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  • Dwindling salamander population sparks pollution talks

    With a name like hellbender, it's no wonder that the largest salamanders in the Western hemisphere have survived for millions of years - evolving just enough to live when dinosaurs couldn't, according to The Nature Conservancy. Despite its once healthy hold in places like Missouri, Virginia and Arkansas, the hellbender population is rapidly declining, and many blame environmental pollution for the demise. 

    The salamanders, who live near fresh streams and rivers in these parts, have been dying off at faster rates in recent years and scientists are worried it's an indication of just how bad pollution levels have gotten. 

    "Hellbenders tell us that our streams are healthy," Kimberly Terrell, a wildlife biologist with the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "If the hellbenders start disappearing, there is probably something wrong with our streams. And most of us live downstream from hellbenders."

    Terrell added that many of the problems hellbenders face people polluting the streams, while issues with air quality also threaten their existence. 

    Air and environmental pollution levels continue to be high around the nation, with rates expected to increase rapidly during the hotter months. Those living in high traffic areas might benefit from investing in a professional-grade air purifier like the IQAir GC MultiGas to breathe easy at home. 

  • Tick bites tied to red meat allergy

    It's well known that deer ticks can carry Lyme disease, meaning those who get bit by one of these ticks have a chance of developing the condition. Though most people check for ticks after they spend periods of time outdoors, a new issue that could come from tick bites, becoming allergic to red meat, may ensure all individuals do a thorough check for these insects. 

    According to Discover magazine, special attention is being paid to the Amblyomma americanum, or lone star ticks, as it has been found they have the ability to make people grow allergic to burgers, steak and other red meat. Lone star ticks are different than deer ticks, so they don't carry Lyme disease, just the meat allergen. Side effects of the allergen include getting hives every time a person eats red meat. 

    To avoid having to miss out on grilling favorites, Fox News recommends figuring out how common lone star ticks are the region and making sure you arm yourself and your family with proper tick and bug protection. Performing thorough tick checksin between toes, fingers and armpits is another important step. 

    Though it is possible to develop Lyme disease or an allergy to red meat by being bitten by certain ticks, it's far more likely that you'll be affected by seasonal allergies due to pollen. These allergy sufferers can prevent itchy eyes and wheezing at home by installing a professional-grade air purifier like the IQAir HealthPro Plus to breathe easy.

  • At-home allergy test could ease side effects

    Allergies, whether caused by food, pets or environmental issues, are common in the U.S. In fact, more than half (55 percent) of the entire U.S. population has at least one allergy, while a child with two parents with allergies has a 70 percent chance of developing one or more allergies, WebMD reports.

    Though some people might just assume they have seasonal allergies based on the runny noses, cough and itchy eyes they develop come spring, getting a clear-cut answer has never been simpler. USA Today reports the FDA recently approved a new kit, MyAllergyTest, to offer people a chance to figure out if they have allergies and what they are allergic to from the comfort of their homes.

    As of now, the kit tests for Bermuda grass, cats, cedar, egg whites, house dust mites, milk, mold ragweed, Timothy grass and wheat. After undergoing the test, people can easily figure out what triggers their specific allergy (if they are found to have one) and ways to curb such issues via a secure website that those who purchase the kit can log on to. For example, a person with seasonal allergies might learn that investing in a professional-grade air purifier like the IQAir HealthProPlus could help them breathe better at home during peak pollen season. 

    Despite the potential benefits, ImmuneTech, the company that created the kit, is quick to point out the test is meant to expose allergens people may have, rather than replace physicians or allergy specialists. 

  • New York City residents in for high-pollution summer

    Air pollution is a major issue around the nation, despite an effort to reduce the problem. The American Lung Association's (ALA) State of the Air report was recently released and even though air quality in the U.S. is the cleanest on record, nearly 41 percent of all residents still live in areas with above-healthy levels. 

    One city that continues to deal with major pollution, mainly caused by vehicle emissions, is New York City. The ALA recently addressed this problem by informing all residents that air pollution levels are predicted to increase dramatically during the summer months. 

    "With these increased temperatures comes the increased threat of hazardous levels of ozone pollution," Jeff Seyler, president and CEO of the ALA of the Northeast, said in a statement.

    In an effort to keep citizens informed and perhaps encourage them to stay inside on certain days, the ALA developed an app, "State of the Air," that works to track daily ozone and particle pollution levels based on an individual's zip code. 

    Those worried about a spike in air pollution this summer can invest in professional-grade air purifiers like the IQAir GC MultiGas to keep harmful side effects such as wheezing, coughing or asthma attacks at bay. 

  • Global warming could be partly to blame for rise in pollen count

    Most Americans love the warm weather summer brings, but the majority is less than pleased by the pollen and other environmental allergens that also spike between spring and fall. Though such allergies are necessary to help support tree and flower growth, some people might be thinking the allergy season has grown worse over the years, and unfortunately, they're right. 

    Alyson Eberhardt, a coastal ecosystems extension specialist at the University of New Hampshire, told Foster's Daily Democrat that warmer winters mean longer summers and a boost in allergies. Eberhardt added that Superstorm Sandy and late snowstorms helped nourish plants, leading to the development of more pollen.

    "Not only do we now have a longer allergy season, but we also have a higher pollen count," Eberhardt told the news outlet. 

    Even though pollen levels will be high, affecting more than 35 million seasonal allergy sufferers, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, there are ways to curb the side effects. 

    Eberhardt told Foster's Daily Democrat that people can limit symptoms by washing their hands before bed, refraining from hanging clothes outside to dry during peak pollen season and keeping the windows closed to prevent pollen from getting in the house. Investing in a medical-grade air purifier like the IQAir HealthPro Plus will also ensure people breathe easy at home. 

  • Strict car emission laws help lower LA air pollution

    Los Angeles might best be known for its slew of rock stars and A-list celebrities; however, another dirty little secret the City of Angels is known for is its high air pollution levels. According to the Los Angeles Times, in 2011, the city had the highest levels of ozone nationwide, with rates higher than the recommended federal health standards an average of 137 days each year. 

    Though L.A. still has a long way to go to curb its raised levels, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association's research center at the University of Colorado Boulder have determined strict car emission laws have helped significantly decrease pollution in the city. The recent study used data collected in the area from 1960 to present day. 

    Scientists found that despite a large jump in the number of vehicles on the road in California between now and then, the tough laws, which include regulating the emissions of cars sold and driven in the state, have helped curb its high air pollution rates. 

    Ilana Pollack, lead author of the study, reports that the data "confirms that California's policies to control emissions have worked as intended." Now, researchers are looking to determine exactly how the change was made to implement the same ideas in other cities around the nation. 

    Even though emission rates have been lowered in Los Angeles, air pollution is still a major problem there and in many cities around the nation. Families living in high-traffic areas might want to invest in professional-grade air purifiers like the IQAir GC MultiGas to keep pollution out.

  • Allergies: What are they really?

    Allergies are a common part of everyday life for the more than 55 percent of the U.S. population who have tested positive to one or more allergens, according to WebMD. Environmental allergens, such as pollen, not only cause irritation, but also cost the healthcare system more than $7 billion annually. 

    Though some people simply grin and bear it or invest in a medical-grade air purifier like the IQAir HealthPro Plus to curb side effects, some might be wondering, "Why do pollen and other allergens cause such annoying symptoms?"

    Dr. Phillip Hemmers, a specialist with the Allergy Association of Fairfield County, Conn., recently discussed the back story of seasonal allergies with The Redding Pilot. 

    According to Hemmers, environmental allergens, such as pollen from trees, flowers or plants, is mistaken as a danger to the immune system of people with allergies. The immune system believes the harmless substance is looking to harm the body and thus sends out the enforcer (immunoglobulin E) antibodies to fight off the pollen. The release of the antibodies ultimately causes the flair up of side effects. 

    Allergy sufferers might think it's best to take cover in the home during peak season (spring to fall), but Hemmers adds it's important to carefully wash fruit and other produce to avoid the side effects as well. He reports consuming foods from pollinating trees can lead to a reaction, even if a person eats it inside. 

    "It's almost like mistaken identity," Hemmers told the publication. "When you take a bite of an apple, your body thinks you are eating birch tree pollen."

    Luckily for those who love the outdoors, Hemmers added there should be a calming of allergies between July and August. 

  • Could exercise protect lungs from air pollution?

    Going for a jog on a warm spring day might be the ideal workout for nature lovers. Not only do they enjoy breaking a sweat, but also breathing in fresh air. That is, unless they live in high-traffic areas full of pollution. Though emissions, like those from diesel fuel, are harmful for people to breathe in, a new study discovered that working through the smog could help the body adapt for the better. 

    Scientists from the University of Sao Paulo School of Medicine tested the effects of diesel exhaust exposure among two groups of mice for five weeks. Both groups regularly breathed in tainted air, but one group exercised each day while the other remained sedentary. The collected data showed that the mice that did not exercise were plagued with significantly higher levels of lung inflammation and free radicals, while the exercising mice benefited from changes that allowed their immune systems to fight back against the pollution. 

    Even if working out could help the body fight off or curb the side effects of air pollution, it's certainly not a cure-all. According to WebMD, there are too many different types of air pollution to assume exercise could help stave off negative symptoms. Instead, people should limit their time spent in cars and remain indoors during peak traffic times if they live in congested areas. Investing in a professional-grade air purifier like the IQAir GC MultiGas is another smart way to breathe easy at home. 

  • Yoga could curb allergies

    Allergies are a common problem in the U.S. with close to 8 percent of all people over the age of 18 inflicted with hay fever or environmental allergies, while approximately 10 percent of all children and teens under the age of 17 are plagued by allergy side effects, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. While taking medicine during peak allergy season and investing in a medical-grade air purifier like the IQAir HealthPro Plus can curb allergy symptoms, doing a bit more stretching might offer similar results. 

    According to The Huffington Post, practicing yoga could have the potential to ease allergy symptoms thanks to its ability to help reduce inflammation and stress in the body. A small study in 2010 found yoga didn't necessarily lessen side effects, but rather helped the body stay calm so it was better able to fight off allergy symptoms like headaches and watery eyes.

    While performing downward dog or tree pose could decrease allergy woes, another study in 2008 discovered that alternating breathing between nostrils may also play a role in reducing seasonal problems. The news outlet reports pairing the breathing technique with yoga may be the best way to reap multiple benefits. For this trick, start by covering your right nostril and then begin inhaling through the left side for 10 seconds. Next, hold your breath for five seconds and then switch to breathing out of the right nostril for another 10 seconds. Continue the process for five rounds to feel some relief. 

  • Pets are plagued by allergies, too

    Many Americans consider their pets another member of the family. The Humane Society of the United States reports more than 78 million dogs are currently living in their forever homes, while more than 84 million cats also have a loving roof over their heads. While many responsible pet parents provide their animals with flea, tick and heartworm medication, some might not know their animals may need allergy relief as well.

    According to the Enumclaw Courier-Herald, pets, just like people, can experience the symptoms of allergies including a runny nose, itchy skin or even a cough. Dogs and cats can be prone to seasonal allergies, similar to their owners, and can develop certain issues based on triggers like food or contact allergies. 

    Though talking to a vet is the best way to determine what type of allergies pets have, owners who notice their pets experiencing more itching and irritation during the changing seasons might be able to assume the animals are inflicted with environmental allergies. The publication recommends vacuuming more regularly during peak allergy season as well as changing the animals' bedding more frequently to curb symptoms. Installing a medical-grade air purifier in the home like the IQAir HealthPro Plus might help keep dander and pollen out, helping to offer relief for all members of the family. 

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