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10 allergy hotspots in your home

  • Published at 09:32 am June 10th, 2013
10 allergy hotspots in your home

Allergies are a common health problem that cause sneezing, nasal discharge, itchy skin and eyes and asthma. An allergy is a hypersensitivity disorder of the body’s defense system.  Allergic reactions occur when a person’s immune system reacts to normally harmless substances. Substances that cause allergic reactions are called allergens. Most of the allergens are from the environment, and some are from foods. Here are a few places in your home where allergens can play a vital role in triggering an allergic reaction.

Potted plants

Do you have indoor allergies? Beware, triggers such as mold, dust and pet dander lurk in every corner, often in unexpected places.

Take a good look at your indoor plants. Mold spores, like the ones shown here, can grow in the pots and spread to the floor. To minimize this, remove dead leaves, use saucers and avoid over-watering your plants.

Pet hangouts

Pet allergies are common, but Fido’s fur is not to blame. The problem is pet dander – dead skin flakes. It floats, settling on carpets, furniture and bedding.

Keeping pets out of certain rooms is only partially helpful. Airflow

can carry dander throughout the home. Tip: Clean and vacuum often, and

wash your hands after playing with your pet.

Carpets and rugs

Carpeting and rugs can liven up a room in ways you didn’t intend.

As they accumulate dust, they become a feeding ground for microscopic dust mites. Body parts and feces from dust mites are notorious indoor allergy triggers.

To reduce this problem, use a vacuum with a HEPA filter, or consider removing the carpeting altogether.

Books

Your food for thought may also be food for pests. Book dust harbors mites, mold spores, and tiny critters called booklice, shown in this slide.

If you find that handling your books triggers your allergies, try vacuuming their surfaces regularly or storing the books in a closed container.

Stuffed furniture

Upholstered furniture provides a cozy refuge for dust mites. Vacuum furniture fabric regularly. Leather, vinyl, or other smooth surfaces can lessen allergies.

Furniture stored in damp areas, such as basements, may grow mold spores, as shown here. Use a dehumidifier in damp rooms to reduce moisture.

Bedding

Spending eight hours in bed each night leaves behind plenty of dead skin cells to attract dust mites.

The most effective way to keep these pests out of your bed is to put allergen-proof casings on the mattress, box spring, and especially the pillows.

Wash your sheets every week. Avoid throw pillows or fancy quilts that can’t be washed.

Plush toys

If your child has a dust mite allergy, his cuddly friends are probably making things worse.

You don’t have to ban stuffed animals. Instead, look for those that are machine washable and wash them in hot water once a week. Dry them thoroughly.

If your child has a favourite that can’t be washed, place it in the dryer once a week instead.

Bathrooms

We’ve all seen mildew growing on shower tiles. That’s the work of mold spores, which like to settle where it’s warm and wet. Black mold, shown here, often grows in hidden areas as well, contaminating areas behind walls or below the floor.

The best defence is to keep your bathrooms clean and dry. Fix leaky faucets and other sources of water. Use vent fans after showering, and clean surfaces regularly with a bleach solution.

Kitchen

This is a favourite room for mold. If your refrigerator has a drip pan, pull it out and scrub it regularly. Standing water attracts mold. Old, moldy food can also trigger allergies.

Also, cover trash cans and store food in sealed containers to keep cockroaches away. These nighttime bugs are hard to see, and they trigger allergies in many people.

Air conditioner

Air conditioning helps keep your home cool and dry, helping to fight allergens. But sometimes it can be part of the problem. As dust collects on the cooling coils, mold, like this cladosporium fungus, may begin to grow.

Keep dust out by installing a heavy-duty filter and changing it regularly. Window AC units should be professionally cleaned and disinfected every year.