Pollens – Pollen is tiny, light and dry, and can travel hundreds of miles in the wind. Pollen counts are higher on dry, hot, windy days and lower when it has rained, and increase again after the rain conditions dry out. Pollen counts are highest from 5-10 a.m. Exposure to pollen also occurs indoors, as pollen is carried indoors on clothing, shoes, pets, and enters through open doors and windows. Indoor pollen is stirred up when you walk around the house or vacuum.
Environmental Controls for Pollen
- Keep windows and doors shut and use air conditioning in your house and car.
- Install a high efficiency air filter.
- Avoid outdoor activity early in the morning when pollen counts are high.
- Use masks and gloves when doing yard work. Shower and change clothes when done.
- Do not dry clothes outside.
- Limit outdoor activity on days when pollen counts are high.
House Dust and Dust Mites – Dust is everywhere. It settles on counters, furniture, curtains, linens, mattresses, clothes in closets, etc. Dust mites are microscopic insects that feed on dead skin cells. They thrive in heat and humidity. Mattresses, couches, carpets, bedding, pillows and children’s stuffed animals can harbor dust mites. Dust mites do poorly in humidity less than 50% and thrive in temperatures between 64-84ºF.
Environmental Controls for Dust and Dust Mites
- Use allergy proof covers on your mattress, box spring and pillows.
- Wash bedding weekly in hot water and dry in a hot dryer to kill dust mites.
- Avoid heavy draperies. Use washable window coverings.
- Keep floors bare and use washable throw rugs.
- Clean and vacuum your car regularly.
- Change furnace filters regularly.
- Avoid clutter and dust-collecting knick knacks that are hard to keep clean.
- Avoid use of ceiling fans that will keep dust stirred up.
- Use High Efficiency Particulate Arresting (HEPA) air filters to keep the air cleaner in your home.
- Dust and vacuum regularly. Don’t forget under the furniture.
Animal Dander – Animal dander is made up of small particulates from animal skin/fur that are deposited anywhere the animal touches. Dander is light and stays airborne longer than pollens. Cat dander is especially sticky and hangs around a house for several months after a cat is gone.
Environmental Controls for Animal Dander
- Avoid animals in your bedroom.
- Bathe animals frequently.
- Remove reservoirs, especially carpeting that harbor hair and dander.
- Avoid feather and wool bedding.
Mold – Mold thrives on decaying matter producing spores that become airborne. Exposure occurs year round, especially in the spring and fall. Once inhaled, these spores can cause an allergic response. Mold spores thrive in warm, dark, moist areas. Humid, warm air fosters mold growth; so control temperature and humidity in your house.
Environmental Controls for Mold
- Keep humidity less than 35-50 percent.
- Clean and fix water spills/leaks promptly.
- Install fans in bathrooms and over stoves.
- Avoid house plants in your bedroom. Minimize all house plants.
- Limit outdoor activity on days mold counts are high.
- Avoid eating foods containing mold.
Chemical Sensitivity – Exposure to chemicals may act as a catalyst to set off allergy symptoms. Be aware of reactions to chemicals in your environment and avoid them as much as possible. The possible triggers are wide ranging.
Environmental Controls for Chemical Sensitivity
- Avoid using scented products of all kinds.
- Household detergents and soaps
- Perfume, cologne, aftershave
- Candles and potpourri
- Deodorizers of any kind (room and car)
- Scented hairsprays, shampoos, gels, and mousse (use non-aerosol sprays)
- Scented skin lotions and oils
Solvents and Cleaning Fluids
- Fingernail polish and remover
- Gas fumes, gas, diesel, kerosene
- Household cleaning supplies, ammonia, bleach
- Paint, varnish, shellac, lacquer
- Paint thinner and remover
- Oven cleaners
- Tobacco including cigarettes, pipes, cigars
- Burning wood including fireplaces and campfires
- Dryer sheets
- Liquid fabric softener
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