5 Common Household Allergens in McLean, VA

Allergies can be annoying and even debilitating to many people, and while most people think of them raging hardest when the weather is warm, they can flare up during the winter as well. Therefore, a constant concern can exist that your home in McLean, VA may become infiltrated with allergens. Here are five common household allergens that you’ll want to take steps to avoid.

1. Dust

Dust is a virtually ubiquitous allergen, and it makes sense to discuss it first. Dust can irritate your lungs, throat, eyes and sinuses, causing coughing, sneezing, congestion and similar symptoms. It can also get into the ductwork of your HVAC system or latch onto your system’s filters, which will inhibit airflow through the system, decrease system efficiency and further harm indoor air quality (IAQ).

Since dust is everywhere, it’s pretty much impossible to completely get rid of it, though you can certainly do things to decrease its presence in your home. First, dust and clean everything thoroughly and regularly, including carpets, couches, furniture upholstery and shelves.

Second, make sure to schedule maintenance for your HVAC system at least annually because this is the best way to keep dust from clogging its parts. Also, remember to replace your system’s air filters about once every three months.

2. Pet Hair and Dander

Discarded dead skin cells from your pets, otherwise known as dander, are a major cause of allergies. Since they’re so small, you can breathe these cells in without realizing it. Pet hair can also irritate you.

To minimize this problem, clean your pets thoroughly and on a regular basis, especially after they come in from outside. Bathe them, and brush them all carefully.

3. Pollen

Pollen can ride on a breeze and waft into your home without you even realizing it. To keep it out, keep windows and doors closed unless necessary. We should also repeat the point about washing your pets since they can bring in pollen from outside. IAQ tools, like air purifiers, can also help.

4. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

VOCs exist in all kinds of household products, including paints, wood finishers, gasoline, motor oil, aerosol sprays, cleaners and more. Formaldehyde, a particularly nasty VOC, may sit in the walls of some older houses. Inhaling the fumes from these chemicals can inflame allergies and cause other symptoms like headaches.

To avoid respiratory damage from these toxic compounds, we recommend using as few products that contain them as possible. If you suffer from allergies, use natural products for cleaning.

5. Insects

A variety of different insects can work to diminish your IAQ and flare up your allergies, but perhaps the most potent two are dust mites and cockroaches. Dust mites are tiny and can attach themselves to dust as it floats through the air. They also live on and inside of carpets, bedding, furniture upholstery and other similar soft areas.

While dust mites don’t bite, they do leave tiny pellets of fecal matter lying around that can ignite your allergies if inhaled. Since they float around on dust, you can also inhale dust mites directly along with any dust.

The other major allergy-triggering insect you’re likely to find in the home is the cockroach. They can shed body parts that have traces of allergenic proteins on them and leave behind salvia and feces. Other insects, like mosquitoes and bees, can also get into your home and do things to cause allergic reactions, but they are less common than dust mites and cockroaches.

Even if you suffer from seasonal allergies, none of the pollutants we’ve discussed here should keep you from enjoying life. With a reasonable investment into IAQ technologies and some common sense, you should be able to keep the air in your home in McLean, VA clean. For professional help, just call Vernon Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. and schedule some indoor air quality services.

Image provided by iStock

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