Could Your Indoor Environment Be Making You Sick?

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Since the 1970's, homes, schools, and office buildings have been built with air tight specifications to conserve energy. This causes airborne particles to remain in the air with nowhere to go. According to the EPA, indoor air is found to be up to 70 times more polluted than outdoor air. The American Lung Association states that we spend about 90% of our time indoors, 60% of that time at home. Many illnesses (allergies, asthma, and hay fever-allergic rhinitis) are either caused, or aggravated, by polluted indoor air. Allergies are reactions of the immune system to substances known as allergens. Common symptoms include a clear, watery nasal discharge, stuffiness, itchy nose and sneezing accompanied by watery and itchy eyes. Allergens, often called "triggers", include household dust, dust mites, mold spores, pet dander (skin flakes), cockroach waste, tree, grass, and weed pollen, and tobacco smoke. As you come in contact with allergens, your immune system "fills up". When your system becomes overloaded, you feel miserable. By avoiding the allergens that cause your discomfort, you are giving your system a chance to "unload" and recover. The specific environmental control measures found within this website will provide the practical solutions you need to feel better!

  1. Avoid dust mite allergens by encasing pillows, mattresses, and box springs in allergen-impermeable encasings.
  2. Be sure to wash bedding in hot water (130 degrees) every 7 - 14 days. Remove dust ruffle.
  3. Use a dehumidifier or air conditioner to bring indoor humidity level below 50%.
  4. Remove wall-to-wall carpeting. If not possible, treat carpets with anti-dust mite products.
  5. Vacuum often using a vacuum cleaner with high-allergen containment and a HEPA filter or double layer micro filtration vacuum bags.
  6. Remove stuffed animals that are not hot water machine washable.
  7. Use an accurate humidity gauge to maintain proper humidity levels.
  8. Cover heating vents with special vent filters to clean air before it enters your room.
  9. Use a HEPA air purifier to remove airborne allergens from the air.
  10. Wear a dust mask when cleaning or doing household chores.
  11. Decorate with wood, vinyl, or leather furniture.
  12. Avoid heavy drapes; use shades or washable curtains.
  13. Avoid wall hangings that tend to collect dust such as wall pennants and posters.
  14. Keep all clothes and books in drawers or in the closet.
  House Dust and Dust Mite Allergies

Dust mites, which are scientifically known as dermatophagoides pteronyssinus, are insect-like creatures. They are natural inhabitants of your home, but because they are microscopic you have probably never seen them. Their presence does not indicate a lack of cleanliness. In fact, no matter how meticulously you clean, they can not be entirely eliminated. Since females lay 25 to 50 eggs every three weeks, total elimination would be impossible.

Dust mites live in house dust and feed on flakes of human skin that are contained in the dust particles. People shed skin flakes constantly, in amounts up to 1.5 grams per day. This provides enough nourishment for the dust mites to gorge on and even tides them over during periods when rooms are not entered or used.

House dust mite allergy is not only caused by the dust mites themselves, but also by their excrements (feces). Each mite produces about 20 waste droppings each day causing allergic reactions, even after the mite that produced them is dead. Constant exposure to mite allergens can lead to chronic (long term) illness.

Dry air during heating periods causes dried dead mite bodies and body parts to become airborne. To make matters worse, the finely grained excrement breaks down to an extremely fine powder. The powder then sticks to surrounding materials such as carpets and upholstery. It becomes airborne when you walk on the carpet, and sit down or rise from upholstered furniture.

Attracted to warmth and moisture, mites thrive in mattresses, pillows, towels, carpets, upholstered furniture, and children's stuffed toys. The average bed contains two million of these creatures, making the bedroom a danger zone for anyone who is sensitive to dust mite allergen.

By taking a few steps to minimize dust mite allergen in your bedroom, along with other areas of your home, it is possible to decrease your allergic symptoms and even medication requirements.