How Does Indoor Air Pollution Affect Your Health?

design_build_indoor_air_qualityWhen you think of air pollution, what comes to mind? Do you picture heavy clouds of smog sitting over a busy city? Do you see smoke billowing into the sky from a forest fire? Does the hole in the ozone layer come to mind? While all of these are problems when it comes to air pollution outside, indoor air pollution can also be a problem.

You may not even think of the quality of air inside your home, school, or workplace as something that might affect your health. However, there are many pollutants that may be present.

What are indoor air pollutants?

If you suffer from allergies, you already know that things like mold and pollen can make air hard to breathe. Tobacco smoke, even second-hand, causes many different health problems. You might think household cleaners are safe to use, but sprays and pesticides can be harmful as well. Many of these pollutants are fairly easy to control, but you may be unaware of other pollutants in your space. Gases such as radon and carbon monoxide need detectors to avoid problems. Your home may even be constructed of materials like asbestos, formaldehyde, and lead. Since these pollutants are so common, it’s important to know the affect they may have on your well-being.

How does indoor air pollution affect our health?

Most indoor air pollutants only cause discomfort. Your body may react to them with symptoms similar to the common cold, with sneezes, coughing and a runny nose. Snoring is more common in homes with high indoor pollution. Most people feel better as soon as they remove pollutants from their environment. However, some pollutants can cause diseases that show up much later, such as respiratory diseases or cancer. Sometimes, a building’s air may be so polluted that it causes the group of people inside to suffer the same symptoms. This is known as “Sick-Building Syndrome.”

How can we fight indoor air pollution?

Think about all the odors that should be outside, but aren’t. Where did the pollutants go from the past? Odors and pollutants, like those from volcanic eruptions, building collapses, earthquakes, or decaying animals in the wild, didn’t just disappear. Our earth can’t afford for those pollutants to collect over the 4.54 billion years it has been in existence. Mother Nature needed a continual process for keeping the outdoor air organic and fresh.

AirRestore uses Organic Air Technology to  replicate Mother Nature’s own process of keeping the outdoor air fresh. The sun and wind naturally provide the energizing elements to the air. These elements actively attach to and break down pollutants in the air by altering the airborne pollutants, which helps restore the air to a much cleaner state.

Organic Air Technology produces the same energized elements and disperses them throughout a room to proactively attach to and break down the pollutants.  Germs, bacteria, viruses, mold, and odors are neutralized by altering the pollutants, thereby reducing the pollutants in the air.

While indoor air pollution is a problem many of us deal with in our day to day lives, we can take steps to get rid of these pollutants. By making the air in our homes cleaner, we can live healthier, happier lives.

Does Air Quality Affect Mental Health?

 

Mental health has been a growing concern in the United States in recent years. That’s not surprising, as nearly one in five Americans suffers from some mental illness every year. 42.5 million American adults deal with conditions like depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, according to statistics published in 2014. While there are many things that may contribute to mental illness, one of them is very “out of sight, out of mind” — air quality. A number of studies have been conducted to see how air pollution affect the brain. Many of these have linked air pollution to mental health issues such as depression, autism, and schizophrenia.

 What kind of polluted air can affect the brain?

When cars, factories, and power plants burn fuel, they produce the carbon particles that make up most air pollution. For decades, research on the health effects of air pollution has focused on the part of the body where its effects are most obvious — the lungs. That research began to show that different-sized particles produce different effects. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates larger particles. These are actually the least harmful, because they get coughed up and expelled. However, the EPA doesn’t regulate smaller particles known as ultrafine particles. These are more dangerous, because they are small enough to travel deep into the lungs. From there, they be absorbed into the bloodstream, and produce toxic effects throughout the body.

Air Pollution and Depression

In 2011, the Neuroscience Department at Ohio State University ran a study in mice. This study found that long-term exposure to air pollution can lead to physical changes in the brain. These changes can cause problems with learning and memory, and even depression. Laura Fonken was lead author of the study, and a doctoral student in the program. She said, “the results suggest prolonged exposure to polluted air can have visible, negative effects on the brain, which can lead to a variety of health problems. This could have troubling implications for people who live and work in polluted urban areas around the world.”

Study details

In this study, researchers exposed mice to either filtered air or polluted air. This went on for six hours a day, five days a week for 10 months. That’s nearly half the lifespan of the mice. The polluted air contained fine particulate matter, the kind of pollution created by cars, factories and natural dust. The fine particulates are tiny – about 1/30th of the average width of a human hair. Researchers exposed the mice to a concentration of particulate matter equivalent to polluted air people breathe in some polluted urban areas.

After 10 months of exposure to the polluted or filtered air, the researchers performed a variety of behavioral tests on the animals. In one experiment, mice exposed to the polluted air showed more depressive-like behaviors. In another test, the polluted-air mice showed signs of higher levels of anxiety-like behaviors.

How did the brain change?

In the Ohio State study, the researchers tested the hippocampal area of the mice brains to find the answers. Fonken said, “We wanted to look carefully at the hippocampus because it is associated with learning, memory and depression.” Results showed clear physical differences in the hippocampi of the mice who were exposed to the polluted air, compared to those who weren’t. In mice that breathed the polluted air, chemical messengers that cause inflammation – called pro-inflammatory cytokines – were more active in the hippocampus than they were in mice who breathed the filtered air. “The hippocampus is particularly sensitive to damage caused by inflammation,” Fonken said. “We suspect that the systemic inflammation caused by breathing polluted air is being communicated to the central nervous system.”

Autism and Schizophrenia

Deborah Cory-Slechta, Ph.D., professor of Environmental Medicine at the University of Rochester, ran a similar study on mice. This study revealed that exposure to air pollution in early life causes changes in the brain. This includes an enlargement of part of the brain that is seen in humans who are diagnosed with autism and schizophrenia.  This supports other recent studies that highlight a strong correlation between air pollution and risk of autism in children. One study showed that children residing in areas with high levels of air pollution during their first year of life had a three-fold increase in the risk of autism.

Study details

Cory-Slechta’s study conducted three sets of experiments in which mice were exposed to levels of air pollution typically found in mid-sized U.S. cities during rush hour. Researchers conducted the exposures during the first two weeks after the mice were born. This is a critical time in the brain’s development. Researchers exposed the mice to the polluted air for four hours a day, for two four-day periods.

In one group of mice, researchers examined the brains 24 hours after the final pollution exposure. In all of those mice, inflammation was rampant throughout the brain. The lateral ventricles — chambers on each side of the brain that contain cerebrospinal fluid — were enlarged two-to-three times their normal size. Researchers observed the problems in a second group of mice 40 days after exposure and in another group 270 days after exposure. This indicated that the damage to the brain was permanent.

How did the brain change?

“When we looked closely at the ventricles, we could see that the white matter that normally surrounds them hadn’t fully developed,” said Cory-Slechta. “It appears that inflammation had damaged those brain cells and prevented that region of the brain from developing, and the ventricles simply expanded to fill the space.” Brains of mice in all three groups also had elevated levels of glutamate, a neurotransmitter. This is also seen in humans with autism and schizophrenia.

 

 

Air pollution might not be the most obvious concern regarding our mental health. However, there’s no question that the quality of the air we breathe has an effect on our brains. If we can keep air pollution in check, our communities, family and children will be healthier and happier.

Safe, healthy air for newborn babies and children

Clean Baby

If you have a baby or toddler in your house, chances are you have thought of everything possible to keep them safe and comfortable: A crib, toys, soft blankets, warm clothes, healthful food. But have you stopped to evaluate whether the air your child is breathing is clean and safe?

Indoor spaces tend to trap pollutants, so it’s not uncommon to find high levels of unhealthful particles in homes and offices. The Environmental Protection Agency says indoor air pollution can be as much as eight times worse than outdoor pollution. Everyday household items may be partly to blame, according to this article.

Young children are very sensitive to pollutants in the air. They grow quickly, and they need clean air to help them develop properly. In fact, exposure to dirty air can be downright dangerous for children. A study published by the American Thoracic Society says dirty air can increase the risk of infants developing bronchiolitis, a respiratory infection. Babies with this condition often need to be hospitalized. The March of Dimes warns that polluted air can worsen asthma symptoms for young children.

If you are pregnant, your developing baby is sensitive to pollutants in the air you are breathing. Researchers at Harvard found that pregnant women exposed to high levels of some pollutants were twice as likely to have an autistic child, compared with peers on low-pollution areas. You can read more about that study here.

Consider some of the particles in your air that could be harming your child’s health: Cleaning chemicals, scented sprays, odors from carpets or drapes, smoke, paint odors, sawdust, allergens, germs, pollution from traffic on nearby roadways — the list goes on and on. And if you and your child are indoors most of the day, you are both breathing the same chemicals and particles over and over, increasing your exposure to them.

Make sure your child is breathing clean air by following these steps:

1.)    Plug in an AirRestore Whole Home System. It will help keep indoor air clean by removing particles in the air that shouldn’t be there — pollution, allergens, germs and odors. Another benefit of the Air Naturalizer is it can help remove odors from diapers, dirty clothes, spoiled milk and spit-up.

2.)    Ensure there is proper ventilation in your home, especially in the nursery. Open windows (if the air outside is clean and safe to breathe) to flush out stale air, and use a fan to circulate fresh air throughout the home.

3.)    Watch out for VOCs and SVOCs. VOCs (volatile organic compounds) include formaldehyde, and are emitted by building materials and paint. Some fabrics and mattresses contain flame retardants and release SVOCs (semivolatile organic compounds), which stick to dust in the air, making them more likely to be inhaled. These particles can harm the brain and nervous system. To reduce the levels of these compounds in your home, check labels on home furnishings and cleaning products before buying them, and look for ones that say “Low VOCs” or “No VOCs.”

4.)    Become best friends with baking soda and vinegar. These two household items are safe and effective tools for cleaning sinks, bathtubs and more. They also are great at removing odors. Stick an open box of baking soda in your fridge to keep it smelling fresh. Soak a piece of white bread in vinegar, place it in a bowl, and leave it overnight in an area of your house that smells bad.

Organic air works like…Broccoli?

Fresh green vegetable, isolated over white

Organic air works like…Broccoli?

Recent studies have shown, once again, that vegetables have proven to be healthy. Broccoli has proven that it is a super food and an essential part of our diet.

Benzene and acrolein are major air pollutants emitted from car exhaust and cigarette smoke. They are the cause of numerable diseases including respiratory issues as well as cardiovascular problems. Sulforaphane is a chemical that is a great chemical to rid our bodies from those harmful pollutants.

In a recent study a group of people were given a mixture of juices and drank them over a period of 12 weeks. One group was given broccoli sprout extract while the other was not. The results showed that the group that was given a mixture of juices including broccoli sprout extract excreted 61% more benzene and 23% more acrolein than the group who was drinking the same mixture except without the broccoli extract.

So what does this mean for us? This means that broccoli rids the body of the pollutants by taking them out of the body through excrement.

Does this process sound familiar? Well it should! This is the same process that the AirRestore Air Naturalizer does to the air around you. The AirRestore Air Naturalizer takes simple chemicals from your indoor air, which though are not currently doing anything special now, and charges them so they can travel through the air and latch onto the pollutants. Now that those charges particles have attacked the pollutants, the particles made the chemicals into a different non-pollutant and takes them out of the air around you.

Click HERE to check out more information about how broccoli helps rid the body of harmful toxins.

Autism and Air Pollution: A column takes a look at the link between the two

Newspaper

A recent column in an Ohio newspaper looks at news that connects autism and air pollution indoors . Indoor air pollution, ranked as one of the top five environmental public health risks, is especially heinous because it exists in the spaces where we spend the most time.

David Simon writes in The Vindicator, “because the problems caused are not always easily recognized or produce immediate impacts on health, the general public continues to assume that our homes, offices, schools, day-care and senior centers are safe. If only they were.”

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the air we are breathing indoors often has two to five times the levels of pollution of outdoor air. And it’s not uncommon to find indoor air with much higher levels. Why? Because modern buildings are tightly sealed and cut off from nature’s method of cleaning the air. Pollutants from the activities we do, items we use and toxins that seep in from outdoors tend to accumulate.

We are already seeing signs from previous studies that this build-up of contaminants in indoor air is bad enough for adults. But new research points to the possibility that it could be linked to the development of autism in babies before they are born.

The good news is that something can be done about this problem. We can reduce the risk by making sure expectant mothers have fresh air to breathe. And we can reduce the risk of myriad other health risks for everyone by using technology to bring indoor air to a more natural, balanced state.

AirRestore’s developers are passionate about improving indoor air quality for everyone. Our researchers have known all along that it’s vital to have fresh indoor air to breathe. That’s why they’ve worked hard to bring us the technology at work in Air Naturalizers.

As David Simon writes in his column for The Vindicator, “Outside of occupational exposure to pollutants, the air quality within a person’s home plays the largest role in health and well-being. This becomes especially critical during the months of a woman’s pregnancy. This should be a major wake-up call for us as a community.”

You can read more of David’s insightful column here.

Eliminating Dust Mites

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Looking for tips on eliminating dust mites?

Dust mites are a common allergen that causes problems for many people. And these little creatures are everywhere. They live in carpet, bedding, pillows, mattresses and the dust that accumulates on every surface of the home. According to howstuffworks.com, there may be 100,000 to 10 million of these congestion-inducing mites in a typical bed. Gross!

Dust mites are pervasive in homes because they feed on dead skin cells, which of course are everywhere in most people’s houses. While it’s impossible to eliminate dust mites entirely, it is possible to keep their presence to a minimum in your home, using these tips:

  • Plug in AirRestore’s Whole Home System of Air Naturalizers. The technology helps get rid of the dead skin cells in the air, taking away the mites’ food supply.
  • Use a dehumidifier, and keep your bedroom temperature on the cool side. Mites love humidity and warm air, so taking these steps will make your room less hospitable to them.
  • Encase your pillows and mattress in dust mite-proof covers. You can find them at many retail stores. They will prevent dust mites from taking over your bed and making it hard for you to breathe while you sleep.
  • Wash your comforter, bed skirt, curtains, and mattress pad every two weeks — preferable in hot water if the washing instructions allow. Cool water won’t kill the mites.
  • Use a damp cloth when you are dusting, rather than using a feather duster. That way you will collect the mites and get rid of them, rather than spreading them around your home. Tip: Add eucalyptus and wintergreen essential oils to your dust cloth to help kill the mites.

You can find more great tips at this site.

 

Indoor Air Pollution: Effects and Solutions

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Indoor Air Pollution

Health effects from indoor air pollution can be immediate and short-lived. Or they may be severe and not show up until years after repeat exposure. Some of the most common symptoms are sore throat, headache and cough, as well as itchy, runny eyes and nose. More severe symptoms include chronic breathing problems, heart disease and cancer.

If you suspect your living space is polluted, don’t despair. You can easily implement several solutions, including AirRestore. If you’re unsure of whether your home has a problem, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you suffer from any of the symptoms listed above, but feel better soon after leaving?
  • Are many of the potential sources of indoor air pollution found in your home?
  • Is the air in your house poorly ventilated, humid, or smelly and stuffy?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have indoor air pollution, but is a pretty good indication.

One of the cheapest and most effective ways to reduce indoor air pollution is to attack it at the source. If it’s something like asbestos, you can simply seal it off to prevent exposure. But if it’s something like a gas-cooking stove or your beloved family pet, that’s where it gets a little tricky. No one can expect you to seal off your stove and there is no way your fur-baby member of the family is going anywhere.

Ventilation is extremely helpful in decreasing indoor air pollutants. Since most heating and cooling systems simply recirculate the air rather than bringing in fresh air, you’ll want to open your windows and doors when the weather is nice. Running window or attic fans and bathroom and kitchen fans that exhaust outdoors can help as well. This is especially helpful when using items with potentially harmful chemicals like paint.

For those of you who live somewhere with high outdoor humidity or concentrations of outdoor pollutants, ventilation might not be the best option for you. It could actually worsen your indoor air pollution. Try to keep the humidity in your home low. A level of 30-50% is ideal, as higher levels encourage dust mites and mold growth.

If you’re concerned about using household cleaners and the potential harm they may cause, you have a couple of options. The first is to carefully follow the instructions on the label, use them in well ventilated areas, and be sure to store and dispose of them safely. The second is to pick out a product with non-harmful ingredients. If you’re not sure, the easiest way to tell is if the product doesn’t list its ingredients or has any “warnings” on it, you might want to keep looking. That probably isn’t the best option.

Ventilation, controlling your humidity levels and using safe products inside are great options. A solution to utilize both ventilation and controlling humidity levels is AirRestore. It virtually eliminates all odors and can even kill mold. It gives your indoor air the energy it needs to clean itself, much like the sun gives the air outside the energy to keep itself clean. The sources of indoor air pollution are many and varied, but so are the solutions. Choose what works best for you and keep your indoor air pollution under control or even eliminate it all together.

Air Pollution Linked to 1 in 8 Deaths Worldwide

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The World Health Organization released a study this week with sobering statistics: One in eight deaths worldwide is attributable to air pollution. In 2012, that was 7 million lives lost due to health problems from exposure to dirty indoor or outdoor air.

Though awareness of this problem has been growing, those numbers are staggering. The data gathered in this study points to a greater risk of heart disease and stroke associated with pollution than was known before. In fact, the majority of air pollution-related deaths result from cardiovascular disease. You can see a breakdown in the pie chart at left.

The results of the study emphasize the importance of breathing clean, fresh air, and the major impact dirty air can have on our health. Dr. Maria Neira, Director of WHO’s Department for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health emphasized the importance of addressing this major issue. “Few risks have a greater impact on global health today than air pollution; the evidence signals the need for concerted action to clean up the air we all breathe,” Neira said.

You can read the news release the WHO published about the study by clicking here. Or, you can read the CNN article based on the WHO’s research here.

Keep your home fresh over the winter.

In the winter, it’s usually too cold to open the window and let in fresh air, which can make indoor spaces unpleasant. Odors accumulate in the home, cause by strong foods, pets, garbage, cleaning products, dirty laundry and more. You and your family end up breathing that same stale air, over and over.

What can you do to clean up the air and make it more pleasant to breathe? Here are several tips:

 Use an AirRestore Air Naturalizer to help remove odors and allergens from the air. Unlike most air purifiers, which tend to rely on filters, An AirRestore Air Naturalizer creates a charged flow that gets rid of odors using the same air-cleansing power Mother Nature uses outdoors. It will leave the air fresh, even on cold days when you can’t open the windows. New to AirRestore? Talk to your local Dealer to find out more.

• Check for humidity: If there is a musty smell in your home, something may be damp and not drying properly. You may need to clean out the fan in your bathroom if it doesn’t seem to be getting rid of moisture after showers quick enough. If it’s your laundry room or another area, try using a stand-up fan or ceiling fan to help circulate the air and promote drying.

• Look for leaks: You might need to check for leaky air ducts. This video shows how to proceed. If ignored, a leaky air duct can lead to lots of other problems in your home.

• Fight mold: If you find out you have mold growing in your home, that’s a serious problem you’ll want to tackle immediately. If you don’t, it could spread and cause serious health problems. Here is a great slideshow that shows how to fight mold in the home. See more about fighting mold here.

• Bring some green indoors: Plants can do lots of good things for your home. They can filter out unwanted particles and boost the level of oxygen. Try growing herbs in your windowsill or purchase a leafy houseplant.

 Limit the chemicals you add to the air: Curtains, bedding and clothing (especially those that have been dry cleaned) can bring chemicals with them into your home. Some can even emit formaldehyde. Wash bedding, curtains, and washable clothes before using them, and hang dry-cleaned items outside to air out, if possible. Also, stay away from scented air fresheners. They emit chemicals that can irritate the lungs.