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  Particulate Avoidance  
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There are other ways to evade offending pollens and particulates beside moving to a new area. For example, remaining indoors in the morning when the outdoor pollen levels are highest. Sunny, windy days can be especially troublesome. If individuals with pollen allergy must work outdoors, they can wear face masks designed to filter pollen out of the air and keep it from reaching their nasal passages. As another approach, some people take their vacations at the height of the expected pollinating period and choose a location where such exposure would be minimal. The seashore, for example, may be an effective retreat for many with pollen allergies. Mold allergens can be difficult to avoid, but some steps can be taken to at least reduce exposure to them. First, the allergy sufferer should avoid those hot spots mentioned earlier where molds tend to be concentrated. The lawn should be mowed and leaves should be raked up, but someone other than the allergic person should do these chores. If such work cannot be delegated, wearing a tightly fitting dust mask can greatly reduce exposure and resulting symptoms. Around the home, a dehumidifier will help dry out the basement, but the water extracted from the air must be removed frequently to prevent mold growth in the machine.

Those with dust mite allergy should pay careful attention to dust-proofing their bedrooms. The worst things to have in the bedroom are wall-to-wall carpets, venetian and miniblinds, down-filled blankets, feather pillows, heating vents with forced hot air, dogs, cats, and closets full of clothing. Shades are preferred over venetian blinds because they do not trap dust. Curtains can be used if they are washed periodically in hot water to kill the dust mites. Most important, bedding should be encased in a zippered, plastic, airtight, and dust-proof cover.

Although shag carpets are the worst type for the dust mite-sensitive person, all carpets trap dust and make dust control impossible. In addition, vacuuming can contribute to the amount of dust, unless the vacuum is equipped with a special high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. Wall-to-wall carpets should be replaced with washable throw rugs over hardwood, tile, or linoleum floors. Rugs on concrete floors encourage dust mite growth and should be avoided.

Reducing the amount of dust mites in a home may require new cleaning techniques as well as some changes in furnishings to eliminate dust collectors. Water is often the secret to effective dust removal. Washable items should be washed often using water hotter then 130 (degrees) Fahrenheit. Lower temperatures will not kill dust mites. If the water temperature must be set at a lower value, items can be washed at a commercial establishment that uses high wash temperatures. Dusting with a damp cloth or oiled mop should be done frequently.

The best way for a person allergic to pets, especially cats, to avoid allergic reactions is to find another home for the animal. There are, however, some suggestions that help lower the levels of cat allergens in the air: bathe the cat weekly and brush it more frequently (ideally, this should be done by someone other than the allergic person), remove carpets and soft furnishings, and use a vacuum cleaner with a high-efficiency filter and a room air cleaner (see section below). Wearing a face mask while house and cat cleaning and keeping the cat out of the bedroom are other methods that allow many people to live more happily with their pets.

Irritants such as chemicals can worsen airborne allergy symptoms and should be avoided as much as possible. For example, during periods of high pollen levels, people with pollen allergy should try to avoid unnecessary exposure to irritants such as insect sprays, tobacco smoke, air pollution, and fresh tar or paint.

Extracted from material prepared by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health.


Particulate Avoidance can help with the following:
Allergy  Allergies Indoor
 Dust Mite Management:
  • REDUCING AIR INFILTRATION -- Airing out the house with open windows allows entry of pollen, which is another allergen as well as food for dust mites. In some climates, incoming air may be humid, which promotes dust mites.
  • CLEANING/HEAT TREATMENTS -- Wash all bedding weekly. Research has shown laundering with any detergent in warm water (77 degrees F) removes nearly all dust mite and cat allergen from bedding. If you cannot launder blankets, dry clean them once a year. Shampoo, steam clean or beat non-washable carpets once a year.
  • SELECT APPROPRIATE FURNISHINGS -- Avoid overstuffed furniture because it collects dust. Also avoid wool fabrics/rugs because wool sheds particles and is eaten by other insects. Use washable curtains and rugs instead of wall-to-wall carpeting. If you cannot replace carpeting, have it steam cleaned at least once a year, springtime is best. This will prevent a build up of dust mites feeding on skin cells in the carpet during the summertime. Enclose mattresses and pillows in plastic to decrease mite populations in the bed. Replace feather pillows with synthetic ones.
Dust Management:
  • VACUUMING -- The most important tool for managing house dust and dust mites is the vacuum cleaner. Regular, thorough vacuuming of carpets, furniture, textiles and other home furnishings such as draperies will help keep dust mite populations low. Vacuums with a water filter are preferable to those with a disposable paper bag because a water vacuum removes a greater range of particle sizes than paper-bag types. There are vacuums with highly efficient filters (HEPA) designed for use by people with allergies to dust. It is better to vacuum thoroughly once a week rather than lightly on a daily basis. Vacuum mattresses and padded furniture thoroughly; 20 minutes for each mattress is not too long.
  • DUSTING -- Dust furniture before you vacuum so the dust has time to settle on the floor, where it can be picked up by the vacuum. Do not scatter dust. Instead, dust with a damp cloth rather than dry dusting. Spraying furniture polish/dusting liquid directly on surface reduces airborne particles by 93% compared with dry dusting.
  • AIR PURIFERS -- A researcher at the University of Texas-Austin found a HEPA air filter was much more effective at removing dust than ion-generating air purifiers which make particles electrically charged to remove them from circulating air.
    The problem with ion-generating air filters is they emit significant amounts of ozone. Ozone irritates the lungs and can cause chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath and throat irritation. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), ozone may worsen chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma and compromise the ability of the body to fight respiratory infections. The EPA also states manufacturers and vendors of ozone devices often use misleading terms to describe ozone. Terms such as "energized oxygen" or "pure air" suggest ozone is a healthy kind of oxygen. Ozone is a toxic gas with vastly different chemical and toxicological properties from oxygen.



Organ Health

  COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
 Long-term effects of particulate air pollution on the incidence of bronchitis, emphysema and asthma have been documented. There is an unexpectedly high COPD mortality found in small agricultural communities, which may be in part due to occupational dust exposure. The authors felt that prevention of COPD should start in childhood, with emphasis on infection prevention and the control of indoor pollution. [Environmental Factors and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, European Respiratory Review, 1992;2:9; pp.144-148]


 In a September, 2004 study co-funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), and published in the New England Journal of Medicine it was found that a HEPA air filter, when used in conjunction with dust mite proof mattress and pillow covers, cockroach extermination and a HEPA vacuum, dramatically reduced asthma symptoms.

Though no air cleaning system can remove all allergans from a home, studies have shown they can significantly reduce the levels of airborn allergans and irritants, in some cases, by up to 90%. The HEPA filter has long been used in laboratory experiments, and has been proven to reduce the level of particles in the air. Many air filtration systems rely solely on HEPA technology, or, include a HEPA filter as part of a multi-filtration system.

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