Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Report: Toxic Air and American Schools

USA Today’s recently released report, Toxic Air and American Schools, has really hit a nerve with school administrators and parents alike.

It’s understandable; nobody wants to be told that the air quality in the school they are running may be a risk to the health of the kids who are attending. And certainly no parent wants to imagine that their child is breathing carcinogens, while learning.

So many schools are lashing back, claiming that no actual air quality tests were made, that the information in the report was merely based on statistics. Meanwhile, many parents are outraged, demanding action and improved air quality for their children.

The way the USA report works is it ranks each school on a percentile scale comparing it to the other schools in the nation. There are two separate rankings, one for exposure to cancer causing air toxins and one for exposure to non-cancer causing air toxins. USA derived these rankings by using an EPA model to identify the path of pollutants emanating from industrial sources near schools.

The report concludes, “The potential problems that emerged were widespread, insidious, and largely unaddressed.”


We’ve never a published a report like the one released by USA Today, and we don’t necessarily agree with everything that’s in the report, but one thing’s for sure, it’s about time air quality becomes a hot topic.

The mere fact that people are talking about air quality is an important step in the right direction.

If nothing else this report has opened many people’s eyes to the possibility that air quality could be affecting their health—- or the health of their children. There’s lots of information available for those seeking it, and even effective solutions for those that choose them.

For more information on indoor air quality, please visit www.allerair.com, or to speak to an AllerAir IAQ Expert about including air purifiers in your home or local school, call 888.852.8247.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Air Quality at Schools Gets Poor Grade: Reaction is One of Anger

A recent study by USA Today that claims many American children are being exposed to harmful levels of toxic chemicals at their school has garnered much controversy.

The report, called “The Smokestack Effect”, states that our schools are plagued with toxicity that is “widespread, insidious and largely unaddressed.”

Being in the air quality business, as well as a mother about to send my son to school next year, my immediate reaction is one of anger.

Let’s get this out in the open right off the bat: air quality is generally poor, especially indoors—- and whether it’s a school, an office building or a home, there are harmful levels of toxic chemicals.

We’re beyond the point now where we can deny this fact. There are reports like the one by USA Today, that are also backed by countless others. The EPA website is jam-packed with information on Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), and the media is always publishing reports that unequivocally state that poor IAQ is detrimental to our health.

And this is especially true for KIDS! And where do you find kids? AT SCHOOLS! This is not rocket science. School administrators bat their eyelashes, claiming, ‘I had no idea the air quality was this bad!’

Well wake up and smell the air pollution, because this is beyond ridiculous—- it’s downright dangerous for our kids.

It’s time the government takes a stance.

It’s time schools start being more responsible.

It’s time parents demand better air quality.

Homes and business across the globe are incorporating air purification systems to ensure their own health, and the health of others in their building.

Schools should be no exception. Indeed, they should be a priority.

For more information on air purification systems for homes, businesses and schools visit www.allerair.com or call 888.852.8247 to speak to an AllerAir Indoor Air Quality Expert.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Renovations Contribute to Poorer Air Quality in Winter

Ever since I started working at AllerAir, renovations at our place just haven’t been the same. And as the team here begins to research topics and content for our December newsletter, we discover that indeed, winter is prime time for renovations… while meanwhile, at home, we are knee-deep in paint, jip rock and… is that mold?

We are renovating a bedroom for our 4-year-old son, and there is a lot of work to be done. As my husband rips out a great chunk of waterlogged jip rock, I hover above him, inspecting the wood behind it, asking… Is that mold? What’s that? Is that normal?

Once assured that we are mold-free, we jip rock, plaster and sand, and there are dust particles everywhere. The next day the paint comes out, and while we have invested in some low VOC paint for the walls, we use remnants of some regular white paint to do the trim and the ceiling.

And it stinks. Does it stink more than the million other times we’ve painted rooms, or is just me? Karen Hand, one of our Indoor Air Quality Experts here at AllerAir, recommends we do not turn on our air purifier during the actual renovations because the amount of toxins being released are overwhelming, even for the most sophisticated technology and activated carbon. Instead, she says, open the windows, and wait between 2-5 days before turning on your air purifier. So we open our windows and the cold Montreal December air blows in, and away we paint with our mittens, hats and coats.

I am now frightfully aware of what these renovations do to my indoor air quality in my home. Research shows that air quality is worse in the winter, and that one definite contributor is renovations. People also stay indoors more often in the winter with windows sealed tight, and fresh air kept to a minimum. And with nowhere to go, air pollutants quickly gain presence, slowly but surely diminishing your air quality.

We recommend air purifiers in every home, all season long, but winter is an especially good time to invest in cleaner air, especially if you know you’re going to be doing renovations, refurnishing or working with toxic chemicals.

General Purpose Home and Office AllerAir Air Purifiers:

5000 Exec: General Purpose
6000 DX Vocarb: Odors & Chemicals
5000 DS: Ideal for homes effected by cigarette smoke, and wood burning & fireplace smoke

In addition to your air purifier, here are 5 other tips that will help you keep your indoor air quality as high as possible, especially during the winter:

1. Air Out your Home when Weather Allows
Depending where you are, it can get pretty cold in wintertime. Air out your homes on warmer days, especially in mid-afternoon when the sun is hot! This allows fresh air in, and gives the opportunity for accumulated chemicals and particles to escape.

2. Control DampnessControl dampness to minimize the growth of mould and fungi. House dust mites, the source of one of the most powerful biological allergens, thrive in damp, warm environments.

3. Plants Love Chemicals!
Though chemicals such as formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide are toxic to human health, plants thrive on them, while also removing them from the air. Ideal plants include the peace lily, bamboo palm, English ivy, mums, and gerbera daisies, all of which are easy to find and easy to care for, so even if you don’t have a green thumb, you can still have a green home or office.

4. Choose Products with Low Pollutant Emissions
Whether you’re buying household cleaners, paints for renovations, or anything else, make sure to choose products with little or no particle emissions. Choose all-natural cleaners instead of ones with chemicals, rugs instead of carpets and plant or mineral based paints that are low in VOC’s.

5. Choose Friendly Furniture!
Avoid furniture that is marketed as stain-resistant, and do not apply stain-resistant treatments onto fabrics. Avoid products that contain PVC, such as inflatable furniture, artificial leather, PVC-coated fabrics, and vinyl furniture covers. Choose products that do not contain toxic flame retardants (PBDEs), which are often used in furniture upholstery and foam.

For more information on air purifiers, visit www.allerair.com or call 888.852.8247 to speak to one of AllerAir's Indoor Air Quality Experts.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful winter!