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More than 45 million Americans have nasal allergies, and 25 million have asthma.
What Are Allergens?
Allergens are airborne substances that cause allergic reactions and trigger nasal allergy symptoms. Allergen particles are carried in the air, but settle onto furniture and floor surfaces. They vary in size and are measured in microns. The larger the particles, the faster they will settle out of the air. Pollen, dust mite and cockroach debris are larger and settle out of the air quicker than other allergens like mold spores or pet dander.
Eight out of 10 people in the United States are exposed to house dust mites, and six out of 10 are exposed to pet dander and pollen trapped indoors. Cockroaches cause allergic reactions among people who live in the inner cities and southern parts of the United States.
The most common outdoor allergen in the spring is tree pollen, which is in the air from mid-March to early June through most of the United States. Most pollen is released early in the morning, shortly after dawn. It travels best on warm, dry, breezy days and peaks in urban areas midday. Pollen counts are lowest during chilly, wet periods.
Pollen can trigger asthma and allergy symptoms like itchy runny nose, nasal congestion, repeated sneezing, watery eyes, inflamed sinuses and, in severe cases, difficulty breathing. But, it’s not just an outdoor problem – tree pollen also makes its way indoors, along with pet dander, dust mites, mold spores, cockroach droppings and other allergens.
Families who are fighting asthma and allergies need to take careful steps to avoid allergens from getting in their homes, and remove them from carpeting and other place where they accumulate. Visit www.aafa.org/certified to learn more about asthma and allergies and how to remove triggers like pollen from your home. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) recommends these 3 strategies for improving your indoor air quality:
- Control sources of indoor pollution
- Ventilate adequately
- Clean your indoor air
Is Indoor Air Control Even Possible?
The best way to improve indoor air quality is to eliminate the sources of pollutants from your home. The next step is to avoid and decrease exposure to allergens. Other important measures are to increase the circulation of outdoor air into the home and reduce humidity to below 50%. Reducing humidity decreases dust mite and mold growth. With good cleaning practices – including professional carpet cleaning from Certified asthma & allergy friendly™ services – you can improve your indoor air quality and reduce allergy symptoms. First, remove the source of the allergens. This includes removing pets, carpets, overstuffed furniture, stuffed toys, old mattresses, pillows and bedding from your home.
Simple Tips to Improve Indoor Air Quality
- Vacuum once or twice weekly. Vacuuming helps keep allergens to a minimum. But poor-quality vacuums can put dust into the air, so look for devices that are proven through research to be more suitable. If you have allergies, wear a dust mask while doing housework and leave the house for several hours after cleaning so it can air out.
- Control dust mites. Keep surfaces in the home clean and uncluttered. Bare floors and walls are best, particularly in the bedroom where you spend one-third of your time. The single most important method is to put zippered allergen barriers or “encasements” on all pillows, mattresses and box springs. Look for Certified mattress cover and bedding, and wash sheets weekly, including uncovered pillows and stuffed toys. Use hot water (131 degree F) to kill mites and their eggs.
- Professional Carpet Cleaning. In addition to regular vacuuming, a professional carpet cleaning service can have a positive impact on helping you reduce the allergens in your carpets. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) recommends having your carpets cleaned 3-4 times per year by a Certified asthma & allergy friendly™ carpet cleaning service such as Stanley Steemer.
- Control cockroaches. Do not leave food or garbage uncovered. Use poison baits, boric acid and traps, rather than chemical agents that can irritate your nasal allergies.
- Prevent entry of pollen from outdoor. You can reduce the number of outdoor allergens such as pollen and mold from entering the home by keeping windows and doors closed and setting the air conditioner on re-circulate. Remove items worn outdoors by the front door and take them immediately to the laundry to avoid spreading allergens to surfaces like furniture and bedding.
- Prevent animal dander. Most doctors suggest that people allergic to animal dander avoid household pets with feathers or fur. But if you decide to keep a pet, it is best to restrict it from the bed and bedroom. Cover vents with dense material like cheesecloth or special filters. Because animal allergens are sticky, it can be difficult to completely remove it from the home, so, it good to use slip covers on furniture that can be frequently washed.
- Avoid mold. Reduce moisture around the bathroom, kitchen and other wet areas of the home. Dehumidifiers will help reduce both mold and dust mites. Limit yourself to a few house plants. Fix all leaks and other causes of damp areas. Clean moldy surfaces. Rid the yard of moldy firewood and piles of leaves and weeds.
- Replace air filters. Filters can trap lots of dust and allergens, so it is important to change them regularly. Change the air filter in your furnace every 30-90 days. Look for Certified asthma & allergy friendly™ filters.
Visit www.aafa.org/certified for more tips.
TO KNOW MORE ABOUT STANLEY STEEMER, GET A FREE QUOTE FROM YOUR LOCAL STANLEY STEEMER OR BOOK AN APPOINTMENT, VISIT www.stanleysteemer.com Or call 1-800-STEEMER / 1-800-783-3637