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Pollen, Pets

9 Spots Where Allergy Triggers Hide

iStock_000016105799_Large_1You may think you’ve got allergy and asthma triggers under control in your own home. But do you really? Allergic Living helps root out some crafty culprits that have your household wheezing and sneezing:

1. The Dirt on Houseplants

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 overwatering, 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.

2. Inflamed Fragrances

Scented candles add ambiance to our homes, but comforting aroma comes at an irritating price. Candles, air fresheners, and even incense can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air that increase asthma risk and can elicit eye, skin, and nasal inflammation.

In a study published in the Journal of Environmental Health, 19 percent of the participants reported having breathing difficulties or other health issues when exposed to air fresheners.

To limit your VOC exposure, try other types of mood lighting and natural home fragrances, like fresh baked cookies and allergy-friendly plants. For clean-air plants, see this article.

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3. Too Cool Laundry

Some washing machines have heat settings that can be adjusted manually, but others feed the water straight from the pipes. If you need to turn up your hot water heater for a sanitizing clean, do use caution if you have young children. A temperature that high can scald little hands.You’re washing the sheets regularly in hot water, but the sniffling still ensues when your head hits the pillow. Question: Is the water actually hot? In a South Korean study, cotton sheets that were laundered at a standard 104 degrees F only shed 6.5 percent of their dust mites. However, a wash at 140 degrees F killed off 100 percent of the mites.

Next: Plush toys, dry cleaning, and more

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Allergic Living acknowledges the assistance of the OMDC Magazine Fund, an initative of the Ontario Media Development Cooperation.