Environmental Allergies


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environmental-allergiesThere has been much confusion over what causes allergies in the home for many years. Health-care practitioners may tell their patients that it is the outdoor pollutants which really cause their allergies whereas in-home air purifier manufacturers may claim just the opposite.

The fact of the matter is both outdoor and indoor pollutants can cause allergy symptoms. However, indoor pollutants have been shown to actually present a greater problem to long-term allergy sufferers. To start with, people spend more time indoors than out and the indoor pollutants are actually smaller than their outdoor counterparts. Indoor pollutants can actually split up and become smaller particles which are more likely to be breathed deeply into the lung and nasal cavities. In effect, the smaller the particle, the greater likelihood of that particle causing an allergic reaction.

Leading Causes of Environmental Allergies

Small sub-micron particles ranging from household dust to dust-mite feces are a leading cause of environmental allergies. Small particles of mold, pollen and cat dander can also aggravate allergy symptoms in children and adults. Even chemicals found in the following common household products have all shown to cause upper respiratory illness symptoms in children which have chronic allergies:

  • Adhesives
  • Air fresheners
  • Carpeting
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Cosmetics
  • Drapes
  • Dyes
  • Floor finishes
  • Furniture polishes
  • Household cleaners
  • Paint

Mold Allergy Symptoms and Causes

Many people believe that mold growth which is visual to the human eye is the only mold which can cause allergy symptoms. However, small mold particles are responsible for over 90% of mold allergy symptoms. Mold particles are everywhere in the outdoor and indoor environment. It is the combination of mold particle size to the quantity found in a cubic foot of indoor air which most aggravates allergies. Each cubic foot of indoor air in a home or building can contain millions of particles. These indoor particles are commonly measured in microns, a metric unit of measure. There are 25,400 microns in one inch. Approximately 98-99% of all particles by count of indoor air are in the sub-micron size range of 10 microns or less in size. These sub-micron particles are known as “respirable” and are invisible to the naked eye. The average adult may breathe in as much as 16,000 quarts of air whereas children under the age of 12 can breathe in as much as 10,000 quarts. Each quart of air breathed in contains some 70,000 visible and invisible particles. That’s potentially a billion particles per day taken in by our respiratory system.

Individuals who are hypersensitive or have a predisposed reaction to these sub-micron particles may have an acute allergic reaction. These allergy-causing airborne particles which remain in the home environment for extended periods of time are the primary cause of chronic allergy symptoms in children and adults.

Allergy Induced Asthma

Allergy induced asthma is the term used primarily by health care practitioners to describe persons which are at a higher risk of developing asthma because of their chronic allergic disposition. This is because the inflammatory and sensitization responses of allergy and asthma sufferers are quite similar. Family history usually plays a role in diagnosing allergy induced asthma.

The good news is that the indoor home environment can be made a haven for all allergy and asthma sufferers by implementing the proper technology combined with proper knowledge. In today’s world of technological advances, there is no reason for a child or adult to suffer with allergies while at home.

Related Post: Dust Mite Allergy.

About the author:
The Sick House Center is a resource and information site about indoor air pollution and other related issues. Read their Indoor Pollutant Fact Sheet here.

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