Allergens

It has been reported that more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies. Some sufferers experience short-term seasonal allergies, while a growing number experience chronic, year-round allergic reactions.

According to WebMD:

  • Number of people in the U.S. who have either allergy or asthma symptoms: one in five.
  • Percentage of the U.S. population that tests positive to one or more allergens: 55%.
  • Rank of allergies among other leading chronic diseases in the U.S.: 5th.
  • One estimate of the annual cost of allergies to the health care system and businesses in the U.S.: $7.9 billion.
  • Number of workdays lost each year as a result of hay fever: 4 million.
  • Odds that a child with one allergic parent will develop allergies: 33%.
  • Odds that a child with two allergic parents will develop allergies: 70%.
  • Degree by which levels of indoor pollution in U.S. homes exceed levels of outdoor pollution: two to 100 times, depending on factors such as whether the residents smoke.
  • Percentage of U.S. households with one or more dogs: 39%.
  • Percentage of U.S. households with one or more cats: 36%.
  • Percentage of people in the U.S. that have asthma: 7.7%.
  • Increase in the prevalence of asthma in U.S. children under age 5 between 1980 and 1994: 160%.
  • Number of annual ER visits in the U.S. caused by asthma: 1.8 million in 2004.
  • Percentage of people hospitalized for asthma who are children: About 44%.
  • Number of deaths each year in the U.S. from asthma: About 4,000.

Perhaps the most common symptom of chronic allergies is rhinitis (hay fever). This inflammation of the nasal membranes causes an itchy, runny nose, congestion and sneezing. This is one of the most common chronic diseases in the United States affecting millions.

Other common symptoms of non-seasonal allergies include:

  • Nasal drip
  • Watery & itchy eyes
  • Coughing
  • Circles around the eyes & allergic conjunctivitis

Airborne allergens are one of the most common causes for allergic reactions. Since many Americans spend up to 90% of their day in indoor environments it is essential to examine the air inside the home to identify what could be causing chronic problems for your family. Some of the most common airborne triggers include:

  • Mold
  • Bacteria
  • Pollen
  • Dust Mites
  • Pet Dander
  • Bugs & Rodents
  • VOCs and Formaldehyde
  • Smoke & Particulates

So how can you improve the indoor air quality in your home?

First, have the home tested to determine which allergens may be present so that a proper course of action can be taken. Typical courses of action include stopping or reducing exposure to what is causing the allergic reactions. A few tips that may help:

  • Improve the indoor air quality by getting rid of the source of pollution.
  • Increase the amount of ventilation into the structure.
  • Regularly change air filters with a quality air filter.
  • Eliminate sources of mold and other microbial contaminants
  • Use a vacuum cleaner with HEPA filtration.

These are just a few things to know, and tips that can help, to reduce allergens in the home. In addition to causing allergies many of these same triggers can cause asthmatic attacks. Good indoor air quality in people’s homes, schools and places of business can help reduce the negative health effects, costs associated with illness and improve people’s quality of life.

If you suspect you may have allergen contamination in your home, seek the advice of an allergen professional and an indoor air quality testing expert. To learn more about air quality testing and services, click on the following links: