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Mother Nature's Influence On Air Quality Indoor

News For A Healthier You - September 2009 - Mother Nature's Influence On Indoor Air Quality
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This issue of News For A Healthier You includes:
  1. Taking The Bad With The Good
  2. What We Are Up Against
  3. Fighting Back: What We Can Do To Improve Indoor Air Quality
  4. September's Coupons For Newsletter Subscribers Only
  5. Newsletter Subscriber Sweepstakes Winner

Mother Nature's Influence On Air Quality Indoor

What Mother Nature dishes out in the great outdoors can have a tremendous effect on the air quality inside our homes. She throws air pollutants at us in several forms - sometimes with a vengeance. There are pollens and mold spores, the bothersome allergens she throws at us all the time. Then there are the natural disasters - hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and wildfires - that tear apart lives and homes and leave major air quality issues to deal with in their wake. We can't eliminate these sources of air pollution, and we really wouldn't want to, but we can deal with their effects on our health.

Taking The Bad With The Good
You may be asking, "Why wouldn't we want to eliminate them?" The answer is that we need them. They are all important parts of nature's cycles. Without pollen, a necessary part of plant reproduction, there would be no more flowers, trees, or crops. And without mold, nature's little garbage disposal, we would soon be knee deep in dead leaves and decomposing plants. Certainly, we would all choose to eliminate the suffering caused by the extreme forces of nature. However, hurricanes, floods, and wildfires have their roles in nature, too. Hurricanes actually help control the earth's temperature, according to NASA, by causing a "large transfer of heat between the ocean surface and the atmosphere". Floods help control aquatic life and deposit silt and nutrients to revitalize the soil. Mother Nature uses wildfires to clear out brush and undergrowth that could fuel a catastrophic fire, to promote rebirth of vegetation, and to increase plant and wildlife diversity.

What We Are Up Against
Mother Nature is so good at her job of replenishing the earth that she really makes life hard for allergy and asthma sufferers. One break we get is that pollen is seasonal. The weeds, trees, and grasses that pollinate in the fall and spring are the real trouble-makers since their pollen is carried by the wind. Garden flowers are usually not irritating because their pollen is carried by bees and other insects so it is not airborne.

On the other hand, mold is just about everywhere just about all the time. We do get a small break in winter when outdoor mold is dormant, but we always have to fight indoor mold. Mold reproduces by sending spores into the air to find a lovely warm, damp place out of direct sunlight to grow more mold. And while it is en route, you could be breathing in some of these spores and having an allergic reaction. When mold is disturbed, large amounts of mold spores are released into the air. After a hurricane or flood, conditions are usually perfect for increased mold growth. All mold needs is food and water and a spot out of the sunlight. If your home has areas that were not able to dry out for 48 to 72 hours, you have the water. And mold is really not picky about food - just about anything made of cellulose will do including wallboard, wood, and paper. Anyone who has a mold allergy or asthma is at high risk during hurricane or flood clean up. Even people who have never before been affected by mold can become sensitized by increased exposure and develop an allergic reaction.

Wildfire smoke commonly drifts several hundred miles, so it is not just the air in the immediate area that is polluted. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), "smoke from wildfires is a mixture of gases and fine particles from burning trees and other plant materials. Smoke can hurt your eyes, irritate your respiratory system, and worsen chronic heart and lung diseases, including asthma. Individuals with asthma should take precautions to reduce and minimize exposure to wildfire smoke."

Fighting Back: What We Can Do To Improve Indoor Air Quality

This Woman Needs To Improve Her Indoor Air Quality To Help Get Relief From Allergy Symptoms Since we can't eliminate Mother Nature's allergens outdoors, we will just have to avoid her and do our best to control our indoor air quality. During the fall and spring pollen seasons, you may look in the mirror and look at people around you and see misery - red, puffy, watery eyes and runny, sneeze-y noses. There's not too much you can do about the pollen floating around in outdoor air, but you can eliminate a lot of pollen floating around in your home.
  • Keep doors and windows closed so you are not constantly letting in a fresh supply of pollen.

  • If you have to have fresh air, use a window screen filter.

  • Be sure to change HVAC filters at the beginning of fall and spring and again at the end of the pollen seasons. Use a filter that is able to capture airborne particles.

  • For added protection, cover the vents in 2 or 3 rooms - your bedroom especially, and remember to change them every three months or more often, if needed (see how to get a free Vent Filtration Kit).

  • HEPA room air purifiers are also very efficient at capturing pollen. For optimum relief, put one in your bedroom, close the door, and run it on high 24/7. Again, be sure to change the pre-filter and HEPA filter regularly as recommended by the manufacturer. National Allergy carries the best air purifier for you.

  • Wear a mask when outdoors.
If the outside temperature is over freezing, mold will be growing and releasing spores, and those spores will be sneaking into your home. First, let's talk about the outdoors.
  • Staying inside is the best protection from outdoor mold.

  • When you have to be outside, wear a mask.

  • If you have a mold allergy, try to get someone else to rake leaves - you have a great excuse, use it!

  • Take measures to remove mold from the outside of your house and your roof.
Once mold has moved indoors, take these steps:
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After a hurricane or flood, you can assume mold is present if your home has been wet for 48 to 72 hours - even if you can't see it. Mold can be a tricky adversary because it is not always visible. Nevertheless, the first step for mold remediation is to do a visual inspection to determine the extent of the problem.
  • In moldy areas less than 10 square feet that were dampened by clean water, washing with soap and water or an all-purpose cleaner may be adequate.

  • If mold is on porous surfaces that cannot be cleaned, it is best to discard these items or materials.

  • For areas dampened by contaminated water, the EPA recommends 1 cup chlorine bleach per 1 gallon of water.

  • Check your ventilation system and replace damp filters.

  • If you decide to clean away mold yourself, use protective gloves, masks, goggles, and clothing.

  • However, if the moldy area is more than 10 square feet, you may want to consider getting professional help.

  • One reason is that the mold remediation experts have fancy tools to determine if there is mold behind walls or ceilings without tearing them out.

  • Another reason is so you can avoid exposure to mold and the pros have suitable protective gear.

  • Two professional trade groups that might be able to help locate such an expert are the Association of Specialists in Cleaning and Restoration and the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification.

  • Helpful Note: Check Out Our Mold Remediation Kit!

Margie Bullock, Newsletter Editor
Closing Thoughts
Dealing with Mother Nature is no fun for allergy and asthma sufferers, but environmental controls like those mentioned in this newsletter can offer some relief. Allergens have a cumulative effect, so when you improve your indoor air quality even a little, you can often feel positive results. And the cleaner your indoor air becomes, the less you will be impacted by outdoor air pollution.

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This National Allergy Newsletter is © 2009 National Allergy Supply All Rights Reserved.
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