May is Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month. Do You Know 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. 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 contaminants and air pollutants like dirt, dust, pet dander, cigarette smoke, and chemicals. But mold is perhaps one of the most bothersome allergens. 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 ways to combat mold and reduce your risk, 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.
Reduce Your Allergy Risk with Air Duct Cleaning
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.
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 allergens and contaminants in your home are pulled into the heating and air conditioning system, which takes air in and pushes air out, recirculating contaminants five to seven times per day, on average!
All those allergens in your indoor air are certain to travel through your air ducts! Mold contained within an HVAC system is a serious issue. Think about it—every time your unit is turned on for air conditioning or heating, mold spores can be spread throughout your home, and then recirculated multiple times a day!
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 can improve your indoor air quality overall by reducing the number of airborne pollutants circulating in your home.
When you’re ready to tackle those air ducts, make sure you choose a qualified contractor who can inspect your air ducts for contamination, recommend the necessary steps to remedy the issue, and ensure the job is done right. NADCA makes it really simple for homeowners to find a certified air duct cleaning professional. All it takes is a zip code to search our online directory to find a NADCA member in your area.