indoor allergies

Indoor Allergies: How Your Home Might Be Affecting Your Allergies

Every time you open a door or window, you let in some of those wonderfully refreshing outdoor scents of fresh air. However, that fresh air can also be filled with pollen, mold spores and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can make allergies much worse. However, you do not get a break if you keep the doors and windows closed, because studies indicate that indoor air quality can be worse than outdoor air. Here’s how to get rid of your indoor allergies:

Take Control of VOCs

Volatile organic compounds can be anything from the off-gassing of formaldehyde from foam cushions of a new piece of furniture to a fresh coat of paint in your child’s room. Plug-in and spray air fresheners, cleaning chemicals, solvents—including fingernail polish remover—and so much more of the common things you use inside your home can emit VOCs that can get your eyes watering, your throat scratchy and your nose running. Foams, plastics, appliances, electronic products, wires, building materials, furniture, fabrics, carpeting and more can all emit invisible gases that irritate sensitive airways and cause indoor allergies.

Heat and ventilation help remove residual gases of new furniture and building materials. So, letting a room with new carpeting get nice and warm while venting the air out through an open window can help reduce residual VOCs in the products. You can purchase low or no-odor paint for indoor painting. Stop using plug-in and spray air fresheners, and never use any solvents indoors or without an appropriate respirator.

Know Negative Vs Positive Air Pressure

There are specialized military vehicles available that can be driven through an area that contains airborne toxins with the occupants of the vehicle remaining safe. The windows and doors and all of the metal of the vehicles cannot be perfectly sealed to prevent outside air from getting in, but positive pressure makes them safe.

The way the system works is an air pump forces outside air through a filtration unit that removes any biologic or chemical dangers, and this air is forced into the passenger compartment of the vehicle. Any air leaks around window or door seals or tiny holes to the outside always have air moving outwards. The only air getting in is filtered. That is the power of positive air pressure, and the same thing can be used in your home to prevent allergen-filled outdoor air from getting into your home. Negative pressure is the opposite. If you put a fan in the window blowing out, the air going out needs to be replaced with air leaking in somewhere else.

Utilize HEPA and Electrostatic Filtration

If you have central air conditioning, you have a forced-air system in your home. HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air, and it precedes the word “filtration.” It means that tiny particles you do not want floating around in the air in your home get filtered out. Electrostatic filters use electricity to charge particles in the air and then gets them to stick to a filter media. Your existing central AC system can be upgraded with HEPA and electrostatic filtration to filter all the air in your home, or you may consider the upgrade when you replace your system with an energy saving high-efficiency model. Small freestanding and tabletop air cleaners work using the same principles. Reducing the internal load of VOCs by making better product choices combined with HEPA and electrostatic filtration can make your indoor air quality very comfortable to those with indoor allergies and asthma.

Use a HEPA-Filtered Vacuum Cleaner

They cost a little more, but a HEPA filter on your vacuum cleaner can help prevent recirculation of the allergens in your indoor air that make you sneeze and cough. Older style vacuums with bags and even the newer bagless vacuums often let a lot of the dust and dirt you are vacuuming up back into the air. If your bagless vacuum just has a foam filter, it does not trap tiny particulates. Bags can stop larger particulates, trapping them inside, but tiny allergens blow right on through and back into the air. HEPA filters used in higher quality residential vacuum cleaners trap more particulates. Also, when you empty your vacuum, you may find it better to do it outside into a waste receptacle rather than attempting to do it indoors. Invariably, at least a little irritating dust will escape when emptying vacuum cleaners.

Better indoor air quality is important as it is estimated that people can spend up to 90 percent of their time indoors. If you want to breathe better inside, take active steps to improving the air you are breathing so you can get rid of your indoor allergies once and for all.

Guest Author Bio: Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake. For your AC needs, Hannah recommends Comfort Zone Airconditioning & Solar Power.

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