With the arrival of Spring, we are all looking forward to warmer days. Unfortunately, as many of us know, Spring is also a time when pollen and other allergens fill the air outdoors. Staying indoors, though, may not protect you from those pesky allergen symptoms. Here is some basic information about indoor allergens and ways that you can reduce the levels inside your home.
Understanding Indoor Allergens
Like the outdoor air, the air inside your home contains allergens that float from room-to-room via air circulation. Some of these allergens may come to rest on your furniture, bedding and carpeting, only to be set aloft by your movements, such as walking and sitting. Cleaning your home may not eliminate the airborne allergens because dusting and vacuuming disturb the tiny particles just enough to lift them into the air. The most common household allergens are:
- Dust mites, tiny arachnids that thrive in the warm, humid Tampa climate. The perfect environment for dust mites if above 70°F with a relative humidity between 75% and 80%. Dust mites cannot survive in places where the relative humidity is 40% or less. Typically, a gram of dust has between 100 to 500 dust mites, but it is possible to have up to 19,000 dust mites per gram of dust. Each female produces 25 to 30 baby mites over her 30-day life span.
- Mold is typically highest in the summer, but it is a year-round concern. If you do any renovations to your home, take precautions to ensure that mold spores are not released and trapped inside your home.
- Pet dander affects approximately 10% of people in the United States. If you have asthma, you stand a 20% to 30% chance of being allergic to pet dander.
Like outdoor allergens, you inhale these particles, but you can also feel the effects when the particles come in contact with your skin and eyes. Your body senses the particles and determines that they are foreign objects that must be destroyed to protect your health. The immune system is triggered to release antibodies that target the particles, yet the process also causes inflammation, particularly in the nose, eyes and respiratory tract. The severity of an allergic reaction is greatest among people with asthma and other medical conditions as well as young children and older adults.
Some airborne pollutants cause similar symptoms as allergies, but are not considered allergens:
- Cigarette smoke
- Air fresheners and consumer-grade air cleaners that produce VOCs and ozone
- Gasoline, insecticides and other chemicals
- Exhaust from an automobile that runs in an attached garage
Tips for Reducing Indoor Allergens
Each room of your house is susceptible to hiding indoor allergens. By following some easy steps, you can reduce the allergen levels inside your home.
- Dust the furniture in your bedroom on a regular basis, and use a bag-less vacuum with a HEPA filter to keep the particles inside the canister.
- Wash your sheets at least once a week, and have your other bedding cleaned every three months.
- If you have furniture in your bedroom, use a carpet cleaner attachment to thoroughly clean the fabric.
- If you have severe allergies, consider replacing the carpeting with tile or hardwood.
- Use removable allergen-resistant covers on your pillows, mattress and box springs.
- Do not use bedding that contains foam rubber, feathers, kapok or down.
- Replace heavy curtains and blinds with washable, lightweight options.
- Limit the number of stuffed animals in your child’s bed.
- Keep the pets outside the bedroom as much as possible.
- Keep houseplants to a minimum.
- Get rid of any unused baskets and dried flowers.
- Limit the number of books, magazines and newspapers that you keep.
- Check the doors and windows for proper sealing and insulation.
- Replace fabric-covered furniture with materials that are non-porous, such as leather.
- Dust, vacuum and clean the furniture and curtains on a regular basis.
Kitchen and Bathroom
- Wash the dishes each day to avoid attracting cockroaches and other unwanted pests.
- Empty the garbage and recycling when the containers are almost full.
- Open windows and run exhaust fans to air out the bathroom and kitchen.
- Repair leaks and openings around pipes.
- Make sure that exhaust hoses vent to the outdoors.
- Avoid letting your car idle inside the garage, and always keep the garage door open when starting your car.
- Store chemicals, solvents and other chemicals in an area away from the home, such as a metal storage building. The fumes from these products can easily enter your home if they are stored in the garage. If you must store them in the garage, place them in an airtight container.
Professional Indoor Air Quality Services
If you want to take additional steps to minimize the allergens inside your home, contact And Services to schedule an indoor air quality appointment. Our technician will evaluate your HVAC system for leaks, mold and other problems that reduce indoor air quality. Our technician will also recommend products we carry for improving the quality of air inside your home.