Spring is a season that many of us look forward to, anticipating warmer days, green grass, new leaves on the trees and flowers, a welcome change after a long, cold winter. However, it is also the beginning of allergy season, with that new growth releasing pollens and spores into the air to trigger symptoms in allergy sufferers. People who suffer with seasonal allergies often retreat indoors to avoid allergen exposure. Unfortunately, allergens can find their way inside too, so finding relief means taking measures to protect and/or improve indoor air quality when pollen counts are high outdoors.
How High Pollen Concentrations Outdoors Can Impact Indoor Air Quality
Indoor air quality can be affected by high allergen counts outside in a several ways. When concentrations of pollens and spores are high in the outdoor air, seasonal allergens can invade your home, traveling indoors on your shoes and clothing. They float in with the air every time you open a door or window, and if you have pets, they will carry pollen and spores in on their fur. Homes that are poorly sealed, with air leaks that let outdoor air in also collect allergens via those air leaks.
Once those allergens make their way into your home, they mix with regular household dust, settling on surfaces, such as tables, floors and shelving, and sinking into carpets and upholstery. They also tend to collect in air ducts to be blown about in the air as you heat or cool your home. Last, but not least, the constant irritation caused by seasonal allergies can make you more sensitive to common indoor allergens, such as dust, dust mites, pet dander, mold and mildew, worsening your allergy symptoms.
Improving Indoor Air Quality: Creating A Haven From Seasonal Allergens
While completely eliminating allergens from your home is not possible, they can be minimized. Steps that you can take to improve indoor air quality in your home – and therefore your seasonal allergy symptoms – include measures to help keep allergens from invading your home and remove those that make it past your defenses.
Measures that can help minimize the amount of allergens that get into your home include using air conditioning to cool your home, rather than opening windows, and avoiding keeping doors open for extended periods of time, closing the door behind you between trips to the car to bring in groceries, for instance. You can minimize pollen brought in on your clothing, hair and body by showering and changing clothes immediately after extended periods outdoors.
Preventing allergens that do make it inside from building up in your home to cause symptoms can be done by keeping dust down in your home. Vacuuming frequently with a machine equipped with a HEPA filter can help, as can dusting a few times a week with a cloth that traps dust, rather than scattering it into the air.
While all of these measures can help, your heating and cooling contractor can offer a number of more effective solutions for improving indoor air quality and reducing allergy symptoms. These include options like air purification systems, duct cleaning, more efficient filtration for your heating and cooling system, and equipment to control indoor humidity, all of which can help ensure that the air in your home is as clean and allergen-free as possible.
As any seasonal allergy sufferer knows, preventing symptoms completely is not possible. However, by doing all you can to improve indoor air quality, you can reduce the frequency and severity of your symptoms, creating a comfortable, healthy haven from those seasonal allergens to decrease your misery during allergy season.