Globally, more than half a billion people suffer from allergies and the number of sufferers is increasing every year. There is no easy cure for most allergies but there are some ways that architects and designers can accommodate such people when designing commercial and residential projects.
Most particles that cause allergies are far too small to see and no window or screen will stop them from entering the home. Air purifiers are popular in many countries to deal with air pollution but high quality air purifying systems can be used to reduce dust and small particles which trigger allergies. It is important to use an air purifier which has a HEPA filter. Air purifiers should be adequate for the floor space to ensure effectiveness.
Carpets can be OK for allergy sufferers but it's vital that they are kept clean with regular shampooing. Low-pile carpeting is far preferable to high-pile when it comes to reducing allergens (Read about Heriz rugs). Simpler solutions may be to install tiles or hardwood which will virtually cancel out this problem. The same can be said for sofas and curtains which can hold many allergenic particles. Using blinds and leather sofas is one way to improve this situation.
Cleaning is often the key when it comes to removing allergens. Make sure that air conditioner vents and air purifier filters are regularly cleaned and replaced when necessary. Thorough cleaning of air vents should ideally happen every season while most purifier filters are only good for about six months.
Cleaning is imperative in bathrooms also as allergens from mold can be a severe issue. Sinks and showerheads should be frequently cleaned. The humidity in a bathroom makes for an ideal breeding location for many bacteria. Using hot water and good quality cleaning products will keep allergens and mold at bay for longer. Tiles really are best for bathrooms so try to remove wallpaper from these wet areas or use a mold-resistant paint if that's not an option.
Vacuum cleaners are a primary tool for removing allergens but they can introduce more allergens than they remove. Even the vacuum cleaner needs to be cleaned often and these days you should be using a cleaner which has a HEPA filter especially in rooms which suffer see a lot of people traffic or have animal visitors. These HEPA filters are ideal for filtering out tiny particles.
Temperature control is another key factor when it comes to allergens like bugs and mold. Bacteria and mold thrive in hot climates and humid spaces. If you are able to keep temperatures below 22C and have humidity lower than 50% this will be a big boost towards reducing allergens.
Some plants can help with humidity levels and cleaning the air. Plants like philodendron are ideal for removing almost all formaldehyde from an area while dracaena is ideal for absorbing and containing allergens. Meanwhile, areca palm (chrysalidocarpus lutescens) is one plant which can be used to control humidity.
During the pollen season (early to mid Spring in most areas) be sure to keep windows closed and use double-glazed windows where possible. It is vital that any mold or condensation which builds up on, or around, windows is removed promptly.
In cooking areas ensure that there are sufficient exhaust fans with vents and that these are cleaned frequently. Check for blockages and build-ups of grease or mold. Elsewhere in kitchen areas, check seals of refrigerators and cabinets on a regular basis and be aware of less accessible areas which may accumulate mold and grease like areas beneath cabinets, behind waste bins and out of reach areas above cupboards and work units.
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