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Improving Indoor Air Quality with Product Testing - Allergy Standards Ltd.

samanthaklein MA, United States 0 Ratings 10 Discussions 3 Group posts

Posted by: samanthaklein // Intern


Indoor air quality and allergy awareness were already growing as critical health and environmental concerns before the COVID-19 pandemic made these topics even more prevalent.  The risk of airborne-related allergies and illnesses inside public places and our homes warrants the verification and use of clean materials. However, it's not always easy to determine which products are safer for the home or office.  


In this video, Dr. John McKeon, CEO of Allergy Standards Ltd., discusses with Green Builder Matt Hoots the importance of testing products for their impacts on indoor air quality, specifically how they may contribute to allergies and asthma. We spend up to 90% of our time indoors where their air can be 2 to 5 times more toxic than outdoors. These figures may even be greater now that more people are working from home, and given that extreme weather has become more common.  


Allergy Standards Limited (ASL) is an independent certification program that scientifically tests and identifies products that meet strict health and safety air quality requirements. ASL partners with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America to develop this rigorous criteria. Consulting services are also offered by ASL. This advisory is often provided for businesses during the research and development stages of new products, where the businesses are guided by clean air standards in order to create an innovative, clean product.


As Dr. McKeon shares, "Our Mission and our values are all about helping people find and identify products that can actually have an impact on their environment and improve lives. One of our Kennedy moonshots is trying to eradicate all emergency room visits due to asthma and allergies that occur due to exposure to an avoidable indoor trigger."  Dr. McKeon was originally an emergency room physician who saw many kids with allergies and asthma.  He also noted that parents often received confusing advice and became overwhelmed when trying to select better products to reduce the risks of allergic reactions or asthma attacks.  He founded ASL to make it easier for these people and others to select products that are better for the indoor environment.  


Dr. McKeon articulates that certain green products need to be double checked for health standards. This is where ASL steps in to investigate, run tests, and strategically analyze how the product performs based on the appropriate health standards for that type of equipment. From there, a verification decision is made.  Common products ASL works with include vacuum cleaners, furnace filters, paint, and floor coverings.  


For vaccuums, the ASL team considers not only whether a device picks up allergens, but whether it locks them away and traps them in a way that follows through the emptying and cleaning processes.  Unfortunately, many vacuum cleaners contain filters that as built and operated may reduce indoor air quality and hinder sustainability efforts. Ozone may also be produced by some motors, which causes free radical particles to circulate. Ozone has been shown to worsen chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma, and can compromise the ability to fight infection.


Matt and Dr. McKeon discuss other products that may seem helpful in the pursuit of green goals but might surprise when and if they are not in fact healthy. Some air purifiers were found not be diligent enough to catch airborne pathogens. In many cases, the filter material itself might  be effective, but improper design or installation may mean that in operational conditions, not all air or contaminants are forced through the filter, and harmful particles theefore remain in circulation. Additionally, recycled textiles are often not as green and healthy as one might think. Although these recycled products seem to be sustainable, the textile fibers can release gases known as Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs, that can be toxic for human health and damaging to the environment. VOC health risks vary with the type of chemical and length of exposure, and include eye nose and throat irritation; skin irritation; dizziness or nausea; respiratory difficulty and disease; lover, kidney or nervous system damage; and even some cancers.  


Indoor air quality is a vital component of maintaining human health, even for those who do not suffer from asthma and allergies. Even everyday products and activities have an additive effect on indoor air quality. For example, a living room could contain furniture that is made from toxic recycled textiles, also may be vacuumed weekly by a cleaner that emits ozone, and could be cleaned by products that carry harmful volatile organic compounds, or VOC’s. Without evaluation of the products contained in a home, occupants may never know that the root cause of a family member’s asthma, allergies, or general irritation could be the products themselves.


Check out the full Interview with Green Builder Matt Hoots  and Dr. McKeon for more information on Allergy Standards and the company's allergy and health product testing and certifications. 



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