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Pregnant women should limit chemical exposure – even in the air they breathe.

It’s common knowledge that pregnant women are often more susceptible to infections and diseases while their fetus developes because their bodies are so focused on the growing child that it tends to let down its other defenses. New mothers spend countless hours reading up about certain foods and drinks they shouldn’t ingest (sushi, caffeine, alcohol, peanuts) to keep their baby growing healthily. And yet, very few pregnant women consider the air they breathe.

Sure, women who are pregnant tend to avoid smokey places (in general), but smoke isn’t the only danger to the pregnant woman and her child.

For starters, and this is a fact that not too many know, cat urine is extremely toxic to pregnant women. Of course, not to ingest, but to breathe in. Cat urine emits large amounts of ammonia gases that can be harmful to the development of the fetus. Also, cat litter contains multiple chemicals needed to make it clump to stop the smell, and so on; so disturbing the litter and causing dust clouds while cleaning isn’t an option for pregnant women. Get your hubby to take care of Fluffy for those 9 months.

If you don’t own cats you’re not out of the woods yet.

Remember, you are breathing for yourself and your baby. Every breath you take is also your baby’s.

If you have any of the following products in your home, you are in danger of exposing yourself and your unborn baby to phthalates:

  • Deodorant
  • Perfume
  • Hair spray
  • Hair gel
  • Nail polish
  • Nail polish remover
  • Liquid soaps
  • Body wash
  • Lotions

While all of these are carriers of phthalates, perfume is the main culprit with women. Women who were tested for phthalate levels showed the highest signs due to perfume — and not just because they wore perfume, but because they were around people who wore it.

What risks do phthalates pose to pregnant women and their unborn children? Studies of rats in utero who were exposed to high levels of phthalates showed a shorter anogenital distance than normal, a birth defect. There has also been a direct correlation between in-utero phthalate exposure and metabolic disorders in adults (obesity).

Exposure in the womb isn’t the only concern when it comes to phthalates. A Swedish study showed an increase diagnosis of autism in children who lived in homes with vinyl floors which emit phthalates. And while those results were found by surprise (the result of the 2010 study was not focused on finding a link between autism and phthalates), it’s still a statistic pregnant and new mothers should not ignore.

It’s not just the air in your home that you need to cleanse either; the time you spend at work while you’re pregnant is significant.  Consider speaking to your employer about restricting perfume and cologne in the office for the duration of your pregnancy (and how knows, maybe the trend will stick even after!), request organic-based soaps and cleaning products be used around the office as well. You are protecting yourself and your unborn child — you have a right to ask for these things.

Being pregnant can be scary enough, and when you start to look at the world on molecular level, it becomes even scarier. People are so concerned with what they can see and touch that they often forget what’s floating around in the air they breathe.

Every breath you take is your baby’s breath as well; don’t forget that.

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And it turns out that soy is quite harmful when it comes to ambient air pollutants. That’s right, your little salad bean friend and health-food staple is hurting the lungs of soy factory workers.

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A soy processing plant in Tennessee was the site for a study composed by the CDC to determine the rate of asthma in its workers. The results were quite shocking. Of the 281 employees surveyed, 9% of them reported being diagnosed with asthma by their doctors, and 29% experienced wheezing when breathing in the past year. At nearly 70% higher than the average for adult Americans, the rates of asthma is soy processing plant workers is astonishing.

The factory tested processes soy flakes and further breaks them down to dust, which poses more of a risk for airborne contaminants with workers. Dust particles can cause inflammation in the lungs, and because soy can also be an allergen, the reaction in the workers is probably strong than most.

So, what’s the solution?

Soy plant processing managers have realized the need for indoor air quality and the control of ambient air particles. So, respiratory masks for workers along with heavy-duty, deep bed activated carbon air filtration systems are in need.

Units from Electrocorp offer solutions to unique air quality issues like those at soy processing plants. Just like Baker’s Asthma, respiratory distress due to soy dust exposure can be controlled for the betterment of plant employees.

This may not come as a shock to some, but studies now show a direct connection between air pollution and heart disease. For years this has been discussed, debated and dissected. However, according to the American Heart Association, there is now enough evidence to conclude that air pollution increases instances of heart attacks and other heart disease.

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Obviously, those at a greater risk are the elderly and those with underlying cardiovascular problems, however, studies found that those who lived within 100 yards of a major highway were 50% more likely to develop heart disease. That’s a shocking statistic and one we shouldn’t ignore.

How can you protect yourself from the harmful ambient air pollutants present in major cities today? For starters, a proper air filtration and purification system is key. Investing in a unit (like ones from Electrocorp and AllerAir) that has activated carbon and medical-grade HEPA filtration with a deep bed of carbon will help rid your home of harmful toxins in the air.

While we escape the terrible pollutants from outside by heading indoors, our indoor air is often more harmful than what’s outside. How is that possible? Well, newer homes are made so that very little air escapes from inside our homes. While this might be good for heating in the winter, it’s very bad for indoor air quality as ambient air in your home may be loaded with particles and even VOCs. Furniture giving off formaldehyde, off-gasing shower curtains, toxic dust from your PC, chemicals from your household cleaners: these are all airborne toxins you’re trapping inside your home with poor ventilation.

It might seem repetitive and even annoying but we’ll say it again: air filtration and purification is key. We spend so much time purifying our bodies, eating only organic, doing yoga, meditating; and yet we don’t care about the air we breathe.

And clearly, that air is killing us now.

It’s time to wake up and take a deep breath of fresh air.

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For many, it’s hard enough to get up in the morning and go to work; add to that the fear that your work will make you ill, and getting out the door on time becomes even more difficult.

Those who suffer from MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivities) are often not taken seriously. It’s extremely difficult to diagnose MCS because there are so many causes and contributors to the illness; from perfume to household cleaners, someone with MCS is going to react differently to each. MCS is as unique as the person who has it.

Often seen as an “allergy” to chemicals, MCS can be debilitating. We’re not talking itchy eyes and a bit of sneezing; this is a full-blown reaction from anaphylactic shock to swelling, hives, and respiratory issues. MCS is no joke and is not merely in a person’s head (as it was often diagnosed in the past).

If you’re an employer who has an employee who claims to suffer from MCS, take note. Listen to your employee and what they have to say. MCS in the workplace is a common occurrence these days and must be taken into consideration.

As an employer, there are certain measures you can take to improve your workplace or at least make it easier for your MCS employee to do their job and miss less work:

First and foremost, ventilation is key. Your MCS employee should be working in a well-ventilated area with working windows and proper air flow, preferably with a proper air filtration and purification system.

HEPA is often not enough to combat ambient air pollutants, so make sure your purifier is equipped with carbon and even UV. However, it is also extremely important to note that carbon can be harmful for MCS sufferers, and so they should have a unit specially made for them.

Each MCS unit by AllerAir is made to suit the needs of a single person and their MCS symptoms. So, if your MCS employee requests an air purifier, take the time to research companies out there who specialize in air filtration units such as Electrocorp or AllerAir and then have your MCS employee speak with an IAQ and MCS specialist about units like the AirMedic from AllerAir.

If your business deals with machinery like heavy copy machines or even industrial-grade machines, make sure to properly ventilate and extract the fumes. Again, a source capture air purifier is recommended. Do your research and find the unit that best suits your needs; your MCS employee and your other employers will breathe much more easily and thank you for it.

If the need for a building renovation or upgrade is in the near future, make sure you give your MCS employer ample warning of when and where the renovations will take place. Also consider doing your renovations with non-toxic materials (lead-free paint, PVC-free materials and formaldehyde-free furnishings).

If at all possible, stay away from carpets and replace flooring with real wood or ceramic and use non-toxic materials to lay and seal the floor as well. While this might be a more expensive route, it will keep your employees (MCS and non) happy and healthy and working more days throughout the year. It will also help your building be more ecologically and environmentally friendly, and may even have you in the standings for a LEED certification.

On the exterior of your building, consider stopping the use of pesticides for lawn care. You might get a few weeds, but the air flowing in through your open office windows will be much cleaner.

Finally, allow for work options for your MCS employee. Working from home or at another location that is free of ambient air pollutants may mean your MCS employee is able to work more days and accomplish more. Understand the need for cleaner, fresher air and respect your MCS employee’s requests for an air purification system. Change the cleaning products used in your office to organic, toxin-free. And try to encourage your other employees to not wear cologne, perfume or strong-smelling aftershave.

Whenever possible, remember that all MCS sufferers really want is clean air. And your first step towards gaining that is a proper air purification system.

Brought to the public’s attention nearly a 6 years ago, Cleaner Air signage can be seen in California for specially desginated clean air areas much to the relief and delight of MCS sufferers.

In 2004, a bill was adopted that allowed privately owned and run facitilies and areas to deem their buildings/rental space as meeting all of the Cleaner Air standards as outlined by the bill. If you’re worried about the world around you because of multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) then this signage comes as a blessing.

What does it mean to meet the Cleaner Air standards? Well, a building/rental space must adhere to the following conditions (as taken from the Cleaner Air Fact Sheet):  

• The floor or wall covering, floor or wall covering adhesives, carpets, or formaldehyde-emitting particleboard cabinetry, cupboards, or doors have not been replaced or installed within the previous 12-months;
• Incandescent lighting is provided in lieu of fluorescent or halogen lighting, and the electrical systems and equipment are operable by or on behalf of the occupant or user of the room, facility, or path of travel;
• The heating, ventilating, air conditioning and their controls are operable by user;
• A sign is also posted requesting occupants or users not to smoke or wear perfumes, colognes, or scented personal care products.
• A record of Cleaner Air maintenance is available on site and accessible to the public either in person or by telephone, e-mail, facsimile, or another accessible means.

And in order to maintain your Cleaner Air profile you must (again, from the Cleaner Air Fact Sheet):

• Only non-irritating, non-toxic products shall be used to clean, maintain, disinfect, provide pest management, or for any
minimal paint touch-ups. These are essential for occupying the area.
• No deodorizers or Fragrance Emission Devices and Systems (FEDS) or fragranced products shall be used in the designated
Cleaner Air room, facility, or within the public path of travel.
• Pest control practices for Cleaner Air areas shall include the use of bait stations using boric acid, sticky traps, and silicon
caulk for sealing cracks and crevices. Areas shall be routinely monitored for pest problems.
• Additional non-toxic treatment methods, such as temperature extremes for termites, may be employed in the event of
more urgent problems.
• The pest control practices shall not be used 48-hours prior to placement of the Cleaner Air sign and the facility shall be
ventilated with outside air for a minimum of 24-hours following use or application.
• Additional sign(s) shall be posted requesting occupants or users not to smoke or wear perfumes, colognes, or scented
personal care products.

It’s a shame that more companies aren’t picking up on this trend and keeping their businesses free of ambient air pollutants. The world can be a scary and harmful place for those with MCS, and even something as simple as switching to non-irritating, organic cleaners could mean the difference between a returning MCS customer and a very unhappy one.

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