Chemical Sensitivities and Your Environment

For many of us dealing with the the typical spring and fall allergy seasons is a given. We know that mother nature can be both beautiful and nasty in the spring when the flowers are blooming and the grass is growing. There are many new medications that help in minimizing the allergic reactions and even allow us to venture outdoors on days when the pollen and ragweed levels are high.

However, for people who are chemically sensitive, the physical affects are not that easily relieved. Chemical sensitivities is somewhat of a grey area. Many chemically sensitive people don’t have a challenge with pollen or ragweed but can react to common household chemicals like bleach or even scented candles. And unlike the common symptoms of pollen and ragweed sufferers, the chemically sensitive individuals may have more severe reactions that include inability to breathe, skin rashes, metal tastes in their mouth, headaches, muscle aches, blurred vision and spatial disorientation.

For people who have these chemical sensitivities their lives are literally dictated by how well they can control the environment in which they live, work and play. The elimination or reduction of items in the home is relatively easy for the chemically sensitive individual.  Trial and error is the best guide. But, once they venture outside their chemically controlled environment they are at the mercy of the outside world of chemical soup.

To the chemically sensitive individual, the term fresh outside air is a misnomer. Their outside consists of automobile and truck exhaust fumes, chemical odors from manufacturing and processing operations and the spraying of fertilizers and pesticides in residential, farming and commercial areas.

When they go to work, they are subjected to a wide variety of chemical odors and gases. Their co-workers after shave or cologne. The chemical odor from clothes that are dry cleaned. The gases given off by copiers, printers and office supplies. The list goes on and on.

Being inside any gym, or work out facility presents similar challenges as does attending indoor sporting events where even the odors and gases coming from the concession stands can be significant issues. To the chemically sensitive individual home is usually their only safe haven.

Unlike the pollen or ragweed sufferer who can take one of the many over the counter medications that minimize or eliminate the “hay fever” type symptoms, the chemically sensitive individual has no such magic bullet. They simply need to totally eliminate from their environment those chemicals to which they are sensitive.

Since 1985 Pure Air Systems has been making HEPA and Carbon based air filtration systems for the residential, commercial, institutional and industrial markets. PAS was one of the first companies to offer Carbon adsorption systems for people with chemical sensitivities. Some of these carbon products were specially treated to remove specific gaseous compounds and most we designed to be benign to the customer.

For more information on the complete line of HEPA and Carbon systems and detailed information on the removal or reduction of various airborne chemical gases please go to our website at: www.pureairsystems.com

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I Love My Pets But They Don’t Love Me!

Americans have a very strong love affair with their pets. We spend over 4 Billion dollars a year feeding, grooming and keeping them healthy and happy and for many of us they have become our best friends. And the types of animals we keep as pets has broadened to include snakes, turtles, iguanas and birds of all types, sizes and varieties.

We take our pets everywhere we go; on planes, trains, in the car, on our bikes, to outdoor restaurants, to parks and in some cases sporting events. We take them everywhere and they love it. Aside from the unconditional love we get from our pets they also give us animal dander and other allergens that can be significantly challenging to us humans.

It is interesting to note, that of all the allergies that people suffer from, allergies caused by animals (dogs, cats, birds, etc) are second only to ragweed and pollen. Cats, for example, produce cat dander, tiny flakes of skin that have a protein that can cause itchy eyes, skin rashes, runny nose, congestion, wheezing and sneezing. Dog dander is not as strong an allergen but some people do have similar reactions to dog dander as they do to cat dander.

Birds are another issue. Like cat and dog dander, bird dander and their feathers are very light and stay airborne for long periods of time. Keeping birds in a small enclosed area will tend to concentrate the bird dander in one area. When you are in that area you will be exposed to the higher concentrations of the dander. Allergies to bird dander are similar to those caused by cats and dogs.

Pure Air Systems has been manufacturing HEPA based air filtration systems since 1985 for the residential, commercial, industrial and institutional markets. Many of the HEPA based systems sold to homeowners are used specifically to assist in removing/reducing the concentrations of animal dander in the air.

It is interesting to note, that many of Pure Air’s customers who have cats and know that they are allergic to cats, will keep the cats knowing that the HEPA filtration system is removing a significant amount of the airborne dander.  This is also true of dog and bird owners. For the most part,  pet owners will do everything they can to keep their pets in spite of the allergy issues. Only if the pet owner is so sensitive to the specific pet that even petting them causes some allergic reaction, then and only then will they make the decision to give up their pet.

It is necessary to consider your own health issues and issues of other family members as is relates to allergies to pet dander especially if the reactions are significant and can cause severe respiratory issues. We know you love your pets, but sometimes you may have to practice some tough love and make a decision that is best for you and your family in the long run.

For more information on the complete line of HEPA and Carbon based filtration systems and allergy issues, please go to our website at: www.pureairsystems.com

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Hydrostatic Water Pressure

One of the reasons that fluids, like oil and water, are used as mechanisms to move large, heavy objects is that they are not compressible. That is, when placed in an enclosed vessel or tube or hose and pressure is added (usually via a pumping device) these fluids will push or move objects with tremendous force. This is why all large construction equipment is operated hydraulically.

Many of us who have a basement in our homes have experienced or know someone who has experienced water coming into their basement area either through concrete walls or sump pump area. This usually happens after a heavy rain or down pour when a lot of water is dumped from the skies in a relatively short period of time or if it rains for days at a time and saturates the ground.

As the water filters down into the ground the weight of the water increases and forces its way into the path of least resistance which can be a sump area in the house or through the more porous openings of a concrete basement wall. The longer it rains the more water, the more water the more weight and the higher the hydrostatic pressure.

While many of the newer homes have drain tiles located around the parameter of the basement, many of the older homes do not. And even with drainage tiles many new homes with basements now have sump pump(s) to keep water from coming into the basement area. Water can even come in through small cracks or openings in the basement floor.

In many cases water problems in homes can be man made. If you have a lawn sprinkling system and many of the sprinkler heads are located close to the house, you can have water soaking the area close to the foundation and create the same problem. Or, if you don’t have any downspouts on your gutter systems or the downspouts don’t drain water far enough away from the home foundation, the same problems can occur.

Water can be one of the most destructive challenges to a home. Not only can it destroy carpeting and damage equipment on the basement floor, but the higher moisture levels and wet materials provide a perfect breeding ground for mold. Once you have experienced water in the basement it is essential that all affected areas are completely dried and all standing water removed.

In basements that are unfinished, normally the heating/cooling ductwork is not completed. Typically there is only one supply vent and no return vents constructed in the duct system. The system is only completed when the basement is finished as part of the initial construction. This is important to know for two reasons.

First, with no return air grills in the basement none of the airborne dust or mold particles or humidity will be drawn back to the HVAC system. This means none of the air will be filtered (assuming there is a filter or filtration system on the HVAC unit).

Second, none of the humidity will be removed from the cooling coils or dried through the heating system. This means you will have a higher moisture content in the basement than in the first and second stories of the home. Keeping water, water vapor and humidity out of the basement is essential to eliminate the possibility of mold growth.

Pure Air Systems manufactures a line of HEPA based air filtration systems that can be used either as stand alone units or attached to existing HVAC systems. The smaller, portable units can be used to filter the air in an area such as a basement and the larger units are designed as whole-house units. For more information on our complete product line or information on reduction/removal of airborne contaminants like mold, please go to our website at: www.pureairsystems.com

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Help! My Job Is Making Me Sick!

While many of us have often complained about our jobs, employers and co-workers being difficult to deal with, most people don’t associate their place of employment as the root cause for making them ill or sick.

Back in the 1980’s the term “sick building syndrome” was coined and it related to the fact that the indoor air quality in many commercial, institutional and industrial buildings was so poor that many of the employees developed allergies, respiratory issues and even asthma from long term indoor exposure.

After a lot of study it was determined that some of the main causes for the poor indoor air quality were lack of ventilation and/or amount of fresh air and the chemicals that were being off gassed from the building materials and office equipment. In addition, many of the office sections that were attached to  manufacturing sections were down wind of the contaminants being produced by the manufacturing processes.

Many employees sued their employers and building owners and managers and made the building and mechanical engineers aware that this IAQ problem was significant. As a result of the employee fire storm a number of changes were made by both ASHRAE ( American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers) and BOMA (Building Owners and Managers Association) for new construction of buildings. These new changes; both in building materials and HVAC modifications, made some significant headway in maintaining a healthier, safer work environment.

Some of these changes included adding more outside air through the economizers located in the HVAC air handling units, better heating/cooling comfort level controls and better ventilation for office equipment such as printers, copiers and fax machines. These changes went a long way to making significant improvements in the work environment. Then came 9/11 followed by the current economic meltdown.

While these two events did not happen simultaneously, they both have negated many of the changes that were previously made to ensure better indoor air quality. 9/11 forced many building owners to reduce or eliminate the amount of fresh outside air introduced into the buildings. They were concerned with the possibility of terrorists using chemical or radiological gases and these gases being drawn into the building.

This change did two things. First, it reduced the amount fresh air and reduced air exchange rate. Secondly, because they were not bringing in cold or hot humid outside air, they found their heating and cooling bills were substantially lower. So in one case it increased the amount of CO2 in the work environment which brought back the IAQ problem but it did save them money.

This event was shortly followed by the slowdown in the economy and the current economic meltdown. With fewer employees in the office buildings and with more companies having significant cash flow issues, there was no need to go back to the modified ventilation rates and other IAQ positive practices. In addition, with the threat of losing a job a reality for many people, nobody is going to complain or sue their employee because of some indoor air quality problem.

Today, the problems with poor indoor air quality still exist and employees are still having some of the same issues that they had in the 80’s.

Pure Air Systems has been making fan powered HEPA based air filtration systems since 1985. From the beginning these units were designed to not only filter the air in a select area but also have the ability to introduce outside, filtered fresh air into a building with minimal affect on the heating or cooling costs. For more information on how these systems work and the complete product line please go to: www.pureairsystems.com

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Getting An eBook Reader May Be A Healthy Choice

The new iPad from Apple adds to the growing selection of eBook readers on the market. Kindle, by Amazon, is probably the most used but the new Nook by Barnes and Noble and the eReader by Sony are catching up. The new iPad is not only a tablet computer but an eBook reader as well. While there are opinions on both side of the isle as to whether the new eBook technology will supplant the common paper book, the eBook does offer some significant health benefits.

Paper books have been around forever and have been the most popular method of providing information, stories, education and business information around the world. Libraries are built to house the books and some of these buildings are massive. There -in lies the problem.

Paper is a cellulose based product that will wear when handled and can deteriorate when e to sunlight over long periods of time. When the pages of the book are turned tiny particles of paper come off and become airborne. As the books age, the paper becomes more brittle and more “paper dust” is generated. In addition, if the paper books get wet or are exposed to high concentrations of moisture you can actually have mold growing on the books. The paper is a great food source for mold spores.

In addition all books are assembled using some type of adhesive. This what keeps the pages from falling out of the book. These glues can off gas over time and again are released into the air. Often when a new book is purchased, especially hard bound books, they produce a distinct smell. It is a “new book” smell so to speak. These are the chemicals in the adhesives and treated paper that you are smelling.

Libraries, both public, private and school have had indoor air quality issues for many years. When you have a large collection of books and large number of people reading and leafing through the book pages at one time, you release a lot of paper dust into the air. People who tend to have respiratory issues ( asthmatics, severe allergies, chemical sensitivities) have a real challenge being in an environment with books.

The paper dust issue is such a problem in libraries that many of them use HEPA based air filtration systems to ensure the capture of the fine, small, airborne paper dust particles.

Companies such as Pure Air Systems, offer small, medium and large HEPA fan powered air filtration systems that can be used either as stand alone units to handle specific areas or as part of the main heating/cooling systems. In either case, the ability to move air throughout the area is essential in keeping the paper dust particles airborne and then pulled into the air filtration systems. Pure Air Systems also incorporates carbon in many of its systems which would be used to remove the chemicals being off gassed from the books themselves.

The process of providing reading material continues to move in the digital direction which at some point will start to reduce the number of paper books in circulation. If you have some allergy issues and are an avid book reader and collector, we might suggest you consider getting one of the new eBook reading devices now available. This could be a healthy choice for you.

For more information regarding the complete line of HEPA and Carbon based filtration systems offered by Pure Air Systems please go to their website at: www.pureairsystems.com

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New Gentle Cleaning Products May Be Hazardous To Your Health

It seems like everyday there is a new cleaning product being introduced on TV or in the mail or on the internet. Each one designed to make your life easier and all of them are now safer and more “green” than ever.

In addition to the new cleaning fluids, gels and cleansers, you now have a wide variety of deodorizers or odor maskers. These are introduced either by spray bottle or use of scented stick or compound that is heated or moved by air to wash the room with one of three thousand scents…( maybe more).

Individually most of these cleaning products are relatively safe when used as directed. The real issue is what happens when you use more than one of these products at the same time?

When these products are tested they are used individually and in an enclosed room that is monitored. The “independent” testing agencies attempt to determine if there is anything in the product or that the product produces that could pose a health problem..be it respiratory or skin issues.

Appropriate warning labels are put on each product; even for green, biodegradable items. These labels provide information on what to do if you ingest or get this material in you eyes but they seldom mention anything about the problems of using this product with other products.

Many people will use some of the odor masking products; in either the spray bottle form and/or the candle or plug-in versions. Then they will use any other combination of cleaning products at the same time.  Again, individually these products are safe, however, when combined with other chemicals they can create significant problems.

Here is the well known example of mixing two common chemical products together. Ammonia is a well know, well used cleaning chemical. Moth balls are common products. When mixed together the resultant chemical gas can kill you….quickly. There are many other dangerous combinations using household chemicals out there.

Just because the product is advertised as a “green” or “kids safe” product, is only valid when it is used by itself. Again, when these products are tested the process does not include combining the chemical make-up of the product with any other chemical from any other cleaning product.

It is interesting to note, that some of the most green, safe cleaning chemicals are already in your pantry and refrigerator. Vinegar and ketchup are two products that can actually be used for almost all of your household cleaning needs.

Vinegar and water are great for cleaning any solid kitchen surface, glass, mirrors, etc. Ketchup has enough acidity to remove stains from silver ware and some other surfaces. Toothpaste with grit is a great abrasive with some cleaning power.

In essence, be careful when using any cleaning product and especially careful when using two or more at the same time.

Pure Air Systems has been making HEPA and Carbon based filtration systems since 1985 and has a lot of experience in removing and reducing odors and gases in both the residential and commercial markets. For more information on the complete line of air and gas filter systems please go to our website at: www.pureairsystems.com

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Are You Allergic To Pollen & Ragweed? Then Remove Clothes Before Entering

Of all the environmental processes that can create allergic reactions in humans, nature’s own products:  pollen and ragweed, are among the most prolific. While most people avoid close proximity to known, man-made allergy producing substances and effluents, it is impossible ( unless you never go outside) to avoid contact with these two allergens.

With the exception of living 11,000 feet above sea level, there are flowering plants, grasses, trees, and crops everywhere you go. Pollen and ragweed and other airborne particles are most prominent during the Spring and Summer months but can be an issue all year long in some parts of the US.

Once the flowers, grasses, trees and crops start to grow you can, during some times of the day, actually see the pollen floating in the air or deposited on the surface of a car parked outside. These particles ( 20 microns in size or larger) are more prominent since they can be seen with the naked eye. However, these airborne allergens can also be in the 5 to 10 micron range which would make them invisible to the naked eye.

These airborne particles are easily carried by light winds and on especially dry days they can travel for miles. In addition, these pollen and ragweed particles have a rough surface and will cling to or stick to almost any type of clothing and also your hair and skin.

If you are one of those people that suffer from allergic reactions to pollen and ragweed then you need to make sure you practice the following preventative measures.

First. If you are wearing a jacket or sweater or any type of outdoor protective clothing remove them outside before entering your home or residence. You may want to brush them off (keep you mouth closed and try not to breathe when doing this) and or shake gently. This will remove most of the particles from the clothing.

Second. DO NOT BRING THE CLOTHES INSIDE! Find a place outside in your garage or outside entry way wear you can store these clothes. Brushing or shaking the clothes will not remove all the pollen or ragweed. This can only be accomplished by washing or dry cleaning the items.

Third. If you do bring the clothes inside don’t hang them or place them next to other jackets or clothing. The pollen will easily transfer to the clean clothes.  Anytime you move, shake or hang these clothes some of the particles will fall off and either fall to the floor or become airborne again.

Fourth. Get a good air filtration system for your home or bedroom and make sure your furnace air filters are replaced often.

Pure Air Systems offers a complete line of HEPA and Carbon based air filtration systems for both whole-house filtration or single room applications. These filters are designed to remove all the airborne particles that may cause respiratory issues or allergies. In addition, PAS has a complete line of furnace filters that are specifically designed to capture the smaller particles without challenging the performance of your HVAC system.

For more information our product line please go to our website at: www.pureairsystems.com

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Old MacDonald Had A Farm

Old MacDonald had a farm…E.I…E.I…AUH O! ….Farming used to be the backbone of the US. And in many places around the country it still is. However, the farming process itself can be a real environmental challenge for both the farmers and the people who live within a 3 to 10 mile radius of these farming communities.

Todays farmers use much more sophisticated farming methods, chemicals, hybrid seeds and equipment than the farmers of yesteryear. With the new fast growing seeds, that are impervious to many bugs and diseases and crop rotation, they can get better yields from a smaller farming area. In addition, they can now get two plantings of crops per year. So the actual tilling of the soil is done twice in each growing season.

This stirring of the soil creates some environmental issues. First, every time the soil is stirred up it releases tiny pieces of earth, mold, fungus and what ever else is in the soil into the air. And, farmers use a wet spray manure for fertilizer which is fecal material that can become airborne as it drys. If you live near a farm you know when they are applying this as the “ripe” odor is rather significant and lasts for a few days.

In addition to the particulate from the soil and the fertilizers you also have the pollen and other airborne plants particles that are released into the air during various growing stages of the crops. When you add all these up you have a “cornucopia” of airborne particulate that can be a cause for concern for those people who suffer from allergies and asthma or other respiratory issues.

Farmers who spend days in the field know these allergens can be a problem and that is why many of them wear respirators when on open farm equipment. The newer farm tractors and combines all have enclosed cabs with air conditioning and air filtration devices. This keeps the exposure of the farmers to the outside air to a minimum when tilling the soil or applying chemicals.

For those of you who live near or around these farming communities you need to understand that you are exposed to high concentrations of these airborne particles for extended periods of time. Many people who were healthy and had no allergies have developed significant allergies after months or years of exposure to these farming areas.

Pure Air Systems manufactures a line of HEPA based air filtration systems since 1985. Over the years PAS has provided its air filtration units as well as various air filtration products for the farmers homes as well as many of the residents who live in close proximity to these farms. Even people who live as far as 10 miles from these farms are susceptible to this “farming” dust as winds will carry these light airborne particles for miles. This is especially true on days when it is warm and dry and windy.

The HEPA filters used in the PAS systems are specifically designed to remove small, sub-micron, respirable sized particles. The units themselves offer the ability to both filter the air as well as allow for the introduction of small amounts of outside filtered fresh air.

For more information on the complete line of air filtration systems offered by Pure Air Systems please go to our website at: www.pureairsystems.com

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When Buying A New Home Look At The Road System First

It is always interesting to view homes when driving. Whether its a county dirt road or a major highway you are always within close proximity to someones place of residence. I’m sure that the people that live close to the roads enjoy the quick access and associated short drives to their destination. But are they sacrificing health for a quick trip to the store?

When cars and trucks  travel down any road tiny bits of dirt, dust and tire debris are thrown into the air. In addition, the amount of NO2 and NOX that is released from the exhausts can exceed the OSHA and ASHRAE limits when you are in close proximity to these effluents.

On a hot, dry, windless day you can often see the layers of dirt or dust hanging in the air close to a highway or dirt road. These layers of “hanging” dust obviously include particles that you can see ( usually larger than 20 microns in size) but this layer of dust also includes almost twice as many sub-micron particles ( usually less than 10 microns) that you can’t see.

When you combine the small, respirable sized particles along with the exhaust gases you have a fairly toxic chemical soup. While most homes along major highways are usually 200 to 400 feet or more from the road, a large number of homes rest within 50 t0 100 feet from secondary and dirt roads.  The air currents from the traffic alone will push the airborne pollution away from the roads and toward the homes. Add some wind and you could  have a pollution cloud around your house 12 to 24 hours a day.

On mild days many people open their windows or doors and allow the “fresh” air to come into the homes. If your home is in a low traffic zone you will notice a little outside dust on the furniture and flat surfaces. However, for those people living close to or near roads that are heavily used, you may find that after only a few hours there is a layer of dust and dirt every where. In fact many of these “close to the road” homeowners may not be able to open their windows at all at anytime of the year.

This issue is not limited to just the summer months. Since most homes use forced air ducted heating/cooling systems they employ a series of supply and return air grills located throughout the house.  Often times the systems are not properly balanced and there is more return air than supply air pulled through the HVAC system. This creates a negative pressure in the house as the additional return air is pulled from the outside through small openings and communication points in the shell of the house.

Since the air outside has a large amount of this airborne particulate, some of that will be pulled into the house. This is why you can have a substantial amount of dust in the house even though the house is buttoned up.

Pure Air Systems offers a complete line of whole-house HEPA based air filtration systems that attach to the return air side of your HVAC systems. These unit have carbon media as well so they can effectively remove both the small airborne particles as well as the gaseous contaminants. In addition, the PAS units can assist in keeping the home pressurized to eliminate the negative air issue.

For more information go to their website at: www.pureairsystems.com.

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Finding The Best Air Filtration System

Years ago the most often used resource to get information on a product or process was to go to your best friend, associate or family member. They would recommend a product or contact or store and you would consider their comments as gospel. You didn’t feel the need to go anywhere else for information since this process has always served you well. Or did it?

Getting information from one source on a product or service that is important to you is no longer the best path to success. The internet now offers you the opportunity to obtain information on any product, process or service from thousands of resources; some reliable some not.

You now have the ability to gather information from a wide range of resources including; published articles from journals, universities, government, business and end users. You also can access clubs or groups that specialize in working with or using a specific type of product or service with excellent feedback on the validity of the products performance.

So when it comes to finding the best type of air filtration systems, air purifier or furnace filter for your residential or commercial application, this same information gathering process is available.

Most companies that offer air filtration systems have websites that offer both technical information as well as the ability to purchase their equipment on the site. When viewing these sites it is important that you look at the information on the product, how it works, the overall efficiency of the systems and the length of time the company has been in business.

As with any competitive business, the filter industry has its share of products that are more gimmick than performance. This is especially true of the filtration industry where some technologies such as ozone generators or electronic air cleaners are rated as efficient as HEPA filters.

Your first step is to determine your specific filtration needs; be it a single room filter device, home, office, laboratory etc. Then the overall effectiveness required. Are you looking to just remove some of the larger airborne particles? Are you an allergy sufferer? Do you also have an odor problem? Is this a clean room type application?

Once you have determined your needs, you want to find the types of filter companies that sell those specific systems or filters and start gathering information. Secondly, you want to go to the informational sites where there are published articles that discuss that specific type of filter mechanism or media.

Third, and this is very important, you want to find some third party references that have used or are using that specific type of filter device or media.  Once you gather all this information you can now be more objective in your filter selection process.

Pure Air Systems has been making HEPA and Carbon based air filtration systems since 1985 and has systems installed around the world. Their website has a lot of technical information on their systems as well as the competition for your review. For more information on the PAS line of filtration systems and media please go to: www.pureairsystems. com

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