10 Questions to ask your Home Appliances Buyer
Independent, scientifically based asthma & allergy friendly® certification is a must for the health aware post-Covid consumer.
In a post Covid-19 world, we will all need to be alert. Alert to new infection, alert to a ‘second wave’ but also alert to our new economic situation. The world is changing and with that attitudes are changing. Globally, people will have a new motivation- health. Never before have we been more health centred and our new post Covid-19 lives will be dominated by the common goal of staying well. And this desire will be acutely felt in the retail sector. Consumers will be seeking out products to protect and enhance their health and well-being. Products that will contribute to a healthy home and a healthy workplace, that give the consumer peace of mind and a feeling of empowerment will be forefront. Covid-19 was an unknown entity, a new and mysterious disease that blindsided us. In retaliation, the consumer will want certainty, will want to trust and believe in the brand at a whole new level
This is where asthma & allergy friendly® comes in: a certification that focuses solely on a product’s impact on human health.
asthma & allergy friendly®certification; 10 Questions
Do you know how a certification can make a product stand out?
A certification mark, especially a trusted mark provides credibility to a product. In a crowded market, in difficult economic times, it builds consumer confidence and empowers the consumer to make the right choice for them as an individual. Over 60% of people impacted by of asthma and allergy find it difficult to choose appropriate products for their homes. Certification helps consumers make better buying decisions. There are 50 million Americans with allergies and 26 million with asthma and this number is growing – as is the demand for trustworthy products.
Over $50 billion a year is spent across the world on products claiming to reduce asthma and allergy symptoms. However, there are many manufacturers who claim their products are asthma and allergy friendly yet do not provide sufficient scientific proof to back up the claims. Consumers need a recognisable, trustworthy mark to help them cut through the noise and identify the truly beneficial products.
Do you know what asthma & allergy friendly® Certification means ?
asthma & allergy friendly® logo
The asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Program scientifically tests and identifies consumer products that are more suitable for people with asthma and allergies. It is an independently awarded, internationally recognised certification created by medical experts and rigorously tested by a certified laboratory. The strength of the Program relies on best-in-class test methods, as opposed to relying on manufacturer’s data. When consumers see the distinctive mark on a product, they know that they are buying an asthma & allergy friendly® product.
The Certification was created by Allergy Standards Ltd (ASL).
ASL partners with and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) and Asthma Canada, which are not-for-profit organisations, to promote the Certification Program in North America.
This gives the mark extra marketing exposure, credibility and access to valuable consumer research.
For the retailer, the Certification Program provides education on creating an asthma & allergy friendly® home giving you the peace of mind to recommend the most suitable products. You will be provided with promotional and marketing support to help educate consumers about asthma and allergies.
Did you know that 48% of respondents of the National Harris Interactive Survey with asthma and allergies feel the asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Mark is a ‘better choice’ for families.
Households with children are more likely to purchase products displaying the asthma & allergy friendly® mark and believe it indicates ‘higher quality’ products. You can use the Certification to provide peace of mind for consumers and build trust in the product and the brand. Not only are consumers increasingly confused by unproven allergy based claims on home appliances but are willing to seek out products with validated scientific performance claims.
According to the US EPA, we spend on average 90% of our time indoors and indoor air can be two and a half times more toxic than outdoor air. This is particularly pertinent in a post Covid19 world, where home is our sanctuary. It’s no secret that consumers are demanding products that are safer and healthier for themselves and their families, but many brands are capitalizing on this by making health claims that are scientifically unfounded. This is where the asthma & allergy friendly® mark shines as it is trusted, test and recognised.
Remember, CERTIFIED products are better choices for everyone – not just people with asthma and allergies. In order to be CERTIFIED, products must show an added benefit and score in the top percentile of the relevant test to demonstrate their effectiveness. This ensures that they contribute to a healthy home-for example, by improving air quality or by reducing exposure to toxic chemicals.
Are you aware of asthma & allergy friendly® Certification’s stringent standards that products have to pass to earn the certification?
In order for a home appliance to be CERTIFIED asthma & allergy friendly® strict standards for appropriate levels must be met when:
- Monitoring it’s capability to reduce allergens and irritants
- Determining it’s capability to reach washing temperatures of 130°F or more
- Analysing it’s capability to kill house dust mites
- Monitoring it’s capability to achieve the above requirements without exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
If any of the above criteria are not met, the certification cannot be awarded.
Once items are washed, if the dust mites have not been killed by the washing process, dust mite allergen can begin to accumulate again. asthma & allergy friendly® standard addresses these issues.
In the case of washing machines, consumers want to be confident that their washing machine can remove allergens such as dust mite allergen and cat allergen. asthma & allergy friendly® look at three areas when testing a washing machine.
- Removal of Allergen
The first is to test whether the washing machine can remove allergen that is in clothing. Live dust mites and cat hair are added to sweaters and soft toys, and put in a chamber for seven days so the dust mites can produce allergen. Then the items are removed: half of them are tested for the levels of dust mite allergen and cat allergen. The other half are washed in the washing machine and tested afterwards for dust mite allergen and cat allergen levels. The results of the two groups of items are compared; there must be over 95% less allergen on the items that have been washed.
- Removal of Dust Mites
Live dust mites and cat allergen are added to two groups of sweaters and soft toys. They are put in separate chambers for 35 days, and ensure that there is a source of food for any dust mites. After seven days, one group of items is washed in the washing machine. They are then left for another 28 days. Any dust mites that survived the washing machine will have time to grow and produce allergen. At the end of the 35 days both groups of items are tested for dust mite allergen and cat allergen. The results of the two groups of items are compared; there must be 90% less allergen on the items that were washed. This will show that the dust mites themselves were removed by washing.
- Temperature of the Washing Machine
To kill dust mites, it is necessary to wash items at a suitably high temperature. Certified washing machines must reach a temperature of 55°Celsius (131° Fahrenheit) and maintain it for 15 minutes.
One more thing – some appliances can produce ozone as a side-effect of their operation. If certified washing machines do product ozone particles, it must be at a level so low that it is unlikely to have an impact on the indoor environment.
With respect to vacuum cleaners, are you aware that most certifications don’t ensure that as a bag fills that the vacuums ability to remove allergens doesn’t decrease?
This is a problem with a lot of vacuum cleaners- the power reduces as the bag fills and so, therefore its ability to remove allergens also decreases. asthma & allergy friendly® test that the reduction of air power is minimal when the vacuum cleaner is fully loaded. If there is a reduction in air power, the allergen removal test is rerun on carpet, to make sure that the vacuum cleaner can still perform at a high level with a full bag/receptacle.
One of the easiest ways for dust and allergen to get into the air from vacuuming is when the vacuum bag or receptacle is full and is being emptied. Did you know that most certifications don’t test this?
One of the easiest ways for dust and allergen to get into the air from vacuuming is when the vacuum bag or receptacle is full and is being emptied. The design of the vacuum cleaner can have a big impact here in minimising the amount of dust and allergen that is released into the room when the bag or receptacle is emptied. asthma & allergy friendly® empty a full bag or receptacle in the environmental chamber, following the operating instructions of the vacuum cleaner, and the particles and allergens that are released are measured when this is done. Particle levels must remain below certification levels.
Did you know that not all air cleaners are tested for harmful ozone production?
Many electrical implements (including air cleaners) produce ozone as a by-product of functioning, and this cannot be avoided. If ozone is inhaled, it can have a number of harmful effects. It can reach all the way into the lungs where it can cause cough, throat irritation, pain or discomfort in the chest when breathing and chest tightness or wheezing. For the general population this is, at the very least, pretty uncomfortable. For those already suffering from lung problems, such as asthma, it can have a significantly harmful effect.
All electrical implements are tested for the ozone levels that they produce to ensure that they aren’t produced at harmful levels (greater than 0.05 parts per million). As such, an air cleaner that relies on ozone as their main air purification mechanism cannot be recommended by asthma & allergy friendly®. Air cleaners that are certified by asthma & allergy friendly® release less than 0.05 parts per million of ozone.
Did you know that, unlike other certification companies, asthma & allergy friendly® test in a simulated home environment?
The tests carried out by asthma & allergy friendly® are very specific and unique because they test in a simulated home environment. Different types of rooms are set up in a chamber -e.g. a carpeted room or a hard floor room. Items of furniture are added so that there are surfaces for the allergens to settle on just like in any ordinary home. Real dust and allergens are added (cat dander, dust mite and pollen) and the air cleaner is tested to ensure it actually removes allergen, rather than just redistributing it. In addition to the use of real allergen, asthma & allergy friendly® testing also includes room disturbance as part of its test protocol, to simulate testing of the air cleaner under real life conditions.
Are you aware that most air cleaners are not certified to actually have proven to have retained allergen in the filter?
asthma & allergy friendly® make sure that the air cleaner is actually removing allergen from the air. This sounds pretty basic but other certifications don’t necessarily check that the reduction in allergen in the air is actually due to the air cleaner and not just that the allergen has settled on surfaces in the room. asthma & allergy friendly® Certification means that half the reduction achieved by the air cleaner must be recoverable in the filter component.
certification, air quality, indoor air quality, asthma, coronavirus, healthy, allergies, dust mite, allergens, air purifiers, air filters, dehumidifier, mold, respiratory disease, healthy home, Covid-19, coronavirus, vacuum cleaner, washing machine, air cleaner
References and further reading
asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Program Read here
ASTHMA & ALLERGY FRIENDLY™ CERTIFICATION PROGRAM Read here
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