Synopsis: Allergy tips to help reduce indoor pollution and create a healthier cleaner home.
Certified Indoor Environmental expert offers unconventional and practical tips to help reduce indoor pollution and create a healthier home
On average, Americans spend about 90 percent of their time indoors, of that 90 percent, about 65 percent of that is spent at home.(1) Indoor air pollution, including household allergens, is one of the leading causes of health problems in the United States.
A number of everyday products and activities can be making your home sick.
With a few simple changes and better practices, Americans can immediately manage the quality of air in their homes.
According to Dan Stih, Certified Indoor Environmental Expert, retired Engineer and author of Healthy Living Spaces: Top 10 Hazards Affecting your Health, indoor pollution can be just as harmful as outdoor pollution. "The last thing any person wants is to live in a sick house, full of triggers that end up affecting their overall well-being," says Stih. "Paying attention to how your appliances work, the ingredients in cleaning supplies and your overall atmosphere will help combat pollutants and reduce allergies to improve your home environment."
Asthma and allergies strike one in every four Americans, approximately 60 million people.(2) With experts predicting this year will be the worst allergy season in a decade, Stih recommends evaluating what's happening in your home and investigating simple ways to manage allergy levels.
Indoor allergens come from a number of sources such as pet dander, dust mite feces and mold spores. As an indoor air expert, Stih explains "the technology and design behind appliances play a key role in maintaining a healthier home."
Dan Stih suggests five practical tips to help reduce triggers that cause unhealthy homes.
1) Vacuums - Pay attention to what they promise: Investing in a good vacuum cleaner can make all the difference. Many vacuums not only under-perform but can do more harm than good. Look for a machine that captures dust and does not blow it back into the air. I've tested a number of machines and found that Dyson vacuums reduce allergen particles. They are certified asthma & allergy friendly by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). (3) Don't be fooled by marketing lines. You need a vacuum that has a HEPA filter, but make sure it is a post motor filter.
2) Air purifiers - The power of filters. Air purifiers that do not require filters produce ozone, a gas that can cause health problems and affect our lungs and respiratory system. Often you can smell the ozone. Purifiers with high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, on the other hand, are the best option given they remove at least 99.97 percent of airborne particles. If you air purifier doesn't have a filter unplug it and go buy one that does.
3) Mold - Don't just kill mold, remove it. Since mold causes allergies, part of getting rid of household allergens is to get rid of mold and fix the water problems that are causing mold to grow. Applying bleach or other biocides to mold may actually induce the mold to produce toxins as part of its last fight to survive. Instead, soap, water and hydrogen peroxide can be used in cleaning the affected area. The Environmental Protection Agency states that dead mold may still cause allergic reactions in some people so for a healthy home, it is not enough to kill mold, it must also be removed.
4) Scents - Be as scent-free as you can be. Unplug air-fresheners, wash cloths in non-fragrant laundry soap and minimize the use of perfume. According to the United States Food and Drug Administration more that 70 percent of allergy sufferers develop respiratory symptoms when exposed to perfume.
5) Household Cleaners
Read the label - Cleaning supplies can sometimes increase allergen levels. Reading the label to identify hazardous chemicals is important when looking for cleaning supplies. If ingredients are not on the label, do not purchase it. Avoid cleaning products that say flammable, active ingredients, and contain alcohol as these airborne particles can ultimately affect our health. A healthy cleaning product will always list all its ingredients.
(1) U.S. EPA/Office of Air and Radiation; Office of Radiation and Indoor Air; Cosponsored with the Consumer Product Safety Commission
(2) Annual 2010 U.S. Prevalence Statistics for Chronic Disease, AAFA
(3) The asthma & allergy friendly Certification Program, administered by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) in partnership with the international research organization Allergy Standards Limited (ASL), is an independent program created to scientifically test and identify consumer products that are more suitable for people with asthma and allergies