Indoor air quality becomes a major issue during the fall and winter months. As we hunker down during the cooling and cold months, pollutants accumulate inside our homes and offices. Dust, mold, fungus, and even smoke and chemicals from fireplace fires and cooking can build up and wreak havoc on your lungs and allergies.
Here’s a list of common indoor allergens to look out for in your home this season (via WebMD):
- Dust - Dust is the by-product of our daily lives. It’s the pieces of plants, dirt, bugs, and fiber that find their way into our indoor air and trigger any number of allergies
- Dust Mites - The droppings from these tiny bugs are the most common trigger of allergy and asthma symptoms in your indoor space. Although they can be found throughout your home, they thrive on dead skin flakes in humid spaces like your bedroom.
- Pet hair and dander - Pet allergies are triggered by proteins in the animal’s saliva making their way to your pet’s hair and dander. The lightweight and sticky pollutants make their way to you and your clothing and travel easily from space to space.
- Cockroaches - As if you needed another reason to hate the ubiquitous pest, proteins in cockroach droppings are one of the main triggers of allergies and asthma.
- Mold - Closed off, humid spaces are the ideal conditions for mold to take hold. Once established, the spores they release can trigger your indoor allergy symptoms throughout the season.
- Cooking & Heating - Cooking and running the fireplace can make the season feel more comfortable and cozy, but they can also release chemicals and smoke into your kitchen, living room, and entire home.
The good news is that you can manage and minimize these triggers in your home. Here are some tips for reducing and even eliminating indoor allergens in your home or office:
- Mold control - Look for signs of mold in your home and remove old curtains, wallpaper, and carpeting where it’s set in. Wash surfaces in your bathrooms and kitchens with a bleach solution. Most importantly, make sure you give spaces like your bathrooms and kitchen the chance to air out after use to prevent the buildup of humidity.
- Embrace hard surfaces - Rugs and carpets can trap (and then release) all types of allergens. Where possible, replace your carpets with tile, wood, or ceramic flooring. If removing carpet isn’t an option, be sure to vacuum and wash your floors regularly.
- Bedroom care - You spend a third of your day in bed, so be sure to take extra care of your bed and bedroom. Sheets, covers, and comforters should be changed and washed thoroughly at least weekly. Your mattress and pillows should be checked to make sure they don’t contain chemicals that can trigger allergies.
- Pest control - If you see signs of cockroaches and other pests in your home, bring in an organic pest service to rid your home of those bugs. Follow up by keeping food packed away in containers and keep your home clean to prevent them from coming back.
- Pet Control - We know you love Fido, but it’s a good idea to keep him out of the bedroom and as much as possible, out of the house.
- Clean the air - A HEPA air purifier can go a long ways towards scrubbing the air of allergens that you can’t keep up with through your regular cleaning or that get kicked up into the air by pets, your AC or heater fan, and indoor activities. Consider an air purifier in each room or section of your home to deal with different allergens in different parts of your house. A nice side benefit is that the dust it clears from the air will make your regular cleanings that much easier.
There are definitely lots of challenges with indoor allergies during the fall and winter months. With some precautions and extra effort, this can turn out to be the best allergy season in years for you and your family. (Visit our learning center for more information about Fall and Winter allergies)
What are issues you face with indoor air quality during the fall and winter seasons? Share your concerns and ideas for dealing with them in our comments below.