As winter says its final goodbyes, the desert’s vegetation begins presenting blooms and new greenery that accent the beauty of our mountains and add fresh, fragrant scents to the breezes. But as much as we enjoy the sights and smells, those little buds we see at the ends of barren tree branches signify something else: allergy season.
A sneezing, stuffy-headed, eye-watering spring is just ahead for allergen-sensitive Tucsonans. On top of that, we are in a dry spell, and the winds can kick up considerable dust and debris in the air. Unwittingly, you collect that pollen and dust in your hair and clothing and then bring them home at the end of the day.
Yet another threat to your respiratory health lurks in your home before you even bring in the extra junk. You would be amazed at how much invisible debris can be floating in the air inside your home! The Environmental Protection Agency finds that homes can be from 5 to 100 times more polluted than the air outdoors! Yikes!! It’s a frightening thought if you consider that elements such as city smog may not stack up to the air pollution under your very roof…right under your nose.
You can breathe easier at home if you examine what you use to keep out the unwanted particles. A few simple solutions can do the trick to keep your lovely piece of real estate a cozy place to return to after work and errands are done:
Making this simple change will save your sinuses and your central heat and air unit. Installing high-quality HEPA home air filters and changing them out frequently, about every 2-3 months during seasons of high use, is the best way to save your lung health and your air conditioning system. Your lungs and central air conditioning system actually have a lot in common. If your filter, (or nose) becomes clogged, the entire system will have to work harder because the airflow will be impeded. This wastes energy and adds more wear on the parts of your central cooling and heating system, just as allergens tax your immune system and produce irritation in your nasal passage. You will pay more on your energy bill (medical bills, too!) and the extra work and dust buildup imposed on your system can cause it to malfunction.
You may be deeply in love with that cinnamon bun candle in the living room, but the vapors can be introducing toxins such as phthalates, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and cancer-causing chemicals such as benzene and formaldehyde. A healthier alternative would be to use an essential oil diffuser and use an organic scent of your choice to refresh the smell of your home. If you use perfumes/colognes or hairsprays, invest in natural products that are less likely to clog up your air filter prematurely.
If you’ve had your home closed up for the past few months, the air inside your home is likely more polluted than the outdoors. You could be cleaning the inside air just by opening a window! At this time of the year, you can get away with opening screened-in windows for a couple of hours in the morning if you live where the outdoor air is relatively fresh. This will allow your home to air out without the use of synthetic fresheners, especially if you have a fragrant plant that you are not allergic to right outside your window.