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(BPT) - Stuffy and runny nose, sneezing, itchy nose and eyes — having fall allergies can be miserable. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), more than 60 million Americans suffer from asthma and allergies, and nearly 70 percent of U.S. households are affected by indoor allergens.
While you can't control Mother Nature, you can help control the indoor environment. On average, Americans spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, where the concentrations of some pollutants are two to five times higher than typical outdoor concentrations.
Your home should be a haven for you and your family, not a trigger for allergies and asthma. To help everyone breathe easier and increase indoor air quality, consider these smart and simple ideas:
Be smart with bedding
To ensure you sleep well and can breathe easy all night long, invest in allergen-barrier bedding and pillow covers. Wash all sheets, blankets, pillowcases and bedcovers in hot water that is at least 130 F to kill dust mites and remove allergens, recommends the Mayo Clinic. For items that can't be washed (e.g., some children's stuffed toys), place in the dryer for at least 15 minutes at a temperature above 130 F.
Buy confident and seek certification
From vacuums to cleaning products, flooring to humidifiers, look for the asthma & allergy friendly(R) Certification Program seal of approval. The program, administered by AAFA in partnership with the international research organization Allergy Standards Limited (ASL), is an independent program created to scientifically test and identify products that are better for people with asthma and allergies.
Install a whole-home air cleaner
Home air cleaners work with your existing duct work to filter out nearly all allergens. For example, CleanEffects(TM) whole home air cleaner from Trane(R) removes up to 99.98 percent of allergens like household dust , mold spores and certain bacteria and viruses so you don't have to worry about breathing in harmful bacteria or allergy triggers. What's more, it's the first whole home air cleaner to receive the asthma & allergy(R) Certification.
Use a HEPA-filtered vacuum often
No matter the type of flooring in your home, vacuum regularly with a HEPA-filtered vacuum to remove the maximum amount of allergens possible. The Carpet and Rug Institute recommends vacuuming daily in high-traffic or pet areas, vacuuming twice weekly in medium-traffic areas and vacuuming weekly in light-traffic areas, using attachments at carpet edges.
Hire professional carpet cleaners
Many people with allergies choose to remove carpets and replace them with hardwood or tile flooring that doesn't collect allergens as quickly. However, this is not always possible, so if you have carpet in your home, regularly hire professional carpet cleaners to deeply clean carpet to remove embedded particles and other allergy triggers lurking within.
Choose VOC-free paints
Craving a new wall color? When buying paint, look for VOC-free options. VOC stands for volatile organic compounds and these can trigger allergies. To ensure nobody in your family gets itchy eyes or a runny nose when they spend time in your remodeled space, shop smart and always choose VOC-free paints.
These simple tips should dramatically impact your indoor air quality. That means every time your family is at home, everyone can breathe deep and feel their best.