Experts reveal that indoor air pollution levels can reach from two to five times higher than outside levels!
Physical symptoms related to some of these contaminants can be cough, chest tightness, mucous membrane irritation, itchy watery eyes, sneezing, wheezing, sinus and upper respiratory congestion.
How does an allergy develop?
- By exposure to any allergen (See list below)
- When exposed, this activates your irritant and immune system sensors
- Antibodies are released into your system to destroy the allergen
- Histamines are released into your system by mast cells to combat these effects
The first time you breathe in an allergen, it sets off your immune system, which in turn senses danger and produces anti-bodies to fight it with. Allergies tend to follow genetic family lines and can either begin during childhood, or much later in life.
Allergen particles are carried in the air, but they often settle onto furniture and floors. They come in different sizes, and are measured in microns or micrometers. Pollen, dust mite and cockroach debris are larger than molds or animal allergens and settle from the air more quickly.
Breathing airborne particles from these and other sources can cause you to experience mild to severe allergic reactions.
A list of Allergy Triggers and what you can do:
Pollen – Trees and leaves (even evergreens), grasses, weeds, and flowers produce pollen and can trigger hay fever or seasonal allergies anytime during the year. Some of these can be avoided by staying indoors on windy days, but the greatest aid is an efficient heating & cooling filtration system.
Animal Dander – a protein mix secreted in animal’s skin and saliva can cause allergic reactions in some people. Ways to avoid this is to shampoo your pet frequently, launder their bedding often, and keep carpets clean and vacuumed. Allergy shots may also help.
Dust Mites – tiny microscopic mites live in dust and feed on pollen, bacteria, fungi and the dead skin from humans and pets. Avoid this common allergen by keeping your house dust-free and minimizing other ‘dust collectors’ such as stuffed toys, lint filled fabrics like blankets, and heavily upholstered furniture.
Molds – several types of mold can cause allergic reactions with symptoms similar to those from mites, pollen or dander. Prevent this by checking for excessively damp areas of your home, and by good HVAC filtration.
Fragrance – it is questioned whether fragrance is a true allergen or simply an irritant. However, many people respond to some heavy fragrances with allergy type symptoms. Candle scent and smoke, perfume, laundry detergents, and room deodorizers can bring on these sniffles.
Cockroaches and Insects – these have proteins in their droppings, saliva and appendages that can trigger allergies. When they die, the dust from the decay can contribute to sometimes severe allergic reactions. Keeping your home or business dust free and vacuumed, and by maintaining your HVAC filtration system, you can help alleviate this problem.
Sick Building Syndrome (SBS)
The above list is what we find prevalent in our homes, but industrial and business environments may also foster allergens.
The term “Sick Building Syndrome” (SBS) describes a place where occupants may experience acute health issues and discomfort related to time spent within the building. These may be localized in a particular room or area, or be widespread. The term “Building Related Illness” (BRI) describes when the symptoms of diagnosable illnesses are identified and attributed to airborne building contaminants.
Molds, pollen, bacteria, dust mites, viruses or other allergens are types of biological contaminants. Included in these might be insect or bird droppings. When undetected stagnant water accumulates in ducts or drain pans, this can lead to the growth of mold plus fester bacteria and viruses.
Does your HVAC system help control harmful allergens?
What is the quality of the air you are breathing right this moment? Your HVAC system can both harbor and spread allergens when not working efficiently.
There are a number of measures you can take at home or at your place of business in combating this:
- Call us for an inspection. Our indoor environmental services can identify the cause of poor air quality in your home, or for possible ‘sick building syndrome’ in a place of business or church. ABEL Heating and Cooling’s CIEC technician is professionally trained to look holistically at these challenges.
- If necessary, you may need to replace outdated and inefficient HVAC systems.
- Change the system air filters on a regular basis. Dirty filters and damp filters can become a source of air contamination when fungal spores become trapped, colonized, and released as the overloaded filter fails.
- Keep up with pest control measures.
- Check your clothes dryer vent. If it’s blocked, it will spread lint and dust.
Not all filters are created equal.
We can’t stress enough to everyone – Clean or replace your frequently! The effectiveness of filters is measured in MERVs [Minimum Efficiency Recording Value]. These range from 1 to 20, with 20 providing the highest level of particle filtration. The American Lung Association recommends MERV 10 or higher.
Flat panel filters have a rating of 1 to 4 MERVs, and are designed more to protect a furnace and not necessarily to improve indoor air quality.
Medium efficiency filters have a higher surface area and filter more particles out of the air. Their MERV rating is from 5 to 13.
High efficiency filters have MERV ratings of 14 to 16, and can remove even smaller particles than do pleated filters.
HEPA filters (High-efficiency particulate air) have MERV ratings of 17 to 20. But these are not typically recommended for centralized home HVAC systems unless major updates exist or are made to the system.
Take control of the air you breathe!
Here at ABEL Heating & Cooling, we have an air quality certified expert who can inspect your home or business for allergen contaminants, and determine whether your HVAC system is effectively alleviating allergens caused by the above listed culprits.
Call us at 952-472-COOL (2665) or Contact Us.