How Pets Affect Your Indoor Air Quality: Pet Dander Allergy
Blog written by Veva.
In recent years, there's been a lot of news coverage about climate change and air pollution. Indeed, climate change is shaping government policies, business goals, and even consumer preferences. And while you may have heard of greenhouse gases, CO2 emissions, and other related terms, you may not be as familiar with common indoor pollutants found in your home that could be putting your health at risk.
What Are Indoor Air Pollutants?
Indoor air pollutants are gases, particulates, microbes, and other substances that can reduce the quality of the air we breathe. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in some cases, the concentration of these pollutants indoors can be between two and five times higher, as they are outdoors. That's a frightening statistic, especially since Americans spend an estimated 90 percent of their time indoors on average.
We don't usually think about the quality of air in our homes. And when we think of air pollution, we often think of black smog, car exhaust, or white smoke billowing from an industrial plant. But indoor air pollutants are most often invisible. Often, our bodies will have an adverse reaction to them before we can detect them with our senses for example pet dander allergies. But it's important to understand what some of the most common indoor air pollutants are, so we can eliminate them before they compromise our health. As per the EPA, some of the most common are:
- Asbestos, a mineral fiber naturally found in soil and rocks and often used in building materials, such as roof shingles, and friction products, such as automobile transmission parts.
- Secondhand smoke, from the burning of tobacco products and smokers' exhalations.
- Radon, a radioactive gas created from uranium decay in soil, that can seep upward into a home through cracks in its foundation.
- Lead, which was commonly used in home construction before its harmful effects, especially on young children, was fully understood.
- Pesticides, including any products used to kill fungi, insects, microbes, rodents, or termites.
- Carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless gas which can come from many sources, including gas stoves, automobile exhaust, leaking chimneys and furnaces, or unvented space heaters.
- Nitrogen dioxide can come from kerosene heaters, unvented or improperly installed combustion appliances, or tobacco smoke.
- Biological contaminants, such as mold, mildew, bacteria, or viruses, among others.
All of these pollutants can have serious health consequences, triggering respiratory difficulties like asthma and allergic reactions, causing skin rashes, and increasing cardiovascular disease risk.
Another common cause of indoor air pollution? Surprisingly, your pets. More specifically, pet dander, a biological contaminant.
Indoor Air Pollutants: Pet Dander
The American Lung Association defines pet dander as small, often microscopic pieces of skin shed by animals possessing feathers or fur. Pet dander can trigger allergic reactions in people sensitive to these allergens. If you or a loved one finds themselves sneezing or wheezing in your home, it may stem from a pet dander allergy.
Skin flecks aren't the only pet-related allergens to worry about. Animal fur may capture and carry other allergens like dust around your home. And particles from dried saliva or fecal matter may become airborne and trigger allergic reactions. In fact, the microscopic size and resulting lightweight of allergens mean that they are very likely to become airborne. Their jagged shape also makes them likely to cling to surfaces throughout your home.
If you have a pet, but neither you nor any resident has a pet dander allergy, you may think this air pollutant is nothing to worry about. However, you can develop a pet dander allergy at any point in time. You are also more likely to develop one if you had respiratory issues as a child. Additionally, loved ones and guests may develop serious allergic reactions as soon as they visit. It's best to regularly eliminate pet dander by purifying your air and taking other steps to improve your indoor air quality.
How to Eliminate Pet Dander
The good news is that it's not hard to eliminate pet dander and improve your indoor air quality. Ventilating your home regularly is a great first step. Opening a window to let outdoor air circulate can help clear out some particulates and other pollutants that have built up. You also want to clean your home regularly, paying special attention to surfaces where allergens can gather. That means vacuuming your carpets and rugs twice a week, regularly changing sheets and blankets, and cleaning drapes, blinds, and return air vents. Where your cat climbs or dog reclines should be regularly wiped down to prevent pet dander from building up.
You also want to make sure your HVAC system is in good working condition. Have it serviced regularly to keep your air quality optimal and avoid the potential for expensive repairs down the road. Also, change the air filters once every three months. The longer you put off changing your filters, the more likely you will have pollutants begin to build up. Don't forget about the filters in your vacuum cleaner, kitchen vents, and clothes dryer, all places where allergens can accumulate.
Pet dander can also be minimized through proper pet care. A pet's food allergies may cause them to itch. If they begin scratching or licking themselves excessively, their skin can flake off. Have a vet help you ensure you feed your pet the proper diet and give them any necessary supplements. Also, brushing your dog or cat outside can help loosen and remove dander, preventing it from building up in your house. Weekly bathing also helps.
But to eliminate pet dander already circulating, you'll want to obtain an air purifier with a HEPA filter. HEPA stands for "high-efficiency particulate air," and a HEPA filter is designed to capture pet dander and other very small particulates that are polluting your air. In fact, a HEPA filter-equipped air purifier can capture 99.97 percent of particles 0.3 microns or larger. That's an incredibly effective purifier, one that can vastly improve your indoor air quality quickly.
If you're looking for a HEPA air filter to help you eliminate pet dander, look no further than the VEVA ProHEPA 9000 Air Filter. The ProHEPA 9000 is a medical-grade purifier with a washable filter that can help keep your indoor air free of pet dander and other common indoor pollutants.
You don't want to wait until you have breathing difficulties to make sure the air inside your home is as clean as possible. Taking simple steps, like ventilating and cleaning your home and using a HEPA air purifier, can help you tackle pet dander and other common indoor air pollutants.
Contributing Writer: Christopher Hundley