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Air Quality Assessors Blog


Combat Seasonal Allergies
Combat Seasonal Allergies


Spring is in the air! Unfortunately, that doesn't bring warm and fuzzy feelings to everybody. If you're someone who suffers from allergies in the spring time, you know how these conflicting emotions come into play. We're here with some information on why this happens and how to lessen the impact this spring.


Causes Of Allergy Symptoms

What causes allergy symptoms to rise in the spring, anyway? The most common trigger for these symptoms is the rise of pollen in the air. If you weren't aware, plants in the environment release these small particles into the air to fertilize other plants. When someone is allergic to pollen, breathing it in triggers the release of histamines in the body to protect against the perceived attack to the immune system. This is precisely what gives you those annoying common allergy symptoms such as sniffling, rash, sneezing, eye and throat irritation.


Indoor/Outdoor Air Quality 

Did you know that indoor and outdoor air quality have an effect on the severity of allergy symptoms? For example, there are other factors that have a negative impact on outdoor air quality such as smoke, emissions, dust, and ozone in the atmosphere. When these combine with high pollen, you're looking at a pretty miserable time for allergy sufferers. This is why you see an increased rate of allergy sufferers in busy city environments with high pollution. It's important for allergy sufferers to reduce their exposure to pollutants, particularly indoors. Since there isn't as much circulation indoors as there is outdoors, improving your indoor air quality should be a top priority if you suffer from allergies.


Where Mold Comes In

Mold can also be a cause for allergies. The respiratory irritation that we associate with spring time allergies is another symptom of mold exposure. If there is increased humidity and insufficient circulation of air in your house, it's a good idea to diligently check for mold. It thrives in damp conditions that come with the spring time. There are other possible causes for an increase in symptoms, too. Dust mites are another common indoor allergen that can cause trouble for allergy sufferers!


How To Tackle Your Symptoms

You don't have to continue suffering through allergy season every year! We all know to keep the windows closed when those high pollen days roll around, but there are also different treatments and ways to prevent it from becoming too intense. Be sure to keep an eye on the pollen count with your favorite weather channel so you're never taken by surprise. Spring cleaning is another way you can tackle indoor allergens head on! Be sure to clean from top to bottom to ensure you're getting all the allergens and dust that escape from surfaces as you're cleaning. Be sure to replace the filters on your furnace, air conditioners, and air purifiers if you have them. It's also a good idea to team up with a local air quality assessor, like AQA, to ensure that you're doing all you can to keep your house free of indoor allergens.


The Impact of Cleanliness on Indoor Air Quality
The Impact of Cleanliness on Indoor Air Quality


Take a deep breath. Breathe In. Breathe out. Now, consider the quality of the air around you.


Because we can’t usually see bad air particles, the assumption is that the air around us is clear. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re sitting indoors in front of your computer screen. In fact, on average, Americans spend 90% of their time indoors. Unfortunately, indoor air quality can be up to ten times more polluted than the air outside. According to the environmental protection agency, indoor air pollution is one of the top five environmental risks to public health and, in professional settings can lead to symptoms such as decreased productivity, increased employee absences, and greater health care costs.


So what can you do? First, it’s important to understand where the quality of your air sits today. 


There are many indicators of poor indoor air quality. Sometimes it can be difficult to decipher whether or not there is an issue without a professional test, but there are signs you can look for, and smell for, if you suspect there may be an indoor air quality issue. If you walk into your home or place of business and smell something musty, pungent, wet, or stale, you are most likely smelling mold. If you smell a chemical-like or a toxic aroma, that is also an indication that there is something that is creating air quality issues. Health-wise, you should be looking for symptoms that occur when you are in your home or place of business that continue even after you leave. For example, headaches, dizziness, light-headedness, and drowsiness are all signs of exposure to poor indoor air quality. Not only should you watch out for the immediate symptoms of poor indoor air quality, but you should also be aware of the long term symptoms that could occur. You don’t have to live in fear because there are professional services available that can help.


Measuring your air quality indoors can be easily and effectively done by an indoor air quality professional. Indoor air quality professionals, also known as Indoor Environmental Consultants, are fully trained, certified, and licensed in their field. They are able to take samples of contents in the air and building materials (damaged and not damaged) to assess whether there are dangerous materials or air pollutants present. This process is very detailed and the results can provide you with peace of mind.


There are also products that are readily available to you, that aide in improving your indoor air quality. Not only are they just a few clicks away from being in your possession, they are very affordable and help maintain the cleanliness of your space as well.

Cleanliness in your indoor spaces is the first step in improving your indoor air quality. Below are a couple of steps you can take to ensure that you are providing the best working environment for yourself and your employees.


Have your Carpet and Upholstery Regularly Cleaned and Maintained

Vacuuming your carpeting consistently prevents the particulates that get caught in carpet fibers from polluting your air every time somebody walks into your building. And deep cleaning your carpet and upholstery with the MilliCare by Cubix, Inc. proprietary carpet maintenance system has been proven to remove up to 99% of pollutants—preventing them from becoming airborne. Your space will not only look cleaner, but will feel fresh, too.


Use Environmentally Safe Cleaning Products and Methods

Environmentally safe cleaning products and methods help prevent dirt, dust, and pollutants in your textiles from becoming airborne without introducing unnecessary or unwanted VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds).


Limit moisture in your workspaces

Microbial growth thrives in wet or humid conditions. By managing the amount of water leftover in your office spaces and common areas, you can improve air quality and promote a healthy and comfortable working environment free of mold, pests and insects. The dry care process used by Cubix, Inc. uses very little water to limit the potential for mold and bacteria growth.


To learn more about the quality of the air in your building or what you can do about it, contact Air Quality Assessors and Cubix, Inc. today.


About Cubix, Inc.

A single source for total floor care solutions, Cubix, Inc. was founded in 1997 by Rick and Judi DeVane and has continued to grow and develop in many great ways since then. Now home to over 40 employees who serve some of Florida's largest and most prestigious accounts, Cubix, Inc. strives to understand each client's unique needs and provide the most effective and environmentally-friendly solutions available. Cubix, Inc. offers total consultative packages including flooring maintenance, sales and installation. 


About Air Quality Assessors

Air Quality Assessors is a provider for indoor air quality and building damage testing and consultation services. Fully certified, licensed, and insured, we proudly cover the entire state of Florida while servicing commercial and residential clients. Trusting us with your testing needs since 2010. “Don’t just guess it, test it!”


Ways to Prevent Indoor Allergens
Ways to Prevent Indoor Allergens

 

When people think of allergens, they often think of allergic reactions to substances such as pollen, animals and dust. Allergens sometimes get confused with allergies, but the difference between the two, lie within the definitions. Allergens are substances that cause an allergic reaction. Allergies are the damaging immune system response by the body to a substance. Allergens come in many different forms including those previously listed and more. Since people spend more than 90% of their time indoors, indoor allergens are the main cause of allergies year round. Outdoor allergies happen as the seasons change and as the outdoor allergen levels fluctuate.


Indoor allergy triggers not only include common household allergens such as dust, pollen and animal dander, but also include a small list of unexpected substances. Cockroaches, fabrics, new furniture, and glue are among the many unexpected household allergens. Paint can also trigger allergy-like reactions in people, especially if they are living in a home that was newly painted or with paint that has high volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) and dangerous chemicals.


A few factors that play a role in allergen formation:

 

Humidity: Humidity plays a significant role in whether or not fungi will grow in your home. Fungi, or mold, is a major cause of indoor allergy symptoms and the more you regulate your home’s humidity levels, the least likely mold is to form. Mold can be very dangerous to your health especially for those who are clinically allergic. Recommended humidity levels should fall between 30% - 50%. Condensation and fogging are both signs of high humidity levels and cracking paint; doors or trim are signs of low humidity levels.


Ventilation: It is extremely important to allow your home to have proper ventilation during every season. Opening doors and windows creates proper air flow throughout your home which prevents moisture buildup and stagnant air. Cleaning under rugs and moving furniture that is pressed against walls is also a way to ensure moisture will not accumulate.


Leaks: Check your home for leaks. A common area where leaks can be found is your roof and windows. If you find a leak, put a stop to it as soon as possible because the smallest leak can cause deterioration and significant damage to your home.

 

There are many ways to reduce indoor allergens with only just a few simple and easy everyday adjustments.

 

HEPA: Use products with HEPA filters. High-efficiency particulate air filters (HEPA) are very beneficial to those who are concerned with allergens. There are many different products that contain HEPA filters, but they all aide in the same ways. HEPA filters cleans the air of all the microbial airborne particulates and when vacuuming, ensure that dust and dander do not return into the atmosphere. HEPA filters are also available for central air conditioners which create better indoor air quality overall.


Exhaust Fans: Use exhaust fans in every room where one is provided. This will help with air flow and to remove access moisture from the air.


Carpeting: Carpeting should only be used in rooms where there is not a lot of moisture present. For example, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and kitchens should not have carpet due to the presence of water flow from sinks and pipes. A minor leak onto carpet may seem like a small issue, but once moisture comes in contact with materials, mold can form. Remember, it is more difficult to reverse damage than it is to prevent it.


Storage: Always be mindful of how you are storing your seasonal materials. Blankets and clothes should be stored in air tight plastic containers or bags and placed in areas that are not susceptible to high moisture levels. A common issue is when people store their winter materials in their basements during the summer when humidity levels are very high without protective containment. When it comes time to unpack everything, mold has had significant time to form and people are left with musty and moldy belongings. 


Outdoor allergens are more difficult to control, but you can help prevent access formations outside your home. To help reduce the effects of outdoor allergens, you must take care of your lawn frequently. Regularly raking and mowing can help reduce the buildup of allergens outside your home. Raking prevents mold growth within leaves and mowing helps reduce the production of pollen. The safest way to prevent buildup is to keep your grass short. Always wear protective gear including gloves, sunglasses, a hat, and long clothes. This will prevent pollen from sticking to you and tracking it into your home. Do yard work either in the morning or evening when pollen counts are the lowest. If you have a severe allergy to outdoor allergens, asking someone to help you with yard work or hiring a company to take over the responsibility will help your allergies greatly. 


Recommended Links:  AQA Website

EveryDayHealth.com

ApartmentTherapy.com

Asthma and Allergy Foundation


Mr. Common Combative

Mr. Common Combative

 

Cladosporium is one of the most widespread molds because it can be found in nature as well as indoors. 


 

Mr. Common Combative is one popular bad guy who loves to pick on humans who have allergies and asthma. He attends parties where the Respiratory Rival (Aspergillus) and his friends (Penicillium and Wallemia Sebi) will be since he is a secondary wall colonizer- aka a follower! Never underestimate Mr. Common Combative for he can be found in almost every nook and cranny of your property (bathroom, carpets, air ducts, attics, furniture and more).

 

Mr. Common Combat has around 40 different disguises (species) and each disguise has its own act (place to be found)! Listed below are his 4 most favorite disguises.

 

  • Cladiosporium herbarum- The most prominent mold is air-spora. It grows over a wide range of temperatures, and has been reported to cause spoilage of meat in cold storage.

Cladiosporium sphaerospermum- This frequently encountered species has been isolated from air, soil, gypsum board, acrylic painted walls, painted wood, wallpaper, carpet and mattress dust, HVAC fans, wet insulations in mechanical cooling units, foodstuffs, paint and textiles.

Cladiosporium Cladosporioides- A cosmopolitan species which has been isolated from meat, soil, air, textiles and paint.

Cladiosporium Macrocarpum- A cosmopolitan species which has been isolated from dead plants, soil, indoor air, apple juice concentrates and seeds.

 

What is most dangerous about Mr. Common Combative? As mentioned earlier, he loves to pick on humans that suffer from allergies and asthma. He has the ability to trigger allergic reactions in humans with compromised immune systems which can cause rashes, itchy eyes, sudden muscle spasms, breathing difficulty, congestion and more! Some humans can be immune to him if they do not have the certain sensitivities that other humans possess (Cladiosporium emits no toxins).

 

 

Having homes/properties assessed by a licensed Air Quality Assessor is always a great weapon to use, because they can tell how much of Mr. Common Combative is around or in the air. For humans suffering from asthma or allergies, it is very important to keep the home/property at a safe level to lower the chances of an allergic reaction or respiratory problems from occurring. Mr. Common Combative produces more than 10 types of antigens (any substance that causes your immune system to produce antibodies against it) which increases the risk of an asthma attack.  If a human notices an increase in his or her asthma symptoms and believes the reason to be Mr. Common Combative or his friends, contact an Air Quality Assessor to come in immediately!