Are Allergies Bothering You This Spring?
Allergy season typically starts on March 17 with the onset of pollen and mold. This season started a few weeks late. In the Twin Cities, we experienced a late winter blizzard, which kept temperatures below freezing well into April. With spring weather later than normal, we can expect spring allergies to peak starting in May.
“The long-running winter and the cooler-than-average April kept pollen at bay, but now pollen counts are soaring,” said Dr. Gary Berman of Allergy & Asthma Specialists, quoted in the Star Tribune. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology also provides a daily map of all pollen and spore levels present across the midwest region. Among the typical symptoms or allergies are congestion, runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing, watery eyes, sore throat, itchy throat, headaches, itchy ears.
While we can’t control the weather, we can control the environment inside our home. Read more below to find out about some of the things you can do to improve the quality of air inside your home.
Indoor Air Quality: Controlling Your Home’s Air
The air inside your home can be many times more polluted than the air outside. For this reason, especially if you suffer from allergies or asthma, it’s important to use an effective filter.
Some Twin Cities homeowners believe the standard furnace filter is doing a good job of filtering the air in their home. If you do not have allergies, this may be fine. However, a typical one-inch filters used on the furnace only traps about 5-15% of airborne particulates, leaving 85% to 95% of particulate matter to accumulate in the home. Most one inch filters also need to be changed every month, something that many homeowners forget to do.
Additionally, with homes being built and remodeled more insulated and tighter than ever, many homes are nearly draft-free. In making homes more energy-efficient, we are also creating a number of issues. With less ventilation and improper filtration, allergens, harmful vapors, and contaminants get trapped and can accumulate to unhealthy levels. These may include:
- Airborne pollutants – dust, dust mites, pet hair, dander, pollen, particulates from clothing and furniture.
- Biological contaminants – bacteria, viruses, mold spores, mildew.
- Odors and vapors – tobacco smoke, cooking grease
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are four things you can do to improve indoor air quality: source control, improved ventilation, air cleaning, and controlling humidity.
Source control refers to removing the source of the pollutant from the home. Examples include not smoking indoors, removing animals, plants, unused solvents, and paint thinners.
Ventilation is key in decreasing pollutants that are generated inside the home. According to the EPA, the lack of air movement through homes can lead to a buildup of toxic pollutants that can have concentrations up to a hundred times greater inside a home than outside. However, the indoor concentration of particles such as pollen may actually increase when ventilation rates are increased due to the introduction of fresh outdoor air, so air cleaning may be needed regardless of the level of ventilation.
Air cleaners and filters are a vital part of the solution for poor indoor air quality. These cleaners remove the particulate matter that remains airborne after source control and ventilation have failed. The effectiveness of air cleaners in improving overall air quality is highly dependent on both the type of air cleaner selected and the nature and concentration of the pollutant.
Controlling humidity levels with whole-home dehumidification can reduce the spread of mold and dust mites, which thrive in high humidity environments.
Fixing The Problem
Create a strategy that includes whole-home humidity control, ventilation to remove the odors and potentially harmful vapors, and have a whole-home air cleaner installed to trap airborne contaminants. Unless you remove the problems from every room in your house, you will only be treating the symptoms. Whole-home systems represent the best option for those with allergies and asthma, ridding their home of dust, dust mites, pet dander, mold spores, pollen, bacteria and viruses, smoke and more.
How Do Whole-Home Air Cleaners Work?
Installed as part of your home’s central heating and cooling system, Whole-Home Air Cleaners, Dehumidifiers and Ventilation systems are out-of-sight and out of your way, according to Adams. So, each time your system runs, excess humidity is removed, proper amounts of fresh air is introduced, and the air in your home is filtered through state-of-the-art filter media, so potentially harmful contaminants are removed from every room.
The result is your heating and cooling system distributes cleaner, healthier air to your entire home. Better yet, the Whole-home systems are easy to maintain (generally once every one to two years, unlike portable units that require monthly care or standard filters that need cleaning every 1-3 months).
The American Lung Association tracks indoor air quality and its impact. Consider the following facts.
- Each person inhales over 3,500 gallons of air each day. Children inhale more particles for their size than adolescents or adults.
- Polluted air causes 94% of all respiratory problems.
- More than 31 million Americans have been diagnosed with asthma, about 1/3 are children under 18.
- About 40,000 dust mites, a common household allergen, can live in one ounce of dust.
- An estimated 10-15% of the entire population may be allergic to cat or dog dander.
- A person sheds up to 700,000 skin flakes per day.
When you consider what can occur without controlling your home’s air purity, humidity, and fresh air, it’s hard to believe more people don’t take advantage of whole-home systems for health’s sake. There are a number of variables that affect your home’s air quality. There are also a variety of techniques that have different levels of effectiveness. If you’re not sure what solution is best for your home, now is a great time to schedule a tune-up. During the tune-up, our technicians will not only complete the maintenance but can take a look at your system and home to recommend different options to meet your needs.
Call us now, or fill out the contact form.