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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.

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Recent blog posts

obama plush dog toysThe Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America Helps Parents Find Toys that are Certified asthma & allergy friendly®

Allergy season is around the corner, and parents should be aware of the asthma and allergy triggers in both their home and outdoor environment. With windows and doors buttoned up for winter, dust, mold, and other allergens can quickly accumulate inside – making things like children’s toys a magnet for these allergens.

One way to recognize toys as being more suitable for asthma and allergies is by looking for the asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Mark on the packaging. Toys that are certified asthma & allergy friendly® have undergone material tests to make sure they don’t have properties that are likely to irritate both asthma and allergy symptoms. They must also be tested for certain chemicals that could cause allergic or irritant reactions. Lastly, any allergen accumulating within a stuffed toy must be removable by laundering in a washing machine.

If you’re not sure whether or not the toy you want is certified, just pull up the asthma & allergy friendly® Certified Products App on your smartphone and scan the barcode. You can also browse certified products ahead of time and see which stores carry them. It’s that easy!

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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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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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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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Posted by on in Asthma and Allergy Information
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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Congratulations to the winner of our web app contest, Dana S! Dana’s prize is a $250 Amazon gift card for testing out our app and sharing her comments about it.

Thank you to everyone who provided their comments regarding our web app for the spring allergy season. To check it out and find Certified asthma & allergy friendly™ products, visit www.aafa.org/certified.

Our web app is an easy way to search, browse and view details for all of the products that are Certified asthma & allergy friendly™. Look for toys, vacuum cleaners, air cleaners, bedding and lots more by using our  web app. It’s a great way to find products that are healthier choices for those living with asthma and allergies.

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It's Time to Think About Air Cleaners, Filters and Purifiers

With summer coming to a close, it means it is time to start preparing for fall allergies. Because we spend more time indoors in the fall and winter, we need to improve the indoor air quality of our homes, places of work and school.

Dust mites, mold, and other things in indoor air can make asthma and allergy symptoms worse. Air filters in central heating and air-conditioning ducts in your home or in portable room air cleaners help remove these indoor pollutants. 

Can air filters or air cleaners alone improve indoor air?

 No, but Certified asthma & allergy friendly™ air cleaners and filters can help. There are three ways to improve indoor air:

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certified-app-blog-title

Ever wish you had an easy way to find healthy products for your family? Now you can use our new web app to find Certified asthma & allergy friendly® products. With our web app you can find everything from stuffed teddy bears to washing machines, vacuum cleaners, air cleaners and more! 

And for a limited time only, we are offering you a chance to win a $250 Amazon gift card for trying out our app. All you need to do is tell us what you think about our latest feature on the feedback form in the app menu!

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7.28.16 Stanley Steemer New Spot Remover Image Action ShotEarly spring we announced that Stanley Steemer’s new Tile and Grout and Hardwood Floor Cleaning Services passed testing to be Certified  asthma & allergy friendly®.  That is every floor in your home—carpet, tile and grout, and hardwood—that can now benefit from a Certified asthma & allergy friendly® professional cleaning service.

But Stanley Steemer goes beyond services.  They may be known for their carpet, tile and grout, and hardwood floor cleaning services, but they also have cleaning products that families like yours can use at home for regular maintenance.

One of those products is even Certified asthma & allergy friendly®.  The Carpet and Upholstery Spot Remover recently passed testing for cleaning products. 

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6.30.16 Summer Tips Image Family at AirportAs summer rolls in, many are preparing for family vacations.  Exciting!  But vacations also require careful planning if you or someone in your family has asthma and allergies.

Maybe you’ve had allergies since you were little. Or maybe you are new to living with asthma. Regardless of your situation, the asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Program offers these tips to prepare for a safer, healthier trip.

Prepare for Your Medical Needs:

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6.9.16 Dyson Tips Contest FINALCongratulations to the winner of our National ‪Asthma and ‪‎Allergy Awareness Month  Tips Contest, Saundra B. from Centuria, WI! Her prize is a Dyson Pure Cool Link™ purifier, which is Certified asthma & allergy friendly™.

Saundra’s tip is to opt for washable curtains instead of frilly, decorative ones that can harbor allergens. She also recommends getting rid of slatted shades and using easy to clean pull downs.

While many people submitted amazing and unique tips for cleaning during the spring allergy season, Saundra provided a simple tip that is easy to do with little extra work and is not often discussed despite its importance.

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bona-free-and-simple-hardwood-floor-cleanerWe all want to embrace the sunshine and flowers of a new spring to shake winter’s cold chill. However, many of us also dread the inevitable increase of pollen and other allergens that affect over 60 million of us with asthma and allergies each year.

Even though we can’t stop plants from pollenating and we can’t control the outside environment, we can control the air quality inside our homes. You can create a healthier home by taking active steps toward reducing allergens and irritants, like caring for the largest surface in the home, your floors.

It’s important to remember that not all types of flooring are created equal when it comes to your asthma and allergies. Wall-to-wall carpeting is a common home for dust mites that can trigger an allergic reaction in many people. Carpet is also difficult to keep dry and moisture is a breeding ground for mold. Instead, opt for bare floors with small, washable area rugs, which are much easier to keep trigger-free.

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5.12.16 Stanley Steemer New Hardwood Service Image Technician

Just last week we announced that Stanley Steemer’s Tile & Grout Cleaning Service is now Certified  asthma & allergy friendly®.  Now they’ve gone a step further to earn Certification for their Hardwood Floor Cleaning Service as well!

Now every floor in your home—carpet, tile and grout, and hardwood—can benefit from a Certified asthma & allergy friendly® professional cleaning service to reduce allergens and irritants from your home’s floors.

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5.5.16 Stanley Steemer New Tile  Grout Service Image TechnicianWe always talk about how important it is to regularly vacuum and deep-clean your carpets with Certified asthma & allergy friendly® products and services to maximize allergen reduction in your home.  Carpets are a common home to dirt, dust mites, pollen, and sometimes even mold.  But did you know carpet may not be the only culprit hiding these allergens?

Tile and grout, which is a porous material, can collect the same allergens as carpet.  Not to mention grime and spills, which often discolor the surface of your tile and grout.  Regular mopping and spot cleaning don’t always reach the deep pores of your grout lines.

However, there’s a new Certified service in town and that’s Stanley Steemer’s Tile & Grout Cleaning Service!

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4.26.16 Brandpoint Shopping Tips Image Woman Shopping SmallA stuffy nose. Scratchy throat. Difficulty breathing. It’s bad enough when spring allergy season reaps its ugly head, but when the things in your home trigger your asthma and allergies too, you feel like you’re in an endless battle to feel healthy.

“Many household goods are hidden sources of asthma and allergy triggers,” says Dr. Cary Sennett, President and CEO of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. “Fortunately, you can breathe easier by shopping smarter. By keeping a few tips in mind, you’ll be able to select products that reduce the likelihood of flares or attacks.”

Dr. Sennett and the experts at AAFA offer these shopping tips to limit asthma and allergy triggers in your home.

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Posted by on in Asthma and Allergy News

4.18.16 Bert 10th Birthday Image Bert in Party HatThis spring allergy season marks the 10th anniversary of AAFA’s asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Program. In honor of Bert’s (that’s me!) 10th birthday, we will be giving away AllerZip Smooth Mattress Encasements and Pillow Protectors to one winner for their ENTIRE home!  

The 60 million Americans with asthma and allergies have learned to trust Certified products and services when they see the Certification Mark on a product. These Certified products and services have been tested against strict scientific standards and shown to be suitable for families with asthma or allergies.

In 10 years, the program has:

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4.14.16 Cost of Asthma Image Flying MoneyThose with asthma and allergies know just how difficult their day-to-lives can be when pollen elevates, ragweed skyrockets and dust accumulates.  But what you may not realize is the economic burden these conditions have on the Unites States as well. Sorry to take you back to economics class!

Over 60 million people in the United States (that’s over 50% of households) are affected by asthma and allergies. And there are clear economic impacts that come with them. Some costs of asthma and allergies include medical bills, skin tests for allergies, epinephrine injectors, and inhalers.

But the costs don’t stop there. Asthma and allergies play a big role in the costs of missing school or work days. In 2010, Americans with nasal swelling spent $17.5 billion on health costs.  They also lost more than 6 million work and school days and made 16 million trips to the doctor.

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3.10.16 Endust Free Image Endust SweepstakesI know you know that allergen removal, reduction, and avoidance in the home are vital to an effective asthma and allergy management plan. That means families like yours are actively working to create a cleaner and healthier home.

But we also know it can sometimes be difficult to find products that are scientifically tested to be more suitable for your family.  A common question I get is, “Where can I find Certified asthma & allergy friendly™ Endust Free?  I can’t seem to find it anymore.”

Well I wanted to pass along some great news.  Nakoma is now selling Endust Free on Amazon.com!Endust Free was tested against strict standards to ensure it does not have properties that are likely to trigger your symptoms. The 4-part certification process:

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Although hard-surface flooring is better suited for reducing asthma and allergy triggers in your home, not every family with asthma and allergies can replace their carpeting.  Luckily there’s another way to reduce your triggers, and that’s to vacuum your carpets once or twice a week.

But it’s important to remember that not all vacuum cleaners are equal.  Only Certified asthma & allergy friendly™ vacuums are scientifically proven to be more suitable for those with asthma and allergies.

Certified vacuums like the Rainbow Cleaning System must pass strict standards in order to earn Certification from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.  But what’s unique about the Rainbow, is how it reduces allergens and irritants from your carpet.

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2.18.16 Heart Month Image Heart Board  Cert SmallFebruary is American Heart Month, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). AAFA knows that a healthy heart is a great start to a healthy lifestyle.  But did you know your asthma could play a role in your heart’s health?

Crazy, I know!

In 2014, a study led by Dr. Matthew Tattersall—assistant professor of medicine in the cardiology division at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health—found that people with asthma who have to take medication every day to control it were 60 percent more likely to have a heart attack or stroke, compared to those without asthma. 

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