When you picture spring what do you see? Is it sunshine, spending time outdoors, picnics, warm breezes, and a general feeling of happiness? Or is it itchy eyes, sneezing, constantly worrying about pollen and weather, and dreaded spring cleaning? If the second example sounds like you, you’re one of the millions who probably see spring as a season of suffering and misery; but you don’t have to. Read on to find out what may be causing those unwanted issues as well as ways you can change your indoor air for the better, making spring the exciting end of winter that it is for so many.
Most of the country sees the start of spring, as a season, around the same time every year, usually about the third week of March. The start of spring in terms of allergy season may have different timing altogether. In some parts of the country, such as central and southern areas of Texas, the desert southwest, the gulf coast, and southern California, may begin experiencing the spring allergy season as early as late January or early February, lasting well into summer.
So, even though it is not technically "spring," for a few more weeks, if you’re an allergy sufferer, you may have already started feeling nasal congestion, sneezing, itchy, red, and watery eyes, or a runny nose, and could be wondering why. What’s more, there are also other factors of the season which also add to a generally miserable experience that you may not even be aware of, such as irritants from spring cleaning and increases in dust and other airborne debris caused by changing weather patterns. We’ll explore these factors and provide solutions that will leave you looking forward to a fresh, new, spring!
There are many types of pollen, many of which begin to fill the air during the spring. These include tree pollen which begins to release from awakening dormant trees, such as the infamous cedar tree (cedar fever), birch, hickory, and walnut. Another culprit is grass pollen. Examples of grass pollen include common lawn variations, such as timothy, Bermuda, and Kentucky bluegrass, as well as “weed” pollen, such as Sagebrush, Redroot Pigweed, Ragweed, Lamb’s Quarters, Russian Thistle and English Plantain. You can find more examples of common pollen responsible for allergies, plus, great tips to beat them in our blog post, "It's Open Season on Allergy Season". Regardless of the type of pollen, the symptoms can feel equally terrible and can result in a lot more time spent indoors, binge-watching the latest Netflix series, than quality time spent outdoors enjoying the warmer weather.
Often the best the best way to improve your indoor air and combat seasonal waves of pollen is to have multiple air purifiers throughout your home, especially in rooms which you spend a lot of time in. Paired with the proper filters, this can dramatically reduce the amount of pollen in your indoor air, drastically decreasing your suffering from seasonal allergies.
Spring cleaning stirs up more than an urge to clean your whole home. There are serious impacts of spring cleaning indoors that kicks up dust, reveals mold, disturbs pet dander and more, that may leave you sneezing, coughing, and crying. Not to mention as the weather warms and plants start to bloom there are all of the outdoor irritants to contend with too.
VOCs: Many cleaning chemicals contain a range of VOCs. According to the EPA, VOCs, otherwise known as volatile organic compounds, are gases which are released from certain chemicals that are often in cleaning chemicals and other common household items. Using these types of cleaning chemicals, especially in high amounts, such as may be the case during periods of intense cleaning, can drastically raise the number of VOCs in your air. Furthermore, if you’re planning a fresh coat of paint, using seasonal decorations, considering new furniture or bedding, these things may be responsible for releasing large amounts of unwanted VOCs into your home’s air.
When large amounts of VOCs build up in your home, the air can become unsafe to breathe. Currently, no general standards exist for safe VOC concentrations, so we recommend that in addition to one or more air purifiers, it’s generally a good idea to limit your exposure to these chemicals, not only for seasonal comfort but also for your long-term health.
Dust: Often, when people say “dust” they may think of “dust bunnies” and similar debris found in their home, usually behind furniture. This debris is more than just dust and debris that comes from outdoors. Unfortunately, a significant amount of it is created in your home from a variety of sources. Dust is a combination of materials and irritants, including dust mites, dust mite fecal matter, fibers, hair, shed skin cells, mold spores, pollen, bacteria, and pet dander, among others. Additionally, in metropolitan areas, dust can also contain smoke particles and soot from the atmosphere.
Mold: Yet another culprit of spring suffering. Often growing on food sources, such as wood, cloth, insulation, and wallboard, mold can grow in as little as 24 hours, especially in areas of high moisture or water damage. You can limit mold growth in your home through air purification, drying and cleaning surfaces that often have interact with moisture, and by limiting humidity levels in the home.
It is a common misconception that the filter inside a home’s HVAC system (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) can provide a solution to whole-home air purification. While HVAC is critical to a comfortable home, working to either warm or cool the air, there are significant differences between an HVAC’s filter and a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) style home air purifier, like Alen’s BreatheSmart purifiers.
First and foremost, most people only have one or two HVAC system filters in their home. Consequently, while the HVAC system is working hard to regulate airflow and temperature, its filters have only a limited reach. They are made to trap larger particles as air happens to pass through the unit’s main ventilation area, missing smaller particles and leaving large amounts of air unclean. Furthermore, HVAC filters do not remove any of the additional indoor air quality concerns a home air purifier can target, such as mold, allergens, smoke or unpleasant odors.
The Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technology dictates that a HEPA filter must trap over 99% of particulates 0.3 microns or larger. This does not mean that a HEPA filter cannot trap particles which may be smaller than 0.3 microns, in fact, many HEPA filters can accomplish this; it is simply the threshold that must be reached in order to carry the name of HEPA. Purifiers like the Alen BreatheSmart 75i utilize True-HEPA filters in order to drastically improve air quality. Furthermore, all Alen filters eliminate allergens from the air.
According to Allergy and Air, “HEPA filters trap air contaminants in a complex web of fibers. Depending on the size of the particle, this can happen in four different ways: Inertial Impaction, Diffusion, Interception, or Sieving.
Knowing how a HEPA filter works, you can rest assured that your Alen Air Purifier and HEPA style filtration will work together to give you control of your indoor air quality, even as pollen counts skyrocket, VOCs increase, and dust and other pollutants proliferate.
There is a wide range of particles in the air. These particles range from those which are fairly easy to see, such as smoke and dust particles, to particles so tiny they are ultra-microscopic and entirely undetectable to the human eye. Enter microns. Microns, which are one-millionth of a meter in size, are how particles like these are measured. To illustrate the size of a micron, or particles which may be less than a micron in size, consider that the human eye cannot visually see anything less than 10 microns in size. Here is a simple chart to give you even more examples:
Image Credit: Sturtevant Inc
With all your knowledge on what makes a great air filter, you’re ready to pick your air purifier. Bear in mind, not all purifiers are created equal. In fact, an air purifier is only as effective if it operates as an efficient system. Alen shines in this regard. Our filters, like those found in the BreatheSmart 45i and BreatheSmart 75i, form a sealed filtration system within the purifier, stopping air from flowing around the filter and ensuring effectiveness, unlike other purifiers which may not seal this way, allowing dirty air to pass through completely unfiltered and back into your environment.
This is one of the most critical aspects of choosing an air purifier. All air purifiers are only effective at cleaning the air in one room, and only up to certain square footage. While the volume of the room also plays an important part, many homes have similar dimensions in this regard, allowing you to simplify your calculations. Using a simple tool like the Room Area Calculator from Online Calculators will provide an exact measurement of your rooms square footage, based on only two measurements.
Again, in square footage capability and efficiency, Alen purifiers rise above the competition. Many of our units can completely cycle and clean the air in a room in as little as 30 minutes, and purifiers like the 75i can handle rooms up to 1,300 square feet, dwarfing most other consumer purifiers. All of this while operating at a sound level you can barely hear, using as little energy as a 50-watt light bulb.
An air purifier is a single room solution. No purifier can effectively clean around corners, through doorways, through walls or even ventilation openings. This means that in order to create a whole-home clean air solution, multiple purifiers are necessary. We typically suggest purchasing at least two purifiers, like those found in our purifier bundles, as you work towards turning your home into a clean air paradise. The best rooms to place these purifiers is where you spend the most time or have the greatest concerns, like bedrooms, living rooms, or kitchens. Many of our customers, like Indy, note an immediate difference in their air:
“Huge and Immediate Improvement. This has made a huge difference in my home's air quality. I got the whole house package as I have 2 dogs and a large parrot. I put 1 in the living room, 1 in my bedroom and 1 in the bird room. It has really cut down on the dust and my cleaning time! The noise level is much lower than I expected. Also, a quick delivery. I am very satisfied.”
As mentioned earlier, be sure that the purifiers you choose are adequately sized for each room’s square footage and concerns. With several filter options, you can address issues like unwanted odors, mold, dust, allergens, and more, on a case by case basis, or change them with the seasons, to address seasonal allergies in spring, fall, and winter, or year-round. Even better, you can subscribe your purifier to our filter subscription program and automatically receive replacement filters for each purifier without having to remember!
You’re now more empowered than ever to end seasonal misery, free from pollen, dust, and VOCs. Whether you start by choosing a healthier alternative to the harsh chemical for spring cleaning or adding Alen air purifiers to your home, you’re on your way to a happy, easy-breathing spring. One of many to come.
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