Dear Comfort Advisor,
Spring is upon us as the crocus and daffodils are starting to emerge. This change in the season will trigger my allergies. Are there any solutions?
Dear Clean Air Connie,
The awaking from the winter slumber for many plants comes quickly, especially in our northern climates where the growing season is short. Both naturally occurring and cultivated plants are doing their best to spread pollen to every square inch of our planet, including in your home. It is amazing to me how some folks are not remotely affected by this and for others it is a constant battle. The American Lung Association has some tips to reduce pollen in the home such as showering and washing your clothes if you have been outside for any extended amount of time, keeping your home closed up to reduce air changes, and running your furnace fan a half hour prior to being inside to trap the pollen in your filter.
As much as it is unrealistic to live in sterile environment, our lungs are happier if we can reduce the levels of airborne particulate we breathe, including pollen. The air in your home is not all “air.” It has all kinds of small particles floating around like pollen, dust, and dander. There are also micro-organisms such as mold spores and fungi that are looking for moisture and a dark place to set up house in. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are present and usually noticeable because some sort of odor is associated with them. And don’t let the lovely smells of candles and room fresheners fool you, they are usually just masking another problem and add VOCs themselves. Many products in our homes contain chemicals that can “off gas” and negatively impact indoor air quality. Cleaning supplies, solvents, pet odors, and cooking smells fall under the category of VOCs (so do my son’s athletic socks, talk about volatile!).
If you have a duct system, providing effective filtration would be a first step. Effective filtration is generally not the standard 1’’ furnace filter. These are only designed to protect the inner workings of the furnace, not the occupants of the home. There is a multitude of filtration and purification products available. When exploring these options you need to realize you are making an investment in your health. Some of these products can run $300-400 and a truly comprehensive system including deep pleated filters and ultraviolet lights can be well over $1,000 and have annual maintenance costs. This may sound like a substantial investment, but when compared to the cost of medications, are worth the investment without several paragraphs of small print side effects. If you have airborne allergies and are not addressing your in-home filtration, you are missing a very important component in supporting good health.
We have been called out many times to analyze indoor air quality of homes and businesses. We use the “Air Advice” analyzer for this purpose. It is a small data collecting cube that samples airborne particulate, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, temperature, and humidity. It stores up to 7 days of information and downloads the information via the internet to create a comprehensive report. Problem areas and solutions are noted in the report specific to your home/office. They range from improving filtration, increasing ventilation, adding UV treatments, or adding a humidifier. If you don’t test, you simply don’t know what is going on. Give me a call if you want more details on what can be done to improve the air in your home.