Posted by kevvyg on Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Austin Air PurifiersNormally, we like to stay further in front of announcements like this, but lost in the Thanksgiving shuffle was news about Austin Air purifiers and filters. Starting December 1st, 2011, prices are increasing on all Austin units and replacement filters. Due to rising commodity costs, Austin Air purifiers are increasing by 10-11%.

Austin Air purifiers have long been some of the most efficient air purifiers for allergy and asthma sufferers. Steel construction, easy to use controls and long filter life have made them popular for those who want efficiency without hassle. True HEPA filtration, granular activated carbon and a sealed system have made them ideal for removing pollen, dander, dust, and other particle allergens as well as smoke, odors, and VOC's.

If you were considering an Austin or are in need of a replacement filter, there is no time to order like now!

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Posted by Shifrah on Monday, November 28, 2011
When I saw this photo on Pinterest (which I've blogged about before), I cringed. Knowing that Christmas lights are often rife with lead, which is used both to insulate the wiring and as a flame retardant, seeing a child handling Christmas lights and putting them in his mouth, was off-putting to say the least. (And this isn't to mention the other dangers that come to my mind, at least, such as electrical and strangulation hazards…)

I did see one "pinner," as Pinterest users are often called, comment about the lead hazard. She also points out that, to her credit, the original photographer added a warning to her site, stating that she didn't know about the lead danger at the time the photograph was taken. Sadly, many people will not see these comments and the photo is extremely popular, having already spawned many, many imitations.

In any case, this scenario is a good reminder of why it's important to be aggressive in obtaining information about health hazards, especially when it comes to your children. Many don't know that electronics, including phones, and even keys are lead hazards, and it's not unusual to find babies handling or chewing on cell phones or bunches of keys.

In an age where chemical exposure is ubiquitous and often completely uncontrollable, we must be as aware as possible about the dangers we can limit – and we must spread the word.

For more on lead hazards and Christmas allergy triggers, see:
Christmas Lights Found With Potentially Unsafe Levels of Lead
Tis the Season for Sneezing?
How to Protect Your Children from Lead Poisoning

Posted by kevvyg on Monday, November 21, 2011
The Doctors on CBSKeep an eye out for our exclusive Allergy Armor brand bedding to make an appearance on The Doctors, Wednesday, November 23rd. Their episode, Air: Are You Breathing Yourself Sick? will focus on a variety of common indoor air pollutants and how to effectively improve air quality by reducing allergens.

Posted by Shifrah on Monday, November 21, 2011 article Woman in Coma After Allergic Reaction to Hair Dye reports on the tragic case of a mother in England who experienced an apparent allergic reaction when she dyed her hair – something she had done many times before.

Julie McCabe is on life support after the hair dyeing incident, which caused her to have difficulty breathing. On her way to the hospital, her heart also stopped.

Mrs. McCabe's family believes she even did the skin test recommended on the box of hair dye to see if consumers are allergic. So how did such a severe reaction occur, given that Mrs. McCabe previously tested not allergic and that she used the product many times with no apparent effects?

The family believes that the chemical paraphenylenediamine (PPD) caused the allergic reaction. This chemical is often found in permanent hair dye. According to Brian Plunkett, a hair and scalp specialist (known as a trichologist), allergies to hair dye increase as individuals are increasingly exposed to PPD. He explains, "People who are using color all the time build it up in their systems. It stays there for the rest of your life."

This extremely sad case illustrates the dangers of potent chemicals, even when we aren't "chemically sensitive." The tragedy also underscores the fact that allergies can drastically impact anyone's life at any time.

Posted by Shifrah on Friday, November 18, 2011
I've expressed the fact that I love Dyson vacuum cleaners on this blog before. My Dyson DC24 is going strong and I still get a thrill out of how much and how well it picks up.

But now I have a problem. I want the new Dyson DC35 Digital Slim Vacuum Cleaner, which we just started carrying. It's a cordless, rechargeable vacuum cleaner, but what makes it different – besides Dyson's Root Cyclone technology, which never loses suction – is its detachable long-reach wand. The vacuum also comes with a motorized brush tool for cleaning carpeted areas, floors, stairs, and more. Essentially, the Dyson Digital Slim is a handheld and a stick vacuum in one, with the option to use a long-reach tool.

This Digital Slim Dyson is absolutely perfect for quick clean-ups in hard-to-reach nooks and crannies. I love the thought of pulling this small vacuum out of the pantry to clean up the crumbs in the kitchen every night, or to take out to the car to get rid of all the dog hair and Cheerios.

Ohhhh, I really want one. Is it weird to want a vacuum cleaner for your birthday? I better send my husband this post. =)

In other Dyson news, we're also selling the latest Dyson Animal model, the Dyson DC41 Animal. With its improved, patented radial Root Cyclone technology and additional suction in the brushroll, this is Dyson's most powerful vacuum to date.

Posted by Ashley on Wednesday, November 16, 2011
It wouldn't be that shocking if you discovered the couch you're sitting on was manufactured with 'suspect chemicals'. Sure, formaldehyde and flame retardants are common carcinogens we have grown to reluctantly accept into our homes as the trade-off for inexpensive, and even luxury, home furnishings. What if you were to discover these types of toxic chemicals were found in your newborn baby's crib mattress?

What had us raising our eyebrows was a recent report from the Washington Post stating that 72% of crib mattresses use suspect chemicals, some of which are not detailed by the manufacturer. To make matters worse, we've been told by pediatricians for years to limit our crib bedding and blankets, in prevention of SIDS and suffocation. Meanwhile, with little barriers in place, our babies are breathing in another type of danger, toxic chemicals.

Moonlight Slumber MattressesOne way to prevent your newborn from chemical and toxin exposure is by doing a little research before you start decorating the nursery. As far as safety and health is concerned, Moonlight Slumber manufactures some of the best baby bedding and mattresses we've found. As seen on Good Morning America, these mattresses are PVC/Vinyl free, non-toxic, hypoallergenic, and are made with earth-friendly materials. We offer both foam and cotton Moonlight Slumber mattresses as well as organic cotton baby blankets.

Protecting your child from the over-exposure of harmful chemicals is not an easy task, but by starting before the baby arrives you can not only begin creating good habits for yourself but start your newborn off on the right foot.

Posted by Shifrah on Monday, November 14, 2011
As temperatures continue to drop, you may find yourself reaching for warmer clothes – among them wool sweaters. Many people claim they are "allergic to wool," but a true wool allergy is rare. Below are some quick facts that should help clarify wool allergies:

• A true allergic response to wool involves the same inflammatory immune system response that occurs with other allergies.
• More often, so-called wool allergies are actually sensitivities to the rough fibers of the wool.
• Those with atopic dermatitis, eczema, or sensitive skin in general should avoid wearing wool directly against the skin if they find the fiber irritating.
• Sometimes, an allergic reaction is not due to the wool fiber itself, but to the chemicals used to process and treat the wool. Try organic wool in this case.
Lanolin is the source for many wool allergies. People who are allergic to lanolin will also react to lotions and other personal care products that contain lanolin.
• Reactions to wool can also be caused by other allergens that are contained in the wool, such as pet dander.
• Try wearing another layer between your skin and the wool clothing. If the sensitivity goes away, you have a sensitivity, not an allergy – and you found a way to continue using wool to stay warm!

Posted by Shifrah on Friday, November 11, 2011

Do you use your phone for everything from checking email and planning family menus to entertaining the children while clothes shopping and checking sports stats – oh and making phone calls? If so, then it's high time to put your phone to good use for helping you breathe better with allergies. Following are some useful allergy apps:

  • Check out pollen counts and pollen forecasts with the Allergy Allert app from

  • Food journal app Food Allergy Detective helps keep track of what you eat and the symptoms you experience to pinpoint hidden food allergies.

  • Allergy Eats keeps you abreast of local restaurants' allergy-friendliness based on peer ratings.

  • Allergy Mate provides a database of chemical triggers, symptoms, research, advice, and more to keep you informed.

  • Food Tester allows you to scan bar codes of products in the grocery store to see if they contain allergens.

  • Pollen Forecast from Clarityn displays 3D pollen spores in the user's environment and also provides pollen forecasts.

Posted by Shifrah on Monday, November 07, 2011
In Toxic Indoor Air in Nail Salon: Part One and Two, we touched on the politics that can be involved in the accessibility of healthy indoor air. A recent NY Times article, The Privileges of China's Elite Include Purified Air, highlights the same topic.

The article describes how "the homes and offices of many top leaders are filtered by high-end devices, at least according to a Chinese company, the Broad Group, which has been promoting its air-purifying machines in advertisements that highlight their ubiquity in places where many officials work and live."

Beijing's air is notoriously polluted, and lately the city has been particularly polluted. The United States Embassy monitors Beijing's air and has registered unsafe levels of pollution multiple times recently. Interestingly, the Chinese government does not publicly release data on the smallest particulates in the air, those that are smaller than 2.5 micrometers. However, these are the most harmful pollutants because they can penetrate deeply into the lungs. Much of this pollution is due to vehicular exhaust.

While debates continue over whether and when to change this air quality reporting policy, Communist Party leaders don't need much convincing to obtain air purifiers that cost a couple thousand dollars: "To make their case, company executives [of the Broad Group air purifier company] installed [an air purifier] in a meeting room used by members of the Politburo Standing Committee. The deal was apparently sealed a short while later, when technicians made a show of cleaning out the soot-laden filters. 'After they saw the inklike dirty water, Broad air purifier became the national leaders’ appointed air purifier!'" according to the Broad Group's website.

Posted by Shifrah on Friday, November 04, 2011
A recent article on ABC News, Antibiotics Could be Driving Up Obesity discusses a topic highlighted by Dr. Greg Sharon in our latest allergist interview.

We've discussed the hygiene hypothesis before: the theory, simply stated, that posits that the cleaner we become as a society, the more we're prone to react to "invaders" that aren't actually threats to our bodies – specifically allergens.

This cleanliness to the point that it actually hurts us is at play in the case of the overuse of antibiotics, which wipe out not only harmful bacteria, but also the helpful or "good" bacteria as well. As the ABC News article puts it, "Sure, the pills can wipe out bad bacteria. But they also kill the good stuff. On top of fueling a rise in antibiotic-resistant superbugs, they could be permanently changing the gut environment — a feat some experts fear might be making us fat."

Dr. Martin Blaser of New York University Langone Medical Center studies the effects of antibiotics on Helicobacter pylori, the very bacteria mentioned by Dr. Sharon in the Allergy Consumer Report this month. This bacterium lives without harming most individuals, but does cause ulcers in some. Doctors treat with antibiotics frequently – and this changes the way the stomach works.

Specifically, "antibiotics for H. pylori trick the body into eating more by disrupting hunger hormone levels. Indeed, mice given antibiotics get fatter than their untreated counterparts despite having the same diet."

As we've discussed in the past, these kinds of changes in gut bacteria may also contribute to the rise in asthma, allergies, and related conditions. Avoiding antibiotics unless absolutely necessary and taking probiotics supplements (especially when antibiotics are taken but even if they aren't) are two ways to avoid the problems caused by not enough good bacteria.

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