Shipton's CleanAir Solutions Blog
Pollen Problems? Battle Spring Allergies with Better Indoor Air Quality
Spring here in the far north can be a beautiful time of year. Warming temperatures, new green, nesting birds, and more sunlight are all welcome changes from our long cold winters.
But for many Canadians, spring simply means one thing....pollen, and lots of it. It is hard to enjoy the signs of spring when your eyes are watering, your nose is running and your head is pounding.
What can you do to find relief? Read on!
Climate Change Means Pollen Season Is Just Going to Get Worse
The truth is, pollen is already the most common allergen nationwide. And according to climatologists, as climate change continues, it is just going to get worse.
Pollen season is now projected to start 40 days earlier than it has in years past. And the annual pollen count? It is likely to increase by as much as 250 per cent!
Here in Canada, we have three major pollen seasons:
- Tree pollen season happens from mid-April to late May.
- Weed and grass pollen season happens from late May to mid-July.
- Ragweed pollen season happens from mid-August through October.
That is seven months out of 12 with anticipated pollen counts high enough to cause moderate to severe allergy symptoms. And we haven't even talked about airborne mould and mildew, bacteria, fungi, microbes and VOCs that can also cause health symptoms.
So let's talk about what you can do to minimize allergies and asthma attacks for your family.
Battling Pollen With Better Indoor Air Quality
The challenge with battling pollen is that it easily infiltrates the average indoor space. Pollen can come in on your hair, clothes, skin and shoes. It comes in with your pets. It even floats in through open doors and windows.
Pollen can make its way inside through small cracks in your home or business structure - through the same places where micro-air leaks drive up energy bills.
This means battling pollen requires a multi-level approach. Some of this you can control simply with changes in daily habits. Other aspects require making use of technology that can accomplish what you can't on your own.
What You Can Do Right Now to Improve Your Indoor Air
Right now, today, you can start cleaning up your indoor air quality - even with some simple shifts in your daily habits.
1. Change clothes and take a shower when you come home.
The pollen you bring indoors with you will readily join your indoor air ecosystem...unless you keep it out.
This starts the moment you come home - before you head indoors.
Take your shoes off outside. Remove your clothing and leave it in the washroom area. Take a shower and wash your hair.
This ensures you are not adding fresh pollen to your indoor ecosystem and also removes pollen irritants clinging to your skin, clothes and hair that could easily enter your airways and cause allergy symptoms.
2. Keep windows and doors closed.
When spring arrives, it feels so tempting to throw open windows and doors to air out the house. But this is not a recipe for success when your family includes those who suffer from seasonal allergies or asthma.
3. Reconsider household cleaning and personal care products.
While pollen allergies are in a different category than allergies to other environmental toxins, one can definitely exacerbate the other.
When you make a switch to non-toxic cleaning products and essential oils, you bolster your immune system to fight off pollen allergies more effectively.
4. Add Air Filtration and Ventilation
Air filtration and ventilation are a power duo for fighting seasonal allergies.
Modern air filtration makes use of several cutting-edge technologies to remove even the tiniest micro-particulates - solids, gases and liquids - from your indoor air.
A HEPA filter (high-efficiency particulate air filtration) can easily be retrofitted to work with any ducted HVAC system. And the standalone portable filtration units can work just as well for non-ducted systems.
NOTE: Do not try to add a HEPA filter to a standard residential HVAC system. This may cause furnace or air conditioning failure and/or a home fire!
Since ventilating naturally with open windows or doors is not an option for allergy sufferers, the next best thing is a heat recovery ventilator (HRV system). These amazing energy-efficient systems are now required for all new Toronto-area construction.
5. Schedule Our Professional Air Duct Cleaning Services Annually
Indoor air duct cleaning technology is a relatively new entrant to the air quality industry.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends considering professional air duct cleaning services in the following situations:
- When you have had a significant dust-producing home renovation.
- When there is evidence of mould or mildew.
- When you see airborne dust or contaminants.
- When someone in your family suffers from allergies or asthma.
The high-definition robotic micro-cameras are what we use to allow you and your service technician to see right into your air ducts to determine how much debris, dust or mould is present. From there, you can make the decision about when to schedule your indoor air duct cleaning services.
Many of our indoor air quality clients who have not found relief through other means discover their allergy and asthma symptoms improving after having their air ducts cleaned.
Some tell us their indoor air is so clean they can actually smell the difference!
Shipton's CleanAir Solutions Is An Industry Leader in Indoor Air Quality
We are proud to have nearly a century of serving the HVAC and indoor air quality needs of our Hamilton Ontario area customers.
Battling spring allergies? Our knowledgeable indoor air quality experts can guide you to the right services and products to help you feel better fast.
P.S. Don't forget to reserve your special spring deal - 10% off any indoor air duct cleaning and $50 off any whole house humidifier installation.
Can You Use Essential Oils as an Air Purifier to Improve Indoor Air Quality?
Essential oils for indoor air quality are becoming more and more popular. It is hard to go anywhere today without finding all kinds of air freshener and air purifier products with labels like "essential oil-based" and "all-natural."
But does that mean essential oils are safe to use in your indoor air? And if essential oils are safe for adults to breathe, what about your kids or your pets?
The most accurate answer is "it depends." It depends on which essential oils you choose, how many essential oils you use and how sensitive each family member may be (including humans and pets).
Learn what the science says about the safest way to use essential oils. And whether it can be used as an air purifier to improve indoor air quality.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are concentrated naturally-occurring chemical compounds extracted from a plant. Depending on the plant species, these oils may be found in the bark, stems, leaves, flowers, seeds, fruits and/or roots.
There are also different ways to extract and preserve these natural chemicals. Popular methods include mechanical pressing (expression or maceration), water distillation, enfleurage and steam distillation.
As you might imagine, essential oils are extremely concentrated! And the essential oil is just one part of the whole plant, which means it may have a different effect than using the same plant in other ways.
Aromatherapy for Air Quality and Health
The use of essential oils for health and wellness benefits is typically called aromatherapy. This implies that the best way to get the benefits is by direct inhalation.
But, as you know, essential oils are very strong. And they do not always smell great! This makes direct inhalation a last resort for many practitioners, especially when working with sensitive individuals such as kids, the elderly and pets.
Luckily, there are many ways to activate essential oils when using them to,
- Improve your indoor air quality,
- Strengthen your immune system,
- And promote physical, mental and emotional benefits.
The most popular way to diffuse essential oils? Diffusion - direct dispersal into the ambient air. It’s by far the safest way to use essential oils! It’s also the most economical and most pleasant way to improve your indoor air quality with essential oils.
How to Diffuse Essential Oils Into the Air Safely
Safe use of essential oils is a very individual process. You won't know how you or your child or your pet may respond to a certain essential oil until you test it out.
Here are the steps to take to diffuse essential oils into your indoor air safely.
1. Read the ingredients.
The first thing to do is read the ingredients list! Sadly, this is necessary because some companies may include essential oils alongside other chemical fragrances or potentially toxic contaminants, preservatives or other ingredients.
Be sure the essential oil product you choose is pure and from a reputable manufacturer.
2. Dilute, dilute, dilute.
Not all essential oils are safe to use directly. Even among those that are, they can be too strong for some people. Dilute your essential oils in a carrier oil such as coconut or almond oil or in pure distilled water.
3. Do a sniff test first.
For pets, a very effective way to test if the essential oil may be well tolerated is to present the bottle with the cap ON and allow your pet to just sniff and explore it. Their body language will tell you if it is likely to be well tolerated.
For kids, a safe equivalent is to do a small patch test on your own skin and see how you react.
4. Ensure excellent air circulation and ventilation in the room.
Another important way to test a new essential oil for indoor air quality is to do so in a room with good air circulation and excellent ventilation.
5. Diffuse essential oils for short periods only.
Essential oils can be potent and effective at levels where you can't even really smell them. So best practices indicate diffusing for only 30 to 60 minutes at a time.
6. Always ask your doctor first.
It is vital to talk with your doctor or your child's paediatrician before introducing any essential oils into your indoor air.
Which Essential Oils Can Improve Indoor Air Quality?
Research about the use of essential oils for indoor air quality is ongoing. But it is evident that essential oils do have strong air purification properties. This means that, yes, it is possible for essential oils to be used as a type of air purifier in your home.
Here is a list of essential oils that have performed well against airborne toxins in research studies to date:
- Tea tree
- May Chang
- Sweet orange
- Clary sage
This is not an exhaustive list and there is much more research to be done. But the important thing to remember is that many essential oils (such as the ones listed here) have a number of properties that can be very beneficial for indoor air quality!
For example, the lemon essential oil is an antiseptic. Oregano has natural antibiotic properties. Lavender essential oil is a natural antibacterial. And clary sage is a natural antifungal!
Shipton's CleanAir Solutions Delivers Trusted Indoor Air Quality Improvements
Improving indoor air quality is such a popular topic now that it can be achieved using so many different products. But it is important to note that not all products actually improve your indoor air quality. Some can make it worse!
That’s why we always recommend that you do your research well before introducing a new indoor air quality product in your home. And that goes for the essential oils too!
Although they do have many beneficial air cleansing properties, you need to ensure that your family can tolerate them before putting them into use.
Here at Shipton's CleanAir Solutions, we have nearly 100 years of expertise in the HVAC and air quality industries. Our friendly, knowledgeable air quality experts work with you to improve your indoor air quality safely and affordably.