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Avoid pollutants in your car.

The early morning hours in spring are the worst times of day for allergy sufferers to be outside or in their cars due to high pollen and mold counts. This poses an unavoidable problem for commuters on their way to work. "Exposure to allergens in the morning can cause a dual phase allergy response," indicates Ellen L. Garibaldi, assistant professor of internal medicine in the division of allergy and immunology, Saint Louis University School of Medicine. "Commuters exposed to pollens and mold early in the morning experience an immediate reaction of itchy eyes, runny nose, and cough. Throughout the afternoon, this same morning allergen exposure produces a second wave, the late phase response, consisting of more subtle symptoms such as nasal obstruction, fatigue, and sinus problems. Both the immediate and late phase symptoms increase when pollution or tobacco smoke are in the car."

Commuters significantly can reduce their exposure to allergens on the way to work and dramatically cut down their allergy symptoms for the rest of the day by including the following environmental control measures:

* Keep windows rolled up at all times.

* Use the recirculating air option in your car instead of pulling fresh air in from outside.

* Past water damage to carpet and upholstery requires a mold-directed cleanup or replacement.

* If you or a family member has pet allergies, never let your animals in the vehicle. If your pets have been in the car in the past, steam clean the upholstery and wipe down all surfaces with a damp cloth.

* Glasses help shield eyes from pollen grains blowing in the wind. Sunglasses with wrap-around sides are especially helpful.

* Wear glasses instead of contacts on high pollen count days. Pollen grains trapped under the lens cause tearing and itching.

* Beside using environmental control measures, antihistamines should be taken well ahead of leaving home because they must be digested before effectively controlling allergic reactions in the body.

Another complication for commuters with allergies is smoke. According to Garibaldi, smoking in an enclosed car exposes the body to 10 times the Environmental Protection Agency's limit for carbon monoxide in the workplace. "There are 3,000 chemicals in smoke that can damage the linings of the nose and lungs. Smoke exposure interferes with the nose's ability to rinse pollen grains and mold spores from nasal passages, thereby aggravating allergy symptoms."
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1995 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:how to reduce exposure to environmental allergens
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Date:Feb 1, 1995
Words:388
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