Skip to content

Asthma and Allergies Awareness Month

BLOG-asthmaAs some people may be aware, May is “National Asthma and Allergies Awareness Month”. This is most likely because May is also the peak season for allergy and asthma sufferers. Having suffered from asthma as a child growing up, I am fully aware of what molds and activities may trigger an asthma attack for me, as I’m sure most asthma sufferers are. However, many people may be unaware that the products and methods used to clean their home could also be key contributors to some allergic and/or asthmatic issues they may have.

For example, many people may not be aware that fumes from some cleaning products may induce asthma in otherwise healthy individuals. A large and growing body of evidence links frequent use of many ordinary cleaning supplies at home or on the job with development of asthma and other respiratory problems. It is already known that traditional cleaning product fumes may trigger attacks in people previously diagnosed with asthma.

If you or a family member suffer from allergies or asthma, a good defense is air quality. And, while you may not be able to control the air quality outside of your home, you can certainly do something to improve it inside. The first step to higher air quality may be as simple as switching from a traditional cleaner to a greener alternative. If you happen to use a cleaning service, make sure they use Green Seal certified cleaning products, as Clean Conscience does.


Boulder County’s Largest Earth Day Event on Saturday, April 18th, 2015 at the Wild Bear Mountain Ecology Center

This Saturday, April 18th 2015 from 11:00-4:00 p.m. is a FREE Earth Day event at the Wild Bear Mountain Ecology Center located just outside of Boulder in Nederland, Colorado. This is the largest Earth Day event and has been running strong for the past 15 years. It is a fun-filled day of free, action-packed entertainment and education about this magnificent planet earth. There is going to be many performances and live birds of prey, live reptiles, climate presentations and other educational opportunities for the whole family! Be sure to check out the many events happening this Saturday, April 18th 2015 at the Wild Bear Mountain Ecology Center.

How Clean Are Commercial Flights?

With the recent Ebola virus crisis, concerns about health and safety on commercial flights have increased. Let’s face it, when you’re 30,000 feet in the air, and major cities appear as random clusters of light; the cleanliness of your plane is the last thing you want to worry about. Unfortunately, many of these worries may be warranted. This article from The Wall Street Journal, discusses the cleaning regulations (or lack thereof) of many commercial airlines. My advice, load up on Vitamin C and hand sanitizer before your next flight!


The Trouble With Keeping Commercial Flights Clean

With the Ebola Crisis in the Background, Standards for Disinfecting Planes Vary Based on Time, Class

The Ebola crisis and heightened concerns about the risk of spreading disease during air travel have focused concern on what airlines do to keep planes clean.

It’s a murky area without clear regulatory standards. The Federal Aviation Administration says it doesn’t regulate or inspect cleaning and referred a reporter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which says it has nothing to do with aircraft cleanliness. OSHA suggested contacting the FAA. The FAA then suggested the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA says it inspects food and water safety on commercial aircraft only.

Airlines say they set their own standards without regulators and give voluminous instructions to contractors. They use chemicals approved by aircraft manufacturers and conduct their own quality-control inspections.

A traveler walked through New Delhi's international airport Aug. 26.ENLARGE
A traveler walked through New Delhi’s international airport Aug. 26. GETTY IMAGES

With more than two billion people flying every year, “commercial air transport is potentially an efficient means for spreading communicable disease widely by surface contact and proximity to infected people,” the World Health Organization cautions in itsGuide to Hygiene and Sanitation in Aviation. Much of the risk comes from being in close contact with an infected person. But contaminated surfaces on airplanes also can spread disease.

Some airlines are reluctant to discuss how much cleansing airliners get. Typically, planes get a once-over straightening-up between flights and usually a more thorough cleaning overnight or between long international flights. Periodically planes get scrubbed from nose to tail when they undergo major maintenance work.

Workers wearing protective masks sat at the international airport in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on Aug. 12.ENLARGE
Workers wearing protective masks sat at the international airport in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on Aug. 12.REUTERS

Delta Air Lines and United Airlines say their aircraft that fly into and out of hot spot zones such as western Africa, where several countries are under the threat of the Ebola virus, get a thorough cleaning with disinfecting solution per guidelines issued by the WHO. Because of the Ebola threat, United increased its cleaning regimen on aircraft flying between Houston and Lagos, Nigeria, on the WHO’s recommendation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also issued guidelines for protecting crew members and reporting ill passengers. Airlines say they are complying.

Medical studies have shown that air travelers face higher rates of infection: One study pegged the increased risk of catching a cold at 20%. Much of the danger comes from the people within two rows around you.

Health officials waited to screen passengers at the arrivals hall of Murtala Muhammed International Airport on Aug. 4 in Lagos, Nigeria.ENLARGE
Health officials waited to screen passengers at the arrivals hall of Murtala Muhammed International Airport on Aug. 4 in Lagos, Nigeria. ASSOCIATED PRESS

But viruses and bacteria can live for hours on some surfaces. Some viral particles have been found to be active up to a day in certain places. Tray tables can be contaminated. Seat-back pockets, which get stuffed with used tissues, soiled napkins, dirty diapers and trash, can be particularly scuzzy. It’s also difficult to know which germs are lurking in an airline’s pillows and blankets, which sometimes don’t get sent to the laundry until the end of a day’s flights.

How clean the airplane appears can go a long way toward making fliers happy. “We see in data that customers enjoy a flight more when the airplane is clean,” Delta spokesman Morgan Durrant says. “And we certainly hear it when it’s not so tidy.”

Carriers don’t report what they spend for cleaning, but some have said they reduced costs in that area when pinched economically. They have also mentioned boosting spending on cleaning during economic recovery after customer complaints about dirty airplanes. Two years after emerging from bankruptcy reorganization, United said it would do “deep cleanings” on planes several times a year, instead of once every 18 months, after increased customer cleanliness complaints.

Singapore Airlines spokesman James Bradbury-Boyd says a crew of up to 12 contract workers spends about 40 minutes cleaning a Boeing 777-300 during a typical stopover in Houston. Floors get vacuumed, sheets are changed in crew rest areas, and toilets, waste bins, galley floors and wine chillers are washed. Pillows, headrest covers and blankets get changed out.

But while airlines know a visible mess alienates passengers, the more serious cleaning is the cleaning you can’t see. Most airlines say there’s not enough time between domestic flights to clean out seat-back pockets or wipe down tray tables—that happens in overnight cleanings.

Sometimes first-class seats get better cleaning. Delta and United say they wipe down first-class tray tables and windows between flights. Coach tray tables and windows don’t get cleaned until overnight.

A Nepalese health worker inspected an arriving passenger with an infrared thermometer for signs of fever, one of the symptoms of Ebola, at a health desk at the international airport in Katmandu, Nepal on Aug. 20.ENLARGE
A Nepalese health worker inspected an arriving passenger with an infrared thermometer for signs of fever, one of the symptoms of Ebola, at a health desk at the international airport in Katmandu, Nepal on Aug. 20. GETTY IMAGES

And there are small variations in how airlines clean. United, Delta and American Airlines say bathrooms and galleys get cleaned with disinfectant during overnight cleanings and after long international flights. But that’s not always the case for passenger tray tables. United uses general-purpose cleaners on them; Delta uses disinfectant. American says its normal procedure is to clean, then disinfect, but that may soon change.

In 2010, Delta spent a year testing disinfectant products for cleaning and for availability world-wide before settling on one standard following its merger with Northwest Airlines. (A Delta spokesman wouldn’t reveal which product it uses.) Use of disinfectants can be tricky, since some can corrode metals and cause damage to materials in aircraft interiors.

Mike Mayer, United’s senior manager of aircraft appearance, says the airline believes all-purpose cleaners like Formula 409 and Fantastik clean better than disinfectants in seating areas.

For domestic flights, the “turn time” between flights often dictates what kind of cleaning the airplane gets, Mr. Mayer says. On quick turns, workers remove visible trash from seat-back pockets. On standard turns, cleaning crews actually go through and clean the seat-back pockets out. And if there are bigger problems, flights will get delayed. “If someone vomited on a seat, we are going to take the delay and clean it up,” Mr. Mayer says.

With all flights, the bathrooms and galleys get cleaned and supplies get restocked. Workers are asked to remove trash, wipe crumbs off seats, put all armrests down and clean up large spills. Airplanes aren’t vacuumed until overnight cleaning.

A quick early-morning trip full of business travelers may arrive virtually spotless. Long international flights? Way worse. “After eight or 10 hours in the air, the amount of trash is really amazing,” Mr. Mayer said.

Most customer feedback on long-haul flights involves messy lavatories, Mr. Mayer said. On domestic trips, seat-back pocket trash is “probably one of the top pet peeves,” he said. On a tight turn, cleaners just don’t have time to clean it all out.

Every 35 to 55 days, depending on the aircraft type, United planes get a “deep cleaning” that includes washing the ceilings and sidewalls and the seat-bottom cushions. American says it does its version of deep cleaning—washing seat cushions and cleaning carpets and floors, lavatories, bins, tray tables—every 30 days. Delta said its planes get a deep cleaning every 90 to 100 days when jets get regular maintenance work.

Make Sure Your Child’s School Is Fragrance-Free

When any parent sends their child off to school, they are doing so trusting that their child will be safe. There are a number of concerns parents have while their kids are at school. Things like….”Are they getting the best possible education?”, “Are they making friends?”, “Are they being bullied?”, etc…. The last thing a parent should have to worry about is the quality of air in their child’s school. Poor air quality can lead to a number of allergies and/or respiratory problems. The air quality in schools can be negatively affected by what type of cleaning products they use. Cleaning products with fragrances can be particularly harmful. Luckily, there may be some things you can do as a parent to help. In this article from Green Cleaning Magazine, they give 6 tips on how to help keep your child’s classroom fragrance-free.


6 Tips for a Fragrance-Free Back to School Zone

back to school

It’s back to school season when every parent puts a focus on protecting their child’s health in the classroom. One of the often-overlooked areas, however, is the presence (and prevalence) of air-contaminating fragrances.

More than 53 million children and 6 million adults in the United States spend significant amounts of time in more than 120,000 school buildings across the country. Studies have shown, however, that certain cleaning products used in the school setting, such as industrial-strength cleaning products and room deodorizers, contain chemicals identified as potential asthmagens (triggers of asthma symptoms), allergens, carcinogens, and air contaminants. In fact, about 25 percent of chemicals in school cleaning products are considered toxic—and they also contribute to poor indoor air quality. Women and girls are especially vulnerable to fragrance: with studies showing that that they are two to three times more likely to have fragrance allergies than men and boys.

The good news is that schools are becoming increasingly aware that healthy and environmentally-friendly facilities foster academic achievement and staff well-being. And, as states have begun to enact air-quality policies, many more eco-friendly products have become available for school use. To date, ten states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation to advance green cleaning in schools and more eco-friendly products have become available for school use.

How can you encourage your own school to limit the fragrances in your child’s environment? Here are six solid tips from Women for a Healthy Environment (WHE).

1. Encourage your school to purchase janitorial supplies with green cleaning in mind. Many manufacturers and retailers use terms such as “environmentally safe,” “green,” and “non-toxic” to boost sales. Some of these claims are valid but many are not. Choose products that are rated “green” by independent third-party organizations.

2. Encourage your child’s school to ask its employees to refrain from wearing scented products (especially ones where the sole purpose is to produce a scent).

3. Ask your principal to designate classrooms and other areas as non-scented/fragrance-free zones.

4. Share resources that your school may use to educate employees and parents, such as this WHE Fragrance Free Toolkit and this poster about fragrance sensitivity that can be placed around the school.

5. Discuss a fragrance-free school policy with your district. Click on the link to the resource guide above for examples of fragrance-free school policies.

6. Provide triclosan-free and fragrance-free hand sanitizers and chlorine-free and fragrance-free hand wipes to your teacher for use in the classroom.

Freshen Your Home’s Air, Naturally

There are countless reasons why people need to have some sort of air freshener in their home. Things like; cooking certain foods, pet odors, children’s sports equipment, garbage, etc…..These are all reasons to break out that air freshener. The problem is, many air fresheners contain chemicals which you breathe in every time you use them. Not to mention, air fresheners can often times be a bit overwhelming. So, how do you combat offensive odors in your home without having to resort to traditional air fresheners? The good people at Wise Bread, have the answer. This article tells you about some of the best natural air fresheners to use. Best of all, many of these items can already be found in most homes, so you’re also saving some bucks!

Breathe Easy: 10 Natural Air Fresheners


When something stinky takes over your home, the first thing you reach for might be Febreze. But when you run out, you have no choice but to rely on Mother Nature to provide aromatic relief (which, by the way, is better for the environment and your budget). So to help you battle all the stenches and smells that life wafts your way, here are 10 natural air fresheners that make breathing more bearable.

1. Vinegar

Vinegar is one of the most effective and inexpensive air fresheners around. Just pour distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle and attack the problem areas head on. The vinegar scent may be overpowering at first, but as it evaporates, it’ll take the offensive odors with it.

2. Kitty Litter

Kitty litter makes sense as a natural air freshener because its main purpose is to mask the scent of a feline’s “business,” but one litter brand in particular — Jonny Cat Litter — is a cut above the rest, according to Joey Green, author of “Joey Green’s Cleaning Magic.” The main ingredient in Jonny is diatomaceous earth, a mineral that absorbs odors and moisture in the air. If you can’t find Jonny Cat, settle for straight-up diatomaceous earth, which you can find at a garden supply store.

3. Ground Coffee

To use coffee grounds as an air freshener, let them dry out (an important step to avoid mold) before transferring to a bowl or wrapping in an old stocking that you’ll place in an area that you want to freshen. If you’re not a coffee drinker (I’m among that minority), visit your nearby coffee joint and ask if you can take some of their used grounds off their hands.

4. Potpourri

There are many recipes to make all-natural, homemade potpourri, but I thought you might enjoy this video recipe for “green” potpourri. All you’ll need is a brown bag, dried flowers (passion, hibiscus), orris root, orange peel, juniper berries, sandalwood, and orange-scented essential oil. You can find all these organic ingredients in a natural herb store.

5. Vodka

I bet you never expected vodka to be on this list of all-natural air fresheners, but here it is. The reason vodka makes such a great freshener is because it contains ethyl alcohol — the main ingredient in store-bought, chemical-laden fresheners — and when it dries, it leaves no odor. You can, however, enhance the smell of the vodka freshener with an essential oil — about 25 drops will do. And if I may — use the cheap stuff; you’re not drinking it, so there’s no need to waste the Grey Goose.

6. Citrus and Spices

Bring a pot of orange or lemon rinds and peels to a boil, add in a few cinnamon sticks and/or cloves, and enjoy the fresh, festive fall-like scent it sends through your home. While this freshener will begin to work immediately from the stove, there’s no reason you can’t bottle it for later use.

7. Essential Oils

Essential oils are an important part of several of these natural air fresheners in order to give the base a more pleasant scent. But outside of vodka and potpourri, you can add essential oils to just about anything — such as a homemade candle, perhaps — that will help facilitate easier breathing wherever you are.

8. Baking Soda and Essential Oils

I like the idea of combining baking soda and essential oils in a small jar to make a natural air freshener for two reasons:

  1. It’s small, unassuming, and aesthetically pleasing.
  2. It’s perfect for gifting.

9. The Great Outdoors

Nature is Earth’s air freshener — which is something we often overlook. When there’s a foul odor permeating your abode, open the window — or several — and let the cool breeze travel through your home while pushing out any offensive stenches.

10. Lemons

To remove seafood smells for your hands, it’s recommend to rub them with lemons. Likewise, when your garbage disposal starts to stink, throw a few lemon slices down the hole and run the blades for a burst of citrusy freshness. When you want to deodorize your home, dissolve one-eighth of a cup of baking soda in two cups hot water and a half-cup of lemon juice for an instant air freshener.


Is There a Link Between Pollution and Diabetes?

When it comes to serious disease in the United States, one of the most common is type 2 diabetes. The common causes of this disease are fairly well known, dietary choices, lack of exercise, and genetics are the usual suspects. But another culprit may surprise you……pollution! According to research, some pollutants may be a contributing factor for the ever growing diabetic population. This informative article from Seventh Generation, identifies several of the culprits and ways you can avoid them.

Fat Chance: Does Pollution Cause Diabetes


We can debate many things, but the type 2 diabetes crisis isn’t one of them. It’s an epidemic, and the causes seem pretty clear: diet choices, sedentary living, and expanding waistlines are paving the way. But there may be another culprit, and it’s a doozy.

To recap, something is seriously awry. Over 8% of all Americans, some 26 million people, have diabetes, and 1.9 million new cases are diagnosed every year. In addition, roughly 79 million additional U.S. adults have prediabetes, the condition that often leads to the disease.

Those kind of numbers have public health officials clutching their worry beads. They’re so big that many are wondering if something is up besides the readings on our bathroom scales. Are other forces also tilting those scales, affecting our metabolism, and making it easier for us to get diabetes?

The answer is no – there’s no something else. There’s a whole unhealthy horde of potential “diabesogens” and we’ve heard from all of them before:

  • Air pollution. At least eight studies have found a connection between exposure to air pollution and insulin sensitivity or diabetes.
  • Phthalates. High levels of certain phthalate break-down products in the body have been linked to diabetes onset.
  • Bisphenol-A (BPA). A 2013 study of children found a correlation between BPA exposure and obesity, a key diabetes trigger. Another study tied BPA directly to diabetes.
  • High fructose corn syrup. Researchers studying diabetes in 43 countries discovered a connection between the disease and consumption of this common food ingredient.
  • Perfluorinated chemicals. Several of these compounds are associated with disrupted insulin production and diabetes itself.
  • Pesticides. Exposures to organochlorine, organophosphate, and carbamate pesticides have been linked to the metabolic issues associated with the onset of diabetes.

So far there’s no evidence that definitively declares any of these a direct cause of diabetes. We’ll need a lot more science before we break out those headlines. But the hints we’ve got today are more than enough to suggest precautionary actions like these:

  • Question everything. Scrutinize product labels and don’t use things whose safety is unknown or suspect. When we train ourselves to habitually examine everything we do, buy, and use from an environmental perspective, we help build a much healthier life for our families.
  • Pack your plate with fruits and vegetables. Some help stabilize blood sugar. Others contain phytonutrients that improve metabolism and help the body detoxify itself.
  • Read food labels and choose those with no-to-low sugar and no high fructose corn syrup.
  • Avoid key sources of phthalates like fragranced products, air fresheners, cosmetics, and vinyl.
  • Steer clear of perfluorinated products like stain-proofing fabric treatments and non-stick cookware.
  • Skip products with BPA like canned foods, dental sealants, polycarbonate plastics, cash register and ATM receipts.
  • Use HEPA air filters if you live in an area prone to air pollution. They’ll help keep indoor air safer to breathe.

Reasons To Keep A Clean Home

BLOG-CLEANHOMEKeeping a clean home is not only good for the appearance of your home, but for your physical and mental health as well. Here are a few examples of the benefits of keeping up with the cleanliness of your home.

“Air Quality”- One of the biggest issues with an unclean home is the poor air quality. Poor air quality can cause everything from allergies to asthma. By regularly cleaning your home, you are eliminating a large amount of the dirt and dust that causes poor air quality.

“Save Money By Eating In”- You are more likely to make home-cooked meals if your kitchen is clean and organized, therefore, saving money you spend ordering out or going to a restaurant.

“Safer Environment”- Falling, is the number one accident around the home. A lot of these falls are the result of people tripping over clutter or slipping on some type of a spill that may not have been cleaned up properly.

“Prolonging The Life Of Your Furniture”- By regularly cleaning your carpet, rugs, couches, chairs, etc.., you can keep them looking and smelling fresh for a longer period of time.

“Having Company Over”- It’s nice to know if someone unexpectedly stops by, your house is clean and not an embarrassment to see.

“Good For Your Head”- Keeping a clean home can sometimes be tough, especially during the winter months when many people suffer S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Cleaning your home when you are feeling down, can actually help by focusing your attention on cleaning instead of those things that are making you feel depressed in the first place.

So, whether you are rolling up your sleeves and cleaning yourself, or hiring a cleaning crew, a clean house has many benefits.


How Important Is Good Indoor Air Quality?

BLOG-BREATHINGWhen most people think of pollutants in the air, they tend to think of the air outside of the home as being most harmful. However, the quality of the air inside your home may actually be worse than the air outside. This article from Informed Green Solutions, gives you a look at some of the causes for poor indoor air quality and the effects it may have on your family’s heath.

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)
Indoor Air Quality is a term used to describe the levels of pollution found in the air in our buildings.  Most people spend up to 90% of their time indoors and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) studies have determined that levels of indoor pollution may be two to five times greater than outdoor levels.  In some extreme cases, levels of indoor pollutants were 100 times higher than outside levels.

What products or factors affect indoor air quality?
Many products affect indoor air quality.  Some of the most common include:

  • Cleaning products and processes used in the building
  • Personal care products used by occupants
  • Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems
  • Building furnishings and floor coverings — furniture, fabric finishes, adhesives, and carpet may emit formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Copiers and other office equipment —can emit ozone, VOCs, and other toxic chemicals
  • Construction materials — paints, insulation, pressed wood, and plywood products can emit formaldehyde and other VOCs
  • Pesticides used in or around the building

What are the health effects of poor indoor air quality?

Building inhabitants should not have to be concerned that the air in their homes and buildings could be making them sick. The facts tell us that we do need to be concerned and become involved in order to protect our health and that of our children.

  • Sick building syndrome (which causes occupants to experience acute health and comfort effects) — up to 40% of the population experiences one or more symptoms weekly as a result of exposure to poor IAQ in buildings.
  • Asthma — a recent survey shows that nearly 8% of the US population has asthma. 10 million children under the age of 18 were reported as having been diagnosed with asthma in 2007 and nearly 4 million reported experiencing an asthma episode or attack during the previous 12 months.
  • Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS)— an estimated 5% of the population suffers from severe sensitivity to low levels of chemicals, another 10% to 15% of the population is moderately sensitive.
  • Rhinitis – Rhinitis has increased dramatically over the past 30 years and affects millions of children and adults. School air quality has been implicated in an increased incidence of rhinitis.
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – 5 million children between the ages of 3 and 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD.6 Recent research has found links between exposure to organphosphate pesticides and ADHD.

Carpets, A Better Choice For Indoor Air Quality?

Many people believe that a hard-wood floor or a tile floor is a better choice to have in your home than a carpeted floor when it comes to the air quality inside. It is believed that carpeting contributes to allergens in the air, this is also why many schools do not have carpeting in classrooms.

The truth is, all indoor spaces do contain some contaminates like dust and dirt. It is these contaminates that can cause allergies and asthma in certain people. Indoor spaces that have hard-wood or tile flooring make it easier for things like dirt and dust to redistribute into the air. The carpeting, however, acts almost like a filter, trapping a lot of the contaminates. BLOG-CARPET

Of course you will have to clean the carpeting on a fairly regular basis in order to keep those nasty allergens at bay. A solution of white vinegar and very hot water can be used to steam clean the carpet, or you can mix vinegar and water together, spray onto the carpet and clean with a sponge. And of course you can always hire a great green cleaning service to come as well!

Clean Classroom, Better Grades

Most people realize that green cleaning is the safest way to clean their home. It not only is the wisest choice for the environment, but for your family as well. Traditional cleaners contain harsh chemicals that can have negative effects on you and your family. Everything from nausea, eye and skin irritation, and asthma can be caused by chemical cleaners. The indoor air quality of your home is very important. BLOG-SCHOOL2

The indoor air quality of your child’s school is also very important. Research shows a link between poor indoor air quality, sick students and teachers, and poor academic performance. Each year, children miss more than 14 million days of school due to asthma caused by poor indoor air quality. 14 MILLION DAYS! A major reason for poor air quality can be the kind of chemical cleaners that are used in the school.

Switching form traditional cleaning to green cleaning can help reduce the environmental hazards that may negatively affect children, at home and in school.