April 4, 2024

The U.S. EPA and CDC agree that indoor air pollution is among the top health risks facing Americans. It’s an even bigger concern for those who suffer from allergies. The pollutants and contaminants in your air may not only trigger your allergies but exacerbate your symptoms.

Particulate Matter

Particulate matter (PM) is the primary allergy trigger, and the concern here is generally large rather than fine PM. This includes pollen, dust, dust mites and their eggs, mold spores, fungal spores and pet dander. Consider that pollen grains are about 30 microns, and cat hairs range from 1 to 20 microns in size. That may not seem like much, but it is when it comes to the topic of indoor air quality.

Keeping Large Particles Out of the Home

On a nice day, you may wish to open windows and let the fresh air in. If you have allergies, you may have to think twice when it’s pollen season, though. The good news is that there are screens for windows and doors designed particularly for allergy sufferers. The holes are fine enough to block the pollen.

Minimize the HVAC Impact

Forced air from HVAC systems doesn’t necessarily negatively affect IAQ. If your home has a lot of dust, the air can stir it up. Because of this, the EPA recommends deep dusting at least once a week. This is particularly helpful for allergy sufferers. Dust rooms from top to bottom using a microfiber cloth. Ideally, you should then vacuum.

You should also upgrade your HVAC filter. Manufacturers rate their filters using the minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) rating. You never want to use too high a MERV as it can decrease pressure in your HVAC system and cause inefficiency. While many systems can handle MERV 11 through 13, take the time to check with your HVAC professional to make sure that your unit can handle the force needed to pull air through your filter.

Consider Air Purification

If you want to take the filtration of particles a step further, consider investing in a whole-home air purifier. Portable air purifiers do work but only in the immediate space. Whole-home systems allow for additional mechanical ventilation and other stages. You can also add a HEPA bypass filter system to the return side of the HVAC system.

Other Irritants

While we often associate large particles like pollen with allergies, it isn’t the only factor. Other contaminants in the air can trigger and exacerbate symptoms. Several chemicals and gases, including volatile organic compounds, can do this. Note that some air purifiers do have an activated carbon stage. This will remove odors and most of those gases and chemicals.

Mechanical Ventilation

Another option to combat high pollution concentrations is mechanical ventilation. These systems add fresh air to the home without introducing pollen and other contaminants. Energy recovery ventilators, in particular, can have the added advantage of offsetting the need for a humidifier.

Relative Humidity

Another factor is relative humidity (RH). This is the measure of water vapor in the air within the context of temperature. Humidity affects you as an allergy sufferer in a couple of ways. The optimal indoor humidity level is between 30% and 50%. If it’s too high or too low, it makes it harder to breathe. If the relative humidity is too high, it’s able to hold more PM. If it is too low, the dry air will irritate your nose, mouth, throat and further into your respiratory system.

Measure your air during all four seasons. If you’re fortunate, your home will be in the right range most of the time. If the humidity is too high in summer, you’ll need a dehumidifier to lower it. If your humidity is too low in winter, you’ll need a humidifier to increase it. Portable units are an option in both cases, or you can opt for a unit that integrates with your HVAC system.

Your Local IAQ Experts in Frederick

Weather Masters Corp. is proud to help homeowners throughout Frederick and the surrounding areas combat indoor air pollution. Our IAQ experts install whole-home air purifiers, dehumidifiers and humidifiers. We also have HVAC technicians that install, maintain and repair all manner of heating and cooling technologies. That includes air conditioners, heat pumps, furnaces, boilers and ductless mini-split systems. Call us today or contact us online to schedule an appointment or learn more about these services.

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