If you suffer from summer allergies, a poor indoor air environment may be at fault. In addition to common household toxins like xylene and toluene, indoor environments are rife with pollen, dust mites and mold. A tightly sealed building that lacks proper ventilation recirculates these allergy triggers, causing indoor air quality to become as much as 10 times more polluted than outside air quality.
In the summertime, these allergen triggers often reach an uncomfortable peak for allergy sufferers, making many people miserable during this otherwise beautiful season. Fortunately there are solutions that don’t require massive medicinal doses. Using air cleaners, proper ventilation and preventative maintenance can significantly improve your indoor air quality and help keep summer allergies at a minimum.
Especially useful for summer allergies, HEPA filters trap and neutralize allergy triggers like dust mites, pollen, mold spores and pet dander existing within your household’s indoor environment. HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters are a type of mechanical air filtration unit that works by forcing air through a very fine meshing. They can be found in most every modern air purifier on the market today and are increasingly being included in vacuum cleaner technology.
HEPA filters are differentiated by their minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV), a rating which represents a specific filter or purifier’s ability to clean the air. While most MERV numbers are between 1 and 16, HEPA filters can be calculated as high as 17 through 20. The MERV of a HEPA filter is determined by the particle size and density of particles caught and removed.
HEPA filters are considered the most efficient technological solution for ridding a house of common pollutants, including those that contribute most to summer allergies. However, while they're particularly adept at capturing particles within their fine meshing, HEPA filters are not capable of cleaning gaseous pollution.
UV Light Technology
When it comes to gaseous and other indoor air pollution, ultraviolet (UV) technology can be the best friend of summer allergies victims. UV lamps can be installed within a household’s ductwork or included within portable air cleaning units. These cleaners use light waves to penetrate within the DNA of living pollutants, also known as bioaerosols, such as bacteria, viruses, molds and other allergens that are either airborne or found growing on HVAC surfaces. This wavelength radiation disrupts the microorganisms’ reproduction cycle, ultimately neutralizing the pest. Unlike HEPA filters, they're able to combat gaseous pollutants, making them a great household asset.
Many summer allergies can be directly linked to mold growth caused by excessive moisture. To reduce the dampness in your home, make sure all leaking faucet and pipes are repaired and working appropriately and that your house is properly air sealed, preventing outdoor moisture from making its way in. A professional HVAC contractor can help determine the locations of hidden air leaks. Additionally, consider adding houseplants like aloe vera and Boston ferns to your home. These plants not only remove indoor air pollutants like formaldehyde and benzene, but they also act as natural humidifiers and help create a healthy indoor humidity balance.
In accordance with a well-sealed home, the summer allergies sufferer needs well-sealed ductwork. Outdoor contaminants can easily enter a household through holes and leaks in the ducts. Ductwork can also become a huge breeding ground for bacteria and mold. While the handy homeowner should be able to seal any obvious exposed gaps and cracks with a duct sealing adhesive such as mastic tape, an HVAC professional should be consulted if leaks are thought to exist within the walls.
In addition to sealing these leaks, consider adding a single or dual UV lamp to your ductwork in order to neutralize bioaerosols as the system circulates air. A household installed with UV lamps within its ductwork is capable of reducing the amount of bioaerosols in an indoor air environment by as much as 50 percent with the first 45 minutes of operation.
For more information on reducing the common triggers of summer allergies, or to learn more about improving your indoor air quality and other HVAC products and services, contact the professionals at Comfort24-7. Our contractors are NATE-certified and factory-authorized, ensuring that you receive the best service with the highest-quality products. We proudly serve the residential and commercial consumers in the Chicago, northwest Indiana, and southwest Michigan areas.