Is Your Indoor Air Affecting Your Allergies?

Staying indoors during allergy season may seem like a good strategy when you have allergies, but indoor air can be just as irritating to allergies. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s website, “dust mites, animal dander and even cockroaches can cause problems indoors.”

Dust mites are a chief culprit for allergy sufferers, affecting up to 8 out of 10 Americans. The best way to control dust mites is to minimize their effect  by keeping all surfaces in the home clean, and by minimizing clutter. The AAFA recommends eliminating carpet altogether, or at a bare minimum to use only washable throw rugs or a low-piled carpet. The AAFA goes on to say that:

The single most important method is to put zippered allergen impermeable or plastic covers on all pillows, mattresses and box springs. Encasing mattresses works better than air cleaners to reduce allergy symptoms. Every week, wash bedding, uncovered pillows and stuffed toys in hot water (130 degree F.) to kill mites.

Animal dander is another culprit, impacting up to 6 out 10 people in the U.S. Doctors recommend not having pets if you are allergic to pet dander. If you must have a pet, first take a break from the animal, either by vacation, or keeping the pet out of the house for at least two months, since pet dander can linger in homes that long. The AAFA recommends slowly introducing the pet back into the home, and seeing if symptoms are attributable to the pet. If so, they advise carefully considering if the pet is worth the discomfort. They also recommend keeping the pet out of your bedroom, and perhaps choosing a pet without fur or feathers.

By vacuuming once or twice a week using a HEPA filter or double-bagged vacuum, some allergens can be controlled. Also cleaning dust with a damp cloth is another good method for keeping irritating particles at a minimum in the home.

Keeping moisture out of the home wherever possible can help control mold, which is another offending allergen. Also keeping only a few house plants and using a dehumidifier will help as well.

Cockroach debris is another culprit that reduces indoor air quality. Following recommended methods for controlling cockroaches can limit the effects of their debris.

Finally, running air conditioning in warm weather, recycling the indoor air, goes a long way to control outside allergens from entering the home. Window unit filters should be changed often. Also, air purifiers and cleaners can help to keep allergens at a minimum.

Charity of the Week: 2011 Fight for Air Climb

American Lung Association Fight for Air Climb 2011This #charitytuesday, we are taking a break from Water Charities to pay tribute to our first ever featured “air charity.” The American Lung Association held their first Fight for Air Climb in Cleveland, this past Saturday, March 5, 2011. Climbers, walkers, runners, firefighters and supporters of the ALA challenged themselves by climbing the 42 flights of stairs in Terminal Tower (804 steps total), in an effort to raise money to support the fight against lung disease. The goal was to raise $80,000 to support lung health, research and advocacy in Northern Ohio. Together they raised over $40,000, and the option to donate is still available on the Cleveland Fight for Air Climb event website.

Fight for Air Climbs are unique events for the ALA, taking place in large towers in cities across the US. Lung cancer is the number one cancer killer in America, and the ALA is dedicated to helping people know what is needed to manage and take control of asthma and other chronic respiratory ailments. We at Filters Fast are dedicated to this cause as well, and know that indoor air quality can be a key factor in the development of chronic lung illness. Take care of yourself by making sure your environment is free from harmful air pollutants. Clean regularly and change your air filters on a consistent basis. You and your family may also want to consider investing in one or several room air purifiers for your home, especially if you suffer from allergies or asthma.

Show your support publicly, by signing up for a Fight for Air Climb in a city near you.

Celebrate Indoor Air Quality Month with Filters Fast

Halloween isn’t the only thing to celebrate this month. October is National Indoor Air Quality Month, and several states, including North Dakota, Michigan and Montana are celebrating by spreading the word about the dangers of harmful indoor (and outdoor) air contaminants.

Seasonal changes often result in higher incidences of allergy problems and illnesses. Pollen is prevalent in the spring and fall opens the door to ragweed. Asthma, often caused by air pollution, is a growing epidemic among children and adults, resulting in missed school and work days, along with emergency room visits, and in extreme cases, even death. Indoor air pollution deserves way more attention than it currently receives. Though many people are aware of air contaminants such as mold, tobacco smoke and carbon monoxide, they may not be fully aware of just how dangerous these allergens can be. It is important to raise awareness and educate others on how they can avoid the problems caused by air pollution.

Here are some tips to help you improve the indoor air quality in your home:

1. Take our Indoor Air Quality Quiz to find out how dangerous your home environment is.

2. Quit smoking and avoid secondhand tobacco smoke.

3. Regularly change the A/C filters and microwave and hood range filters in your home.  Air filters with a higher MERV rating are more efficient at removing microscopic particles. You may also want to purchase an air purifier.

4. Use a HEPA vacuum cleaner and change the HEPA filter regularly.

5. Clean furniture regularly (more if you have pets in your home). Use non-toxic household cleaning products. Use hypoallergenic bedding.

Like any other national holiday, the  month of October is a time for recognition and remembrance – specifically the recognition of the importance of clean air. Join the observance and celebrate by spreading the word and sharing this post.