Since the Friedrich air cleaner received an excellent independent rating by the Association of American Home Appliance Manufacturers, a number of people buy this machine and give us good reports on it. Putting aside my own prejudices about anything that is not a true hepa filtration system, I decided to bring one of these air cleaners into our offices for staff product training. This is what you should know about it.

* No doubt about it, this air cleaner is wonderfully easy to maintain. Changing the pre-filter or odor filter is as simple as sliding a new panel in and out of a slot.
* Gone is the expense of replacing hepa filters and pre-filters. When electrostatic collector plates in the Friedrich are clogged you can just put them in the dishwasher. The pre-filter can also be vacuumed or washed in an all- purpose washing fluid and water.
* The Friedrich is very quiet indeed which is one of its biggest strengths. Even on high speed, recommended for when smokers are around, it is pretty quiet. On low speed you have a hard time hearing it and for most home applications low speed is all you need.
* .The Friedrich does have a carbon filter plate which is cheap and easy to replace. It should be replaced frequently especially after being around smoke.

* If you have an environment needing a lot of air cleaning, the efficiency of the electrostatic cell will degrade pretty quickly and you may need to give the electrostatic collector plates a weekly bath.
* When the electrostatic plates need cleaning, the machine sounds like a bug zapper going off. Even when it doesn't need cleaning you will hear little zapping sounds periodically.
* One of our staff who is ultra sensitive really did not like this machine. Either the Friedrich was out gassing, or there was some small amount of ozone being generated [a by-product in all electrostatic machines]. She complained of the smell and said she was getting a headache.
* Although the Friedrich has a carbon filter, it does not have sufficient carbon for major VOC or heavy odor removal. The plus is that the carbon filter is cheap. The minus is you will need to replace it often if you are relying on it for odor removal.

I think a lot people will like the Friedrich even if it does look like an pet carrier. It is ultra quiet, easy to operate and cheap to maintain. I do not see it as the machine for those with bad asthma, really severe allergies or in environments where volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are a problem. Smokers will love it, and so will those people looking for a quiet machine. I can tell you that the people who have bought them from us do not return them and order more of them. Is it my favorite? No, that honor belongs to IQair at the moment, but I cannot argue with why the Friedrich air cleaner has its own fan club.


We have been on the lookout for a hepa air cleaner with good performance, quiet operation, at a reasonable price. We were particularly interested in finding a machine that could do a small bedroom or office. After several machines we rejected, this is what we found- the Whirlpool Whispure and in a word we like it. As usual I have a few caveats.

* Well rated and independently tested and certified by AHAM- Amercican Home Appliance Manufacturers Association.
* In general, we thought this machine was well made. The filters fit together tightly so a minimum of air leaks around them and all air is forced through the filters.
* It IS very quiet. Very quiet indeed. Even on top[of three] fan speed it was perfectly bearable. Quiet air filter seekers will love this one.
* Opening up the machine to change the filters was a cinch. No screws and screwdrivers. The whole changing the filter process must take all of 30 seconds * Filter indicator lights tell you when to change both the hepa and prefilters. I like this feature on air cleaners- it is on my MUST HAVE list.
* The hepa filter itself is a pretty good size. Some hepa filters we have seen are tiny - this has a generous amount of hepa media.
* It is lightweight, so you can pick it up easily to take from room to room.
* Three sizes including that elusive size for the baby's room or small office.
* Competitively priced from $275 to $375.

* The noise reduction is achieved by baffling the machine with foam. This machine is not for multiple chemical sufferers. The plastic housing would also not be suitable for people with MCS .
* In theory, the Whirlpool Whispure contains a carbon odor removal filter. The carbon is combined with the pre-filter pad and needs to be changed every three months- about $12 to $14 each time. This is not for serious VOC or odor removal. This machine is for straight allergen particulate removal.

OK. I confess I like it and I am not easily impressed. So many people are looking for something reasonably priced for allergen removal in their smaller rooms and we have not had much to offer them. The little one in the range is perfect for this purpose. It also passed my husband, who hates all the machinery I have around the house. This one he looked at said-" is it on? I cannot hear it"[I had it on low speed].
And how does it compare to our other quiet air purifiers? I still think the quietist overall machine is the Blueair air purifier but the Whirlpool is very fairly priced from $275- $375.Worth taking a look at for small rooms.


by Dr. Leonard Fromer, assistant professor of University of California at Los Angeles

Your nose is stuffy. You sneeze a lot. Itchy and watery eyes are driving you crazy. You're sure you have allergies. So you take antihistamines. Then you develop sinus problems, like ear pressure or pain and an annoying post-nasal drip - symptoms also associated with allergies. So you take decongestants, too.

For many, taking prescription or over-the-counter allergy medications can be expensive and unnecessary -- and may not relieve symptoms. A recent study out of Ohio State University found that 65 percent of the people using a prescription antihistamine didn't actually suffer from allergies at all.

While more than 50 million Americans of all ages suffer from allergy-like symptoms, the OSU study researchers and other experts recommend people get tested for allergies before medicating their symptoms.

Traditionally, allergy tests were performed by allergists using skin testing which involves pricking the skin to apply allergens, with a raised welt indicating sensitivity. Skin testing, however, carries the risk of an allergic reaction, and is not recommended for young children, seniors, those taking antihistamines, or those with dermatitis and other skin conditions.

Previously, allergy blood tests were less accurate than skin testing, but a new blood test, ImmunoCAP(tm), is not only as accurate as a skin test in determining specific allergies, it is the first and only allergy test approved by the FDA to test them quantitatively. Family physicians, pediatricians and allergy specialists can draw a blood sample that is analyzed in a laboratory. Health professionals then detect the presence of IgE, an antibody circulating in the blood when the body is fighting an allergen.

A recent study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology showed that ImmunoCAP(tm) demonstrated superior reliability and accuracy, compared to four other tests, including older blood tests known as RAST tests.

If you get tested and learn that you do suffer from allergies, it's likely you're allergic to a number of things. Triggers might include certain foods, pollen, pets, insect stings or even some medications. But, for many, allergy-like symptoms never occur until they move to a new region or grow older. Then suddenly symptoms develop, leaving them wondering why. That's because allergy is a threshold disease. Approximately 20 to 25 percent of the population has seasonal or chronic allergic respiratory disease. For many, symptoms don't appear without exposure to multiple allergic triggers.

Think of a single allergy as a half-cup of water. As new elements are added, the cup becomes more full. Allergy symptoms may not develop until you come in contact with that one thing that makes your cup overflow - you've reached your threshold.

Here in the North Atlantic region common tree allergens include elm, oak and box-elder, which may cause a reaction from February through June. Grasses in the area may trigger allergies throughout the summer and weeds, such as common ragweed, may cause a reaction from August to late October. If you're planning to travel, you can find more information pollens and allergens in other areas of the United States by visiting . This website maps out the entire country by region and lists the environmental allergens in each area.

It's also helpful to keep a checklist of the allergen triggers that can launch your body into an attack. Take the necessary steps to remove the culprits from your home and work environments - particularly those to which you are highly allergic. Understand how to stay below your threshold by avoidance or medical therapy, and you'll be able to take control of your allergies - rather than letting them control your life.

The following simple tricks are recommended by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology and the Online Allergy Center to help you avoid common allergy triggers.

* Minimize outdoor activities, like running and walking, during peak pollen hours (between 5 and 10 am).

* Don't line-dry clothes or bedding.

* Don't mow lawns or rake leaves - these activities stir up pollen and molds. If you must, wear a mask and sunglasses.

* Stay indoors when reports predict high pollen count or humidity, and on windy days when dust and pollen are blown about.

* If taking a vacation during the height of the pollen season, head to the beach or sea.

* Check your car's weather-stripping or air conditioning
system for mold.

* Don't over-water or grow too many indoor plants; wet soil encourages mold growth.

* Check household drains for mold; look under frost-free refrigerators, air conditioner insulation, coils and drain pans, damp wood spots, and dusty, musty papers.

* Drive with car windows closed and set your air conditioner on re-circulate. Vacuum your car often to minimize dust mite exposure.

* Keep home windows closed, especially at night. Use air conditioning to clean, cool and dry air - but change filters often.

* Wash bedding in hot water to kill dust mites and encase bedding in dust mite barrier covers.

* Keep animals out of the bedroom and remove carpeting, if possible.

For more information, about how to test for allergies using the ImmunoCAP blood test, physicians and patients can call 1-877-862-4948 or visit .


Q. What is a pet allergy?
A. A pet allergy is an allergic reaction to a pets dander and/or saliva. Over 10 percent of the nation are allergic to their pet. Symptoms to pet allergies come in the form of sneezing, itchy watery eyes, a runny nose, and itchy face and throat

Q. Are there cats and dogs that do not cause allergic reactions?
A. There is no such thing as a non-allergenic cat or dog, but there are some that cause less harm than others. For example, a dog with short hair is less likely to shed on the carpet and on furniture then those with long hair. Short haired pets do not collect as much allergens on them as well, therefore distributing less dander throughout the house.

In addition, some cats and dogs shed their fur every five to six months, while others, such as a poodle or a and havanese do not shed at all. Take into consideration that some breeds also drool and lick themselves more than others, leaving a trail of dried saliva and dander in their mist; In summary, you can love a short haired pet just as much as loving a long haired one, but without the allergens that cause you misery along the way.

Q. Can I cohabit along with my cat and dog?
A. It is advised that cats and dogs remain outdoors if you are allergic to them, otherwise you take the chance of developing allergies from their dander and saliva.

Q. How do I rid my home of pet dander and other pet allergens?
A. Thoroughly clean the animal's resting area while wearing a mask.
Use a HEPA filter in the bedroom to reduce the exposure of pet dander while you sleep, and shampoo the rugs and furniture often. Other ways to clear the air of an animals residuals include:

* Dusting your house often
* Washing your pet on a weekly basis
* Keep a fresh flea collar on your pet to reduce the risk of in-home fleas
* Wash the animals bedding in hot water at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit.

Q. What other animals besides cats and dogs cause similar allergic reactions?
A. Other mammals including guinea pigs, rabbits, birds, and other small rodents.
Basically, it is the animals hair that causes the allergic reactions. If you love these types of animals, there is no avoiding the fact that these hairy animals shed their hair regularly,
Lick themselves, and deposit dried saliva as a result.

Q. What pets should I think about getting that are safe from spreading allergens?
A. Reptiles and fish do not cause allergic reactions because they have scales instead of hair.

Q. Is there a medication I can take to block my allergic symptoms to my cat?
A. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University recently announced that Zaflirlukast is a drug that significantly reduces the symptoms associated with cat and other pet allergies. Available only in prescription form, side effects include diarrhea, mouth dryness, and nausea.