From the HVAC system and stand alone, HEPA air purifier to your vacuum cleaner or screens you use in your windows, there are a variety of places filters are trapping pollen, dust, and other allergens in your home. Let's walk through some of these areas and see what cleaning or replacing needs to be done for each filter type.
As the most far reaching home system, central heat/air or an HVAC is common in the modern American home. Unless they are very old, they all should have a filter of some sort. Originally, these filters were meant to keep the blower and motor free of debris, but as time has passed, the filtration of these filters has increased so not only do they protect the HVAC system, but these filters act as your first line of defense against allergens. Unless you have a permanent or semi-permanent filter (like a Newtron), you must replace these filters. Every three months has been, and continues to be, the recommended replacement interval, and 3M remains the most popular brand of replaceable furnace filters.
The next common type of allergen trapping device in the home is the stand-alone air purifier. The most common type is a HEPA air purifier that is rated to remove 99.97% of particles 0.3 microns or larger. This level of filtration covers all types of pollen, but the styles, sizes and filtration that an air purifier employs can vary widely. Inexpensive models like the 3M Filtrete have filters very similar to your HVAC filter and should be replaced every three months. Other brands like Austin Air, IQAir, or Blueair have filters with longer time intervals before replacement. Blueair models typically offer six months of filter life while Austin offers 3-5 years (and IQAir tucked in between). Some models, like the IQAir HealthPro series have an additional coarse dust prefilter that, during this time of year, can be particularly helpful. This filter attaches to the bottom of the unit and filters out visible particles, much like the pollen you see that has collected on the hood of my truck. During the spring when the pollen is the heaviest, this is a great way to extend the life of the other filters in your IQAir while getting rid of more pollen. In all, the majority of air purifiers have replaceable filters. Check the manufacturer instructions for times or get in touch with us, and we can help.
Nearly every home has a vacuum cleaner, and many of these have a HEPA filter. Unless you have a model like a Dyson, which has a washable filter, the HEPA filter in your vacuum should be replaced every year. For washable filters, you will want to wash/rinse them every 3-6 months. Vacuum filters are really only as good as their weakest part. You can have the best HEPA filter in the world, but the vacuum is leaky and allows air to escape as you clean, then you're not getting what you paid for. Prior to purchasing, check that the vacuum not only has a HEPA filter, but also a sealed system, and better still, independent testing actually verifying the filtration claims. In general, replace your HEPA vacuum filter.
Vent or register filters are also popular in many homes. They often target visible debris and dirt. While this doesn't necessarily help you with allergies, they can help to trap the visible pollen. These filters can often simply be rinsed, allowed to air dry, and then replaced.
Last but not least are window filters. These are twist on traditional window screen. Screens are great because they let air in but keep insects out. During the spring, screens also allow ALL of that pollen to come indoors. Window filters are like a screen but only with a layer of filter media in them. They do reduce air flow, but the trade off is they block the vast majority of visible and even many of the microparticles in the air. Best of all, many of these now have replaceable filters, so you no longer have to toss the whole screen after use, simply replace the filter/screen layer.
Regardless of what you're using to help keep your indoor air clean, remember to replace or clean the filters regularly. It can mean the difference between waking up feeling tired, gunky, and congested or refreshed and ready for the day. Not only does it help to keep your home free of allergens and pollen, but this basic maintenance can dramatically extend the life of the appliance or system and save you big bucks down the road.
Author: K. Gilmore
And now for a gratuitous baby pic of my sleeping goddaughter.
As spring rains and warmer weather ushers in a new season, sneezes, sniffles, and the faintest hints of yellow and green fills the air. It's spring allergy season, for many, one of the most miserable times of the year. Do yourself a big favor and eliminate allergens like pollen from your indoor air with an Amaircare air purifier. The 2500 and 3000 air purifiers both feature sealed system, steel construction, easy to use controls, and HEPA filtration.
If smoke, odors, or VOCs are a concern, opt for either size but with a VOC canister. Packed with activated carbon, this canister adsorbs odors, chemical vapors, and fumes that pollute your indoor air.
For filtering pollen on the go or keeping your personal space free of allergens, the Roomaid portable air purifier has long been a popular choice. Lightweight and compact, the Roomaid is a truly portable HEPA air purifier. Snag an AC adapter and take it with you in the car. Plug it in at your desk or near your bed. No matter where you use it, it can and will remove allergens and odors.
So if pollen and spring allergies are getting you down, clear the air with an Amaircare HEPA air purifier. Every unit ships for free (continental U.S.) and you don't even need a coupon code to get the free filter kit. One will be included with each air purifier ordered.
Now that that's been covered, time to move on to more pressing matters. From dogwoods and oaks to all manner of tree and bush, plants are shaking off their winter slumber and springing back to life - dumping pollen into the air. Now it also the time when those articles start popping up all over the place, "Worst Allergy Season - EVER!". I do sometimes wonder, has someone with allergies ever went through a spring and thought, "Hhhmmmm.... not bad!" The reality is, this is how spring allergies are going to go.
While this winter was harsh enough to push the start of allergy season further into the year, the very wet nature of this winter is likely to mean high pollen counts. So while the spring allergy season is likely to be a little shorter than recent years, don't expect the trend of increased pollen counts and intensity to take a break.
With all this being said, what can you do in terms of relief?
There are several places to start, but we almost always recommend the bedroom. You'll spend more time here (typically 6-8 hours sleeping) than any other room in the home. Here are some quick hitter solutions to getting a better night's sleep while the pollen flies.
Air - With warmer temperatures, many of us are likely to want to open the window. I know for myself, as soon as the temperature creeps above 60° or so, my windows are open. With allergies, you can either keep the windows closed or try something like a window filter. While these don't offer HEPA filtration (to do so would completely block airflow), they do a great deal of the pollen in the air. The other item that can help clear up your indoor air is a HEPA air purifier. Something like an Austin air purifier is a simple way to remove the allergens. The HEPA/carbon filter lasts years before needing to be replaced, and the controls are simple.
Floors - Your floors are often the final resting place of allergens, including dust, dander, mold spores, and pollen. While you can trap a great deal of this particulate with an air purifier, you're still likely to track allergens in. Regardless of flooring type, you can not only keep them looking good but free of allergens with a high quality HEPA vacuum cleaner. When considering a HEPA vac, keep in mind quality. You often get what you pay for, and lower quality vacuums can leak and simply redistribute allergens instead of actually removing and trapping them.
Clothes - When the pollen counts are high, it's literally sticking to your clothes and then being brought into your home. Many find themselves washing their laundry more frequently. While regular washing can greatly reduce allergens trapped in your clothes, an anti-allergy laundry detergent can denature protein allergens that escape the normal wash cycle. Ecology works produces a plant-based detergent that is gentle of clothes, free of dyes and added fragrance, ultimately making it easier on your skin.
Outdoors - Avoid going out on days when the pollen count is going to be exceptionally high. This is easier said than done for many, but an allergy mask can make a big difference in blocking pollen and other allergens while you're outdoors. Though it can be a little dreary, right after a light rain, pollen levels in the air can dip, so this might not be a bad time to get some of your outdoor activities knocked out.
Medication - Antihistamines are the soup du jour when it comes to combating allergies. While most people take these AFTER they begin to experience symptoms, most allergists actually recommend you being taking them just prior to the onset of the allergy season. These help by tamping down the immune response to pollen - inflammation. There are over the counter as well as more powerful prescription antihistamines available, and a quick stop by your local board certified allergist can give you a better idea of which route to go. Or, you can always try OTC methods first, and if relief is still elusive, consult your doctor for more options.
Do you have any tips or hints you'd like to share? Leave a comment or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Otherwise stay tuned for another potential Easter Bunny sighting.
Author: K. Gilmore
First I thought, uh-oh, I don’t want to catch that! But then I realized, it could be allergies. But wouldn’t the rain settle the pollen that’s making my friends congested? Not necessarily, quite the contraire mademoiselle (I’m learning French. Je suis Françoise d’apprentissage) . Heavy rain can spread pollen particles by fracturing them, making them more numerous and lighter in weight. When the rain is gone, these now slimmer and trimmer pollen particles become airborne once again, impacting your allergies worse than before the rain.
How are you going to enjoy the weather and control your pollen/seasonal allergies? It’s the time of the year to enjoy fresh air, sunshine and dresses! Here are few ways to have the best of both worlds.
- Safe Guard Window Filters - These wonderful window filters keep out dust, pollen, and other allergens, so you can breathe fresher, purer air all year long. These filters eliminate 92% of ragweed pollen and capture a variety of allergens and irritants that can wreak havoc on seasonal allergy sufferers. These window filters are available in 2 sizes with extensions to fit almost any width of window. If you already have some, you can now replace your window filter cartridges in them with little more than a phillips screwdriver and about five minutes of your time!
- Check the Allergy Forecast - Check the pollen count in your area. Just like a weather forecast you can check the pollen index levels, as well as what trees are causing the most pollen. This can help you do a little planning ahead of time for outdoor activities.
- Take Off Your Shoes - I think leaving your shoes at the door is generally a better way to keep the carpet cleaner, but during allergy season you can tracks massive amounts of pollen throughout your home. Ever notice yellow shoe prints? If nothing else, you can always slip on a pair of sandals.
- Don't Forget Your Pets! - Our furry friends can also track in pollen and other allergens, but unlike us, they likely don't have shoes to take off. With pets one of the easiest ways to keep them clean between baths and remove pollen, dirt and other debris with with pet wipes. These thick, handy wipes remove allergens and other debris, and if you want to take things a step further, try AllerPet. This safe, non-toxic cleanser is simply applied with a damp cloth between baths. The formula denatures allergens like pollen and dander, and is even perfectly safe for puppies and kittens.
- Change Your Clothes - When you come home, changing your clothes will help keep your allergic reactions down by preventing pollen from spreading throughout the house.
- Showers - Taking a shower at night will help rinse off any pollen that you’ve collected during the day. This will also keep pollen out of your sheets so you won’t be waking up to congestion and water eyes.
Author: R. Power
Treatment is suitable for the age range of 10-65 years, and to those who are diagnosed with grass pollen-induced allergic rhinitis (with or without conjunctivitis). Patients must have positive skin test or in vitro testing for any of the five grass species: sweet vernal, orchard, perennial rye, timothy and Kentucky blue grass (I thought this last one was a joke because I love blue grass music).
Last December the Allergenic Products Advisory Committee gave a unanimous vote to recommend Oralair as the first SLIT for the United States. Sublingual immunotherapy has been a common allergy medication throughout Europe and the rest of the world. Twenty years of research has shown SLIT to be safe and effective as an allergy medication. While in testing, the most common treatment emergent adverse events (TEATs) in adults and children were throat irritation and oral pruritus (itching).
My fingers are crossed for this treatment to be effective and to help secure a path into finding more natural treatments for allergies and other ailments.
Author: R. Power
AllergyCapitals.com lists the worst cities in the US for allergies based on the pollen counts, number of OTC/prescription medications per patient, and number of board-certified allergists per patient. The most current list below:
- Louisville, KY
- Memphis, TN
- Baton Rouge, LA
- Oklahoma City, OK
- Jackson, MS
- Chattanooga, TN
- Dallas, TX
- Richmond, VA
- Birmingham, AL
- McAllen, TX
- Box elder
Try to protect yourself, but enjoy this spring’s blooms while you can!
Author: R. Power
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.
Moving 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.
While 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
The Respro Allergy Mask has long been a popular choice for anyone dealing with allergies, asthma, COPD, MCS or simply wanting to keep dust and other particulate out of the air they breathe. With a soft, flexible mesh shell and exhale valves, the Allergy Mask is breathable and lightweight. It seals well around the face and allow heat and moisture to escape via two exhale valves.
The Allergy Mask comes standard with a particle filter that offers N95 equivalent filtration of particles like pollen, mold spores, dirt, dust, and dander, and will filter particles less than 1 micron in size and larger. Add the optional chemical/particle filters, which have activated charcoal embedded in them, and broaden your filtration to include smoke, odors, chemical vapors, exhaust, fragrance and perfumes.
Respro Allergy masks are now available in two colors and three sizes, with most adults finding the best with Medium or Large masks. The Small size is best suited for children. The Royal Blue mask has a soft, flexible nose piece while the White uses the standard, soft alloy nosepiece that can be shaped and formed. Each filter provides about 50-60 hours of use, and the valves can be removed and rinsed or replaced. The mesh shell can be hand washed, and finally, all Respro masks are latex free.
Whether your gardening or mowing the yard, working outdoors or simply trying to avoid tobacco smoke and perfumes, the Respro Allergy mask is one of the most popular ways to accomplish this. When you're done, it can be folded small enough to easily fit in a purse or even your pocket!
To Shop all Allergy Masks or to Compare and Contrast All Masks.
Author: K. Gilmore
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! While 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 piñata 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. 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
I 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