AchooAllergy.com Blog
Posted by kevvyg on Thursday, May 30, 2013

Miele Vacuum Cleaners Tops in J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Survey

For the second year in a row Miele uprights rank highest in customer satisfaction based on the latest J.D. Power and Associates study. Newly created this year, the canister vacuum cleaner category also features Miele as the top brand. With performance and ease of use being the strongest drivers of positive consumer sentiment, Miele vacuums ranked well for both of these criteria. Here's a quick look at the latest report.

Based on responses from over 5000 vacuum cleaner purchasers from Feb. 2012 to Feb. 2013, the survey scores vacuum brands on things like performance, suction, styling, price, ease of use, and other factors. Aggregated into 1000 point scale, the survey showed the Miele uprights scoring particularly well for performance, styling, and features while Miele's canister vacuums scored well for performance, ease of use and features. Both upright and canisters scored at least 49 points higher than average (more in the case of uprights), 816 and 805 respectively, making them each best in their segments. Thirteen different upright and ten different canister vacuum brands were included in this survey.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys are some of the most respected and mentioned consumer satisfaction benchmarks today. Annually, they compile quality, performance and satisfaction measurements for thousands of products from the direct feedback of millions of customers.

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Sparky is a Shy Hermit Crab with a Cool Mobile HomeAs an enjoyable Memorial Day vacation came to a close, my godson decided he wanted a Hermit Crab. Granted, I don't expect Sparky (as he was named) will live to a ripe old age, but one thing I noticed about him was that he, like many other creatures, requires a humid environment to thrive. One way you can go about keeping the humidity around a Hermit Crab (not to be confused with Crab People, Mr. Krabs or a crabby neighbor) up to the ideal 70% is to keep a wet sponge in with it. So while we set about to trying to keep the humidity in Sparky's home at 70%, this much humidity can cause real problems in your home.

Excess humidity can come from a variety of sources in the home. Many of the everyday tasks we do each day put moisture into the air, including cooking, laundry, and bathing. During the summer months, warm moist air is bound to make it into almost every home, and for many the small amount of dehumidification that a central air conditioning system does can be enough to keep your humidity ideal - less than 50%. In more humid locations, a central air system simply cannot keep up. Besides, they are designed primarily for cooling, much less so for actually removing excess moisture. In instances like these, you can control humidity, dust mites and mold growth with a simple, yet efficient, room dehumidifier.

Danby 70 Pint Home DehumidifierRoom dehumidifiers generally use refrigerant based technology to cool coils to almost freezing. Then as air passes over them, moisture precipitates out. When air cools, it loses its ability to hold water. The same volume of colder air cannot hold near as much moisture as the same volume of warm or hot air, so the moisture precipitates out in the form of condensate. Before the air leaves the dehumidifier, it passes over the motor. This warms the air before it heads back out into your home looking to suck up more moisture.

This type of dehumidifier is common mainly because it is so effective, cost efficient, and because there are a variety of sizes and styles available. Danby has long held a top spot in consumer ratings magazines, and offers a great balance between cost and performance. Running this type of dehumidifier not only removes moisture in the air but can keep humidity levels low enough to stop dust mites and inhibit the growth of mold throughout your home, office or apartment.

To learn more about how excess moisture can impact your health.

As for Sparky, "she" is doing fine, and I've just learned she's now called Woody.... too much Toy Story for that child.

Author: KevvyG

Posted by kevvyg on Tuesday, May 28, 2013
As we continually find ways to bring you products that are made here in the U.S.A., we sometimes discover things that are brand new while other times we simply expand an already popular offering. The latter is what we've done with our newest organic blanket, Allergy Armor Organic Waffle Weave.

Slightly heavier than our traditional crepe weave blanket, the Waffle weave shares a few great qualities with the crepe but also offers a couple unique features. Like the crepe weave, the waffle weave blankets are made from 100% USDA certified organic cotton. This means you get the warmth and comfort of a blanket without the pesticide and fertilizer residues, dyes, or other chemical residues that are commonly used in imported blankets. Both of these blankets are also American made products. With organic cotton, grown here in the States, woven domestically, and ultimately cut, sewn, packed and shipped to you by us here at Achoo, Allergy Armor organic blankets are a start-to-finish American product.

One other feature you will notice about these blankets is that after you wash them, they change, noticeably. As a more raw product, organic cotton fills/fluffs out with the first washing. It also sheds off a lot of loose fiber, which is why you always want to wash it by itself the first time. The cotton goes through a visible change as the individual fibers fill out, thicken and soften. Ultimately this process makes the blanket feel softer and more plush.

Though a commonality, this soften/filling out process is also something that sets the waffle weave apart from the crepe. With the waffle weave fabric, the pre and post wash differece in more dramatic than with the crepe cotton fabric. Additionally, the waffle weave is a little heavier, so if you are looking for something to cover up with on evenings when you've set the air conditioner low, this blanket might be a better fit. Of course, there is also the difference in the actual pattern itself!

Organic products also help to promote sustainable farming methods, ones that do no rely upon fertilizers (which can leach into the water table) or pesticides (residue of which can be found on many finished products and absorbed into the skin).

Whether for the chemically sensitive, those with sensitive or chronic skin problems or simply people looking for greener, sustainable products, the Allergy Armor organic blankets are an ideal choice.

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Thursday, May 23, 2013
FDA Issues New Sunscreen GuidelinesWe've noted here before to avoid the use of spray sunscreens as well as those that use heavy fragrance. New FDA guidelines for 2013 add to this mix and try to clarify issues with mislabeling or false claims made on the packaging of some sunscreens. So with many people taking a short vacation, or if you're like me, heading to the beach for the weekend, now is a good time to review what the changes are and what are some good guidelines for selecting and using sunscreen.

Modern sunscreen consists of a variation of zinc oxide. Though not as common as in the past, many will remember the white line of sunblock that men used to put on their noses while at the beach. Today, there are lotions, spray and even powders (though they should have been removed from shelves by last December) that people use to block sun and harmful UV rays. With so many choices it can be difficult to decide which sunscreen is right for you and in many cases, what is even effective.

FDA guidelines approved last December work on two primary issues. First, the FDA addresses "broad spectrum" protection. Almost all sunscreens blocks UVB light, as this is the type of ultraviolet light that causes sunburns, but UVA also damages skin. UVA has been shown to cause cancer as well as prematurely age skin, so the FDA has mandated to manufacturers that they can only market their product as "broad spectrum" if it blocks both UVA and UVB light.

Summer Sun & Sunscreen TipsFor beachgoers, a waterproof sunscreen has been the product of choice, but recent findings show that there is literally no such thing as "sweatproof" or "waterproof sunscreen." Some sunscreen can be water resistant, but all sunscreens, after a given period of time, will wear off. Manufacturers are now required to use the term "water resistant" and note the duration of protection, i.e. Water Resistant (40 Minutes). Many people mistakenly believe that if they've applied sunscreen, they are good to go for the rest of the day. Sunscreen wears off, period. It needs to be reapplied throughout the day, typically every couple hours, and sooner if you are swimming or sweating.

Though the new guidelines are a good step in the right direction, the FDA has yet to make any new guidelines on SPF numbers or the use of aerosol sunscreen. Research shows, and your dermatologist will recommend, that you use at least SPF 15 sunscreen but SPF higher than 45 is likely just a waste. We often think more is better, but in the case of sunscreen, there is no evidence to support that. SPF 30 sunscreen blocks about 97% of UVB rays, while SPF 45 blocks 98%. So for now, stick with a properly labeled SPF 30 or 45.

As we mentioned last summer, it is probably best to continue to avoid the use of aerosol sunscreen. When a sunscreen becomes aerosolized, it can be inhaled. There is nothing is sunscreen that should be inhaled, and many of the ingredients can be particularly harmful for delicate lung tissue.

In general, keep an eye out for the new labeling requirements. Stick with a good SPF 30-45 that uses no "fragrance." Be sure to reapply at least every 2-3 hours, and avoid the aerosols. Lastly, many of us generally only use sunscreen while at the beach, and since this can be a summer only activity, keep an eye on the expiration date of your sunscreen. It can expire and will not provide the protection you think.

For a sensitive skin or sunscreen that isn't laden with heavy fragrance try Vanicream line of sunscreens. All three offer broad spectrum protection with a limited chemical footprint.

To read the FDA sunscreen consumer guidelines.

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Monday, May 20, 2013
Soniclean Galaxy Upright VacuumAs the most recent addition to our line of vacuum cleaners, Soniclean vacs are powerful and economical. With both uprights and canisters available, here's a quick rundown of the two sets.

The Soniclean uprights consist of two models, the Galaxy and VT Plus. Both work well on carpet, are very lightweight, and use Soniclean's patented sonic technology. A sonic bar vibrates hundreds of times per second, and it is this rapid vibration that helps to dislodge stuck-on dirt and debris. Powerful suction then removes dirt and allergens and stores it in an H13 HEPA filterbag. While the Soniclean Galaxy is a bit more in terms of price, it does offer a longer warranty, both in terms of parts and labor as well as on the motor. The VT Plus, though, is likely a better buy. Despite a shorter warranty period, as an AchooAllergy.com exclusive, with the purchase of a VT Plus upright you also get the Soniclean handheld vac for free.

Soniclean VT Plus VacuumThe Handheld vacuum is a small canister style vacuum that also uses a HEPA filterbag. It is lightweight and fits over the shoulder with a strap. Included with this model are two wand extensions, a smooth floor tool, a handheld turbobrush (think PowerPaw), and three mini accessories - upholstery tool, crevice tool and dusting brush, all neatly stored away in a tote bag. You can literally fit everything (hose, wand, attachments, and tools), except the vacuum itself into the tote. This compact handheld unit is the perfect addition to either upright since it provides all of the above-the-floor cleaning ability that the uprights lack. Free with the purchase of the VT Plus, the handheld unit is great for quick spills in the kitchen, dusting through the house or simply as the perfect vacuum for garage projects.

In addition to the uprights and handheld model are two canisters. These use a filterbag, sealed system and separate HEPA filter to trap allergens and dirt. Keep an eye out for product reviews now that in-home testing is complete.

For anyone considering a powerful, lightweight and economical vacuum, Soniclean is well worth a look.

To see all Soniclean vacuums.

Posted by Richard on Thursday, May 09, 2013
For all you peanut allergic individuals, have you ever wondered about eating at restaurants that use peanut oil for cooking. Five Guys and Chick-fil-A are probably the two most well known examples. They use peanut oil in their fryers.

Cooking oils used by most restaurants, especially the big commercial franchises that use peanut oil, use a highly processed, refined peanut oil. Why is this important? The refining process involves high heat, deodorization, bleaching, purification, and other methods of processing to strip away the peanut proteins that are responsible for the allergic reaction to peanuts and leaves a purified, refined oil.

The peanut oils to avoid are often the gourmet peanut oils. These types of oils may have things like "cold-pressed," "natural," "unrefined," "gourmet" or "aromatic" While the Cooking Oil Might be Safe, Five Guys Still Has Peanuts on the labeling of the bottle. Found in the cooking oil aisles at supermarkets or specialty stores, these oils often forego the refining process and retain allergic proteins.

There are research studies that back up these findings, and the FDA makes specific note of oils in Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA) [Paragraph 1-201.10(B)]. So, if you are craving those fries cooked in the peanut oil, chances are you can probably feel safe eating them. Now, the only reasons to avoid Five Guys might be the actual peanuts in their restaurants or your expanding waistline.

Always inquire about the oil before ordering, and discuss with your allergist if you have any questions or reservations.

For more information on FDA guidelines concerning food allergens or for a convenient way to let restaurant staff know about your food allergies, try our convenient food allergy cards.

Posted by kevvyg on Tuesday, May 07, 2013
My Godson, 'You did what with my binky??' I came across this on the drive in to work yesterday morning, and it reminded me of just a few short years ago.  From time to time I would babysit my godson, and for quite a while, he used a pacifier (which I always call a "binky").  Like many babies and very young children, he took comfort in a pacifier.  It was often the "go-to" thing at bedtime or when he was fussy.  When babysitting, the pacifier would inevitably fall from his mouth and land on the floor.  More often than not, I would see it happen, pick it up, make sure there was no dog hair or big chunk of dirt on it then pop it back in.  I can hear a few people gasping, but generally speaking, "dirt don't hurt" was a saying that my brothers and I practiced on a daily basis as children. My one brother's nickname was literally "dirt" since he was generally filthy from playing outside so much.  This is all a bit circuitous, but it leads me to two things, the hygiene hypothesis and a recent study published in Pediatrics.

While my approach in cleaning the pacifier is probably not taken by many, this recently published study I mention focuses not only on how parents cleaned their children's pacifier but also how it may impact the development of eczema and allergies.  In examining 184 children, researchers studied what the children were sensitive to, how parents cleaned their pacifiers, and analyzed the bacteria in the children's mouths.  At 18 and even 36 months, children whose parents cleaned their pacifiers by sucking on them, showed remarkable protection against eczema and asthma.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Some parents clean their child's pacifier by sucking it clean then giving it back to the child.  Odd as it may sound, this is believed to be the key findings of the study.

Regardless of how "clean" we, as a species, think we are, there are literally billions of bacteria living on and even inside of us.  On our skin, in our digestive tracts and in our mouths, bacteria play a very important part in everything from our immune system to the way in which we break down our food.  The theory is that by sucking on the pacifier the parent not only cleans visible dirt or debris from it, but they actually place bacteria back onto it.  That bacteria is then introduced to the child, exposing the child's immune system to a broader array of bacteria.  This ties into the hygiene hypothesis in that many believe children in western societies are "too clean," and because of this, are at an increased risk of developing things like eczema, asthma or allergies.

When we are infants, our bodies' systems are developing.  Think of the immune system like a defense mechanism that is untrained.  By nature, this system is designed to find things harmful to us and fight them, so at a very early age, the immune system is trying to determine what is dangerous and what can be ignored.  The hygiene theory suggests that lack of exposure to a variety of bacteria and germs means the system doesn't get thorough training and often identifies innocuous substances as harmful.  "Well, we have to find the shady characters to defend you against, and I don't like the looks of these guys." So when they immune system cannot find real enemies, they start identifying harmless substances as dangerous.

The hygiene hypothesis is just that, a hypothesis, and there are some studies that run counter to this.  This piece of research, though, suggests that there is some validity to it.  While it is too early to suggest that parents start sucking on their kid's pacifier to clean it, it really can't hurt.  Oh, and just for the record, most parents simply rinse the pacifier.  I guess I all into that "other" category.

For an abstract of the pacifier study.

Author: KevvyG

Posted by kevvyg on Friday, May 03, 2013
The Miele Topaz - Now in Tayberry RedThe Miele Topaz has recently received a make over. Gone is the almond color that has helped to define this unit for over a year. Instead, the new Topaz comes in Tayberry Red. A cross between raspberry and blackberry the Tayberry is a sweet fruit named after the River Tay in Scotland. The new color of the Topaz is deep and rich, the ideal compliment to this top-of-the-line Miele S6 canister vacuum.

With two included floor tools, the Topaz is ideal for most homes or apartments. The SEB 217-3 offers powerful cleaning ability on most types of carpet while the Twister is the signature Miele floor care tool for all types of smooth flooring. This powerful, compact vac also comes with a sealed system and can easily be upgraded to a HEPA or Active AirClean filter. Seal-sealing FJM bags make replacement a cinch and ensure that debris and allergens collected stay trapped. Lightweight, the Topaz stores easily and is a convenient solution to multilevel homes.

The Topaz is now available in the Tayberry Red color and comes with Free Second Day Delivery included (continental US destinations). To learn more about the Topaz or to view the entire line of Miele S6 midsize vacuum cleaners.

Author: KevvyG

Posted by kevvyg on Thursday, May 02, 2013
EPA and Asthma Awareness Month - MayMay is Asthma Awareness Month, as designated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and with this comes a renewed focus on asthma and how it impacts not only individuals but the larger community as a whole. In addition to this, each year a few non-profit/advocacy organizations piggyback off this and have designated May Allergy & Asthma Awareness Month. During this month there are a variety of events scheduled to help promote awareness as well as action on these two respiratory problems.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) is planning several events to help to raise awareness across multiple age groups. Some of these include kits to help people set up and organize their own events, free webinars, a poster contest for 3rd-8th graders, a sweepstakes and their Ditch the Drip event in Memphis, May 16-18th. For more information on these events, visit the AAFA.

AANMAOur the partner, AANMA, is spending the day at on Capitol Hill. There they will focus on a multiple of things including changes in healthcare law, meeting with lawmakers, and providing a variety of free booths that offer anaphylaxis preparedness demonstrations, asthma and allergy screenings as well as consultations with allergists. All of these events are geared towards raising awareness of allergies and asthma while interacting with legislators. To learn more about Capitol Hill Day or for more info on the AANMA.

Lastly, there is the EPA. While this large governmental agency doesn't do much in terms of directly sponsored or coordinated events, they do much in the way of providing educational materials and the tools needed for advocacy groups or just individuals to help spread awareness. This PDF is chock-full of ways that people can help to raise public awareness of asthma and its impact in the community. Some way wonder why the EPA would promote Asthma Awareness Month, but the reason is actually pretty simple. The link between the environment, particularly air quality, and asthma is clear. From ground level ozone, to studies that focus on asthma rates in urban areas (often choked with vehicle emissions), many of the things the EPA does on a day to day basis can have a direct impact on asthma in the United States.

Asthma and Allergy Awareness SaleFor our part here at AchooAllergy, we know that allergy season is in full swing, so we are offering a 10% discount on asthma and allergy relief products. From window filters, allergy bedding and air purifiers to HEPA vacuum cleaners and nebulizers, save an extra 10% of your purchase of most products. Happy May!

Author: K. Gilmore

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