Indoor Air Pollution: Airborne Particles
One form of indoor air pollution is airborne particles such as dust, dander, pollen and dust mites. These airborne particles can trigger allergy and asthma symptoms in the residents of many homes. A survey published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that at least six allergens were detectable in more than more than 50 percent of homes. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, eight out of 10 people in the United States are exposed to dust mites and six out of 10 people are exposed to dander from their cats or dogs. Dust mites and their waste products are the most common allergens in indoor air. Dust mites live in rugs and carpets, sheets, mattresses and pillows, and upholstered furniture. Ten to 15 percent of people are allergic to dust mites. Of the people who have other allergies, 40 percent are also allergic to dust mites.
These particles are carried through the air and can be found on furniture, floors and other surfaces throughout the home. While it’s impossible to keep a home completely allergen-free, there are several steps you can take to reduce their effect on your family.
Indoor air particles:
- Do your cleaning early in the day so the airborne particles you stir up settle before you go to bed.
- Dust your home on at least a weekly basis. The first thing you should do is reduce the amount of dust in your home. Dust mites thrive in dust. Use a damp or treated cloth so you don’t return the dust particles into the air again and wear a dust mask if you are especially prone to dust allergies.
- Clear the clutter, especially in the bedrooms. Books, knick-knacks, throw-pillows and rugs are magnets for dust.
- Vacuum the carpeting and furniture once or twice a week. We vacuum our hardwood floors with a canister vacuum, it works great. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter, dust mites are so small they will pass through a regular vacuum bag. Once again, wear a dust mask if you are sensitive to dust.
- Focus on the bedrooms. We spend up to 1/3 of our lives in there, it’s especially important to reduce allergens here. Wash sheets, pillowcases and mattress covers at least once a week in water that is hotter than 130 degrees or use an anti-allergen detergent or additive. Dry them in a hot dryer to kill dust mites.
- Cover mattresses, box springs and pillows with dust mite proof covers.
- Keep pets out of sleeping areas and off of beds. Pet dander can remain in your home for months even if the pet is removed from the home.
- Wash your pet on a regular basis using anti allergen pet shampoos and use pet dander solutions in between shampoos.
- Keep your windows and doors closed. If you do open them, buy a screen that is designed to keep out pollen and mold spores.
- Avoid going outdoors between 5am and 10am. That’s when pollen is emitted from plants.
- Avoid being outside when the pollen count is high.
- Change your clothes when you get home and leave your shoes by the door. Take a shower now or before you go to bed.
- Don’t hang laundry to dry outside, pollen and mold can collect on it.
- Set your air conditioner to re-circulate the air, not draw it in from outside.
- Use vacuums with HEPA filters.
Those are some of the ways you can reduce indoor air pollution caused by airborne particles. You can also install a whole house air cleaner. These filters trap 98% of visible airborne dust and other large particles and permanently capture at least 97% of airborne pollen-sized particles. They provide more than 30 times the filtering media used in standard 1” furnace filters and they require no maintenance other than changing the filter every year or two.