Indoor Air Allergens, Contaminants & Dust
According to Discovery Magazine, the average 1600 sq. ft. home accumulates about 40 pounds of dust per year. The contaminants within the heating and cooling system can often become so prevalent with the system that homeowners with allergies can suffer symptoms within their own homes. Reducing the amount of the allergens circulating through your air ventilation system can help to improve the Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) of your home.
Contaminants like dust, dust mites, pet dander, mold, bacteria, and other contaminants are a major concern for most homeowners. Reducing the amount of the allergens circulating through your air ventilation system can help to improve the Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) of your home.
The following are additional statistics detailing the need and the benefits of having Mr. Duct address the allergens in your HVAC system:
- Children are more likely than adults to be affected by polluted indoor air (Dept. of Consumer Affairs)
- Indoor air has been found to be up to 70 percent more polluted than outdoor air (EPA)
- The average six-room house collects 40 pounds of dust a year (Discover Magazine)
- A buildup of 0.42 inches of dirt on a heating or cooling coil can result in a decrease in efficiency of 21% (EPA)
- 9 out of 10 heating, ventilating, air conditioning systems failures are caused by dust and dirt (Louisiana Coop Extension Service)
- As much as 50 percent of all allergies are either caused or aggravated by polluted indoor air. (American College of Allergists)
Call Mr. Duct at (888) 467-3828 today for a free ventilation system cleaning estimate!
Will Getting an Air Duct Cleaning Help My Allergies?
Research has indicated that heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems act as a contaminant collection source. These contaminants include fungi, bacteria, dust particles, allergens, and other materials. Mr. Duct’s expert technicians will remove all of the contaminants from your HVAC system, bringing you one step closer to improved Indoor Air Quality.
What is an Allergy?
The word allergy is derived from Greek words "allos" meaning "other" and "ergon" meaning "work." Additional literal interpretations from the Greek origins meant "altered reaction or abnormal response." Allergies have traditionally been categorized as a response or hypersensitivity the body develops to a particular antigen.
Typical responses to allergens may include skin irritation, mucous production, muscle spasms, hives, rashes, membrane and tissue swelling, and a variety of other symptoms. Symptoms generally are short-lived in early physiological responses, but in repeated exposure to the allergen responses by the body may become increasingly severe and may require medical attention.
Exposure typically comes from within the environment where a person spends the majority of their time. Pollution and ambient outdoor air quality, in conjunction with the cleanliness of the indoor environment, play important roles. All of these components must be factored in during an IAQ investigation.
Allergies are relatively common in today’s society. Allergens causing reactions can enter the body through inhalation, injection, absorption and ingestion. The exposure each individual receives is unique. It is dependent not only on what they are exposed to in the environment at home, but also the workplace, the public areas that person inhabits, and the places a person visits outside their daily routine. This aspect may complicate an indoor air quality investigation when source allergens are trying to be isolated.
Indoor Allergens Trends to Watch Out For
It is estimated that approximately 50 million Americans suffer from all types of allergies. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, allergies are the 5th leading chronic disease in the United States among all ages, and the third most common chronic disease among children under 18 years of age. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation indicates that approximately 75% of all allergy sufferers have indoor/outdoor allergies as their primary allergy. Approximately 10 million people have reactions to cat dander, which is considered the most common pet allergy. Insect allergies account for 4% of the populace who suffer from allergies.
These facts require environmental, safety and health professionals and companies that have involvement in the indoor air quality industry, to exercise prudence and care when inspecting, assessing and cleaning of buildings or air ventilation systems supplying air to areas where asthmatics or other allergy sufferers are present. It’s also an important component (pre-dispositions for respiratory distress) in identifying the appropriate allergen in an IAQ investigation.
The Environmental Protection Agency in their guidance document "Building Air Quality, A Guide for Building Owners and Facility Managers" recommends that contaminant-producing activities be scheduled during unoccupied periods and the susceptible individuals be notified of upcoming events so they can avoid contact with any allergens being cleaned, and which could potentially remain in the building. Relocation of these individuals is recommended by the EPA only as a last resort.
Recommendations for Reducing Allergens
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends several actions to ventilation systems and filtration systems when controlling particulates in indoor air quality environments.
In order to properly clean a heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system in an immune-compromised (allergic or asthmatic) individual’s home or workplace, strict attention-to-detail is required during indoor air quality projects. HVAC system cleaning recommendations include cleaning systems that are placed under negative air pressure with appropriate high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration units during cleaning operations. This is done to control present or future impacts to allergic or asthmatic individuals.
The use of these filtration units has benefit in several areas. It serves as a measure to prevent unwanted migration of contaminants out of the air ventilation system and will also purge the air in the system of particulate levels. In practicing these minimal engineering controls, the goal is to eliminate or reduce any potential for material inside the HVAC's stem that was dislodged during the cleaning process to become airborne once the system is restarted.
The NADCA ACR Standard requires surfaces within the HVAC system to be visibly clean—free from non-adhered substances and debris. In instances where the highest level of cleaning is required, the NADCA Vacuum Test can be applied. To be considered clean by the NADCA Vacuum Test, the net weight of debris collected on the filter media should not exceed 0.75mg/100cm2.
Further Research & Source Documents
Boecher, Thomas E. "Allergies & Pet Dander: The Role They Play in Indoor Air Quality Investigations."
EPA's Office of Air Radiation's "Building Air Quality for Building Managers"