk, eggs, and soy are often outgrown by age 16.

This means that the typical baked goods and other treats that surface at end of school festivities put your child at risk. Even if schools ban peanut butter, a common allergy trigger, throughout the year in the cafeteria or forbid homemade baked goods at school parties, a wider variety of “forbidden foods” is likely to surface in the less formal surroundings of a party or picnic.

Crafting A Reasonable Plan For Your Child

There is plenty of debate as to whether it is reasonable or overly harsh to penalize children who have no allergies by depriving them of foods containing milk, eggs, nuts, or wheat flour. If you are a parent of a child with a food allergy, you should have a plan in place to make sure your child is safe. Here are a few approaches to consider.

  • Teach your child about their food allergies. Although a young preschool or elementary school child is too young to be responsible for his or her food choices, start the education process early.
  • Communicate with the school. Even if the school decides against banning peanuts or other allergy triggers, school officials and teachers are usually willing to work with you to make sure your child is safe, but not isolated from other children
  • Communicate with other parents. Often, if other parents are aware of your child’s food allergies, they will try to make sure that there are alternative snacks for your child.
  • Be proactive in providing snacks and volunteering to go on field trips so you can be sure your child is safe.
  • Equip your child with snacks he likes that will not make him feel different from the other children. Fruit is a great snack, but pack some cookies when you know that’s what the other kids will bring.
  • Make sure that your child is always equipped with an EpiPen or other recommended remedies, and that the teacher or other adult in charge of the event is aware of this.

Make Home Safe

Kids with food allergies might have other allergies provoked by airborne pollutants. Keep your home safe by replacing your furnace filter, air filter, whole house filters, and humidifier filters as needed. Make Air Filter Buy, an online supplier of over 600 types of filters, your go-to location for great deals on all types of filters. Just contact us by phone at (855) FILTBUY, or order on our website.

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Clean Your Carpets Without Adding Allergy Triggers To Your Indoor Space

Clean Your Carpet Without Triggering AllergiesWant to keep your carpets as good as new? According to carpet manufacturers, the best way is to vacuum them regularly, and thoroughly deep clean them every 12 to 18 months or as needed in high traffic areas, or if you have light-colored carpet, kids, or pets. Cleaning is a good way to remove potential allergy triggers that may lurk in the fibers, but if you already suffer from allergies, you must be careful when cleaning carpets, as some chemicals you might use can also be irritating.

You can clean your carpets using professional cleaners, do it yourself with a rented machine, or use your own.

Two Popular Carpet Cleaning Systems

Most home cleaning systems and rental machines are steamers that work by the water extraction method. The machine first injects a cleaning solution into the carpet and then pulls the dirty water back into the machine. Steam cleaning removes at least 97 percent of the dirt and bacteria lurking in a carpet and deep cleans down to the bottom of the pile. This makes it very effective at dealing with stubborn, ground in stains. One downside of steam cleaning is the amount of time it may take the carpet to dry. Some carpets can be dry in 45 minutes, while deep, thick carpets can take hours. A more powerful extraction system cuts drying time. The longer drying time makes your room inaccessible for a longer time and also poses two other hazards.

  • If you get the carpet too wet, you can damage the carpet backing and underlayment, which leads to discoloration, shrinkage, and odors.
  • If the carpet is wet too long, you run the risk of mold formation, another allergy trigger.

If you use a professional cleaning service, you will have the choice between this wet extraction process or dry extraction that requires spreading a dry absorbent compound over the carpet and then vacuuming it with the cleaning machine. (Dry extraction does use some water, however.) This method is more expensive, but also more effective for general cleaning. If you are concerned about allergies, the chemicals used for the dry methods can more quickly produce allergic reactions as they are directly applied and not diluted. Also, the chemical residue that is left behind can be hazardous to kids and pets.

Go Pro Or Go DIY?

Should you choose a professional or one of the two DIY methods?

Professionals have more powerful equipment that can do a better job, whether they use the dry or steam method. They are also experts at removing stains, sanitizing and disinfecting, and drying the rug quickly. Most carpet cleaning companies use the same equipment, so if you price shop, you may get a deal that makes using a professional your clear choice.

Carpet cleaners that are often for rent in grocery stores and rental centers are more powerful than many home machines, though less effective than professional equipment. They can be bulky to get home and hard to move across the carpet, while being costly by the time you figure in the cost of cleaners, spot removers, and disinfectants. They are readily available for you to use at your convenience; since they rent for a 24-hour period, must make sure you have the time available to do the work, which is considerable. Since they have been used in many homes, they could bring bacteria and allergens into your home.

Home machines offer you the convenience of always having a machine on hand, an asset if you have pets or light-colored carpet. You won’t have to lug the machine home and you can always feel secure that you are not bringing someone else’s germs into your house. Unless you buy a machine that costs $400-$500, the quality may not be as good as what you can rent, but you can clean your carpet more often on your own schedule even if you have a basic model.

Keep Your Home Fresh

Whichever way you choose, regularly cleaning your carpet will preserve its lifespan. The process is part of keeping your home fresh, as is replacing your furnace filter, air filter, whole house filters, or humidifier filters. When shopping for filters, check out Air Filter Buy, an online supplier that carries 600 different types of filter. For fast shipping that’s free on orders over $30, and a 10% discount on recurring orders, check our website or call us at (855) FILTBUY.

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Can You Garden If You Have Allergies?

You Can Garden With AllergiesFor many people, gardening is the best part of spring. After months of being stuck indoors looking at seed catalogs, you can get out and feel the dirt in your hands and the sun on your face as you plant crops and flowers. If you have allergies, gardening can be challenging, as it places you at the epicenter of pollen activity. Plant growth is stimulated by pollen, but for you, contact with what you find outdoors can leave you with itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, and other respiratory symptoms.

Make Yourself Allergy Resistant Through Planning

Allergies do not necessarily put an end to gardening, but you just have to plan more carefully to avoid trading a couple hours in the open air for a day or two of discomfort. The danger of allergies comes not just from your own garden, but from the trees, grasses, and weeds nearby, so you must protect yourself whether you are at the planting stage or are weeding or harvesting your crop. How can you garden if you can’t endure the pollen? How can you protect yourself?

  1. Dress right. At the very least, wear a mask and goggles to block pollen and mold from entering your nose or mouth, as well is gloves and a hat. More severe allergy sufferers might need to wear long pants and a shirt that leaves little skin exposed.
  1. Time it right. Since highest levels of pollination activity occur between 5 and 10am, time your garden activities to avoid those times. Since it might be too hot to garden at midday, wait until late afternoon when it is cooler and there is less activity.
  1. Don’t bring pollen inside. If possible, leave your gloves and shoes outside the house. Change your clothes as soon as you can when you come inside, without sitting on any furniture that might trap the pollen.
  1. Watch the pollen count. When the pollen count and humidity are high, or when windy conditions are blowing up a lot of pollen, stay inside.
  1. Don’t tempt fate. Mowing grass and raking leaves releases allergens and mold into the air. Avoid these activities if you can. Protect yourself with masks, goggles, and protective clothing if you have no choice about doing this task.
  1. Don’t spread the pollen. Keep your hands away from your face and eyes to avoid spreading pollen. Make sure to wash your hands before rubbing your eyes.
  1. Medicate it. Consider taking an antihistamine or medication prescribed by your doctor to combat outdoor pollen. A nasal irrigation system can rid your nose of any remaining pollen.
  1. Wash it off. Make sure to shower and wash your hair before going to bed to prevent getting pollen on your pillow, where it would surround you all night.

Even if you’re not a gardener, some of these tips will work for you when you’re out and about with your allergies. You might not want to hit the mall looking like a frogman on a 100 degree day, but use common sense when the pollen count is high. Stay in if you can. If it’s windy outside or neighbors are cutting grass, don’t venture out until the wind has stopped and the landscaping is done.

Keep Your Home Air Supply Clean And Fresh

Once inside your home, you can keep your air quality high with clean filters that trap particulates of pollen and other allergens. Make sure to change your furnace filter, air filter, whole house filters, and humidifier filters annually, or more often if recommended by the manufacturer. For a handy source of obtaining filters, consider Air Filter Buy. Order what you need, when you need it. Free shipping on orders over $30 and a 10% discount is available on recurring orders. Call (855) FILTBUY or check our website.

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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.

Image credit: axily / 123RF Stock Photo

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.


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 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.


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.

Image credit: lisafx / 123RF Stock Photo

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.

Image credit: lightwise / 123RF Stock Photo

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.


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, 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.

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10 Tips for Saving Energy in the Office


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 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.


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.