Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Enough is Enough, for Bubble Woman

Okay, that’s it. I’ve been following the story about Elizabeth Feudale-Bowes, the woman who set up a structure in her backyard, now being referred to as the “bubble”, because she has Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) and is extremely sensitive to the chemicals found in our environment.

The woman lives in a bubble. In her backyard. In a bubble.

And her neighbors want her beloved bubble torn down. Oh, it’s ugly, she didn’t get a permit, it’s not hooked up to the utility line, yada, yada.

Let’s rewind to the part where this woman lives in a bubble. Do ya think we could cut her a break? I mean, why do these people care so much? My neighbor’s yard looks terrible. There are toys everywhere, garbage strewn and he only cuts his grass about twice a year. It looks horrendous.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Feudale-Bowes has a clean yard that is well kept. Her loving husband made her the bubble so she could enjoy some quality of life… again, in her bubble.

Paul Carpenter wrote a great article about the subject the other day, saying that if this story were about some cute puppy that couldn’t live outside his special bubble without being in agonizing pain, there would be uproar at the idea of tearing down his shelter. All the activists would gather, there would be placards… the media would be all over this story.

But it’s just so much fun to keep torturing this bubble woman, isn’t it? I mean, really, she lives in a bubble. It’s just too easy.

Enough already. Elizabeth Feudale-Bowes has enough troubles on her plate. She’s not a witch. Let’s not burn her at the stake.

Janice Scrim is an Indoor Air Quality Expert with AllerAir Industries. Many AllerAir customers are people just like Elizabeth Feudale-Bowes, who have serious conditions like MCS that require serious indoor air quality solutions.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Indoor Air Quality: What’s That?

One thing about working in the air purifying business is that you start to learn a lot about indoor air quality-- perhaps even too much. It’s scary because you quickly realize exactly what you’re breathing, what your children are breathing, and you become conscious that these air pollutants, these chemicals, are not just outside, but right in your very own home.

The strange thing is the air purifying business is still fairly low on the totem poll. Look at a comparable industry, like the water purifying business, and it’s booming. People often turn their noses up when it comes to tap water, knowing far too well the benefits of drinking clean water.

So is clean water more important than clean air? Both water and air are essential to life. Both water and air affect our health and well being. So why does clean water take so much precedence over clean air?

If a waiter brings you a glass of water and you see something floating in it, chances are that you’re going to ask for another glass of clean water. Now what if we could see airborne contaminants? Keeping the same example of the restaurant, what would you do if you saw all the contaminants floating in the air? Now what if you saw these very same contaminants in your living room, your bedroom—your nursery, your playroom, and your schools?

The truth is, airborne chemicals and particles are miniscule, and are basically invisible to the naked eye. We don’t demand cleaner air because it’s easy to forget that the air we breathe is so dirty, so polluted… so bad for our health. And so many people think that choosing to drink clean water is just easier—you can pick up a bottle of purified water for a dollar or so at almost any corner store.

The truth is breathing clean air is no less important than drinking clean water. Don’t take my word for it, check out Health Canada or the EPA website. Look at the Canadian Medical Association’s recent report that stated poor air quality will cause the death of approximately 700,000 Canadians over the next two decades. 21,000 Canadians will die this year alone. Even if you’re young. Even if you’re healthy.

So it’s part of our mandate at AllerAir. We talk about air quality because it’s our business, but we also talk about it because it’s time people know. The air you breathe is laden with chemicals, not just pesky particles. They are in your home because chemicals are found in everyday items like, carpets, furniture, household cleaners, toys, floor coverings, computers, shower gels and detergents, textiles and mattresses. We are lying on, walking on, touching and wearing chemicals every day. And breathing them too.

But if these chemicals are found in our everyday items, they must be safe—right? They must be tested, approved… there must be a governing body that states that these chemicals are not harmful to us, otherwise they just wouldn’t be used. Right?

There are definite steps to be taken to work towards providing our homes and workspaces with cleaner air. Greenpeace suggests substituting hazardous chemicals wherever there are available alternatives. It is imperative that we take this responsible step, at least until the government demands that manufacturers provide consumers with safe products.

When we recommend air purifiers, we are not suggesting that other pro-active steps, such as the ones recommended by Greenpeace be disregarded. Making environmentally-friendly purchasing decisions in combination with air purifiers is what we believe provides the cleanest air available.

Be informed. Make an educated decision about the quality of air you breathe. And then decide how you want to ensure that the air you breathe, the air your children breathe, is clean.

For more information on the importance of breathing clean air and indoor air quality solutions, visit or call 888.852.8247.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Indoor Air Pollution Especially Dangerous for People with COPD

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, outdoor and indoor air pollution is especially dangerous to people with lung deficiencies, such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

Here are some tips designed to help people with COPD to breathe better:

1. Smoke is one of the most dangerous pollutants that a person with COPD can inhale, and it’s also the major cause of COPD. There are over 4,000 harmful chemicals in smoke, many of which are also known to cause cancer. If you have COPD and you are a smoker, it’s still not too late to quit smoking.

2. Second-hand smoke, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada is also dangerous. People with COPD should avoid second-hand smoke as much as possible.

3. Indoor and outdoor air pollution can cause health problems, especially for people who have lung diseases. Those with COPD have a higher risk of getting sick from air pollution. Be aware of your local Air Quality Index, and stay indoors when outdoor pollution is high.

Keep in mind, indoor air is often worse than outdoor air. The EPA estimates inside air can be 5, 10 and up to 100 times worse than outdoor air. Make sure you’re getting lots of fresh air in your home.

4. Air purifiers are a great way to provide safe, clean air in your home or business. Ideally, your air purifier will combine a HEPA filter as well as pounds of activated carbon to safely eliminate chemicals, gases, odors and particles from your indoor environment.

For more information on the importance of breathing clean air, or how air purifiers can help people with COPD, please visit or contact one of AllerAir’s Indoor Air Quality Experts at 1.888.852.8247.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

November is COPD Awareness Month: Can Air Purifiers Help People with COPD?

I read an article on the web this morning that said people with COPD should be careful when buying an air purifier, and the truth is, I tend to agree with this statement.

The article stated that COPD is a “serious life threatening health problem that can be aggravated with the use of inferior poor performance air filters.”

First, what is COPD?
According to Wikipedia, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a disease of the lungs in which the airways become narrowed. This leads to a limitation of the flow of air to and from the lungs causing shortness of breath. In contrast to asthma, the limitation of airflow is poorly reversible and usually gradually gets worse over time.

So can an air purifier help a person with COPD?
An October 2008 report by the Department of Environmental Health at the Harvard School of Public Health reports that people with COPD “have substantial mortality risks associated with exposure to particles.” According to the study, particles may impair ventilation in COPD patients by causing airway narrowing and increasing the work of breathing.

So while air purifiers are certainly not a cure for COPD, they can provide cleaner air, which according to the Harvard study, is paramount to people with COPD.

A good HEPA filter can remove 99.97% of airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns from indoor air. It’s pretty safe to say that most air purifiers come (or should come) equipped with a HEPA filter— and since there is no such thing as a “better” HEPA filter, then it would be difficult to separate a superior air filter, from a poor performance air filter based simply on its HEPA filter.

While HEPA filters are indeed designed to remove particles, and since any good purifier comes equipped with this filtration method, what then makes one air purifier superior to another?

Not Just Particles—- Chemicals are also Dangerous for People with COPD
Inhaling chemicals such as gas, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, or dry particulate chemicals, such as microscopic particles is dangerous for everyone, but can be especially dangerous for people with COPD. In fact the number one cause for COPD is smoking… and one of the main chemicals in smoke is formaldehyde.

But formaldehyde is also emitted from other everyday things, other than cigarettes, like stain-resistant furniture, flame retardant clothing, wood products such as particleboard, fiberboard, and plywood, and even carpeting, upholstery and baby furniture. In fact, formaldehyde is found in many seemingly harmless things, despite it being considered a human carcinogen. A branch of the California Environmental Protection Agency goes so far as to report that there is no safe level of formaldehyde.

Carbon for Chemicals
Activated carbon is one of the most adsorbent materials known to exist. Activated carbon has been processed to create millions of tiny pores, producing a very large surface area available for adsorption of chemicals and gases. Just one gram of activated carbon has a surface area of approximately 500 m².

Carbon is key when it comes to adsorbing chemicals, just as HEPA is key to filtering particles. The difference is, not all air purifiers have carbon. And many that do, feature mere ounces of carbon, or a type of carbon spray—- both of which are equally ineffective in adsorbing chemicals.

An effective chemical-adsorbing air purifier, and an ideal choice for people with COPD, would be an air purifier that contains both a HEPA filter for particles, and pounds of activated carbon to adsorb dangerous airborne chemicals, like formaldehyde.

Can Air Purifiers Cure COPD?
Absolutely not. Air purifiers are not a cure for COPD, but rather devices that can provide cleaner indoor air, with significantly reduced levels of particles and chemicals. Cleaner air is important for everyone, but perhaps most important for people with reduced lung capacity.

Should people with COPD be cautious when purchasing an air purifier? The answer is yes. A HEPA filter is great for particle filtration, but will do nothing to adsorb the dangerous airborne chemicals. Carbon will adsorb chemicals, but only an air purifier with pounds of activated carbon, not ounces, will be truly effective.

About AllerAir
AllerAir manufactures a full line of combination carbon-HEPA air purifiers, and has specific units designed for people with COPD. For more information on AllerAir, please visit the website, or call 1.888.852.8247 to speak to one of their Indoor Air Quality Experts.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

AllerAir Dedicates November to Raising Awareness about COPD

Barely 12 hours have gone by since we announced that we were dedicating the month of November to raising awareness about Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and already this morning, the phones have started ringing throughout AllerAir.

It feels good to answer the phone first thing in the morning, and have the person on the other end say—- hey, just saw your press release—- just called to say, the team at AllerAir is doing a great job!

The truth is, it’s really not such a stretch for us. AllerAir deals with people of all different ages, stages and health—- and also people with health conditions, such as COPD.

After all, it’s the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. The 4th.

What we offer to people with COPD is a line of air purifiers that are designed to clean the air of toxins. And according to Environment Canada, studies show there are more emergency room visits related to COPD when air quality is poor.

Cleaner air is what we do at AllerAir. We’re always striving to raise awareness about its importance. We figure, clean air is important to everyone—- but perhaps, even more so, to people with COPD.

For more information on COPD, visit our www.allerair website and click on the November is COPD Awareness Month button.

You can also visit the COPD Learn More Breathe Better® website, hosted by The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

For information on AllerAir air purifiers designed for people with COPD, visit our website, or contact one of our Indoor Air Quality Experts at 1.888.852.8247.