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High pollen count and allergies.

HAGERSTOWN, MARYLAND - High pollen counts across the United States are responsible for the watery eyes, stuffy noses, and coughs that affect an estimated 35 million people who suffer from seasonal allergies. Spring is the first in a trilogy of allergy seasons and May, which is designated Clean Air Month, is the time pollen counts and many allergy symptoms are at their peak. It is also the time millions of people take cover indoors.

But closing yourself indoors may not reduce the symptoms of allergies. In fact, the air indoors is oftentimes more polluted than the air outdoors. More than 2,000 contaminants pollute indoor air, including pollen, mold spores, dust mites, and pet dander.

However, steps can be taken to control an indoor environment and to reduce levels of irritating and even harmful pollutants. Here are some suggestions to help reduce allergy symptoms and improve indoor air quality:

* Reduce indoor molds. When humidity is high, molds can be a problem in bathrooms, kitchens, and basements. Make sure these areas have good circulation and are cleaned often. The basement in particular may need a dehumidifier. The water in a dehumidifier should be emptied and the container cleaned often to prevent mildew from forming. * Use air conditioning. Air conditioning allows windows and doors to remain closed, keeping pollen and mold spores outside. It also reduces indoor humidity, which helps control mold and dust mites. Air conditioners should be sprayed, at air intake, with a mold-killing product for best results. * Dust- and mite-proof bedding. Encase pillows, mattress and box spring in zippered, dust-proof encasings. * Cover bedroom air vents. Cover bedroom air vents with several layers of cheesecloth to lower the number of large-size particles entering the room. * Remove or confine pets. Almost all pets can cause allergies and should be removed from the home. If removal is not an option, dogs or cats may be confined to a kitchen or porch. Caged animals, such as gerbils and guinea pigs,,should be kept in out of-the-way places. Weekly baths may cut down on dander in the home. Grooming animals outdoors reduces the exposure to animal dander. * Ban smoking in the home. Tobacco smoke contains more than 600 toxic substances that can be trapped in the air indoors. Use an air cleaner with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. The best way to improve indoor air is to clean it with an air cleaner featuring True HEPA filtration. Air cleaners with a HEPA filter remove at least 99.97 percent of all airborne particles.
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Copyright 1995 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Date:Jun 22, 1995
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