Controlling Winter Allergies

WinterWhen we think of allergy season, the image brought to mind is often of flowing plants and pollen or the dry leaves of fall.  Yet allergies can happen all year round, even during the months of winter. Often winter allergies get mistaken for being cold or flu symptoms and do not get properly treated, making sufferers go longer without relief.   Here are a few tips on how to reduce allergies during the winter.

Control Humidity at Home
Cold winter months means that we spend more time indoors, thus making our homes warmer and more comfortable.  Make sure to check water heaters and pipes regularly for signs of leaks, and if you cannot resist the urge to warm up with long baths or showers, be certain to run fans and ventilate the room once you are done so that mold does not have a chance to grow.

Decorate Without Dust
While it might be easier to pull last year’s tinsel and lights from their boxes and straight onto the tree, doing so might introduce a lot of unwanted dust into your home.  Unpack boxes away from carpet and upholstered furniture, and make sure to give everything a good dusting before putting it festively on display.

Beware of Guests Bringing in Pollen Along with Presents
Although many guests will be courteous and wipe their shoes before entering a home, the truth is that we bring pollen, dust, and pollutants inside on more than just our feet.  Our hair and clothes can pick up these tiny pollutants and transfer them inside.  Allergy sufferers are often advised to shower and put on a clean change of clothes after coming home, but when guests come to call, this is not an option.  Instead, if you have lots of family and friends coming to celebrate, make sure to clean more than usual by vacuuming carpets and upholstery, cleaning sheets frequently, and capturing any pollen that escapes by running an air purifier with a true HEPA filter.

Four Fun Facts About Mold

 

1)       You may know mold as the slimy stuff that can make you sick, but did you know that not all molds are hazardous to humans? In fact, some of them have been used to our great benefit.  Penicillin, one of the most important antibiotics developed, was derived in part from penicillicum mold, and has been of great importance in combating disease.  The discovery and development of penicillin won its inventor, Alexander Fleming, a Nobel Prize.

2)       There are even molds that are used with culinary purposes in mind.  Many delicious cheeses, including Roquefort, Brie, and Camembert are made by using molds like Penicillium candidum and Penicillium roqueforti to provide them with the soft rinds and blue veins that heighten their flavor.

3)       Some molds can solve mazes, like the fungi known as slime mold that have surprised scientists by following food sources laid out in a puzzle and retracting its protoplasmic tubes when they hit dead ends. Scientists working with the mold are hopeful that in the future, learning how slime molds move and cross distances can help humans plan more efficient travel routes.

4)       We know that mold needs a moist environment to grow, so it may come as a surprise that homes in hot, dry environments like the American southwest can also have their share of mold growth as well.  States like Texas, Arizona, and Nevada even made the top ten in the relative hazard mold ranking by American Risk Management Resources.  The major factor for mold growth in these states is not so much the weather, but a result of building conditions; if buildings are sealed too tightly, for example when trying to meet energy requirements, it can create poor ventilation which is a prime environment for mold growth. To help get rid of mold, it is best to use an air purifier, such as the MinusA2 with a true HEPA filter to trap and eliminate mold spores in your home.