Home Appliances for Allergy and Asthma Sufferers
Considering buying some home appliances for allergies and asthma? It is important to keep the temperature and humidity in your home as constant as possible. Air that is very dry and areas that are damp are causes for concern. Check your thermostat to be sure that the temperature remains around 68 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (20 to 21 degrees Centigrade). A hygrometer in the bedroom of the allergy sufferer can help monitor and maintain the humidity at an optimal level.
There are devices to heat, cool, humidify, dehumidify, and filter the air in your home. Some are expensive. Because of cost, it is in your interest to first implement the other measures described to control the environment in your home. However, in severe cases, these appliances can provide enormous relief to the allergy sufferer and are, therefore, worth the investment.
Whether these units are portable or built-in, they require regular cleaning and maintenance. Filters should be cleaned and/or replaced regularly, probably more often than is recommended by the manufacturer. Furnaces and ducts should be cleaned professionally once a year, preferably before the onset of winter.
The major problem with vacuum cleaners is that, although they pick up dust and larger particles, they blow out some of the house dust (the finer particles, including house dust mite debris). This can be worse for the allergy sufferer than not vacuuming! The use of a central vacuum, with an outside vent in the basement, ensures that no dust is recirculated. Easy-Flo® is recommended by Consumer Reports. An alternative is the use of a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filtration system, such as Oreck®.
An effective air purifier can really help sensitive individuals by providing a cleaner breathing environment. We stated in that the bedroom is a critical area in which to consider using an air purifier. However, it must be emphasized that an air purifier is not a substitute for the common-sense suggestions made throughout this site. The air purifier is a useful adjunct for eliminating pollutants and allergens.
Air purifiers work in several ways: there are mechanical filters that physically trap the particles; charcoal filters that absorb odors like cigarette smoke and cooking fumes; and electronic methods that remove particles from the air. Consult your physician or a reputable air purifier dealer to learn which air purifier suits your needs.
HEPA AIR PURIFIERS
Most physicians and respiratory organizations recommend the HEPA method of air filtration as the most effective. HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Arresting.
HEPA air filtration is commonly used in hospital operating rooms. A clinical study of HEPA air purifiers was conducted in allergy patients’ homes. Some machines had HEPA filters; others had blank filters. The results: patients who had HEPA filters in their homes had fewer symptoms and required less medication than those who had blank filters.
It is possible to obtain a tax refund on the purchase of HEPA air purifiers if the purchase is recommended by a physician.
Nonelectrical Electrostatic Filters
These work similarly to the way electrostatic charges pick up small pieces of paper. These filters are made of a material that is positively and negatively charged. When air is forced through this material, pollen and dust are “zapped” out of the air. These filters are very efficient, require little maintainence (washed every two months), are easy to install, and remain effective for a long time. The filters do not use electricity and cost from $100 to $300.
Electronic Furnace Filters
Electronic furnace filters work similarly to the nonelectrical electrostatic furnace filters except that they use electricity to create the electrostatic charge. The Honeywell® F50E and the Trion Max® 5-1400 are recommended. These products cost over $1,000 each, require additional installation cost, and require electricity to operate. Consumer Reports rates electronic furnace filters as somewhat more effective than nonelectrical electrostatic filters.
Air conditioners remove particulates like dust, pollen, and mold spores from the air. Windows should be kept closed during periods when pollen counts are high. Clean the coils and filters regularly, and don’t set the temperature controls too low. Air that is too cold aggravates breathing problems.
HUMIDIFIERS AND DEHUMIDIFIERS
These appliances can be the key to eliminating the mold and dust mite problems in your home. Mites and mold proliferate in relative humidity of over 50%. Humidity is the amount of moisture in the air; “relative humidity” is the percentage of the maximum amount of moisture air can hold at a given temperature. A dehumidifier draws indoor air over cooling coils by means of a fan. This condenses on the coil creating water droplets, which then drain into a bucket or floor drain. Better brands have adjustable humidistats so that you can set the optimum level of humidity. You have to choose the right capacity for your needs.