9 Spots Where Allergy Triggers Hide
5. Fishy Friends
Fish may seem like allergy-friendly pets, but without sufficient upkeep, Nemo can become a symptom trigger. Mold grows on various parts of fish tanks or bowls, and on areas outside of the tank that remain damp, including the underside of the lid. Scattered fish food can also encourage mold on your furniture or flooring and help to nourish a dust mite colony.
To keep mold at bay, dry off above-water tank parts daily, and periodically give the tank or bowl and all its decorations a thorough cleaning. Filter media should be changed once a month to prevent mold growth and to keep fresh oxygen flowing. When you feed the fish, immediately clean up any flakes that miss the tank.
Those dry-clean only labels are not only a pain to your pocketbook, they can introduce chemicals like perchloroethylene (or PERC), a VOC, into your home. The solvents used in dry-cleaning can off-gas for weeks, triggering respiratory irritation, not to mention headaches or dizziness.
Avoid taking your health to the cleaners by purchasing fabrics that can be machine or hand washed. If professional help is a must, hang dry-cleaning outside for a few days of fresh air or better yet, seek out “green” cleaners who use processes that avoid harmful chemicals. For more information and tips on how to keep your home allergy free see this article.
If you think the philodendron is setting off your sneeze attacks, think again. Indoor foliage is rarely allergenic, but the soil in over half of all houseplants is a breeding ground for mold.
To prevent mold, start by replanting your greens in sterile soil. Avoid over-watering, and allow the top inch of the soil to dry out before re-wetting. Keep the plant in a sunny location and tidy up dead leaves. Finally, cover the plant soil with a layer of rocks. You’ll look like a home decor diva and the barrier will help to block the release of spores. If you do spot mold, zap it with a solution of equal parts vinegar and water.
When it comes to kitchen ranges, the gas vs. electric war rages on. But for asthma sufferers, electric is the mitts down winner. Gas stoves emit nitrogen dioxide, a potent and sneaky asthma trigger.
Tests have shown that even if a bedroom is away from the kitchen and on a different floor, levels of nitrogen dioxide from a gas stove were high enough to trigger asthma attacks. But you’re not entirely off the hook with electric.
Steam from cooking can reach ceilings and the tops of cabinets, creating a breeding ground for mold. Ensure that you have a powerful stove exhaust fan to vent both nitrogen dioxide and steam, and use it!
When Christmas time arrives, so does the perennial debate about which is worse for allergies, the real or the fake tree.
Dr. Schenkel cuts down the myth that pollen-producers are always to blame. “I find more problems develop with artificial trees because they have been kept up in an attic filled with dust, and that bothers people more.”
He says pine pollen is not as allergenic as most people think, although fresh-cut trees can introduce mold into the house. To minimize the spores, shake out the live tree or blast it outside with a leaf blower. Keep its stay in your home to a minimum; one study suggests a maximum of seven days for those sensitive to mold.