Air quality can have a significant impact on health which can aggravate respiratory conditions such as asthma and cause shortness of breath with irritation to the eyes, nose and throat. According to World Allergy Organization, “the effects of climate change on aeroallergens, in particular pollen, include impacts on pollen production and atmospheric pollen concentration, season, spatial distribution, and pollen allergenicity”. Keeping windows closed during peak pollen season, wearing sunglasses and install a car pollen filter can help reduce exposure.
The record-breaking precipitation and flooding in 2018 was a perfect breeding ground for fungal growth. In Delaware, we had over 61 inches of rain compared to 2009 with an average of 22 inches! Scientists predict, as the climate continues to warm, humidity increases and extreme rainfalls are likely to increase. So, for those sensitive to mold, it’s not looking good for us! A dehumidifier with a humidity gauge will help keep levels lower and prevent mold growth.
Geographical locations are marked with reported air quality index (AQI) used by government agencies to inform the public of current pollution exposures which is helpful for travelers! Your local air quality conditions can be found at https://airnow.gov.
Wearing a fitted mask designed specifically for what you are trying to avoid can be helpful.
An N95 face mask will trap 95% of particles > than 0.3 micron size which will filter particulates such as pet dander, pollen, and dust mites. The N95 is the minimum recommended filtration for flus and other viruses. For those reactive to mold, your best option is truly avoidance. Unfortunately, many buildings have been water damaged without adequate remediation and/or clean up; also known as Sick Building Syndrome (SBS). In these instances, a mask is simply not adequate. Some have had success with using a respirator in short duration of exposures however, it really depends on the level of reactivity of the person.
Indoor air quality is even more important! Common indoor pollutants tend to be tobacco smoke, chlorine & ammonia from chemical cleaners, perfumes, and off-gassing from furniture, paint, varnish and adhesives. Frequent cleaning of the home is helpful to reduce overall contaminants. My all-time favorite cleaner is Thieves household cleaner by Young Living made with essential oils. I use it on everything! Vinegar, baking soda, and peroxide is also a good alternative along with Dr. Bronner’s and Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning products. If the home has HVAC duct work, the recommendation is every 3-5 years. This is often a place where dust and mold accumulates. I cannot stress how important this is to indoor air quality! And let’s not forget the HVAC filter which should be changed every 3-6 months depending on the filter. Filters are chosen based upon the industry standard rating system also known and minimum efficiency rating reporting value (MERV). The higher the MERV value, the more efficient the filter is in trapping airborne particles which varies from 1-16. There are also private rating systems from 3M and Home Depot known as Microparticulate performance rating (MPR) and filter performance rating (FPR). You can find a conversion chart online at https://www.airfiltersdelivered.com. Air purification can also help reduce the indoor particulates contributing the air quality. There are numerous brands on the market. I have had good results with the Winix brand (Costco), their filters are not expensive and it doses a decent job! For the more sensitive people, IQAir and Molekule are great options with a steep price but are both amazing machines to help clean up the indoor air.