Every year, allergies affect more than 50 million people in the United States. That makes it the sixth most common cause of chronic illness in the country.
In an attempt to reduce allergic reactions, most people seek refuge indoors. In fact, an average person spends 90% of the time indoors! Unfortunately, indoor air can be anywhere from two to five times worse than outdoor air.
But you can improve air quality inside your home for better allergy control. It starts with knowing your allergens and what exactly is in your home’s air.
Ready to learn more about how you can improve air quality and reduce allergic reactions? Then let’s dive right into it!
Allergens are substances that trigger a response from an “oversensitive” immune system. That’s why they’re often harmless for most people, but can be deadly in those with allergies.
Let’s say you’re allergic to pet dander. When you inhale cat or dog fur, it’ll trigger a response from your immune system. It’ll start to produce antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE).
These antibodies will then prompt certain cells in your body to release chemicals. This release often leads to inflammation of the skin, airways, and sinuses. In some people, allergic reactions can inflame the stomach lining.
Dust mites, plant pollen, and mold spores are all common airborne allergens. Cockroaches (and their droppings) are also known to cause perennial allergic rhinitis.
By knowing what you’re allergic to, you can avoid getting into contact with them. Minimizing exposure to these allergens is key to preventing allergic reactions.
Indoor allergens, measured in microns, are too small for the naked eye to see. Although you can see patches of molds, the spores they produce are also microscopic. So even if you think your house is sparkling clean and free of allergens, it’s unlikely so.
Air quality testing is the only way to determine which air allergens are present in your home. Have your indoor air tested, and you’ll know if mold spores are to blame for those allergic reactions. The test will also show if levels of pet dander have become dangerously high.
Testing also reveals which areas of your home are pollutant and allergen “hotspots”. This is helpful in uncovering mold and mildew growths you likely weren’t aware of! This can even help you discover possible pest (cockroaches, rodents, etc.) infestation.
Indoor air quality testing also tests for combustion gases and particles. These include harmful pollutants like carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). These sickness-causing combustion byproducts claim the lives of almost 4 million worldwide.
Accidental CO poisoning alone kills 374 people in the U.S. every year. These accidents arise because the gas is invisible, odorless, and tasteless. Testing and monitoring are the only methods to determine their presence in the air.
As for indoor NO2, gas stoves, kerosene appliances, and water heaters are the main sources. Exposure to this gas causes a wide array of lung issues, including:
High levels of NO2 present in your home’s indoor air puts everyone at risk of these health issues. But those who already have allergies and asthma are at greater danger.
Once you know what allergens are in the air, you can carry out proper reduction methods. Here are some strategies to get you started:
If the IAQ test reveals high pollutant levels, change your HVAC filters more often. The more polluted the area you live in, the more often you need to change these filters.
Consider air clean filters, designed specifically to remove combustion particles and ozone. These also help get rid of bioaerosols, like fungi, bacteria, and viruses. Plus, they help control odors, making your home healthier and better-smelling.
Once or even twice a week vacuuming keeps allergens and pollutants low. Especially if you have pets or live in highly polluted areas.
If you can, upgrade your cleaner to CERTIFIED asthma and allergy friendly vacuum. These machines went through scientific testing. Their features include improved allergen removal and better air filtration.
These make them ideal for households with asthma and allergy sufferers.
Dehumidifiers suck moisture from the air, causing a drop in humidity levels. This makes it difficult for molds, mildew, and dust mites to grow. Lower levels of allergens in the air means a reduced frequency of allergy attacks.
You should put these in the areas of your home with high moisture levels, like the bathroom and kitchen. And make sure you have all plumbing leaks repaired ASAP.
Exhaust fans draw indoor air and direct it outdoors. This makes them essential in kitchens and bathrooms, helping reduce moisture.
Proper ventilation keeps air well-circulated too. Good circulation helps expel pollutant- and allergen-filled air outside of your home.
These fans also keep the indoor temperature from skyrocketing! This boosts the effectiveness and energy-efficiency of your air conditioner or heater. As a result, you get to prevent spikes in your energy bills.
Indoor air quality testing gives you specifics on which allergens permeate the air. This makes it easier to know which specific allergy control measures to do at home. Especially since some allergens, like molds, can only be professionally-removed.
Ready to get your home’s indoor air tested for allergens and other deadly gases and particulates? Then please feel free to connect with us! We can help make your home safer and healthier.