Allergies can impact as many as 50 million people in the United States, that is about one-in-five people that will suffer from this condition, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology (ACAAI). There are a variety of different allergies that can impact human health such as food, skin, dust, insect sting, pet, eye, drug, allergic rhinitis, latex, mold, sinus, and cockroach allergies – all of which will be triggered by certain sources that will elicit allergic-like symptoms in those sensitive. However, what happens when the source(s) of your allergies lives within the walls of your home? Indoor allergens can surround us in our daily lives, and some will even be harbored within the confines of your home, leaving you battling allergies the moment you walk through the doors.
In this article we are going to discuss the common household allergens that you may find within your home and learn which air cleaner is the best to place in your indoor environment for those who suffer from allergies.
What is an Allergen
Allergy symptoms are usually triggered when you are near or around a known allergy source that will spike your allergy-symptoms. This source of your allergies is commonly referred to as an allergen, the root cause of your allergy flare-ups. An allergen is a substance, usually harmless, that is capable of eliciting a reaction in the human body that stems in the immune system.
The allergen can easily enter into the human body through inhalation or ingestion and will travel into the body to begin its impact on your body’s symptoms and reactions. The body’s immune system is designed to protect us from foreign invaders that can enter into the body and attempt to infiltrate and compromise the body’s health. Therefore, the immune system acts as a shield to protect us from potentially dangerous pathogens and other invaders that can adversely impact human health. When an allergen comes into contact with the immune system it will begin to fight off this substance and will start the commencement of allergic-symptoms which will help to fight off the allergen in the body.
Allergen vs Antigen
When it comes to allergies, there are often many allergy and immunology terms that are misinterpreted or misunderstood when compared with one another. Two terms that are commonly interchanged are allergens and antigens, when it comes to allergies and determining the sources of their allergy triggers and symptoms. Allergens, as we discussed previously, are substances that are known to elicit allergy-like symptoms when it enters into the body. This type of substance will be triggered by a reaction with the immune system and contact with an allergen in this part of the body occurs. Allergens can enter into the body through inhalation or ingestion when present in the indoor air of your environment. This type of substance is a special type of antigen which causes an IgE antibody response.
Whereas, comparing allergen vs antigen, an antigen is a substance that can trigger an immune response which will promote the creation of an antibody as part of the body’s defense against infections and/or diseases, according to the ACAAI. This type of substance is a foreign substance and is often classified as a protein which stimulates the formation of antibodies.
Signs and Symptoms of Allergic Reaction
Identifying and determining the initial onset symptoms and/or signs of allergies can vary per person, as each individual is different and will be triggered by specific sources of allergens present in their environments. Allergic reactions can result from a bout of different allergens such as pollen, dust, pet dander, mold, etc. These allergens will lead to allergy-like symptoms in those who are sensitive, and these symptoms will range from acute to severe depending on a number of factors such as the number of allergens in the environment, the type of allergen, and the conditions in the indoor environment.
According to MedicineNet, they list the allergy symptoms that are most likely produced from exposure to allergens in your environment as the following;
- Nasal congestion
- Itchy and watery eyes
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Scratchy or sore throat
- Throat clearing
- Cough from postnasal drip
- Reddened skin
- Shortness of breath
Common Household Allergens
Inside of a home, there are a number of different allergens that can be found swirling in the air and settled onto the surfaces of your home, this will stir a range of health issues and symptoms in those who suffer from allergies. The impact that indoor allergens can have on those with allergies can be severe and debilitating in some cases, as people will constantly be left battling allergy-symptoms within the safe space of their homes. Some of the most common household allergens can include dust, dust mites, pet dander, mold, cockroaches, pollen, and cigarette smoke that can enter into the air of your personal indoor environment and lead to different allergic reactions to those occupants in the home.
Below we are going to discuss the most common household allergens and how these allergens can impact the indoor environment and human health.
- Dust: For those individuals who have a dust allergy, you may experience sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, and other symptoms that can be mistaken as the common cold. Dust has the potential to accumulate in the home and this can create the production of dust mites in the environment that will exacerbate allergy symptoms.
- Dust Mites: Dust mites are microscopic insects that are one of the most common allergen triggers in the home. These insects feed on human skin flakes and are known to thrive when rooms are at desirable climates – above 40 percent humidity levels and at temperatures above 70 degrees. The major areas in the home that dust mites will fester in will include bedding, soft furnishings, blankets, pillows, etc. Unlike bed bugs, however, these dust mites do not bite human skin and will only result in allergic responses like allergy-symptoms.
- Pet Dander: The furry members of your household are potential culprits of allergens in the home, as they will release dander into the environment that will find its way into the air that is breathed in every day. Each dog will have its own distinct dander that can be highly offending or acute when exposure occurs – depending on how much dander is in the air and the individual that is exposed to this allergen in the air.
- Mold: A scarier, more threatening allergen present in the home is that of mold. Indoor mold is attracted to indoor environments that are damp, dark, and where moisture is present in the home. The areas of the home where this allergen is most prevalently found is in basements, showers, bathtubs, kitchens, etc. If mold is present in the home, allergic reactions may be the first sign and indicator that this fungus is growing in the environment. Mold spore allergies is also another common form of allergies that people can suffer from – these are tiny spore produced from mold indoors.
- Cockroaches: Cockroaches are insects that play a large role in asthma symptoms for those who suffer from this condition and are in the presence of cockroaches and their droppings. The allergens produced from cockroaches are found in their saliva and in their feces, which will elicit asthmatic and allergy symptoms in those who are allergic to this allergen.
- Pollen: Often when we think about pollen our minds will go to outdoor environments; however, indoor environments can also be impacted by this classified “outdoor” allergen. Pollen can be brought inside by clothing or shoes, and even pets can track this allergen indoors.
- Cigarette Smoke: Cigarette smoke is an indoor allergen that can be an irritant in the air that will elicit asthma and allergy symptoms. When smoke travels in the air it can lead to inflamed bronchial passages in asthmatic sufferers, can cause asthma attacks and even worsen the severity of the attacks.
What Allergens are in the Air Indoors?
A difficult determinant when it comes to allergens and allergies indoors is the ability to identify what allergens are present in your air and at what levels these allergens can be found within the indoor air. Many people will gage the level of allergens in the air based on their health and the symptoms that are experienced when present in these indoor environments. However, this is a hard thing to gage as many people will identify allergy symptoms as that of a cold or other acute health conditions.
The best way to determine what allergens are in the air indoors within your home is by utilizing an air quality monitor or detector that is designed to read the levels of allergens in the air. There are many different types of these air quality monitors that work in a specific way to read certain airborne pollutants such as chemical (VOCs), particulate matter, carbon dioxide levels, and allergens.
How to Test Allergen Levels Indoors
When it comes to how to test allergen levels indoors, the best method is through the use of air quality monitors in the environment. Indoor air quality monitors work by tracking, monitoring, and detecting airborne pollutants in the air such as allergens. One of the most popular air quality monitors and detectors is the Foobot, Smart Indoor Air Quality Monitor. The Foobot is one of the first connected indoor air quality monitors that are capable of keeping track of a wide range of airborne pollutants found in the home. The pollutants that it’s able to track include measuring the temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide, toxic chemicals (VOCs), and harmful particulates (PM2.5). This device offers quick snapshots of your indoor air’s current quality, all through the use of a smartphone app that gives a detailed record of each pollutant in your air.
This type of air quality monitor is easy to use and give you a detailed report of your home’s indoor air quality and pollutant levels, like allergen levels in the home for those people allergic to air in their home.
How to Reduce Allergens in Home
An accumulation of allergens in your home can be troublesome to deal with, as these substances can settle between every nook and cranny of your home making the task of removing them completely from the environment a challenge. There are many methods that can be implemented inside of a home to help with reducing the allergen counts and levels in the space such as conducting a thorough cleaning of the home including dusting, vacuuming, mopping, and washing linens that are within this environment.
Additionally, maintaining the air quality of your home is another important and critical step to reducing allergens in the air. The air handling system in a home will be a major source of allergen collection, particularly on the HVAC air filter. This filter will collect dust, dirt, debris, and other airborne pollutants within the filter and if this is not changed out frequently it will add to the levels of allergens in the home. Also, having an effective air cleaner in the space will be a powerful aid in the reduction and removal of allergens in the air of your home.
Air Cleaner for Allergies
Air cleaners, also known as air purifiers are devices that are used in indoor environments to clean and filter the air of contaminants that can negatively impact the air quality of the indoor air space. This type of air cleaning device comes in a variety of different technologies, each technology works in a specific way to filter the air and remove certain airborne pollutants from the air. The EnviroKlenz UV Air Purifier, however, is unlike any other air purification technology on the market today. EnviroKlenz utilizes a patented earth mineral technology that works through ‘adsorptive neutralization’ of pollutants such as chemical compounds, chemical odors, noxious odors, etc. This technology does not produce any byproducts or chemicals into the air and will effectively contain and neutralize airborne pollutants that are filtered through the purifier.
The EnviroKlenz Mobile Air System with UV Lights combines the Advanced EnviroKlenz technology for toxic and noxious chemical and odor removal with HEPA filtration and ultraviolet germicidal radiation (UVC) to remove airborne particulates and allergens and inhibit the growth of captured microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, and mold spores. The hospital-grade HEPA filter utilized in the EnviroKlenz air purifier give it the ability to capture particulate matter such as allergens in the air that are larger than 0.3 microns in size at a 99.99 percent efficiency – which will significantly aid in the reduction of airborne allergens in the environment.
In this study, the graph demonstrates the efficiency of the EnviroKlenz to remove particulate matter like allergens from the air using their hospital-grade HEPA filter. EnviroKlenz Air System uses a HEPA filter that has more square feet of media when compared to the ones used in the IQAir and the BlueAir. The MoleKule does not have a HEPA filter, so the square feet of the prefilter was used for this comparison. The prefilter, in addition to the having fewer square feet of media, is also significantly less efficient at removing particulates when compared to HEPA or better filters of the EnviroKlenz, IQAir and BlueAir systems.
- The EnviroKlenz Air System has the highest amount of particulate matter filter media with over 56 square feet,
- IQ Air has approximately 50 square feet
- Blue Air approximately 28 square feet
- MoleKule particle filter has around 3 square feet of particulate filter media.
The more square feet of particulate matter media results in a filter that can capture more particulate matter before needing to be changed.
- American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology (ACAAI): Allergies (link)
- American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology (ACAAI): Allergy and Immunology Glossary (link)
- MedicineNet: Allergy: Symptoms & Signs (link)
- United States News & World Report: 6 Common Indoor Allergy Triggers and How to Avoid Them (link)
Mobile UV System
✓ Patented earth mineral technology works to attack VOCs and break them down on a compound level
✓ No chemicals or masking agents
✓ Will not release any chemicals back into your environment
✓ UVC lamps used to continuously shine on collected organisms with a high efficiency of kill and destruction