While the world frets over climate change and greenhouse gases, irrefutable evidence shows that the air quality in homes poses significant and immediate health risks. According to a report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the air within homes and other buildings can be up to five times more polluted than outdoor air. The EPA also estimated that people spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors, including the schoolroom, the workplace, and home. Fortunately, the air quality can be improved in our homes today.
Indoor air is not just a health risk, but a looming crisis! This topic is near-and-dear to my lungs, as I’ve had allergy-induced asthma since I was a teen. In doing research for this blog, I reached out to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) which is a not-for-profit organization that was founded 50 years ago. AAFA’s mission is dedicated to saving lives and reducing the burden of disease for people with asthma and allergies through support, advocacy, education and research.
“Indoor air quality (IAQ) is so huge now,” says Michele Ann Cassalia, Director of Marketing at AAFA. “The fact that we use IAQ and everybody knows what it stands for — it’s huge.” This has become such an issue that October is National Indoor Air Quality Month. “You never would've heard of that 10 years ago,” says Cassalia.
I took this opportunity to share the embarrassing fact with Michele Ann Cassalia that I purchased a Sharp Plasmacluster Air Purifier for my bedroom a couple of months ago. I informed her that I hadn’t taken the time to open the manual to figure out how to use it or where to place it, but assured her that I have encased my mattress and pillows and keep the room as dust-free as possible. I then asked for some advice.
“One third of your time is spent in the bedroom,” says Cassalia. “Everyone's concerned about the bedding, but it also makes sense to place an air purifier at the bottom of the bed or somewhere that is focused toward the center of the bedroom.” As with any product, Cassalia encourages consumers to do their homework. “We have the Asthma and Allergy Friendly certification program so they can trust that it's been certified through rigorous scientific standards by a third party.”
Choosing an air purifier depends on the size and the ventilation in the room, notes Cassalia. “A little ventilation is okay.” Some air purifiers help eliminate odors from cooking, pets, smoke, furniture and other unpleasant odors and potential allergy triggers. “When you're cooking, you want to make sure that the exhaust fan is on, and open the window a little bit to get the fresh air in,” she says. “When showering, make sure your fan is on because you don't want mold to grow in the bathroom, which can trigger some people's asthma.”
Manufacturers offer various sizes of in-room air purifiers that cover from small rooms to large areas, such as a living room or even an open-plan space. “For me personally, we have one upstairs in the hallway for my children, my husband and me,” says Cassalia. “I know that it's hitting at least a certain amount of feet in the upstairs area.”
An Air Purifier in Every Home and Every School
Cassalia is passionate about educating people on the importance of indoor air quality. “My dream-wish would be if every school, every classroom had an air purifier in it,” she says. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) is a non-profit organization that also works with the underserved. AAFA worked on a project with the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and community workers to visit an area in southwest Philadelphia that still has oil refinery factories. “Seventy percent of the children in that area have asthma,” says Cassalia. “We worked with the certification in getting air purifiers out to the homes.”
AAFA is doing this kind of outreach across America. “With programs of community workers going into the home and saying, ‘Okay, this is mold. Okay, this is cockroaches. These are triggers to your children that are flaring up their asthma,’” says Cassalia. Asthma in children often doesn’t get diagnosed until they go into the ER with an asthma attack.
“It's a big thing, as far as getting out there and getting product [air purifier] and educating people in the underserved communities,” adds Cassalia. “It’s not like you and me — we can just go and buy one.” With that in mind, Cassalia’s parting advice was, “This weekend, get that air purifier you bought plugged in and working for you!” I took her advice and set up the Sharp Plasmacluster Air Purifier I had purchased a few months earlier. Check out my next blog for some results that have truly changed my life.