According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, millions of individuals suffer from allergy symptoms year-round, caused by indoor allergens like cockroach droppings, animal dander, molds, and dust mite droppings.
The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology says 20.3 million suffer from asthma. And, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America statistics show eight out of 10 individuals in the U.S are exposed to dust mites, while six out of 10 are exposed to dog or cat dander. In the southern parts or inner cities of the U.S., cockroaches cause allergic reactions in individuals living there.
Knowing this, how can you reduce allergens in your home? Here's some tips for each room in your house.
1. Take a look around the next time you're sitting in your living room. The piles and layers of stuff could be breeding grounds for allergens. You could help by reducing the clutter. Gather your dirty clothes, put them in a hamper, and keep them away from your living areas. Leave your shoes at the door.
2. Get rid of the plugin freshener. Some air fresheners actually emit VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, which can worsen respiratory issues. VOCs can also cause headaches in susceptible individuals.
3. Replace upholstered furniture or carpeting with easier-to-clean choices like hardwood or tile, and wooden furniture that has removable cushions.
1. Put your pet's food dishes away when they're done eating, and store food in lidded containers. Sweep and vacuum the floor after each meal, and take out recyclables and garbage. Use lidded garbage cans. Immediately wash your dishes after use, and clean under your refrigerators, stoves, or toasters, where you can accumulate crumbs. Regularly wipe off your:
- Other appliances
- Other kitchen surfaces
2. Use an exhaust fan regularly to reduce moisture and remove cooking fumes.
3. Fix leaky faucets. Even a tiny trickle under your sink from the pipes can lead to mold. For individuals with asthma with a particular gene variant, living in a house filled with mold could increase their risk of a severe attack.
1. Keep your pets out of the bedroom. When you're not home, keep your bedroom doors closed, so they can't get in. Cover vents with cheesecloth, or another dense material. Animal allergens are sticky. Change and wash your animal's toys and furniture often. Replace your wall-to-wall carpet with low-pile carpet or bare flooring. Brushing and bathing your pets could help reduce symptoms. However, don't groom your pets yourself if you have animal allergies. Wear a mask if you must groom them.
2. Make your bed. You'll want breathable light materials that haven't been dyed or manipulated with any triggering chemicals. Try a comforter made from natural eucalyptus fiber, which is a fabric that's more resistant than conventional cotton to:
- Other allergens
Encase your mattresses, box springs, and pillows in dust-mite-proof covers. Wash your pillowcases, sheets, and blankets and comforters once a week.
3. Invest in a natural latex mattress that is free of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Natural latex mattresses provide you with a healthy sleeping environment, free of VOCs, fire-retardants, and petroleum based foams.
4. Remove books, knick knacks, and other things that collect dust. Store games, stuffed animals, and toys in plastic bins.
1. Use an exhaust fan that will reduce moisture while you take showers or baths. Remove carpet if possible, and use linoleum or wood flooring. Use washable rugs. Get rid of wallpaper, and either paint your walls with a mold-resistant enamel paint, or install tile.
2. Towel-dry your tub after each use. Scrub mold from your faucets and tub. Replace or clean moldy bath mats and shower curtains. Repair leaks quickly.
3. Ditch the vinyl shower curtain, since it can emit VOCs and other potentially lung-aggravating compounds such as phthalates. A better choice for the environment and your health is a nylon curtain that you can toss in the wash when you need to.
1. Wear gloves and a mask when you clean your basement, since they're often dusty, damp, and can harbor mold or rodents. If vacuuming, continue wearing your mask, empty the vacuum bag outdoors, and place it directly into your trash bin.
2. Remove water-damaged or moldy carpeting. If possible, use linoleum or cement flooring. If that's not an option, try low-pile carpet instead, and use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA or small-particle filter. Install a vapor barrier (plastic sheeting) under your carpet to prevent moisture seepage.
3. Repair any sources of water damage or leaks. Reduce dampness with a dehumidifier, and clean it once each week. Vent moisture from your dryer outdoors with an exhaust fan.
Other Living Spaces
1. Block all areas where cockroaches can enter your home, including:
- Wall cracks
These pests require water to survive, so repair and seal all leaky pipes and faucets. Hire an exterminator to eliminate all roaches from your home.
2. Control dust mites by keeping your home's surfaces clean and uncluttered. Bare walls and floors are best, particularly in the bedroom where you spend a lot of your time. Don't use overstuffed fabric furniture and heavy drapes. Replace blinds and drapes with washable curtains and roll-down shades.
3. Minimize the growth of certain biological sources by controlling your home's relative humidity level. The EPA recommends a 30 to 50 percent relative humidity for homes. Water-damaged materials, standing water, or wet surfaces can also serve as breeding grounds for insects, mildews, molds, and bacteria.
It might take a little effort on your part, but it's possible to keep your home safe from allergens. By combining allergen removal methods and source control, you can help prevent the buildup of allergens in your home.
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