AchooAllergy.com Blog

Air Purifiers


Posted by kevvyg on Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Hello Fall!  Goodbye Summer!Officially, fall began about a day and a half ago, but for the last week or so I've been enjoying cool nights and open windows! This time of year is probably my favorite. Aside from it being a little on the dry side, the leaves are changing, there's a chill in the evening air, but warmth during the day. As the temperatures slowly begin to sink towards winter, many of us find ourselves turning our attention indoors, preparing for the colder months ahead. From replacing your HVAC filter to swapping your summer blankets for winter comforters, we all have fall routines. Now is also the time of year when many people turn their attention back to indoor air quality and consider purchasing an air purifier. Before you head to the Shop-O-Mart Superstore and toss one in your cart, consider what you're actually purchasing and if it is really going to help.

Super-Awesome-Never-Needs-To-Be-Replaced-Amazingly-Ultra-Real-True-HEPA-Filtration is the Best!!Selecting an air purifier can be a real hassle. There is a glut of products on the market that range all across the board in terms of price, filtration and features. For now, I want to focus mainly on the models you'll find in your local big box store. You know what I'm talking about. The $50-150 plastic, Made-In-China special that features "Super-Awesome-Never-Needs-To-Be-Replaced-Amazingly-Ultra-Real-True-HEPA-Filtration!!!" Ok, so perhaps I exaggerate just a bit, but you know I'm talking about. There are several points that I want to make about this style of air purifier, so let's just start with the most basic.
  • You Get What You Pay For - The reality is, most of us gave up on the About Like the Westinghouse We Had - They Don't Make 'em Like They Used Too!notion of repairing appliances a long time ago. Thirty years ago you likely would have found at least a handful of people in your local community who repaired home appliances. Replace a part here or there, a new belt, and you were as good as new. While prices certainly haven't gone down, quality and longevity of home appliances have.

    As quick anecdote, growing up, my family had an old Westinghouse refrigerator. Unlike now, back then Westinghouse was made here in the U.S. It was as ugly as sin, weighed as much as a Yugo, and nearly as big. It was a hand-me-down, but by the time it finally died, it was roughly sixty years old! Even then, I think we got $15 out of it just for the steel. Can you imagine a home appliance lasting sixty years? No? Well neither can most manufacturers. There's more money in cheap and disposable than durable and long lasting. It's good to keep this in mind when looking at any home appliance, and the same holds true for air purifiers.

  • Too Good to Be True? - If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don't get caught up in superlatives, glittering generalities, and marketing language. There's a lot of it out there, and ultimately, an air purifier is just another tool that you can use to better control your indoor environment. It's not a cure-all. You won't be running four minute miles or leaping tall buildings in a single bound, but with the right one, you will likely sleep better, wake up feeling better and breathe a little easier.

  • Different Name, Same Place - This is pretty common in the air purifier industry anymore. Notice how several different brands all look the same? It's often because they come from the same factory in China. Often the only difference, particularly amongst cheaper air purifiers, is the name or color.

  • Features - What do you need? Carbon for odors? Don't expect a cheap air purifier to pack much carbon. Sealed systems? Virtually non-existent with these types of models. Want something made of steel that won't off gas? Not going to happen. Ionizers? This... this you can get. Ionization is an inexpensive technology that can produce ozone, but remains a feature built into many less expensive air purifiers, mainly because it can increase filtration rates while using a lower quality filter. It has a high CADR. That means it's the one for me, right? Maybe. Inexpensive air purifiers are often run through the CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate) test and display good results, but the CADR has its share of drawbacks, so don't let it be the only reason you select a particular model.

  • Filterless Units - Simply don't work. Stop considering or buying them. Let someone else be a sucker. "But Kevin, I can see the dust that the plates are collecting. That means they're working right?" Wrong. My coffee table collects dust, but I don't sell it as an air purifier. These "air purifiers" almost ALWAYS produce ozone, which even in small amounts isn't something you want to introduce into your home.

  • Air Purifier Labels Aren't All They're Cracked Up to BeLabels - Labels can be really helpful. They can give you a quick indicator of some key features. Plus, they lend credibility to products and performance, and that is also where the problem lies. Some labels don't necessarily convey what you think they do. The CADR can lend itself to a false sense of confidence in a product when taken by itself. Air purifiers can even be endorsed by recognized entities yet still not deliver what they promise, and even the Made in the USA logo has been found to have been abused by manufacturers, all to capitalize on sentiment and sell their product. Labels are, well labels. Investigate them. What do they mean and stand for? Talk to people who have used the product, consider the company's reputation, and avoid buying something just because of a label.

Listen, I'm not trying to be too negative. For some people an inexpensive air purifier will do the trick. We offer a few models around $150 on our site. Not everyone can afford a $800 air purifier, and for some people inexpensive models can, and do, help. However, for many people a $50 unit they picked up at the same place they purchased their eggs and bath towels often ends up in a landfill after a few short years. Why? Because of all the reasons I've listed above! And because, unlike your bath towel, the air purifier didn't do what you needed.

If you want more comprehensive information of what types of filtration are out there and what are the qualities you should look for in a quality HEPA air purifier, visit our Air Purifier Buying Guide. In it we give you a thorough overview of the different types of filtration available as well as the information you need to make a solid choice while avoiding the pitfalls of marketer-speak or being overwhelmed by a tidal wave of imitators and snake oil. This is why on this site you'll find more information than any other. From determining which products best meet your needs to finding simple, everyday solutions to help alleviate symptoms, you can find a variety of answers to your questions.

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Friday, September 12, 2014

Is It Allergies or A Cold?

Every year a question most people struggle with at some point is, "Do I have a cold or is it allergies?". For most people, it's not a terribly difficult question to answer. People who cope with allergies are familiar with the symptoms and can usually tell the difference between the two. But what if you've never been diagnosed with allergies before? Ever Feel Like a Walking Sneeze Factory?I'm fall into this category, and recently had the same allergies vs. cold debate in my head.

Personally, I don't often get sick. Generally once a year or less I'll have the flu, but I've not had the joy of a head cold in quite some time... until last week. I woke up with a sore throat, and while I know for a fact that I was NOT sleeping on a sand dune that night, my throat was telling me otherwise. Congestion was hot on the heels of the sore throat, and later in the day I was a walking sneeze factory. These are three common symptoms for both allergies and the common cold, so how do you tell the difference between the two?

Let's start with the sore throat first. We've all had a sore throat, and the really the only way to describe this is, it hurts! Not slam-your-hand-in-the-car-door hurt, but you know what I mean. With allergies, your throat won't hurt so much as it may itch.

Allergies vs. Cold - Official Scorecard Round 1

One really wonderful thing I got to look forward to was a night of log roll sleeping. This is where I go to sleep on my right side and shortly after not being able to breathe through that side of my nose, I roll over to the left side and the same thing happens. You know EXACTLY what I'm talking about. This was, as it always is, due to congestion. Tissues, toilet paper, even paper towels weren't safe from being filled with nose-goo. It was a never ending faucet of congestion. Congestion and runny nose are common symptoms of both allergies and colds, so how does this help? Ask yourself this. Did whatever symptoms you are experiencing show up together or was their arrival staggered? Symptoms almost all showing up at once is more likely to be allergies while staggered symptoms is often indicative of a cold.

Allergies vs. Cold - Official Scorecard Round 2

Nearly every morning I go through a small fit of sneezing. I'm guessing dust mites, but I do not know for sure. As someone who is classically trained in the art of "do as I say, not as I do," I feel completely right in recommending that if you experience this, make an appointment with your local board certified allergist. Over the first few days of my symptoms, my morning sneezing went on as usual, but randomly throughout the day, I would sneeze, 7, 8, 9, up to 10 times in a row. Sneezing isn't exclusive to colds or allergies. People with either will exhibit this symptom.

Allergies vs. Cold - We Have a Winner!

So that solves it! Cold it was. (Hooray?) It started with one symptom, and like an evil cake recipe kept adding more layers of moist misery - congestion then sneezing. While my situation was solved, there are a few other things to keep in mind. Colds start, then get worse, and ultimately clear up, even with no intervention. Allergies are much more likely to remain consistent as long as exposure remains. So if the ragweed pollen count is high for weeks on end, you're likely to see no improvement in your condition without treatment. An allergy symptom won't just "run its course". Lastly, the symptoms I had aren't the only ones you'll see. Itchy or watery eyes - allergies. Sinus Pressure - Allergies or a cold. Fever - cold (more often the flu). Coughing - a cold and more rarely, allergies.

Super Jumbo Tub of Antihista-Wow!  Not Available Anywhere!So if it's a cold, how do you get over it? The age old methods of chicken noodle soup, a mega-carton of tissues, and a Costco-sized tub of decongestant helps. Much like a fair barker, do nothing and eventually it will go away.

With allergies, the story is different. Unless you're willing to wait weeks or months, they won't just go away. From avoidance to treating the symptoms, there are a variety of things you can do to speed symptoms away and some that can prevent them from occurring (or at least lessen them). Medication is the easiest. Antihistamines, decongestants and other over-the-counter remedies will help, but many carry side effects. More long term solutions are allergy shots and treatments. Over the course of months or years these can help desensitize your system, causing it to react less to harmless allergens.

Avoidance is another way to help yourself, but avoidance requires a little more effort. Avoidance means making your home more hospitable for you and less so for allergens. Cleaning, using a HEPA air purifier, and things a simple as taking your shoes off at the door and regularly replacing your HVAC filter are all good places to start when it comes to avoidance and environmental control. Remedies to help symptoms can be as simple as rinsing your sinuses.

Ever since I was introduced to sinus rinsing, I've been a big fan. I do not have allergies, but I do get the occasional stuffy nose, and as a runner, I will feel "gunky" afterwards from time to time. Rinsing takes about as long as it does to brush your teeth and generally keeps your nasal passages feeling better and you breathing easier for hours.

Generally, maintaining an indoor environment that's more hospitable to you is something that can help year round, particularly since most people will deal with allergies multiple times throughout the year. For more tips on controlling your indoor environment, visit... just about any page on our site!

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Friday, June 13, 2014
New Addition to the FamilyWith Father's Day just a few days away, this is going to be a very fitting post. Yesterday evening my two good friends welcomed the birth of their second child (first daughter). Luckily for everyone, labor went very quickly, and everything turned out fine, and in a couple days, they will all be heading home. And, I will be a godfather for the second time! Part of my duties in that role include, spoiling the godchild and teaching him/her bad habits like taking off shoes and socks or putting Playdoh in the dishwasher. Obviously, I get to cherry pick a bit, but I do try to help mom and dad, and just a couple weeks ago, my friends had me a get a couple of the things we offer here to help get their home ready for the new arrival.

Since the birth of their first child, they have had an air purifier. Not only does it filter out dust, but it also removes allergens. This is important since their son has had asthma-like symptoms off and on during his toddler years. The Honeywell they use has also been great for white noise, which has helped him sleep more soundly over the years. It had been a while since the filters were replaced, so the carbon prefilters were due to be changed.

The Last of the New Flooring in the Bedroom - Out With the CarpetThe next thing I picked up for them was one of the lightweight Reliable T3 steam mops. In the past they had used a cheaper Black & Decker, which worked fine on their laminate. After two years though, it died on them. Wanting something that was a little better built, they went with the T3. This model is a decided step up on cheaper steam mops if for no other reason than the integrated scrub brush, which works great on bathroom tile and grout. Just a few short weeks ago, I had helped him finish removing the last of the carpet on first floor of their home and replaced it with laminate, so the T3 will certainly get a work out! As a matter of personal preference, if you're considering a steam mop like the T3, pick up some of the microfiber drawstring cloths. These were originally designed for the T1 Steamboy, but they fit the T3 as well, and in my opinion, they clean and absorb moisture and mess much better than the microfiber pads that comes Reliable T3 Steam Mop - Great for Smooth Floors standard with the T3. I've never understood why so many of the steam cleaner manufacturers have been switching to the microfiber pads recently (unless it's purely a cost-based decision) since it has always been my experience that the clothes absorb much better.

Relieve Congestion with a Crane Duck Humidifier Lastly, I picked up a Crane child humidifier. Yeah, I know, it sounds counterintuitive considering it feels like we're living in the tropics here in Atlanta. Likely, it won't get much use early on, but as the air dries and humidity drops, it can cause problems for infants and newborns. Air with little moisture can cause mucus to thicken, which means it can also become more difficult for the baby's airways to expel. This can lead to a higher risk of infection as one of the body's most basic defense mechanism is the use of mucus to expel trapping germs and particles. Secondly, if infants and newborns become congested, there is little you can do for them. Medication is almost always out unless the situation becomes severe, but a humidifier can help to loosen congestion just by increasing the moisture content in the air they breathe.

These things may seem not quite as usual as what you'd see on a typical baby shower registry, but they can be just as important and are often useful for more than just your newborn. With that, I'd like to welcome the new addition to their family, and issue a reminder to my friends that they'll have to brush up on their burrito-baby-wrapping skills. To my friend, all the dads in my family, and all the dads out there, I wish you a Happy Father's Day!

Author: Kevin Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Monday, May 19, 2014
Introducing AirPura HEPA Air PurifiersAirPura is one of the newest companies in the air filtration business, but don't let that fool you into thinking that this means they lack for experience. AirPura was founded nearly a decade ago by veterans in the air purifier industry. One look at the style and design on AirPura HEPA air purifiers may give you some idea as to where they draw their experience from. Taking this experience and know-how, they took existing standard in air filtration and improved them. As a result, AirPura has a line of air purifiers that exceeds even industry leaders in some very noticeable ways. So what did they improve and what does that mean for those dealing with allergies or asthma?

There are three areas where AirPura has made changes to provide a better product.
  • Filtration - From tried and true to cutting edge, AirPura offers a range of filtration styles to remove particle allergens like pollen, dander, and dust mites as well as odors, smoke and chemical vapors. Air Pura Filtration A HEPA filter is standard in most models, as is a carbon filter and large particle prefilter. Some models integrate UV light while others integrate AirPura's TitanClean technology for some of the most comprehensive filtration available. Regardless of which AirPura you choose, each filter type can be independently changed. So unlike some combination filters that result in one of the combined filter medias wearing out before the other, each type of filter in the AirPura can be changed exactly when it needs to be.
  • Components - For some of the most sensitive individuals, the solution to air quality problems can actually create more problems. From plastics that off-gas and UV bulbs that emit ozone to compounds in the carbon and rubber/foam/plastics found throughout the machine, many modern air purifiers can emit harmful byproducts that can aggravate conditions for those coping with chemical sensitivities or severe respiratory problems. AirPura takes a different approach by greatly limiting the use of adhesives, rubber, foam and plastics. This is why you will notice felt gaskets around the filter assembly, a steel shell with powder coat finish, a coconut shell based activated carbon (one of the most MCS friendly carbon bases available), UV bulbs that are CARB compliant (meeting California's stringent UV standards and exceed EPA standards), and electrical components that rest outside of the flow of cleaned air through the machine. Particularly for anyone who has dealt with problems caused by cheap air purifiers, these small details add up to a big difference.
  • Air Flow - Air and water share some similar characteristics, and in this case, kinks or bends in the flow can dramatically reduce coverage. The more sharp bends air has to negotiate inside the air purifier, the less efficiently it flows through the machine and the more energy it uses. Things like 90° angles inside the machine can dramatically reduce not only airflow but also coverage. AirPura air purifiers have a very streamlined internal flow with no sharp bends. This is why it has the highest CFM of any residential air purifier, 560. This is also why an AirPura can cover up to 700 sq. ft. at a rate of 6 full air exchanges per hour. Thanks to the internal design and a powerful motor, you get more coverage for your buck with an AirPura.
  • Noise - On the lowest fan speed, each AirPura air purifier registers about 28 decibels at six feet away. This makes them some of the quietest air purifiers on the market. This also means you can simply turn the fan down at night and make the bedroom more accommodating for light sleepers.
Air Pura Air Purifier Color Options: White, Cream, BlackThere are some similarities with other well known brands. A steel shell for durability and powder coat finish that eliminates off-gassing, casters, no frills design, an easy to use control panel, and 360° air intake are all features that are shared by AirPura and some of the leaders in the industry.

Currently, the three models we offer are the base model, the AirPura HEPA R600, which provides excellent three stage filtration suitable for most people dealing with allergies, asthma or COPD; the carbon-rich AirPura C600, which employs a thick, 26 lb carbon filter ideal for chemical abatement, removing high levels of smoke, odors, vapors; and, the most comprehensive, the AirPura HEPA P600, which uses five-stage filtration to tackle the widest range of allergens, pollutants, pathogens, and irritants of all AirPura models. Each model offers a unique solution for general or specific air quality problems.

If you want to learn more about what AirPura has to offer you, visit our AirPura page or view our entire line of high quality HEPA air purifiers.

Author: KevvyG

Posted by kevvyg on Friday, April 18, 2014
Vornado AC500 HEPA Air PurifierI wanted to take a minute to wish everyone safe travels this holiday weekend. The roads can be extra busy during holiday weekends, so take your time and slow down! Now if I could only follow my own advice..... Then again, Atlanta traffic does a pretty good job of keeping me moving so slowly that both the tortoise AND the hare typically pass me on the way to work.

I also wanted to throw out a quick reminder, there is LESS than a day remaining to get entered to win a FREE Vornado AC500 HEPA Air Purifier! Start the weekend off right and get entered to win. Best of all, it's free to enter, and you can quickly submit multiple entries in a matter of seconds! Check out this blog post for some helpful tips on controlling pollen and spring allergies and learn how you can enter to win!

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Friday, April 11, 2014
Not Dust. Not Bird Doo-Doo.  Pollen!Spring allergy season is fully upon us in many parts of the country. Locally, Atlanta has seen an average pollen count of 2,624 for each of the last nine days! As usual tree pollen is the primary culprit early in the season. If the iPhone was just a little better, I could have shared an image of a literal cloud of pollen blowing off the pines this weekend! So with all this going on what can you do? Sitting indoors during this beautiful part of the year, though not attractive, is an option. Medication is readily available, but many people don't like dealing with the side effects. Here are three simple products and tasks to help keep allergies under better control during this difficult time of the year.

First and foremost, you should try to limit your exposure. For many outdoor tasks this can mean squeezing them into different parts of the day when pollen levels and air quality is better. Typically, mornings are good since dew can help to keep pollen from becoming airborne, winds are generally lighter, and overall air quality is at its best. However, if you're outdoors, remember a few things. A quality allergy mask can be handy to have. Most are lightweight; many are washable; and all can help to prevent you from breathing in pollen while you're outdoors. When outdoors, wear something that you plan on taking off or changing when you go indoors. This means that when you're done, remove your shoes, jacket, hat, etc. at the door and set them aside. Just because there is pollen outside doesn't mean you should have to deal with it indoors as well. Once inside, wash up! If you're doing a more strenuous outdoor activity, you may not want to wear a mask, but if this is the case, flush your sinuses when you’re finished. This can rinse away any allergens trapped in your nose or nasal passages and remove the source of the irritation.

Two Free Boxes of Filterbags with Each Miele Marin VacuumMoving indoors, remember to vacuum! Just one walk to the mailbox outside is enough for me to leave greenish-yellow tracks on the rug at my front door. Vacuuming and dusting with sealed system, HEPA vacuum cleaner can keep spring pollen from started at your front door and being dispersed throughout your home. If you were considering a Miele HEPA vacuum, now might be a good time to choose one. In addition to Free Express Delivery (all but one model delivers in 1 or 2 business days), when you buy now you can get a year's worth of vacuum bags for free! The Miele filterbag trap all visible particles and features 9-ply filtration to remove large allergens while the certified HEPA filter removes all of the rest from not only your floors but also the air in your home.

Lastly, using a HEPA air purifier in your bedroom and can make all the difference in how well you sleep. We have long been proponents of creating a space in your home that is allergy friendly, and since most people spend more time in the bedroom than any other room, it is the best place to start! A high quality air purifier can filter out and trap common allergens like dust mites, dander, dust, and yes, pollen. Generally, it is best to set the air purifier on a low or medium setting and let it quietly do its work through the day and night.

Vornado AC500 HEPA Air PurifierWhile these things cannot cure your allergies, combined, they can go a very long ways toward reducing your exposure and limiting symptoms during this trying part of the year. To help you feel better and breathe easier, not only are we offering the free filterbags with each Miele vacuum, but we're also going to give away a Vornado HEPA Air Purifier! Sleek and powerful, the AC500 uses two HEPA filters and two activated carbon prefilters to remove large visible particles as well as pollen, dust and common household allergens. With four fan speeds, digital controls, replacement indicators and a five year warranty, this HEPA air purifier is effective, simply to operate and bound to provide years of allergy relief.

Using Rafflecopter, we're offering you several ways to enter, retweet, share on Facebook, etc. It's up to you how many chances you'd like to win, but sharing is caring! (And it's also a good way to increase your chances of winning!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway Author: KevvyG

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Posted by kevvyg on Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Despite the wind and snow that has continually harassed much of the country this winter, for many areas of the country, spring is here! Personally, every year I definitively mark the start of spring here in Atlanta, and that day was yesterday. How can I predict this better than any meteorologist on the planet you ask? It's easy! I own a black truck, so the first time I see tiny specks of yellow/green dust on it, I know spring has arrived.

Though, I suppose if you want to get technical about it, Atlanta Allergy & Asthma posts daily pollen counts, and we've already seen a few days over 900. For nearly two weeks straight in April of 2013, pollen counts stayed 1600. Yellow tree pollen was everywhere, on vehicles, clothing, even my dog! So, 900 is pretty bad for those allergic to tree pollens, but not quite as severe as April of last year, yet....

If I buy into the hype, I would say, this spring pollen season will be the worst pollen season ever! Don't Be Caught Unprepared, Otherwise You End Up Using A Spatula As An Ice Scraper And Relying On A Gift of Rock Salt to Pull You ThroughWhile some entities (*cough! the Weather Channel *cough!) seem certain we're in for the worst allergy season on record, this same entity also warns us pretty regularly during the winter that any inch of snow is probably the worst inch of snow ever! Then again.... they were kinda right about that whole ice storm thing in February. Yes, that one, the one that had me sacking out on the couch at work because stranded motorists had the streets so clogged that even after six hours of trying tens of roads and one trip to the Scottish Rite Children's Hospital (a stranded family needed a lift), I simply could not get past all of the stuck vehicles. Then there was a 2011 study, conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that confirmed what anecdotal evidence has been pointing to for some time now - for parts of North America, ragweed season is lasting longer and ending up to a month later. Frankly, I'm not sure which is more troubling, a longer allergy season or the Weather Channel being right!

All kidding aside, Spring 2014 is shaping up to pretty miserable for a lot of people coping with allergies. High precipitation during the winter has primed much of the country for pollen to literally "pop" in the next couple weeks. Much like a party popper, many people are likely high pollen counts. In my case, the city will begin to look like a giant pollen-filled Respro Allergy Mask - Whitepiñata just exploded above the city of Atlanta and is raining down yellow-green sneezy-treats.

In preparation for this, we've seen a fairly steady stream of visitors to the store, and most of them are looking for the same three items - Allergy Masks, window filters, and HEPA air purifiers. These three items can make a big difference in how spring allergies affect you, and all three have one thing in common - they filter the air you breathe. Masks are popular, especially if you have a yard or garden to tend to. Even something as simple as walking your dog this time of year can bring misery if you have allergies, but a minimum of an N95 rated or equivalent mask can block pollen, dust and other spring allergens.

Window filters are also very popular. After being cooped up for a winter like the one most of us have just struggled through, it is hard to resist the temptation to open the windows and let a warm spring breeze in. Unfortunately that spring breeze can also carry a great deal of tree, grass and weed pollen. Window filters block the majority of this pollen, and while they do cut down on some airflow, they allow many to open the windows with less worry. No Soliciting.... or Pollen!When you've tried your best to keep the pollen out, but like a persistent door-to-door encyclopedia salesman it keeps finding its way into your home, a HEPA air purifier can keep parts of your home free of pollen and allergens. Generally, it is best to place it in the bedroom and keep the door closed. Most people spend the majority of all the time they are in their homes, in the bedroom sleeping, so it is ideal to make at least this space clean and free of allergens.

Short of moving to the Arctic circle, spring pollen season can affect you in any region of the country. So now is the time to start preparing for what probably be better than the last few months of the snow and ice, but... not by a lot.

What can I say? I've got a lot of spring cheer!

Author: Kevin Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Friday, March 14, 2014
For our Friday Product Spotlight, I wanted to take a few minutes to take a look at the Alen BreatheSmart air purifier. Alen has carved out a niche for itself by offering mid-level air purifiers specifically geared towards removing indoor particle allergens, and the BreatheSmart is the signature piece in their line of HEPA style air purifiers. For those dealing with pollen, dander or dust mite allergies, here's why the BreatheSmart could just be the ideal solution for reducing those allergens throughout your home.

Alen BreatheSmart Air PurifierI want to start by talking about the filtration. You'll notice that Alen uses the terms "HEPA like" or "HEPA style". This is because all Alen air purifiers offer near HEPA filtration, but come up just a smidge short. There are few filtration categories that are HEPA or near HEPA for most air purifiers The traditional ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) HEPA standard is 99.97% filtration efficiency of particle 0.3 microns or larger. In Europe the standard is H13, 99.95% of the same size particles, and lastly there is an H11 standard with a filtration efficiency of 95% or greater. The Alen BreatheSmart filters 99% of particles 0.3 microns or larger. So, it comes in higher than H11 filters but just under traditional HEPA efficiency ratings.

What does this mean for you? Could be a lot. Could be not much of anything. The answer lies in which type of allergens affect you. If dust mites or pollen is the nemesis, the BreatheSmart will work well. The low end of the particle filtration range will get collected and retained by the filter of the BreatheSmart. If pet dander, smoke or odors are your game, you may want to consider a different model. Not simply because the particles of these can be smaller than what a certified HEPA filter would capture, with pets, smoke and odors, HEPA filtration plus activated carbon is typically the best way to remove these allergens. So to recap, for dust mites or pollen the BreatheSmart is a champ, for smoke, odors or pet dander, the BreatheSmart might not deliver the knock out you've been looking for.

Beyond filtration, the Alen BreatheSmart is a really simple air purifier to operate. There are no dials, just a series of easy-to-use push buttons and indicator lights. Select one of four fan speeds or the Auto Mode (which will select the appropriate fan speed based on current particle pollution levels in the air). Filter Life indicator lights let you know how long until you need to replace your filter, and unlike strict timers, it factors in fan speed and actual run time. There is also a timer that allows you select 4, 8 or 12 hours of run time before the unit will automatically shut off. Plug it in, press a few buttons, and you're finished!

The last thing that really stands out with the Alen BreatheSmart is its quiet efficiency. While the top fan speed is still somewhat loud (this is pretty much unavoidable with any fan/blower-based air purifier), on all three lower speeds, it is significantly quieter than comparable models. Best of all, it consumes fairly little power, so much so that it is Energy Star certified.

In all, the BreatheSmart is a solid choice for those dealing with particle allergies. With spring allergy season just around the corner, and pollen counts already nearing 1000 in Atlanta, now might the best time to invest in an air purifier for your bedroom or living room.

For more information about the our full line of home HEPA air purifiers.

Author: Kevin Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Monday, December 16, 2013
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, is one of the most common respiratory disorders affecting people today. It is a generalized term that many people recall wasn't often spoken ten to fifteen years ago. In the past, you were more likely to hear emphysema or chronic bronchitis, but COPD has become a catch-all for both of these. What is COPD, how does it relate to allergic disease, and can an air purifier actually help?

COPD Lung Function Diagram - NiHMost basically, COPD is two-sided coin of reduced lung function that is most often typified by chronic inflammation of the airways (chronic bronchitis) which causes overproduction of mucus and subsequent blockage of the airways. The other side of this is the destruction of the alveoli the lungs, emphysema. If you remember your high school biology, alveoli are the tiny little balloons or air sacs where the actual gas exchange (swapping of oxygen and carbon dioxide) takes place. For people coping with COPD, these two things often go hand in hand.

In either condition, the result is "chronic obstruction" which reduces lung capacity. Inflammation and mucus blocks the airways or the alveoli are damaged and cannot function properly, making it increasingly difficult to breathe.

The difficulty in breathing may sound familiar to many of you. If you have asthma or even certain allergies, this is an all too familiar symptom. Another similarity, though, is the root cause. Both asthma and allergies appear to be a mix of genetic and environmental factors where genes predispose you to these conditions, and environmental factors may ultimately trigger them, or at the least, exacerbate them. COPD is most often caused by smoking, but research shows that long term exposure to air pollutants, chemicals and even dust can contribute to this disease.

Unlike asthma or allergies though, COPD is progressive and isn't something that can be cured or outgrown. Unfortunately the best case scenario for people dealing with COPD is to manage and slow the disease as much was possible. This is where an air purifier may help.

In addition to medication, there are a few things that your doctor may prescribe to help people coping with COPD. In more severe cases, oxygen is a route that is often taken. In less advanced stages of the disease, an oxygen concentrator may also be used. In either case these are things are use primarily at night, while you sleep. They increase the percentage of oxygen that is in the air you breathe. Typically oxygen only makes up a small amount of the actual air entering your lungs, but with higher concentrations of oxygen, it becomes easier for people with COPD to breathe. Many times when you first begin using oxygen or a concentrator, you might notice a big difference in how you feel during the day. Getting sufficient oxygen while you sleep is crucial for your health, and many will feel more energetic, less lethargic and better overall when they begin use of oxygen or a concentrator.

Second, doctors often advise you to limit your exposure to pollutants in the air that can aggravate COPD. From dust and pollen to paint fumes and chemical vapors, a wide variety of particulate can inflame airways and worsen breathing conditions. HEPA air purifiers help to reduce these things by filtering out these pollutants, both particulate and chemical vapors. Keeping your house clean and reducing dust are also basic but helpful measures that can help anyone coping with COPD.

COPD is something that personally affects me. My father was diagnosed with COPD less than a year ago. For years he smoked AND struggled with asthma. To make matters worse, he spent a great deal of time working on our family farm, in the dusty hayfields or barn. And on top of all of that, he has worked for nearly two decades at a place where clay dust and silica sand are used prolifically.

The Honeywell 50150 HEPA Air PurifierA few years back, I got an inexpensive Honeywell air purifier that a customer had returned. My mother placed it in the living room, and ever since dad often spends nights sleeping beside it on the couch. (And no, it's not because he doesn't want to share a bed with my mother. I would think six kids is enough evidence contrary to that! She often works nights, so many times he'll sleep on the couch.) One thing that my dad has told me, is that he generally tends to feel better when he sleeps on the couch. Not only does the Honeywell produce white noise to help him sleep but more importantly, it helps to reduce dust and particulate in the air in the living room.

By no means do I think a HEPA air purifier is a cure, but for many people, they can help with COPD. And truthfully, many of the products we make and offer can help in that regard. The focus of our products is to better control the environment around you. Things like air purifiers and allergy bedding do just that, by filtering our pollutants or keeping them out of the air you breathe in the first place.

For more information on COPD, consult your local physician or you can find a variety of solid information at the Center for Disease Control or National Institute of Health's websites.

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Wednesday, October 16, 2013
The New Alen T500 Air PurifierFor many people, a tower-style air purifier has a lot of appeal. They are generally lightweight, have a very small footprint, and blend into most rooms rather seamlessly. The Alen T300 has been a model that many people have chose over the years, and now it has received a makeover. So what's new with the Alen T500?

For starters, the new T500 is a bit smaller. Shorter and lighter, this model is now sized between the T300 and T100 but still retains the same size footprint. Other than this, the T500 retains most of the same features, functionality and style of the T300 model. It still has digital controls, 3 fan speeds, and a filter change indicator. It also retains the limited lifetime warranty, EnergyStar qualification, and coverage area. And, as the T300, the new T500 has an optional ionizer (produces no ozone), for your convenience.

The only downside with this model is the UV bulb, that came standard with the T300, is no longer included with the T500 model. In lieu of the UV bulb, there is a filter option, the HEPA-Silver that does the same thing - neutralizes microbes and germs. The standard filter with the T500 is the HEPA-Fresh filter, which is a HEPA-style filter that traps 95% of particles 0.3 microns or larger (think N95 filtration). Aside from the HEPA-Fresh and HEPA-Silver option, there is also a HEPA-OdorCell filter that uses Alen's MCP technology to target odors.

Lastly, it is priced the same as its predecessor - $299.00. This model is currently in-stock and available to ship today.

For a full rundown of the T500's specs and our review of this air purifier, visit our T500 page or to view all Alen air purifiers.

Author: K. Gilmore

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