As an allergy sufferer, you probably already clean your home several times a week during allergy season. You close the windows, you vacuum and dust, but you still suffer. It could be pollen, dust, mold, or other irritants, but it seems that there’s no escaping, even with medication.
There may be a better way – a way that’s completely drug free. When you take control of your indoor environment, you can dramatically reduce the level of environmental irritants in your home.
Take Control of Your Indoor Air
Ever since the energy crisis of the 1970’s people have been sealing leaks around doors and windows and installing better insulation. Our homes are closed up tight these days. That’s great for energy efficiency, but the problem is that it creates a dirt trap in your home: once pollutants get in they can recirculates for years. The EPA in the united states estimates that indoor air is almost always 2-5 times more polluted than outdoor air and can be much more.
But there are effective solutions. In the last few years, more and more allergy sufferers have been turning to air quality equipment to continuously treat their air as it flows through their homes.
Here are 3 ways you can improve your indoor air and reduce your allergy and asthma symptoms.
1. Air Filtration
You’ve probably heard about the 1” filters that go on your furnace or air conditioner, but we’re talking about something a lot more comprehensive. Those 1” filters are there to help protect the furnace, not get your air truly clean.
Get HEPA for Allergy Relief
What we’re talking about is whole-home HEPA quality filtration. A HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter removes 99.9% of particles from the air that are as small as 0.3 microns. That’s enough to trap pollen, dust mites, dust mite feces, mold spores, mildew spores, bacteria and some viruses.
Many of the best filtration systems are actually like a HEPA sandwich. They include a pre-filter to trap the larger particles like hair, dander flakes, and most dust particles. This is followed by a HEPA filter. Finally, a carbon filter removes odours and gasses like VOCs (volatile organic compounds).
Also, let’s be clear here. We’re not talking about tiny little desktop units or even larger portable air filters. We’re talking about top-quality solutions that clean the air in your entire house. That means you get the same clean air everywhere in your home.
Air Filter Checklist for Allergy and Asthma Sufferer
When shopping around for an air filter, look for these features:
- HEPA-quality filtration or better. Check for particle size as some companies advertise HEPA filters that don’t remove particles down to 0.3 microns.
- Powerful airflow: 4-9 changes per hour for the square footage of your home (or more).
- If you’re concerned about mould and mildew, you may also want to get a UV lamp purifier. Instead of just trapping particles, it uses ultraviolet radiation to kill them.
Don’t forget to ask your provider how much the replacement filters cost. Allergy and asthma sufferers typically require several replacements per year, depending on the manufacturer and home size. With air filtration systems, you typically get what you pay for.
2. Humidity Control
When it comes to humidity, you need a Goldilocks solution. If your home is too humid you risk helping mold and mildew along by creating moist conditions. If it’s too dry you end up irritating your own bodily tissues like eyes, nose and throat, which can contribute to reactions.
Aim for a humidity level that’s between 35% – 45%. This isn’t usually a challenge in the summer, but in the winter when the furnace is constantly drying out your air you may need to invest in a humidifier. For best results, invest in a steam humidifier, and avoid the old-fashioned drum humidifiers that rely on a pan of standing water. As you can imagine, this pan of water can get pretty disgusting over time.
3. Duct Cleaning
Your home’s air ducts carry air throughout your home, so if they’re dirty they will reduce the effectiveness of your air filtration solution.
You don’t need to go crazy – just get them cleaned every few years or after any renovations that produce a lot of dust. If you move into a new home, this should be one of the first things you do.
The Right Solutions
These are three solutions that will probably help allergy and asthma sufferers the most. But don’t just start throwing money at the problem. There are dozens of different kinds of air filtration systems that are designed to do different things. To make sure you get the right solution for your needs talk to an air quality expert.