When we think about air pollution, most of us are concerned with the air outside. We picture smoke stacks, car exhaust, and other sources of poor air quality in our towns and cities. Our homes are supposed to be an escape from all that – but the indoor air isn’t spotless, either.
You may not see them, but there are millions of indoor allergens living on your furniture, floors, and air ducts. These unwelcome guests can make you cough, sneeze, or worse. Indoor allergens are annoying for allergy sufferers, but they’re especially problematic for people with asthma or weakened immune systems.
You can’t completely get rid of indoor allergens, but you can manage them using a top-performance air conditioner with a good filter. HEPA filters can eliminate 99% of allergens and particles that pass through them. A few changes to your daily habits can also help keep indoors allergens out.
Studies show one in six Canadians have a seasonal allergy to one or more kinds of pollen. Pollen usually enters the home through open doors or windows, or by sticking to shoes, clothing, or pets. Since we tend to keep our windows open through the hot summer months, it’s easy for pollen to find a way into our homes.
If you’re spending time in an area with lots of pollen (at a park, for example), it helps to change into clean clothes when you get home. Leave your shoes on the porch or in the foyer. You should give your pets a good clean if they spend time outside, since pollen readily sticks to their fur.
Speaking of pets…
Bad news: there’s no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog or cat. That’s because most people with pet allergies are actually allergic to dander, not hair. Even short-haired (or hairless) animals shed dander.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a pet. A HEPA filter can do wonders for people with pet allergies. You can also designate a pet-free zone in your home so you can find refuge on those days where your allergies are really acting up.
If you’ve got moisture, you’re probably got mold. It thrives in dark, damp places, like bathrooms and kitchens with poor ventilation. It’s easier to spot than other allergens, but what you can’t see are the tiny, airborne spores that spread and grow new clusters.
The best way to deal with mold is to prevent it from growing in the first place. Make sure your bathroom and kitchen is well-ventilated, and deal with leaky pipes as soon as possible. Watch for damp spots around windows that could indicate leaks. You can clean mold from hard surfaces using water, detergent, and bleach, but moldy furniture and clothing should be thrown away.
Don’t be surprised if this makes your skin crawl. Dust mites are tiny insects that live in the fibres of carpet, furniture, bedding, and window dressings. They don’t bite, but they do trigger asthma and sinus issues.
Keep your floors and furniture clean to get rid of dust mites before they become a problem. If you’re particularly sensitive to dust mites, it may be best to switch to hardwood floors and non-fibrous furniture like wood or leather.