What causes allergies in the home? There are many different things that contribute to bad indoor air quality, and our modern lifestyle makes it even more difficult to keep our indoor environment free of allergens. Homes used to be built with less insulation, and there would be small cracks around doors and windows. With the advent of central air conditioning, we have sealed these cracks, making the home environment tighter to save on electric costs, but at the expense of indoor air quality. We used to open doors and windows to circulate fresh air into the home, but today we rely on the air conditioning system to filter the air for us.
One of the biggest things you can do to improve the air quality in your home is to use a proper air conditioning filter, and change it monthly. You need to look for the MERV rating, and find out from an AC specialist which filter is best for your unit.
Another big factor in indoor air quality is the choice of flooring. Allergy doctors have been promoting getting rid of carpets for decades to improve air quality. This is, in fact, incorrect. Carpet traps and holds the dirt and dust, so yes, it can be one of the dirtiest things in your home over time. Trapping and holding the dirt and dust prevents it from floating into your breathing zone. Dust on a hard surface floor will get stirred up when you walk across it, and the dust will stay in the air at about 4 1/2 feet for over 8 hours, IF you don’t walk in there again. 4 1/2 feet is the average breathing zone for women and many children. The carpet holds the dust, and prevents it from floating. There was a scientific study in Sweden in the 70’s that showed carpet was a much better choice for indoor air quality. The graph shows the increase in allergies as carpet use declined, and a decrease in allergies as carpet was re-introduced to homes and businesses. Carpet also is insulating, and helps cut down on noise.
In fact, carpet holds the dirt and dust so well, that you would have to vacuum the same spot 11 times to get 56% of the dirt and dust out. Professional cleaners, using the proper high powered truck mounted equipment, can remove up to 95% of the dirt and dust in the carpet fibers, leaving your house clean and fresh, and improving your indoor air quality.
Other factors as to what causes allergies in the home are pets, fireplaces or wood burning stoves, cooking and microbial growth such as molds or mildew. All of these indoor allergy sources can be controlled by proper regular cleaning, or the use of filters on furnaces and ac units, and vents on fireplaces and wood burning stoves. Pets need to be groomed regularly, and bathed, as well as laundering their bedding and more frequent vacuuming of carpets and floors.
Using swiffers or other dusters that attract and hold the dust (yes, just like the carpet does!) helps prevent dust from getting into the air, and ultimately keeps it out of your nose where it can irritate your allergies.
So, to fight what causes allergies in the home us proper cleaning methods, clean regularly and change your filters on a regular basis.