It’s May. That Means it’s National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month! Let’s Talk about What’s Lurking in Your Home’s Indoor Air.
With Spring comes itchy eyes, runny noses, sneezing, coughing, and even hives, wheezing, and difficulty breathing for some. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), more than 60 million Americans suffer from asthma and/or allergies. These stunning numbers led the AAFA to deem May—which is peak allergy season—National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month.
Most folks tend to think of the great outdoors as the source for most allergens, and while many seasonal allergies are generated by pollen and other outdoor nuisances, our homes harbor all sorts of indoor allergens. Many of these can cause chronic suffering and asthma, especially for those who are more susceptible, like young children and the elderly, or anyone who suffers from respiratory problems or auto-immune disorders.
Wondering what’s lurking in your indoor air? With simple everyday activities, we generate all sorts of unseen contaminants and air pollutants like dirt, dust, pet dander, cigarette smoke, and chemicals. And just like those easy-to-see surfaces in your home that get dirty over time, your home’s HVAC system pulls all those contaminants and air pollutants right into your air ducts — and then recirculates that air throughout your home an average of five to seven times per day! Yikes!
Believe it or not, despite routinely replacing filters, your home’s HVAC system gets really dirty with regular everyday use, and since your air ducts are a favorite hiding place for dust, dirt, and allergens to linger, those dirty ducts can contribute to larger health issues, especially for those with respiratory conditions, auto-immune disorders, or asthma and allergies. Indoor air pollutants can also lead to irritated eyes, nose, and throat, as well as headaches, dizziness, and fatigue.
All About Mold and Allergies
Mold is perhaps one of the most bothersome allergens for Americans. Mold and mildew can lurk all around your home, and if left undetected or ignored, mold growth can turn into a serious issue, not only for the structure of your home, but for the health of those living under its roof.
There are all sorts of ways to combat mold and reduce your risk of sickness, such as ensuring your home has sufficient ventilation, using mold inhibitors in your paints, and cleaning your bathroom and kitchen with mold-busting products. Also, running your air conditioning and using dehumidifiers and air purifiers can help eliminate mold and bacteria that thrive in warm, moist conditions.
Signs of Mold
Just because you can’t see mold, doesn’t mean it’s not there. If any of these signs appear in your home, it may be an indicator that mold is lurking nearby:
- Water: Although mold and its spores can be anywhere, active mold growth requires moisture. Whether on visible surfaces or hiding behind drywall, in attics, or under carpets, indoor mold grows in the presence of dampness and/or water.
- Humidity and Condensation: Humidity or water vapor in the air can sometimes supply enough moisture for mold to thrive and grow. If your home feels humid, or you notice an abundance of condensation, your home is a prime environment for mold growth.
- Odor: That strange, earthy smell in your home that won’t go away, no matter how much air freshener you spray? Mold may be at the root of the issue! Microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs) are gases produced by mold. They cause that musty odor you smell from mold.
Allergy symptoms from mold are very similar to other allergies, and if you suffer from asthma or other respiratory problems, the presence of mold in your home can be increasingly bothersome. Exposure to indoor mold has been known to aggravate asthma symptoms, and the length of exposure may dictate the severity and duration of mold-related allergy symptoms.
In general, prevention is key when it comes to dealing with mold. Along with running a dehumidifier and increasing the airflow within your home, consider scheduling an air duct inspection and cleaning to help ensure no mold is hidden in your home’s ductwork.
Air Duct Cleaning and Indoor Air Quality
Many things within your indoor environment can trigger asthma and allergy symptoms, so it’s important to know what might be lurking in your indoor air. Not just mold, but all the allergens and contaminants in your home that are mentioned above are pulled into the heating and air conditioning system, which takes air in and pushes air out, all the while traveling through your air ducts! Allergens contained within an HVAC system are a serious issue. Think about it—every time your unit is turned on for air conditioning or heating, contaminants and air pollutants can be spread throughout your home, and then recirculated multiple times a day!
Having your air ducts properly cleaned can improve your indoor air quality and reduce health problems by reducing the number of airborne pollutants circulating in your home.
Considering air duct cleaning? We’ve got all the answers to the Top Five Questions that homeowners ask about cleaning those air ducts!
When you’re ready to tackle those air ducts, make sure you choose a qualified contractor who can get the job done right. NADCA makes it really simple for homeowners to find the best-of-the-best professionals when it comes to HVAC system cleaning! NADCA members have technicians on staff with advanced training and certification in air duct cleaning. All it takes is a zip code to search our online directory to find a NADCA member in your area.