More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies. It’s certainly a significant portion of the population. And that is a lot of people whose home’s health and indoor air quality matter even more. Spring brings with it lots of rebirth and beauty, but it also means allergies are a greater concern. From a runny nose to itchy ears and throat to constant sneezing, improving indoor air quality is crucial for many with spring on its way. To help create a cleaner indoor space and even minimize symptoms, many wonder if and how air purifiers reduce spring allergies?
Spring Season Allergies
Allergic rhinitis refers to allergic reactions that are in response to environmental factors. This can be both indoor and outdoor environmental sources. Allergic rhinitis in particular affects six million children and 20 million adults in the U.S. every year, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. There are two types of allergic rhinitis–seasonal and perennial. Perennial allergic rhinitis causes allergies year-round. Seasonal allergic rhinitis, more often referred to as hay fever occurs during a specific season. Seasonal allergies are most commonly associated with spring, however, seasonal hay fever can occur in both the spring and fall.
An easy differentiator between the two types are the likely allergen sources. For those who suffer allergies throughout the year, triggers likely originate from indoor sources. And for those with symptoms during specific seasons, allergen triggers are likely outdoor sources. Nevertheless, outdoor air quality directly impacts indoor air quality–meaning both types of allergic rhinitis are indoor air quality concerns.
Common Spring Season Allergens
The biggest spring season allergy trigger? Pollen. Plants release more pollen during the spring, worsening air quality and allergy symptoms. Those symptoms may include sniffles, sneezing, itchy eyes, ears and throats, coughing, shortness of breath and more. Trees, grasses, weeds, flowers–all release pollen in the spring and summer months. Pollen even travels for miles, meaning your allergy experience is not based solely on your own yard or direct outdoor environment.
Mold and mildew are another frequent spring season allergen. The biological pollutant thrives in damp, humid environments making the shift to warmer, rainy spring weather the ideal environment. While not every mold causes allergies, every mold needs to be removed from the home regardless. Keeping indoor humidity levels in the 40-60% range helps prevent mold growth and spread.
Other common home allergens include pets and pet dander, carpet (particularly wall-to-wall!), bedding, mattresses, indoor plants, soft furniture materials and damp areas. Dust mites are also a common indoor allergen. They are a specific trigger for people with allergies and asthma. And though dust mites are considered a year-round threat, they too thrive in those high humidity conditions, likely with spring weather.
Home Habits to Combat Allergies
- Stay Indoors with Doors and Windows Closed
- Change Air Filters
- Vacuum, Dust and Clean Often
- Humidity Control
- Install an Air Purifier
One of the top suggestions to help combat seasonal allergies is to stay indoors with doors and windows closed, particularly when outdoor pollen levels are high. This is based on the idea that a majority of seasonal allergy triggers come from outdoor environmental sources. Staying indoors more during high pollen spring makes your space’s indoor air quality even more important, especially considering natural ventilation is out. An alternative option for improved indoor ventilation that isn’t counteractive for allergy sufferers is mechanical ventilation. A whole-home mechanical system increases the amount of incoming fresh air but filters out pollutants beforehand.
Any one or combination of the aforementioned improved home habits can help combat allergies in your living space. Air purifiers are also an ideal solution to reduce spring allergies. How exactly does purification compare?
How Can Air Purifiers Help Reduce Spring Allergies?
One of the easiest ways to minimize allergy symptoms is to control allergy triggers and/or the allergens that are present in the home. This is why purification is such a prominent recommendation for allergy sufferers. Purification does exactly that. The purification process reduces the number of indoor air pollutants in an indoor space–including allergens.
Air purifiers or air cleaning devices remove common indoor airborne allergens and allergy triggers year-round (obviously including spring allergy triggers!). Of course, no indoor air quality solution is able to remove 100% of indoor air pollutants, but purifiers help drastically reduce the amount of contaminants and improve overall air quality. Most studies that have been completed on the role of air purifiers specifically for reducing allergies have been smaller, but they have shown improved and lessened symptoms.
Air purifiers are recommended for allergy and asthma sufferers specifically because they eliminate both particles and gases. Purification also improves overall air quality. This is helpful because poor air quality not only worsens allergy and asthma conditions, but allergens are common indoor air pollutants. Whole-home purification can even target pollutants both in the air and on surfaces. Purifiers are a helpful allergy solution as they provide cleaner, sanitized indoor air and fewer allergens on home surfaces like furniture, carpets and clothing.
Whole-Home vs. Portable Air Purifiers
So, if the goal is to reduce indoor allergens, allergy triggers and symptoms–what is the best home air purifier to choose? There are a few key factors to consider.
First and foremost–coverage. AKA: the size of the space the purifier will target. You want to choose a device that covers as much space / as much square footage / as many rooms as possible. For this reason, we tend to lean toward whole-home purification systems. They install directly into the home HVAC system and work in tandem to provide cleaner, purified air to the entire home. If you opt for a portable unit, make sure to measure the space you want to target and buy accordingly. This is often measured as the clean air delivery rate (CADR).
Next, make sure to choose a purification device that has been third-party tested. This goes for whole-home and single-room devices. Why do we suggest external verification? Official regulation for air purifiers is somewhat flimsy, meaning it’s important to make sure the device you choose has proven results beyond what the manufacturer says.
If leaning toward a whole-home purifier, then we also suggest considering purifiers that use bipolar ionization. This is a fancy term for technology that electrically charges pollutants, sending out negative and positive ions. This encourages particle to clump together, resulting in larger contaminants which makes it easier to capture and filter pollutants out of the air supply. Of course, this includes pesky allergy triggers. Whole-home bipolar ionization devices also often utilize UV light the right way, that is in-duct. Their ability to further clean and purify the air is why we like whole-home ionization purifiers.
However, if you’re leaning toward a portable unit, then it’s crucial to choose a purifier with HEPA level filtration. In fact, it’s an absolute must! As a quick comparison: whole-home systems do not have built-in filters, but rather work with the home’s existing air filters throughout. Portable units do have a built-in filter in the purifier itself. So for single-room purifiers, you want a device with the best filter possible–HEPA filtration.
The Best Choice for Your Space
If you still can’t decide between a whole-home system or a portable unit, consider these questions. Are there multiple allergy and asthma sufferers meaning the whole home would benefit from purification? Do you live in a larger space where a portable unit could only cover a fraction of the home? Do you have other indoor air quality concerns beyond allergens? In which case, whole-home purifiers are better at targeting multiple pollutants and improving overall air quality. Is there only one allergy sufferer in the home who would benefit from a targeted purifier in their bedroom? Does your home not have a central or forced air system? Or do you rent? In which case, a portable unit is likely the better investment.
Choosing Air Purification
Regardless of the purifier device you favor, purification is a quality indoor air quality solution. Purification is also the ideal choice to combat spring allergies! Keep in mind the many ways air purifiers helps reduce allergy symptoms–minimizing the number of allergens, irritants and contaminants in the indoor air. purifiers reduce spring allergies