Thursday, June 30, 2011

Q&A: Air cleaners for volcanic smog (VOG)

Volcanic smog can pose serious
health risks.
Q: Do you have air cleaners specifically designed for the pollutants in volcanic smog?

A: With serious volcanic eruptions disrupting the lives of residents in Chile, Iceland, Hawaii and other regions, AllerAir has been receiving inquiries about air purifiers for volcanic smog.

Volcanic eruptions release noxious sulfur dioxide gas and other pollutants into the atmosphere, which react with the oxygen and atmospheric moisture to produce volcanic smog (VOG) and acid rain.

Far from simply affecting flight traffic, billowing ash clouds can pose serious health risks for the people living in the affected regions.

Health effects of volcanic smog

VOG has been shown to aggravate pre-existing respiratory ailments, while acid rain can damage crops and leach lead into household water supplies.

People living in areas downwind of active volcanoes have complained about a wide range of health effects, including skin irritation and irritation of the eyes, nose and throat.

VOG consists of gases as well as tiny liquid and solid particles. It is composed of sulfuric acid and other sulfate compounds and it can also contain toxic metals.

Sulfur dioxide (SO2, the main component of VOG) is a poisonous gas that can penetrate deeply into the airway and cause respiratory distress in some individuals.

The tiny aerosol particles in volcanic smog can also penetrate deeply into the lungs and irritate the tissue.

Source: US Geological Survey (USGS)

Air cleaners for VOG

AllerAir’s air purifiers for VOG help to remove the dangerous airborne chemicals, gases and particles associated with VOG.

The specially designed air cleaners feature a custom blend of deep-bed activated carbon for enhanced adsorption of noxious chemicals and gases, as well as a medical grade HEPA or Super-HEPA for the removal of fine particles.

Suggested air purifiers from AllerAir include

Contact AllerAir for more information and additional options.

Note: Always follow public advisories and evacuation orders. 

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Early Chemical Exposures May Affect Breast Health

From the Silent Spring Institute Press Room:

Pregnant women already know that consuming alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco can be harmful to their babies’ health.  But they may be surprised to learn that some chemicals women are exposed to in their daily lives—from their food packaging to their drinking water—could affect their children’s development and health later on.

A new review, published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives, reports the conclusions of an international workshop on ways to improve chemicals safety testing for effects on the breast.

Studies reviewed by the scientists show that exposures to common chemicals during critical windows of development—such as in the womb and during infancy and puberty—may lead to changes that cause problems later in life with breast-feeding and increase the risk of breast cancer.  Exposures may also lead to enlarged breasts in boys and men.
The review and a related editorial identify a major gap in chemicals safety testing, which currently does not assess how chemicals may affect breast development.

The scientists recommend that future chemical safety testing evaluate these effects. By studying how environmental chemicals influence breast development, scientists can help government, manufacturers, and consumers make better decisions about chemicals in consumer products and water and  air pollution.

Interested in learning more about chemical exposure and the air you breathe? Connect with us and consider a high quality AllerAir air cleaner that removes not only dust, but chemicals, gases and odors.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Air Purifiers Recommended When Preparing for California Wildfire Season

Excellent advice from California's Redwood Times, "Preparing for the wildfire season."

Editor's note: AllerAir has 49 air cleaners and air purifiers certified by the California Air Resources Board and eligible for sale in California. We specialize in air cleaners for smoke, chemicals and odors.
"If you have health concerns, are elderly, pregnant, or have a child in your care, consider talking with your doctor now about what to do if the air becomes smoky. Remember that in 2008 over 600,000 acres burned in this area and eight Hazardous Air Quality Alerts were issued. 
Concentrations of smoke will vary depending upon location, weather, and distance to the fire. Smoke from wildfires and structure fires contain harmful chemicals that can affect your health. Smoke can cause eye and throat irritation, coughing, and difficulty breathing. 

People who are at greatest risk of experiencing symptoms due to smoke include young children, pregnant women, older adults, and those with respiratory disease such as asthma and/or heart disease. If you or members of your family have lung or heart disease, contact your doctor immediately if you have symptoms that get worse. Even healthy adults can be affected by smoke. If you are in a wildfire prone area, consider buying an air purifier to use in the event of smoky air. 

Some air cleaners can help reduce indoor pollutants if they are the right type and size for your home. Air cleaners with ozone generators are not appropriate for home use. The Air Resources Board recommends avoiding them. Ozone is a gas that can cause health problems including lung irritation and breathing difficulty. Go for more information about aircleaners or air purifiers."


If you'd like more information on our California certified air cleaners and our air purifiers for smoke connect with us:

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Reducing BPA exposure: It's much easier than you think.

Photo by DAN
Chemicals in your air and even your do something about it!

Long before my mommy friends were on the bandwagon, my tot was carrying around his stainless-steel sippy cup to the odd stares and rolling eyes of parents everywhere.

With concern about BPA now mainstream, I was fascinated by this study by scientists at the Breast Cancer Fund.

They chose five families who tended to eat out, drink out of plastic water bottles, microwave plastic containers and eat canned and packaged food. Then they put them on a diet --- a package-free diet.

For just three short days the families were provided freshly prepared organic meals - no canned food and only glass storage containers.

The scientists evaluated their urine while they ate their typical diets, when they ate the fresh food and then again after returning to their normal eating habits. What they discovered was pretty remarkable.

While the families were eating the fresh-food diet, their BPA levels dropped on average by 60%, some as high as 75%.  When families returned to their regular diets, their BPA levels increased back to the pre-intervention levels.

In addition to the BPA, participants were also tested for phthalates (plastic-softening chemicals that can interfere with reproductive development). Levels of DEHP (a phthalate used in food packaging) dropped by an average of 50%.

"This study suggests that removing BPA from food packaging will remove the number one source of BPA exposure,” said Janet Gray, Ph.D., Science Advisor to the Breast Cancer Fund and professor at Vassar College. “The study should serve as a call to action for industry and government to get BPA out of food packaging and to fix the broken chemical management system that allows it to be there in the first place.”

So what should be on the top of your list to avoid? According to tests, the Breast Cancer Fund found that BPA especially leaches into canned foods that are acidic, salty or fatty. This is their top ten list:

Interested in learning more about removing chemicals from your daily life? Have you ever considered chemicals and odors in your air? In one study of commonly used household products EVERY one of the 25 air fresheners, personal care products, laundry soaps and cleaning products tested emitted chemicals that are classified as toxic or hazardous under federal laws.

Learn more about indoor air quality and chemical exposure. Connect with us:
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Thursday, June 23, 2011

VIDEO: Natural Gas & Air Pollution

Play Video

This is an interesting video report done for the New York Times on the concerns of local residents living in the shadows of natural gas development.

Touted as a "greener" energy source, natural gas production has had an explosion of growth all over North America.

Opponents argue that producing  it spews serious pollutants into the air like VOC's and other toxins that may have serious long-term health effects. One former EPA employee says the industry has been given a pass on environmental laws.

Are you concerned about natural gas, VOC's and your air quality? AllerAir is the industry leader in heavy-duty chemical and odor control air cleaners for residential use.

Our units use deep-bed activated carbon air filters (the same material often used in gas masks) to remove airborne chemicals, gases and odors.

To learn more about our products and cleaner indoor air quality, connect with us:

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Smell-O-Vision: TV & Cell that Generates Scents a Chemical Exposure Death Trap?

"Some.... chemicals have no safe exposure level"

Coming to TV and cell screens of the future: a sense of smell? Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, say it is possible. They've just published a paper discussing their two year study in which they say electronic devices like TV's and phones can be outfitted with a compact device able to potentially generate thousands of different odors.

“For example, if people are eating pizza, the viewer smells pizza coming from a TV or cell phone,” said Sungho Jin, professor in the departments of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and NanoEngineering at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. “And if a beautiful lady walks by, they smell perfume. Instantaneously generated fragrances or odors would match the scene shown on a TV or cell phone, and that’s the idea."

Advertisers across the country are no doubt salivating at the thought, but what effect will this new assault on our senses have on our health? One only has to look at research on other scented projects to form an educated guess.

Dr. Anne Steinemann is  a scientist at the University of Washington who studies scented products. Her lab analyzed 25  "commonly" used scented products like air fresheners, personal care products, laundry soap and cleaning supplies.

"All of them emitted chemicals that are classified as toxic or hazardous under federal laws," she says in a CBS news report. "These chemicals are ones that can damage the brain, the lungs, the central nervous system and cause cancer. Some of these chemicals have no safe exposure level, that means even one molecule is not safe to inhale."

So it's true that while we don't yet know the exact exposure level and chemical make-up of a scent-generating TV, can it be very different from a vanilla cookie air freshener or a papaya shampoo? The principle will likely be similar --- a chemical or mix of chemicals used to generate a scent. In this case the authors suggest:

" aqueous solution such as ammonia, which forms an odorous gas when heated through a thin metal wire by an electrical the heat and odor pressure build, a tiny compressed hole is opened, releasing the odor."

That doesn't exactly sound like something we should be breathing more than 34 hours per week - yes, that's the average amount of TV time logged by the typical American last year.

With indoor air quality already up to 5 times more polluted that outdoor air, why introduce more pollutants? We think the idea smells a bit off.

To learn more about indoor air quality and chemical exposure connect with us:

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Formaldehyde, Styrene Added To U.S. Health Department's Carcinogens List

" air cleaner with a deep-bed of activated carbon can remove a wide range of dangerous airborne chemicals."

The preservative formaldehyde and styrene, the chemical used to make styrofoam, have officially been added to the U.S. health department's list of chemicals that may put people at increased risk for cancer.

"Reducing exposure to cancer-causing agents is something we all want, and the Report on Carcinogens provides important information on substances that pose a cancer risk," said Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., director of both the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the National Toxicology Program (NTP).

The Report on Carcinogens is a congressionally mandated document that identifies agents, substances, mixtures, or exposures in two categories: known to be a human carcinogen and reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.

"This report underscores the critical connection between our nation's health and what's in our environment." added John Bucher, Ph.D., associate director of the NTP.

Formaldehyde was first listed in the 2nd Report on Carcinogens as a substance that was reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen, after laboratory studies showed it caused nasal cancer in rats. There is now sufficient evidence from studies in humans to show that individuals with higher measures of exposure to formaldehyde are at increased risk for certain types of rare cancers.

What is Formaldehyde?
Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable, strong-smelling chemical that is widely used to make resins for household items, such as composite wood products, paper product coatings, plastics, synthetic fibers, and textile finishes. Formaldehyde is also commonly used as a preservative in medical laboratories, mortuaries, and some consumer products, including some hair straightening products.

What is Styrene?

Styrene is a synthetic chemical used worldwide in the manufacture of products such as rubber, plastic, insulation, fiberglass, pipes, automobile parts, food containers, and carpet backing. People may be exposed to styrene by breathing indoor air that has styrene vapors from building materials, tobacco smoke, and other products. The greatest exposure to styrene in the general population is through cigarette smoking. Workers in certain occupations may potentially be exposed to much higher levels of styrene than the general population.

Can an Air Cleaner Remove Chemicals?

Yes, an air cleaner with a deep-bed of activated carbon can remove a wide range of dangerous airborne chemicals. AllerAir manufactures over 100 deep-bed carbon air cleaners for residential use and air scrubbers for heavy industry.

For more information on air quality and chemical exposure, connect with us:
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For our industrial division:
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Monday, June 20, 2011

Moldy homes linked to children's asthma

"Lab studies suggest that being exposed to mold and airborne mold spores can cause airway inflammation."

(PressTV)  Children who live in water-damaged homes with visible mold problems are at a greater risk of developing asthma, wheezing problems or nasal allergies.

A review of 61 international studies showed that children living in homes with visible mold are 49 percent more likely to have asthma compared with their peers that are not exposed to such environments, Reuters reported.

Moreover, these children are 39 times more prone to developing nasal allergies, said the study published in the European Respiratory Journal.

Lab studies suggest that being exposed to mold and airborne mold spores can cause airway inflammation. The findings, however, do not prove that mold is the culprit, said researchers.

Exposure to mold components in house dust, on the other hand, was linked to a lower risk of respiratory disorders, according to researchers at the German Research Center for Environmental Health in Neuherberg.

"Visible mold patches at the walls, or a moldy odor, is indicating that the normal microbial composition is out of kilter, which is most often due to dampness, excessive moisture or building damages," said Christina Tischer, the lead author.

One theory called the "hygiene hypothesis" suggests that the immune system of children, who live in an environment containing normal mix of microbes, are less likely to show allergic reactions.

Removing visible mold "might be a first important step in order to create a healthy environment at home," said Tischer.

Repairing leaky plumbing or other sources of water damage and lowering humidity in the home with better ventilation are among other strategies that can prevent the growth of mold at home, she added.


Interested in learning more about removing airborne mold and improving your indoor air quality? Connect with us:

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Top 5 actions parents can take to reduce child exposure to toxic chemicals at home

Leading Canadian health and environmental experts have issued a list of the top five ways parents can protect their children from toxic substances in and around the home:

Controlling house dust (which also contains chemicals); switching to less-toxic, fragrance-free cleaners; taking extreme care with renovation projects; avoiding certain types and uses of plastics; and choosing fish that are low in mercury are the five priority actions recommended by the Canadian Partnership for Children's Health and Environment (CPCHE) to reduce common sources of toxic exposure associated with child health risks.

"If parents take simple actions in these five areas, they can significantly reduce their children's exposures to toxics – and even save money," says Erica Phipps, CPCHE Partnership Director.

The Top 5 Ways for Parents to Prevent Child Exposure to Toxics at Home

1) Bust that dust
Frequent vacuuming or wet mopping, and dusting with a damp cloth, top the list of recommended measures.
"House dust is a major source of children's exposures to toxic substances including lead which, even at very low levels, is known to be harmful to the developing brain." says Prof. Bruce Lanphear of Simon Fraser University, a world-leading expert on children's environmental health who serves as an advisor to CPCHE.

"The developing brain of a fetus or young child is particularly susceptible to the neurotoxic effects of lead, mercury and other toxic chemicals," Dr. Lanphear adds. "An infant will absorb about 50 per cent of ingested lead, whereas an adult absorbs about 10 per cent. This, combined with children's frequent hand-to-mouth behaviour, places children at much greater risk."

In May, Health Canada researchers released data from the Canadian House Dust Study that showed measurable concentrations of bioaccessible lead (lead that can be absorbed by the body) in all homes tested, with values ranging from 8 to 3916 parts per million (ppm), as measured from analysis of the contents of vacuum cleaner bags.

CPCHE's recommendations, which are being presented to parents in a brochure and on the CPCHE website, focus on simple steps that parents can take now without making major changes. CPCHE will release a short video later this year to reach more parents with the recommendations.

"Expectant and new parents, in particular, need practical advice to help them safeguard their children from health risks — such as learning and behavioural disorders, asthma, cancer and certain birth defects — that researchers have linked to toxic chemicals found in and around the home," says Phipps. "The time of greatest vulnerability is in the womb."

2) Go green when you clean
Parents can reduce their family's exposure to toxic chemicals and save money by switching to simple, non-toxic cleaners.

Baking soda is a good scouring powder for tubs and sinks, and vinegar mixed with water works well for cleaning windows, surfaces and floors, the experts point out. Avoiding the use of air "fresheners" and selecting fragrance-free laundry detergents can reduce children's exposures to the chemicals used to make fragrance or "parfum," some of which have been linked to disruption of normal hormone function.

Echoing the advice of physician groups, including the Canadian Medical Association, the experts also advise against the use of antibacterial soaps.

3) Renovate right
If families are upgrading their homes, CPCHE recommends that pregnant women and children stay away from areas being renovated to avoid exposure to contaminant-laden renovation dust and toxic fumes from products such as paints, caulking and glues. Care must be taken to seal off the area being renovated from the rest of the home using plastic sheeting, and careful dust-busting is essential during and after any renovation or repair project.

4) Get drastic with plastic
Parents can take protective action by being selective in their use of plastic products, especially when it comes to serving and storing food. The experts caution parents not to use plastic containers or wrap in the microwave, even if the label says "microwave safe," as the chemicals in the plastic can migrate into the food or beverage. Eating fresh and frozen foods whenever possible will reduce exposure to Bisphenol-A (BPA), a chemical used in the lining of most food and drink cans. BPA is associated with a wide range of potential health effects, including impacts on the developing brain and disruption of endocrine (hormone) function.
The experts also caution about plastic products made of PVC, commonly known as vinyl, which contains a class of chemical plasticizers knows as phthalates that are associated with diverse health effects. Although phthalates are banned from some children's toys as of June 2011, many other vinyl products are still on the market, such as bibs, shower curtains and children's raincoats. The experts advise parents to discard older toys and teethers that are made of this soft plastic.

5) Dish safer fish
To reduce children's exposure to mercury, a metal that is toxic to the brain, the experts advise choosing varieties of fish that are low in mercury, such as Atlantic mackerel, herring, rainbow trout, wild or canned salmon and tilapia. If serving canned tuna, look for "light" varieties, as these are lower in mercury than albacore or "white" tuna. If you catch fish in local waters, check your province or territory's advisories to see whether it is safe to eat, the experts add.

For more information on reducing chemical exposure and improving indoor air quality connect with the clean air experts:

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Chemical exposure: Where to turn for useful information

I admit, maybe when I read the EPA press release on their new searchable database on chemicals, I was expecting too much:

"The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making it easier to find data about chemicals. EPA is releasing two databases — the Toxicity Forecaster database (ToxCastDB) and a database of chemical exposure studies (ExpoCastDB) — that scientists and the public can use to access chemical toxicity and exposure data. Improved access supports EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson’s priorities of protecting Americans’ health by assuring the safety of chemicals and expanding the conversation on environmentalism."

After all "technically", they are making it easier to find 'data". Tones of it, in the form of lists and lists of studies. That's fine for a scholar, scientist or someone who enjoys sifting through medical and scientific studies and the accompanying jargon. What about REGULAR people? 

Government bodies continue to miss the point.  All we want to know in plain language is, is there enough data to draw a reasonable conclusion that the chemical is toxic to humans. I know they would say that it's too complicated to give that type of answer; that it depends on how it's used, where it's used how much is used etc., but that's a cop out. There are currently THOUSANDS of chemicals that have been approved for use in products that we use everyday that have not been thoroughly tested for their potential toxicity to humans. Incredible thought isn't it? The truth is that governments and the mainstream media often can't give straight answers due to pressures from industry, powerful lobby groups and fear of legal ramifications. Unfortunately, the process to formally acknowledge that a chemical is likely to be harmful is painfully slow. Consumers are now forced to be more proactive about protecting our own health. 

Below are some examples of great resources that will help to give you some straight talk on chemical exposure, cosmetics, produce, and even indoor air quality. 

This is a fantastic resource. You just enter your product and get a result. I entered my shampoo, Pantene Pro-V 2-in-1 Shampoo and Conditioner. In five seconds I able to see that based on available data, the product had a low to moderate overall hazard rating. I was also able to read in simple language what the high, moderate and low concerns were with the regards to the ingredients and judge for myself whether I felt the risk was worth taking. 

Also from the EWG, this annual guide ranks popular produce. It will help you determine which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide residues and therefore, which are the most important to buy organic. The EWG says that you can lower your pesticide intake substantially by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating the least contaminated produce. Apples have consistently ranked as the most contaminated year after year. As a result of this guide, my kids have never eaten a non-organic apple. Will it make a significant difference in their lives? Who knows, but it's one small change I can make to reduce our chemical intake.

AllerAir Air Quality Experts Live Chat , Email and Toll Free Phone Line 1-888-852-8247

Now luckily for me this resource happens to be down the hall, but you can have almost equal access by using one of the links above. In my case, I had a stinky basement issue (read about it here). We renovated and soon found the smell of the construction materials unbearable. After consulting an air quality expert, I quickly learned that the smell was likely chemical off-gassing which could potentially continue for years. I was told that a simple HEPA air filter could clean the dust, but not the smell. For that I had to use an air cleaner with activated carbon (like what's in a military gas mask) which can remove airborne chemicals, gases and odors. I now have an AllerAir Air Medic running 24/7 and even my husband, who is the world's premier skeptic, admits the smell and dust are gone. 

For more information on AllerAir, chemical exposure and indoor air quality connect with us:

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Thursday, June 09, 2011

Q&A: Air Cleaners for Wildfire Smoke; Utah, Florida, Arizona, Colorado, Alaska

Q: Do you have air cleaners specifically designed for smoke, odors and particles, particularly wildfire smoke?

A: With serious wildfires currently burning in Utah, Florida, Arizona, Colorado and Alaska, we've been receiving calls and e-mails about air purifiers for smoke, specifically wildfire smoke.

Wildfire smoke poses a very serious health risk as 80 to 90% of wildfire smoke is within the fine particle range. These fine particles, which are generally less than 2.5 microns in diameter and can penetrate deep into the body.  An increase in this type of airborne particulate matter has been linked to numerous health problems including headaches, nausea, dizziness, respiratory problems, strokes and heart attacks.

Children, pregnant women, those suffering from existing respiratory conditions and older adults are even more susceptible to the effects of wildfire smoke particulate.

Smoke can also travel far beyond the main burn zone. Studies show that even a small increase in airborne fine particulate matter can affect overall health.

Suggested Air Purifiers:

Our most efficient medical-grade HEPA unit for particles ( traps 99.97% of fine particles at 0.3 microns) coupled with a deep-bed, activated carbon filter for the treatment of  chemicals, gases and odors. Ideal for those living within close range of a wildfire zone.

5000 DS or 6000 DS
Air purifiers tailored specifically for smoke and odor relief, these exceptional units remove lingering smoke odors and harmful chemicals. They feature a deep-bed carbon filters, tar-trapping pre-filters and micro-HEPA filters for particles.

For a personalized recommendation, don't hesitate to contact us. We have over 100 models which can be customized to meet your needs and budget.

Visit our website:
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Other Resources:

Current U.S. Wildfire Information

National Air Quality Summary

Today’s Air Quality Forecast (MAP)

Note: Always follow public advisories and evacuation orders. An air purifier is designed to treat airborne pollutants, but can’t save you or your home from a serious or encroaching wild fire.

Time to Stop Trusting Regulators? Report Says They Knew World's Best-Selling Herbicide Causes Birth Defects

Image by Sura Nualpradid
It's time to take a proactive approach to protecting our indoor air, water and food.

It happened with cigarettes, drugs, BPA and countless other products; Regulators, supposedly in the business of keep us safe, seem to be routinely ignoring credible, scientific evidence that shows products can harm us. Is this a result of back-door strong-arming by powerful, ruthless corporations? We’ll leave that up to the conspiracy theorists to prove, however it is time for everyone to start taking a more proactive approach to protecting their own health.

The latest example of regulators failing the public, comes from the Huffington Post. They report that industry regulators have known for years that Roundup, the world's best-selling herbicide produced by chemical giant Monsanto, causes birth defects.

Herbicides are essentially weed killers. Some are selective killers, in that they are only suppose to target specific weeds and apparently leave crops unscathed. Newer crops, called “Round-up Ready” are actually genetically modified to be immune to herbicides. According to the USDA, agriculture spends more than 8 billion dollars a year on crop chemicals and accounts for 70% of all pesticide sales in the U.S.

The report in question, "Roundup and birth defects: Is the public being kept in the dark?" found that regulators have known for over 30 years that glyphosate, the chemical on which Roundup is based, can cause birth defects in laboratory animals.

So what can a regular person do? The answer: Stop relying on others to keep us safe. Make sure, to the best of your abilities, that your air, water, food and home are as clean as possible. That means using fewer chemicals in the home and workplace, maintaining good indoor air quality, and eating less packaged, processed and modified foods.

To learn more about removing airborne chemicals, odors, dust and other contaminants from the air you breathe connect with us:

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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

COOL APP ALERT: Is that product healthy, green, ethical? Scan the bar code with your iphone and find out!

There's no shortage of cool iphone apps, but this one may help you become a better shopper.

The GoodGuide app allows you to simply scan a barcode to see detailed ratings for the product's impact on human health, the environment and society as a whole.

The database is packed with ratings for more than 70,000 products and companies.

The ratings were compiled by a team of scientific and technology experts. Good Guide's lead scientist Bill Pease, is actually an expert in chemical risk assessment.

To learn more about removing airborne chemicals in your home and our effective and affordable home air cleaners for chemicals, gases, odors and particles connect with us:

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Monday, June 06, 2011

VIDEO: Spend a lot of time in your car? It could be a hotbed for chemical exposure

Could spending a lot of time in you car be affecting your health? Many cars off-gas VOC's (volatile organic compounds) from plastics and other materials used to make the vehicle. In fact studies have shown that "new-car smell" is likely a result of chemical off-gassing.  

Watch this video from to learn more:

Looking to reduce your overall chemical exposure? Air cleaners with activated carbon and HEPA filters are used by thousands of homeowners, families, businesses, hospitals and even heavy industry and the military  to remove airborne chemicals, gases, odors and particles.  Connect with us to learn more or find a dealer near you:
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Friday, June 03, 2011

Could chemical exposure be affecting the health of our boys?

Male infertility appears to be on the rise, and studies suggest that more boys are being born with genital malformations. Could chemicals in our air, our homes, and even our kitchens be to blame? 

An MSN special report from Brian Alexander:

You wouldn't know it to speak to her, because she's cheerfully chatty, with a pronounced Chicago-land accent, but Brandie Langer is worried. She's also a little worried about being worried. "Do you think I might be paranoid?" she asks. She has three children. The youngest, a son, is 5 years old, and Brandie has read a lot online about endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), which some scientists say can scramble male hormones. EDCs are commonly found in plastics, bug- and weed-killers, the linings of food and drink cans, fragrances, and other household products. "Sometimes I do a Google search about a chemical and half the sites say, 'It's fine, you're paranoid, and you need a hobby,'" says Brandie, 31. "Others say, 'There's no hope! We cannot turn back! Humankind is going to die.' And I feel like, Am I crazy?" But instead of freaking out about it, she and her husband made a plan: They avoid buying food packaged in plastic containers and cans whenever possible. They switched from their heavily scented laundry detergent. They stopped treating their lawn, ignoring typical suburban neighborhood gossip about their weedy yard. Yet she's not positive they absolutely need to do any of these things.

Same with Karly Field, a Birmingham, AL, mother of two boys, 5 and 2. She was pregnant with her younger son when she first saw news reports about the possible negative effects of bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical often used in hard plastics and in the lining of cans. She reluctantly threw out all the BPA-containing baby bottles she used for her older son and spent about $250 buying a new set. "I didn't know if he would be affected," she says, but she acted anyway, just in case.

But it's not just moms like Brandie and Karly: Scientists, regulatory organizations, and government groups are concerned that chemicals in everyday products may have launched an unintentional war on our health.

Children may be most seriously affected because their developing brains and bodies are especially vulnerable to chemicals. Over the last few years, there has been a glut of new research about the possible effects on baby boys, in particular. Some research has suggested that EDCs can change the way male fetuses' brains form in the womb. Other studies have linked EDCs to a rise in genital birth defects such as hypospadias (in which the opening of the urethra develops on the shaft, not at the tip, of the penis) and cryptorchidism (undescended testicles, a risk factor for poor semen quality and testicular cancer). And although data from the United States is inconclusive, studies from across the globe suggest that adult male sperm quality and fertility are dropping. European scientists even coined a term — testicular dysgenesis syndrome — to describe the increasing rates of testicular cancer and low sperm count. "Across Europe, sperm counts in young men are remarkably low on average, and 20 percent or more fall into the subfertile/infertile range," says Richard Sharpe, Ph.D., of the MRC/University of Edinburgh Centre for Reproductive Health. "It appears to be more prevalent now than 50 years ago."

EDCs are emerging as a prime suspect in these troubling trends. That's why REDBOOK asked more than a dozen of the country's top researchers in the field to explain the issue, and help women like Brandie, Karly, and you make informed decisions for your families.

The official opinion of the Endocrine Society, which represents experts who specialize in the body's hormonal systems, is that "the evidence for adverse reproductive outcomes (infertility, cancers, malformations) from exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals is strong." And the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is now taking notice. "Endocrine-disrupting chemicals are showing up in low doses in our water supply, and it is troubling," says EPA administrator Lisa Jackson. Reminded that moms like Brandie and Karly want answers about EDCs now, she says, "We all wish the science came out quicker, but I would like readers to know that EDCs are one of my priorities." The EPA has commissioned several new studies, and Jackson is also pushing to update the Toxic Substances Control Act, which has remained virtually unchanged since 1976. She says the bar the EPA must clear in order to restrict a chemical's use is remarkably high: "We feel hamstrung. The law that governs chemical safety is antiquated; it has not kept up with the prevalence of chemicals."

Industry has a strong interest in keeping that bar high; retooling manufacturing processes to reduce or eliminate EDCs could cost billions. The proof the EPA has now isn't strong enough to drive new regulation; bottom-line results of studies on EDCs range from "Danger, Will Robinson!" to "No big deal." And manufacturers insist that the doses of these chemicals that we get are benign. "[Exposure to low doses] is something that has been discussed over and over by numerous risk reviewers and has been dismissed," says John Rost, Ph.D., chairman of the North American Metal Packaging Alliance, which represents the food and beverage metal packaging industry. "I think consumers are getting a one-sided story." BPA-containing linings in cans reduce the risk of potentially deadly illness, he argues. "I know I can open a can of vegetables or soup and it has been properly treated and is free of food-borne illnesses," he says. He also points out, accurately, that the World Health Organization and the European Union's food-safety agency have deemed BPA safe for use in cans. In 2008, at the end of George W. Bush's presidency, the Food and Drug Administration declared BPA, the chemical that caused Karly to chuck her baby bottles, safe even for infants.

But the Canadian government banned BPA in baby bottles that same year. And in 2010, a report by Barack Obama's President's Cancer Panel acknowledged the links between BPA and hypospadias, undescended testicles, early puberty, and breast cancer, and said that EDCs found in items like baby toys may pose a danger.

Many of the cells in our bodies have receptors, like little docking bays. When the right hormone molecule pulls into a docking bay, it triggers an action. Estrogen, for example, instructs cells to make female genitals, or to start puberty, or to regulate a woman's monthly cycle. Androgens tell cells to build boy parts, to make sperm, and so on. If a chemical that mimics estrogen pulls into a receptor at the wrong time, or in the wrong amount, it could cause unwanted changes, including genital malformations or infertility — the very things that seem to be happening more to boys. Though BPA has gotten the most attention, there are many other suspected EDCs: polybrominated diphenyl ethers are found in flame retardants on furniture; phthalates show up in everything from flexible plastics to cosmetics; an EPA study recently found that triclosan, a bacteria-killer used widely in deodorants, toothpastes, and soaps, had hormonal effects on rodents; atrazine is one of the most commonly used herbicides in the world, and it finds its way into streams and water supplies. (Karen Reardon, a spokeswoman for RISE, a pesticide trade group, says that weed- and bug-killers these days are so advanced and so targeted that they only work on the organisms they are meant to destroy — so the chemicals are not likely to affect people or even other mammals.)

All these substances are appearing in the bloodstreams of adults, children, and even newborns, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Simply finding a chemical in our bodies doesn't mean it's hurting us, but EDCs have harmed people before, points out Heather Patisaul, Ph.D., who studies endocrine disruptors at North Carolina State University. A synthetic estrogen called diethylstilboestrol (DES) was given to millions of women from 1940 into the 1970s to help prevent miscarriage. The children they gave birth to paid a price: Doctors later discovered that their daughters were developing rare vaginal cancers and their sons suffered from testicular cysts and, some research found, increased rates of hypospadias and undescended testicles. "We have an idea of what an endocrine-disrupting chemical can do to humans because of the DES experience," Patisaul says.

Estrogen-like chemicals are known to harm animals. But the science around the effects of EDCs on humans is still murky — in part because researchers cannot ethically dose people with them on purpose. Instead, they have to rely on studies that show links between a possible cause, like the amount of EDCs in a person's body, and an effect.

Even doctors on the front lines of treating baby boys with genital malformations don't fully agree about what is happening in their field. Julia Barthold, M.D., a pediatric urologist at A.I. DuPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, DE, says she hasn't seen an uptick in these issues in her practice, and even if she had, whether or not EDCs should get the blame is still a question: "We don't know which factors — like family history — might be most important."

Other doctors will tell you they have no doubts; Howard Snyder, M.D., a pediatric urologist at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, says, "As a nation, we are seeing a rise in hypospadias and undescended testicles. And it's not because we are better at making diagnoses. If that were the case, we would be seeing minor cases, and that is not what we are seeing at all. I think this is the real deal — and EDCs may be to blame."

Product manufacturers often argue that most animal studies use large doses of EDCs, and that the amounts humans are likely to receive from any one product are much lower. But every scientist we contacted for this story brought up the fact that in the real world, humans aren't dosed with only one chemical at a time: From the moment we wake up and brush our teeth with antibacterial toothpaste, swipe on mascara, spray a little air freshener, eat some canned soup for lunch, we are receiving constant tiny doses of EDCs, and they mix in our bodies. "It is the source of some of the greatest fear: the unknown of what we might be exposing ourselves to inadvertently, or just because it all adds up," says Jackson.

Although the full picture isn't yet painted, it is clear that people like Brandie and Karly, who are actively trying to reduce their family's exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals, aren't acting crazy. Even the most conservative doctors and scientists — like Barthold and Sharpe, who don't believe the case against EDCs has been proven yet — agree it's a good idea for parents to reduce their household's exposure to these chemicals, especially when a woman is pregnant. "Scientists realize that there may never be a smoking gun, but nonetheless, when their daughters get ready to have children, they say, 'Stay away from EDCs,'" says Snyder. As Sharpe says, why not avoid unnecessary chemical exposures? "It can do no harm, only potential good."