3 Most Common Household Allergens and How to Avoid Them
If you have a runny nose, watery eyes, itchy skin, or other symptoms that make you feel discomfort at home then there is a high possibility that in your home lives allergens. The three most common allergens are dust mites, mold, and pollen.
Dust mites (also called bed mites) is a cosmopolitan pyroglyphid that lives in human habitation. These microscopic arachnids are one of the main allergy offenders for people with allergic asthma. Dust mites love and reproduce easily in warm (temperatures at or above 70 degrees Fahrenheit), humid (70 to 80 percent) places. Dust mites die when the humidity goes below 50 percent. They are not normally found in dry climates. Invisible to the eye, dust mites are usually located in pillows, carpet, mattresses, and upholstered furniture since they live on the dead skin and dander. They are harmful when breathed since they irritate nasal passages and respiratory tracts.
How to get rid of them?
The sad news is that no matter how clean a home is, dust mites cannot be totally eliminated. But, a number of dust mites can be decreased significantly if you do your homework.
- Minimize household humidity. To do that use a dehumidifier to keep relative humidity between 30 to 50 percent.
- Remove wall-to-wall carpets, especially in the bedroom. Better use bare floors – linoleum, tile or wood.
- Use mattresses and pillows in dust-proof or allergen-impermeable covers. Also, wash all bedding and blankets often in hot water.
- Keep pets out of the bedroom, and preferably out of the house.
- Use a wet mop or rag to remove dust. Never use a dry cloth.
- Clean your house regularly using a vacuum with a HEPA filter.
- We recommend using a HEPA air purifier running in the bedroom and other rooms if necessary.
Molds are multiple types of fungi that grow in filaments and reproduce by creating spores. The mold grows in damp, warm, and humid conditions. Mold can be found in basically any environment or season.
Most common places where you can find molds are bathrooms and basements, sometimes even hidden behind wallpaper and within the drywall. Keep an eye out for water drips and broken appliances, which create a breeding spot for mold. Musty smells are another key indicator that you could have a mold problem.
Molds produce irritating substances that can act as allergy-causing elements (allergens) in sensitive persons. Some molds create toxic substances known as mycotoxins, but mold itself is not dangerous or toxic. The mold may not generate any health impacts, or it may lead to symptoms in people who are sensitive to molds.
How to limit mold in the household?
The best way to control mold growth is to control moisture. It is impossible to defeat all mold spores, the mold spores will not increase in the absence of moisture, so controlling moisture is the solution to limiting mold growth.
- Repair leaks in plumbing or other water problems as soon as possible. Dry all items completely.
- Clean mold off hard surfaces with detergent and water, and dry completely.
- Don’t use absorbent or porous materials, for example, carpet in humid basements and bathrooms.
- Having fans and keeping good ventilation in the home can also help limit or regulate dampness.
- Devices that produce moisture, such as clothes dryers and stoves, should be vented to the outdoors when possible.
- Use a dehumidifier during humid seasons to keep humidity between 30 to 50 percent.
Pollen is an airborne allergen (a fine yellow powder), which is picked up and moved by the wind, by birds, by insects or by other animals. Various trees, grasses, and weeds produce pollen, which for many people is a year-round problem and even more aggravating when it makes its way into their homes. Pollen is one of the several common allergens in the United States. Over 67 million people suffer from allergies, and of those 67 million, 81% say they are allergic to pollen.
To keep pollen outside, switch clothes and shoes immediately after returning indoors. Wash pets when they come inside, too, as their fur and paws quickly track pollen into the house. Also, during the pollen season keep your doors and windows closed. Regularly clean carpets and surfaces and we also recommend using a HEPA air purifier – it will remove pollen from your indoor environment.
Do you have any of these allergens in your home?
Do some testing. Do-it-yourself (DIY) testing kits let you take control of your own environment on your schedule and at a reasonable cost. There are several types of testing kits available on the market each intended to detect different types of pollutants in your environment. Here are the possible types:
- Allergen Test Kits. These kits recognize and identify familiar indoor allergens including pollen, dust mites, mold spores, insect fragments, fibers such as those from fiberglass, and skin cells.
- Mold Test Kits. These kits discover and identify multiple types of airborne mold in unsafe places such as basements, bathrooms, crawl spaces, attics, carpeting, and more.
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