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Bert's Blog™

Bert's Blog™ features anything and everything to do with what is more suitable for those living with asthma and allergies. The blog also presents information for manufacturers aiming to provide products and services for those patients with asthma and allergic diseases.

Bert takes the science of certification and talks about it with you so that all can better understand what it means to be Certified asthma & allergy friendly™. He will also discuss tips, asthma and allergy news and resources, Q&As, newly certified products and services, and more.

Bert's Blog™ will occasionally feature guest bloggers from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) and Allergy Standards Limited (ASL) who will talk about manufacturer tips, new Certification Standards, and industry news.

Is Your Pet Asthma and Allergy Friendly?

Is Your Pet Asthma and Allergy Friendly

Americans love pets. About 44 percent of U.S. households have dogs. And 35 percent have cats. We love them so much that we spent almost $67 billion last year to keep our pets healthy, happy and groomed.
Here’s another pet statistic that might surprise you: as many as three in 10 people with allergies are allergic to cats and dogs.

Why Am I Allergic to My Pet?

How can so many of us be allergic to such adorable creatures? It’s simple. Our body reacts to proteins in their saliva, urine and dander (dead skin cells).
Contrary to popular belief, pet hair itself is not an allergen. But fur does help spread all of these allergens around. Animal allergens are sticky, so they like to hang onto the fur. That fur then ends up on your clothes, on your carpet, under your furniture… well, pretty much everywhere.

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5 Allergens and Triggers That Could be Hiding in Your College Dorm Room

5 allergens and triggers that could be hiding in your college dorm room2

If you are starting college this fall, congratulations! This is an exciting time with your future ahead of you. But as you enroll in classes, learn your way around campus and make new friends, have you stopped to plan to make your dorm room ready for your asthma or allergies?

1. Dust Mites
Dust mites make terrible roommates. They like to make you itch, sniffle and sneeze, and maybe even wheeze if you have allergic asthma. You probably have a lot of these tiny, yet pesky, creatures in a dorm room. They are probably hanging out in the carpets, mattresses, curtains and under furniture.

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4 Ways to Avoid Asthma and Allergy Triggers When Vacationing in a Summer Rental

4 Ways to Avoid Asthma and Allergy Triggers When Vacationing in a Summer Rental

Vacation is a chance to escape from your normal routine. But it may not be an escape from asthma and allergy triggers.
If you are staying in a summer rental home, cabin or condo, here are tips to make it more asthma & allergy friendly®.

  1. Before you book, consider your allergies and what features and policies may work best for you. For example, if you are allergic to pet dander, look for a rental with a no-pet policy. Browse through the rental’s photos. Is there wall-to-wall carpeting? You’ll want to look for a rental that has tile, laminate or hardwood floors.
  2. Bring your own bedding. There’s a good chance your rental won’t have Certified asthma & allergy friendly® mattress and pillow covers to keep dust mites under control. And rental comforters and blankets don’t get washed often, making them a haven for dust mites.
  3. Replace the rental’s air filter with an allergen-reducing filter. Ask for the size of the filter when you book, or run to the store after you check in. Many of our Certified filters can be found at national retail stores. It will help reduce allergens in the rental, as well as filter outside allergens and triggers like tobacco smoke and pollen. You may want to bring your own Certified air cleaner.
  4. Clean the rental with Certified cleaning products. Cleaning crews only have a short time to clean a rental to prepare for the next guests. So they may miss areas where allergens can hide. Check in as early as possible and take a few moments to clean the rental before you unload your car. If someone in your party doesn’t have asthma and allergies, ask them to clean while you wait outside.

While many managers of vacation rentals do their best to give you a clean, comfortable place to relax, they aren’t always thinking about asthma and allergies. Their rental probably isn’t equipped with Certified asthma & allergy friendly® products, scientifically proven to reduce allergens and triggers. But with a few simple steps at the start of your vacation, you can focus more on relaxing and less on allergies and asthma.

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Congressman Brendan Boyle Supports Resolution to Recognize May as National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month

Congressman Brendan Boyle, representing Pennsylvania’s 13th congressional district, has expressed that he will support the designation of May as “National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month,” a commitment that has been shared by various members of congress including Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, Congressman Eliot Engel, and Congressman Gregg Harper.

Congressman Boyle has continuously been a supporter of the asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Program and in 2016 awarded the CEO of Allergy Standards, Dr. John McKeon, a congressional citation as congratulations for reaching the 10th year anniversary of the Program. He has also pledged support and involvement with various healthy home initiatives that the asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Program is planning with its client partners to raise awareness and education in managing asthma and allergy triggers.

The awareness and support of Congress will be instrumental to educate and inform the millions of Americans affected by asthma and allergies on effective treatment and management of ‘triggers’ which are most commonly found in the home environment. The designation of May as National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month will help the certification program partners build a platform for messaging around this issue in 2018 and beyond.

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Through Hockey, Avery Can #TackleAsthma and #TackleAllergies

avery hockey tackle asthma winner blog title

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America chose Avery and his mom Jessica as their final winners in their #TackleAsthma and #TackleAllergies photo contest. Avery loves hockey but hasn’t let asthma hold him back. Through his photo, he proves that asthma doesn’t have keep you from your favorite sports and activities. 

“My son Avery tackles allergy induced asthma by playing HOCKEY!He is 10 years old and has been playing club for 7 and just made his first AAA team this past spring. Asthma may make it more difficult for him but he doesn’t use it as a crutch ...he finds a balance between pushing himself and knowing his limits. He had his first anaphylactic incident this past Fall, spent 2 nights in the ICU, and came out a fighter” – Jessica

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Lexi’s Determination Helps Her #TackleAsthma

lexi tackle asthma winner 4 social media blog

Lexi L is the Asthma and Allergy Foundation’s fourth winner of their #TackleAsthma and #TackleAllergies photo contest!
 
“I try to not let my asthma hold me back from living my life to the fullest. I’ve been intubated once due to an asthma attack and recently had to be on the Bi-Pap this past November due to another attack.

Wakeboarding has always been my passion but due to being limited, I can’t do certain things as much as I would like to. Also, being one that has such horrible allergies, that also limits me during the seasons but I keep chugging along!” – Lexi L
 
Lexi has had asthma since she was born. It’s so severe that she struggles every day. She is an inspiration because even though she is limited in her daily activities, she can #TackleAsthma to do the activities she enjoys.
During Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month, AAFA has been giving away “healthier home” packages of asthma & allergy friendly® Certified products to five winners. One more winner will be chosen.

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Emren Teaches the Importance of Keeping Emergency Medicines With You at All Times

adventure of boy and his pig tackle asthma winner bt

Emren and his mom Ashley are the third winners of the Asthma and Allergy Foundations of America's (AAFA) #TackleAsthma and #TackleAllergies photo contest!

Emren has asthma and food allergies. He also has a favorite stuffed pig that he likes to take with him everywhere he goes. He knows how important it is to keep his emergency medicines with him at all times. So whenever he leaves the house, his pig and his emergency medicines go with him.

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Eden Tackles Asthma With Her Positive Attitude

eden tackle asthma winner

Congratulations to PinkLadyCha! She is the week 2 winner of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s #TackleAsthma and #TackleAllergies contest! In these pictures, her daughter Eden reminds us that asthma flareups can strike at any time. But a fighting attitude helps her face those tough moments.

eden mask backbend

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3 Ways to Raise Awareness of Asthma and Allergies

3 Ways to Raise Awareness of Asthma and Allergies

In the U.S., asthma and allergic diseases such as pollen allergies or food allergies affect more than 60 million people. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of American (AAFA) has declared May to be National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month. During this month, AAFA is working to raise awareness about these allergic diseases.

You can help raise awareness too. Asthma and allergies rates are growing. Better awareness helps those with these conditions get better treatment and care.

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You Spend One-Third of Your Life in Your Bedroom

Better air quality in your home, office, school and car can reduce allergy and asthma triggers. But since you spend one-third of your life in your bedroom, it makes sense to focus your cleaning efforts there first.

Take these steps to help control your indoor environment and reduce your exposure to allergens in your bedroom:

  1. Use Certified asthma & allergy friendly® allergen barrier bedding.
  2. Wash sheets once a week in 130°F water.
  3. Never allow pets on your bed.
  4. Never allow wet or moist clothing to pile up.
  5. Use a Certified asthma & allergy friendly® air cleaner.
  6. Keep pets out of your bedroom.
  7. Replace mattresses every 10 years and pillows every 2 years.
  8. Vacuum floors and mattresses weekly.

indoor allergens can trigger allergic reactions infographic
Learn more about indoor allergy control to better manage your asthma and allergies.
 
The asthma & allergy friendly™ Certification Program is an independent program administered by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) in partnership with the international standards body Allergy Standards Limited (ASL). The program offers an app to help empower consumers to make informed purchasing decisions when choosing allergen-avoidance products.

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Congratulations to AAFA’s Week 1 #TackleAsthma/#TackleAllergies Photo Contest Winner!

tackle asthma erin mcc winner blog titleErin M is AAFA's first #TackleAsthma and #TackleAllergies photo contest winner. Her photo proves asthma doesn’t have keep you from sports and activities you love.

Erin M’s photo description reads, “Severe asthmatic who’s been intubated countless times. Still uncontrolled and struggle daily. But I’m a decorated triathlete, cyclist, boxer and I ski. I’m graduating in 2 weeks with honors from grad school with a M.S. I’m med school bound in the future.”

During Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month, AAFA is giving away a “healthier home” package of asthma & allergy friendly® Certified products to five winners.

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Share How You #TackleAsthma and #TackleAllergies and You Could Win!

tackle asthma

As part of Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month, we are co-hosting a photo contest May 1-31. Post your photos showing us how you overcome asthma and allergies. Your photo will be featured on AAFA’s TackleAsthma.org website. You could win a “healthier home” package of asthma & allergy friendly® Certified products.

How Can I Participate?

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Unleash Your Genius; Network and meet with 1,000+ sustainability innovators and rule breakers!

The CEO of Allergy Standards, Dr. John McKeon, will be speaking at the Living Future unConference on May 17th in Seattle, WA, the premier event for sustainable buildings and healthy materials. 

About the Event

Living Future unConference by the International Living Future Institute is an annual event that attracts disruptive design leaders and is the forum for leading minds in the green building movement seeking solutions to the most daunting global issues of our time. This year’s three-day conference will focus on the diverse layers of Genius and Courage, featuring keynotes Van Jones, Kirsti Luke, and Naomi Klein.

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How to Help Keep Dust Mites at Bay

How to Help Keep Dust Mites at BayDust mites may be the most common trigger of year-round allergies and asthma, and with windows and doors closed to keep out the cold they have the chance to quickly accumulate in the home during this time of year. Studies show that more dust mites live in your bedroom than anywhere else in your home, so since one-third of our time is spent in the bedroom, this could pose a serious problem for those allergic such as wheezing, difficulty breathing and coughing.

A recent study conducted by the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine recently reported that bedcovers that form a barrier to house dust mites appear to reduce asthma flare-ups in children. According to the study, researchers found that out of the 284 children with asthma who tested positive for mite allergy, children sleeping with the mite-proof covers had a 45% reduced risk of having an asthma attack that resulted in an emergency room visit or hospitalization. They also saw a significantly longer time between using the mite-proof covers and having their first asthma attack that resulted in an emergency room visit.

In addition to covering your mattress and pillowcases in zippered dust-proof covers, here are some other ways you can combat dust mites:

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The asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Program Unveils New Booth at the Prestigious AAAAI Conference

Certification Program Booth at the AAAAI Conference in March 2017AAAAI Conference a Big Hit for the Certification Program, Dyson, Rabbit Air, and Royal Heritage

The asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Program and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America recently exhibited at the annual American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Conference (AAAAI) in Atlanta, GA. With over 7,000 physicians in attendance, AAAAI is an amazing opportunity to educate and interact with physicians from around the world who specialize in treating asthma and allergies. 

Products carrying the asthma & allergy friendly® Mark have been scientifically tested and are proven to be more suitable for people affected by asthma and allergies. Recognition of the Mark has grown consistently over the last 10 years in the eyes of the consumer, and more companies have joined the program to capitalize on this hard-earned distinction as one of the few to have earned the asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Mark.

An added benefit for companies that have joined the program is the chance to speak with physicians and consumers at various industry-specific events. AAAAI was a great opportunity for companies who have joined the Certification Program to be able to speak with physicians from around the world and educate them on what it means to be Certified. Showcasing the effectiveness of their products, such as evidence that the Dyson Hot + Cool Link cleans more than 99% of allergens from the air, leads to greater brand awareness in the eyes of physicians, and increases the likelihood that they will recommend these products to their patients for a healthier home.

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Certification Program Attends NYC Toy Fair; Stuffed Toys Continue to be Hottest Certification Category

February 21, 2017
New York, NY

new york toy fairThe Toy Fair, produced by the Toy Industry Association, is the premier trade event whose members account for 90% of the annual U.S. domestic toy market of $26B. The asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Program attended this year to meet with existing clients and answer questions about how toy companies can obtain this certification for certain categories of toys.

Many toy companies displayed toys that are made from organic ingredients, “green,” recycled, or otherwise good for the environment, but there is little to no regulation in the industry to support these claims. Additionally, toymakers are often not required to submit their products for any type of scientific laboratory testing to be able to make these claims on their packaging.

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Orlando International Builders’ Show Brings Interest to Certification Program

Orlando International Builders Show On January 11th and 12th, I had the opportunity to attend the NAHB International Builders’ Show (IBS) in sunny Orlando, Florida. This expo is the largest building and construction show in the U.S. and welcomed approximately 100,000 visitors over the three-day event. During this time,  I was looking out for new companies and products that could be a fit for the asthma & allergy friendly® certification program in categories including flooring, insulation, indoor air quality, washing machines, and vacuum cleaners. In the coming weeks, we are very happy to share that two exhibiting companies will be certifying new products with us, the details of which will be announced shortly.

Over the course of the event, more than 1,500 companies showcased their new and innovative products, participated in events and information sessions, and networked with potential clients. As I walked the event and met with various manufacturers and suppliers, the importance of designing and maintaining a ‘healthy home’ was a common thread throughout conversations in many different consumer product categories. As companies aim to bring value to their consumers, they are also striving to meet expectations on both quality and social responsibility. By offering products that have been scientifically tested to be asthma & allergy friendly®, these companies are showcasing their commitment for designing and providing products to be safer for the 60 million Americans living with asthma and allergies.   

For example, bad indoor air quality (IAQ) can be one of the main triggers for an asthma or allergy attack. Therefore, it’s essential to certify that products, such as air purifiers, actually do purify the air and aren’t just displacing the allergens, dust, mold, cat hair, or other toxins around the room.  Today, global connectivity and the internet of things (IOT) is making it easier and easier to have control over our own homes; we can monitor our security cameras remotely and turn on or off the air conditioning unit from our smartphones, but can we check that the air quality we’re breathing in our houses is safe and pure?

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The asthma & allergy friendly™ Certification Program App Is Here!

certified-app-launch-blogFBWe make many decisions every day that affect our families.  We second guess ourselves and sometimes struggle with our choices. Questions like, "Did I make the best decision for my family?" start to circulate in our minds.

If you manage asthma or allergies, this day-to-day struggle can be even tougher as you strive to make your home the healthiest it can be. That's why the asthma & allergy friendly™ Certification Program has launched the Certification Program App. This free app is the first of its kind, and will help you make smart, informed choices on the best products for your family.

There are so many products and services out there claiming to be hypo-allergenic or asthma and allergy free. We know that there is currently no government regulation on companies claiming to be asthma and allergy friendly. That’s why we teamed up with Allergy Standards Limited in 2006 to create the asthma & allergy friendly™ Certification Program. It’s a trusted source for products and services that have been certified and proven to meet the highest standards.

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Certified Products Featured During Allergy Awareness Event

Phillies Phanatic asthma and allergy friendlyDuring a fun-filled morning for families with food allergies, asthma and other allergic diseases, kids danced to an interactive performance by entertainers Lolly & YoYo and were mesmerized by the Magicians and Illusionists Kyle and Kelly. And who better to make the Strides for Safe Kids food allergy event even more fun and energetic than the lovable Phillie Phanatic – the official mascot of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Families had access to free samples from allergy-friendly businesses and learned all about the companies that offer certified asthma & allergy friendly™ products and services.

Families won amazing raffle products and services thanks to the following Certified companies:

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Jeremy Schopper
Do you have a Youtube channel as well with this kind of content on it? I would love to see this post turned into a longer video if... Read More
Monday, 10 October 2016 02:09
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What Causes Indoor Air Pollution?

What Causes Indoor Air Pollution?

Indoor air pollution can pose a health risk, especially for people with asthma and allergies. Your home may have small particles in the air or damaging gases such as carbon monoxide.

What causes indoor air pollution?

  • Tobacco smoke.
  • Mold. It grows in places where there is moisture, such as the kitchen, bathroom and basement. It can grow on window sills and even in walls, ceilings or carpet.
  • Dust mites and cockroach allergens, which come from different parts of the cockroach.
  • Fumes from burning oil, coal or wood.
  • Fumes called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Certain products like new kitchen cabinets, newly finished floors, new carpet and paints can give off VOCs.
  • Radon — a naturally occurring gas you can't see or smell. It can seep inside from the soil or rock under your home.
  • Carbon monoxide — another gas you can't see or smell - from furnaces, stoves and fireplaces that are not vented to the outdoors or not vented correctly.
  • Pollen, pet dander and outdoor air pollution can enter the home through open windows and doors.

What can you do to improve indoor air quality?

  • Make sure your home has adequate air flow.
  • Remove sources of moisture.
  • Keep your windows and doors closed during high pollen times.
  • Reduce clutter in your home.
  • Use products that are Certified asthma & allergy friendly™
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