Allergies In Tampa Are Making Me Sick; What Can I Do?

img1forensicmoldWhile reading an article about indoor allergens recently, I was shocked by what I was reading. An allergy and asthma Doctor was prescribing improper recommendations for reducing allergies in the home. I am NOT a Doctor, I help people diagnose and deal with issues in their homes, not their bodies.  The good Doctor made a sorry recommendation to replace a standard air conditioning with a super high efficiency HEPA filter.  Science and research guide my recommendations in any matter; there is plenty behind filtration for use in heating and air conditioning systems.

HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air.  Originally, the HEPA filter was designed in the 40’s for use in the Manhattan Project to contain airborne radioactivity.  As it was commercialized, HEPA was trademarked and later became a generic term for highly efficient filters.  True HEPA filters, as defined by the U.S. standards adopted by most American industries, remove at least 99.97% of airborne particles 0.3 microns (µm) or larger in diameter.  That measurement of 0.3 microns doesn’t mean much to the average person, but it’s tiny. Products that claim to be “HEPA-type” or “HEPA-like” are not true HEPA.  A true HEPA filter could create major problems for a residential a/c system if the system was not designed for it. Filters available for your heating/air-conditioning system are usually available in 1” thickness and most HEPA filters are 4” to 5” thick. So your system must be designed for it.

img2forensicmoldInstalling a very high efficiency filter may restrict the airflow through the coil causing other a/c system problems. MERV, or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, ratings are a better gauge of filters for modern homes. A MERV rating is a number from 1 to 16.  Most of the furnace filters seen are MERV 4 or less – the “see-through” filters – typically blue; that only stop things in the air larger than toddlers or tennis balls.  The pleated filters that cost a few dollars are usually at least a MERV 5 – 8; those filters can stop some mold spores, powdered milk and pudding mix. Better filters that can stop lead dust, coal dust, milled flour, and hair spray are rated MERV 9 – 12.  Filter with a MERV rating over 12 are more difficult to find and can easily cause problems for the average home.  Higher rated filters (>MERV 12) are for hospitals and other special facilities.  Never should a HEPA filter be installed in an air conditioning or heating system that was not designed for it.

So what is a highly allergic person to do?  
1. Know your indoor allergy triggers and stay away from them; if you allergic to pet dander, stay away from dogs and cats.
2. Keep down the dust in your indoor environment; dust often using an electrostatic duster (Swiffer® type) that traps the dust.
3. Change your a/c or furnace filter regularly, preferably every 30 days during the busy season.
4. Clean carpets often with a vacuum cleaner equipped with a HEPA filter.
5. Wash bed linens in water at least 130 degrees F once a week and replace your pillow yearly.

Most people have no idea about which allergy triggers are present in their homes. Most common allergens are mold, dust mites and pet dander. Alpha Environmental tests for all these allergens in homes to help the allergy sufferer identify solutions for their problems. Call (813) 961-6653 or in Pinellas today to set an appointment to have your home inspected and tested.

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