Many homeowners who take great pride in how immaculate they keep their homes may be shocked to learn the level of pollution that exists inside. For those who are sensitive to allergens, this can be a big problem.
The presence of animal dander, pollen, household cleaners, mold and mildew, dust mites, cockroaches, and other sources aggravate allergies and increase the chances of developing conditions that can make life miserable for a family.
In particular, studies have shown that dust mite and cockroach allergens can increase the chances of developing asthma. If you already have asthma, these allergens can make your symptoms even worse.
Those who are affected are left wondering: Is my Persian cat causing my shortness of breath? Are mold spores making me go through way too many boxes of tissues? Is my rhinitis from something I ate or something in the air? Bottom line: Are my symptoms allergy-related or not?
As a homeowner, you could take a wild guess as to what’s causing all the runny noses and itchy eyes or you could have a certified professional perform indoor Allergen Sampling to get to the root of the problem. Armed with evidence regarding the possible source of your health problems, you can consult your physician for physical testing and advice on the best course of action.
Start by contacting a certified professional to collect specimens for laboratory testing. Oftentimes, this sampling can be performed as an added service by a local home inspector in Pittsburgh. The inspector will take samples from several sites (e.g., mattresses, carpeting, sofas, and soft chairs). While the extent of indoor allergen testing will vary, some of the common culprits that will be checked are dust mites, animal dander, cockroaches, mold, pollen, and endotoxins. Let’s look closer at two of the most common causes of health concerns:
Dust Mites: According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, arthropods are known as dust mites, which are invisible to the naked eye, “may be the most common trigger of year-round allergies and asthma.” Typical symptoms of dust mite allergies—brought on by either the bodies (dead or alive) of dust mites or their waste—include sneezing, runny or stuffed nose, cough, postnasal drip, and the onset of asthma symptoms.
A blood or skin test can confirm that you are allergic to dust mites. Remember, no matter how clean you maintain your home, most living spaces will have some dust mites. There are a number of ways to reduce their effects, including washing sheets and blankets weekly in hot water and using certified filtered vacuum cleaners.
Animal Allergens: Dander from cats, dogs, and other pets (or pests such as mice and rats) can stick to walls, furniture, clothing, and carpet, or stay suspended in the air for lengthy periods. This dander (minuscule bits of shed animal skin) can remain potent as an allergen long after settling on a surface or becoming airborne. Even if you don’t have a furry or feathered critter inside, simply coming in contact with the dander can leave allergens on your clothes, which will enter your home and affect the quality of your indoor air. Sadly, the best method to avoid potential problems—from running noses to severe rashes and asthma attacks in highly sensitive people—is to avoid contact, which means not having offending pets in the home and opting for, say, a turtle or goldfish. Even after removal of Fido or Fluffy, allergens in the home can remain, causing continued months of discomfort.