Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Importance of Air Filters

Service Experts reports: Sometimes I'm asked what is the most important thing that homeowner's can do to protect their air conditioning and heating system between their regular Maintenance Tune-ups. It's a simple question with a simple answer; remember to change the heating and air conditioning air filter. Changing furnace and return air filters is crucial to the proper performance of your HVAC system, not to mention your home's air quality. Did you know indoor air pollution is one of the top five environmental health risks?* I know it's the last thing on your mind, but this is really important stuff. Changing the air filters is not all that hard for most homeowners, but there are usually two obstacles to actually getting it done:
  1. Knowing just how often to change your furnace or air conditioner filter.
  2. Remembering to change air filters when needed.
1. When To Change Your Air FiltersSimple, when they're dirty. Ok, now here's how to... Wait, not enough info? Ok, well... you can read the rest of this section for the details, or just skip over it if you're good to go.

Ready to dive in? Good, I like that. How often to change your air filters can depend on several factors:
  • the type of air filter you are using
  • the overall air quality of your home
  • pets, pets, pets..
  • occupancy of the home, and
  • the level of air pollution and construction around the home
  • ...and did I mention pets? Oh yes, pets.
We recommend you change your filter every 30 days. 

2. How To Remember To Change The Darn Things

It's simple. We will post a reminder to Facebook at the beginning of every month!

Remember that Air Purifying Systems' filters are made with a tacky material that traps more particles than an average filter. Combined with our UV system, we allow for the freshest possible air in your home.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Clean Air Healthy Heart

Kai Zhang of ABC Environment reports:

A SUDDEN REDUCTION OF air pollution might improve adverse cardiovascular effects in healthy adults, according to a study that tracked pollutants and compared levels to blood markers before, during and after Beijing's 2008 Olympic games.

This is the first major study to examine the biological link between short-term air pollution reductions and cardiovascular diseases in young adults who have no health problems. The study suggests that even healthy people can benefit from a temporary decline in air pollution.

Beijing is a megacity well known for its extreme levels of air pollution. To improve air quality for the 2008 Olympic games, vehicle use was restricted and numerous industrial factories in the city and nearby provinces were closed.

The changes led to a 60 per cent drop in air pollution emissions. At the same time, the levels of two heart markers linked with cardiovascular disease improved in young, healthy adults, the study shows.

When factory work and traffic returned to normal after the games, air pollution emissions rose rapidly and the levels of the heart health markers returned to previous levels.

A few human studies have examined the impacts of reduced air pollution on cardiovascular diseases. This study went further by trying to identify underlying mechanisms. In addition, the researchers looked at young, healthy adults while most of the previous studies focused on either the elderly or children.

Air pollution is a mix of small particles - called particulate matter - and gases - such as ozone and nitrogen dioxide. Vehicles, power plants, industrial factories and natural sources release the pollutants into the air.

Billions of people around the world live in areas with very high levels of air pollution. The worst air quality plagues the large megacities where populations exceed 10 million people.

Breathing air pollution can increase the risk for cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks and high blood pressure. Exposure to fine particulate matter - particles less than 2.5 micrometer in diameter (PM2.5) - is especially dangerous.

However, the underlying connections between air pollution and heart diseases are not well understood. The Chinese government's tight controls on emissions from factories and vehicles for the Beijing Olympics offered a rare chance to look at how air pollution might affect predictive markers for heart disease.

For the five-month study from June to November, the researchers recruited 125 resident doctors with an average age of 24 from a centrally located hospital. Half were male, and all were healthy with no history of diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

Air pollution emissions were also measured at similar times. Levels of most air pollutants during the games decreased up to 60 per cent compared to their pre-game levels, depending on the type of pollutants. For example PM2.5 dropped 27 per cent, nitrogen dioxide 43 per cent and sulphur dioxide 60 per cent. After the games when pollution controls were removed, emissions rose to higher levels than were measured before the games started.

This study suggests that even young healthy people can benefit from short-term air pollution reduction and supports efforts to quantify and understand the benefits and costs of air pollution control measures.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Toxic Dioxin

Since its use by the US military to raze the Vietnamese forests and grasslands, Agent Orange has wreaked horrific damage to the Vietnamese people. Cancers, disabilities and birth defects all bear witness to its effects. Now a study looking 
into the effects of dioxins on gene expression has revealed that even three generations after exposure, diseases and problems caused by dioxin will be present in rats.

Today dioxins are found as industrial by-products, given off by waste incinerators and other processes. To investigate effects of its exposure, pregnant rats were administered TCDD, a dioxin component of Agent Orange. This dose was low for lab rats but higher than humans would experience in the environment, as well as for a different time period and method of dose delivery. The team found that subsequent generations, all the way to the original rats' "great grandchildren", had problems such as prostate cancer, ovarian diseases and kidney disease.

The way dioxins do this is by changing which genes are turned on and off. The DNA sequences are the same, but whether they are expressed or not changes (the study of inherited changes in gene expression is called epigenetics). While the findings are not directly applicable to humans, it demonstrates that the environment of our ancestors can be responsible for diseases and disorders today.

Photo credit: iStockphoto/Dmitry Oshchepkov



Friday, October 5, 2012

Carmageddon and Air Quality

Air quality near the closed 10-mile portion of the 405 Freeway reached levels 83% better than typical weekends, according to a team at UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.

The 405 Freeway at Sunset Boulevard is shown. UCLA researchers say that last year’s Carmageddon closure of the 405 rid Los Angeles of both traffic and another notorious problem: pollution. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times / July 16, 2011)

The reprieve lasted for only one weekend, but UCLA researchers say that last year's Carmageddon closure of the 405 Freeway rid Los Angeles of both traffic and another notorious problem: pollution.

Air quality near the closed 10-mile portion of the freeway reached levels 83% better than typical weekends, according to research released Friday by a team at UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.

More striking, the researchers say, air quality also improved 75% in parts of West Los Angeles and Santa Monica, suggesting that whole swaths of residents stayed off the road in those areas. Overall, air quality across the region was 25% better than normal.

"Seeing such a dramatic reduction [in pollutants] in West L.A. was really quite surprising," said Suzanne Paulson, one of the professors leading the research. "It gives a very dramatic view of how clean the air could be."

As soon as traffic returned the following week, the improvements vanished, Paulson said. But area residents have another chance to breathe some fresh air starting Saturday.

More than 14 months after the initial closure, workers will again shut down a portion of the 405 Freeway, this time to demolish the northern end of the Mulholland Drive bridge. The construction is part of a $1-billion project that will include adding a carpool lane.

Paulson and Sam Atwood, a spokesman for the South Coast Air Quality Management District, both said they hope the freeway will one day be filled with electric vehicles or other low-emission cars. Atwood said Los Angeles still has the "worst air quality in the country." Research has linked exposure to near-roadway pollutants to an increased risk ofasthma, heart attack, stroke, premature births and other health problems.

Atwood said the study's findings were not all that surprising but illustrate the "significant effect" cars, and especially trucks, have on air quality. He estimated that vehicular traffic is responsible for about half of all air pollution.

City leaders and transit officials have asked residents to stay out of their cars and "eat, shop and play locally" during this weekend's closure. But the average person probably won't be able to tell the difference in air quality even if cars stay home, Paulson said.

The professor and her colleague, Yifang Zhu, don't plan to conduct another study during this weekend's closure, and haven't yet published a paper on last year's findings.

So perhaps the only way for people to gauge the quality of the air they are breathing will be to look to the streets and count the cars.

Source: LA Times