Improving Indoor Air Quality for Seasonal Allergy Relief
Improving Indoor Air Quality for Allergy Sufferers
If you suffer from seasonal allergies or have asthma triggered by pollen, no one needs to tell you when pollen or mold spore counts are high. Severe allergies often require medical care, so anything you can do to improve indoor air quality (IAQ) is worth considering. All Cool has some good news; consider these steps to reducing allergens in your home to remove the worst allergen concentrations for significantly improved indoor air quality and allergy relief.
4 Steps for Improved Indoor Air Quality with Existing Equipment
Your home already has the equipment to help you remove allergens and keep them from accumulating in your home. Using these pieces of equipment in unison will help maintain good indoor air quality and remove irritating particulates. Equipment already in your home include:
- Vacuum regularly. Dusting and vacuuming regularly are the first and best means of removing airborne particles and keeping them from circulating. It is simple and you can adjust how often you clean seasonally if you find that it is advantageous. A vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter removes the maximum amount of dust, pollen, mold spores, and dander.
- Change your air filter often. Your HVAC system conditions the air to make your home safe and comfortable. It heats or cools the air, cleans it, dehumidifies it, and circulates it as needed. The primary component for cleaning the air is an air filter, located so as to clean the air before it is drawn into a chamber to be heated or cooled. Air filters are rated according to a MERV rating system; the higher the number the better. Purchase a filter with a MERV 12 or higher rating. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, a High-Efficiency Particulate Air filter (HEPA) is recommended. These filters will remove 99% of airborne particulates. An air filter should be replaced at least every three months–more frequently if needed.
- Clean ductwork annually. Airborne particles are carried into the ductwork as the air circulates. When a blower cycle ends, the air movement comes to a stop and any duct or pollen is deposited inside the duct. If you remove allergens throughout the house, don’t forget your ducts.
- Manage humidity. During the cooling season, the AC removes humidity from the air, keeping the indoor air between 30 to 50% humidity. This helps to minimize the growth of mold and mildew. Spores from these fungi contribute to the allergen count in your indoor air. Refrain from starting and stopping the AC during the season to control humidity and prevent mold growth.
3 Further Steps with Added Equipment
If your quest for improved indoor air quality (IAQ) needs additional help, consider these simple enhancements to further eliminate allergens from your home.
- An Air Purifier. Air purifiers are small portable units that actively remove airborne contaminants in a given space with a variety of sources. The filtration is often graduated, removing larger than smaller particles in filters that may be cleaned or replaced. Often, they also use activated charcoal to remove harmful gases and odors. There are also whole home models that connect to your HVAC system for improved indoor air quality (IAQ) throughout the house.
- Ultraviolet light (UV). UV disrupts the cell membranes of living cells (it causes sunburn) and is quite deadly for pollen, mold, dust mites, viruses, and bacteria. UV lights are installed inside the ductwork and neutralize living cell particulates, making them easily removed by the air filter.
- House plants. That’s right, ordinary house plants. In 1989, NASA conducted a Clean Air Study to determine which plants would work well in closed environments such as Mars and Lunar bases. Since such bases would be manufactured environments, they were looking for plants that might remove harmful gases given off by building materials after manufacturing. The top 10 plants they recommend include the following:
An evergreen perennial that is perfect for bathrooms because it effectively takes fecal particles out of the air. It grows and spreads out horizontally, serving as an eight-inch-high ground cover if planted outdoors. English Ivy also combats mold, which is great for damp spaces like a bathroom. English ivy requires about four hours of sunlight daily and needs a generous amount of water.
This plant very effectively removes common off-gases, such as benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and carbon monoxide from the air. It grows to be two feet tall and produces bright colored flowers. Water this plant at the base, but not too frequently. (Overwatering any plant can stimulate the growth of mold.)
Snake Plant / Mother-In-Law’s Tongue
This plant is very easy to care for, just don’t overwater. It is a great plant for your bedroom since it releases extra oxygen overnight. It also removes common off-gases, such as trichloroethylene, toluene, benzene, xylene, and formaldehyde from the air.
This succulent enjoys lots of sunlight but not too much water. It is a well-known salve for burns and skin injuries; just cut off a leaf and apply the juice to the affected site. It removes some of the off-gases that result from strong detergents and floor finishes.
Spider plants are easy to grow and reproduce with runners that grow lots of tiny new spider plants. They remove carbon monoxide and xylene, a common solvent used in manufacturing rubber and printed materials.
This popular and common house plant removes formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene from the air. Like a fussy house guest, this plant does not like change. It prefers indirect sunlight and no drafts, but keep it happy and it will purify your house for many years.
This lovely plant with strong dark green leaves develops a specialized leaf that turns white and shelters an elegant flower. It rids the house of formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and benzene and produces extra humidity as a bonus. Water it about once per week, but keep it out of the reach of pets, since it produces a mild toxin irritating to dogs and cats that might nibble on them.
This large, elegant palm is easy to care for and very beneficial. It moisturizes the air, effectively removes toxins from the air, and looks good doing it.
Rubber plants are large plants that have large, simple leaves and are favored by decorators and designers. It tolerates low natural light well, is easy to care for, and removes formaldehyde, a common off-gas from carpet and plastics.
The lush foliage and long, graceful fronds of this fern grab toxins from the air and increases humidity levels in indoor spaces. It needs regular watering and an occasional misting of the leaves.
Remember that some houseplants can be toxic to pets or children. It’s wise to research the best uses and placement before you make a purchase. Read more at Gardening Know How: Low Allergy Houseplants: Which Houseplants Relieve Allergies
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