Allergy Season And Its Impact On Employee And Student Health
Learn about common allergens and how to limit exposure and reduce airborne allergens with simple measures.
Spring is here, and with it comes the dreaded allergy season. The early arrival of pollen this year is a concern for many people, especially the 10 million people with asthma and 18 million with allergies. This year, allergy season is expected to last longer than previous years. Allergies can impact the health and wellness of employees and students, leading to absenteeism and sick leave. In this article, we will discuss the effects of pollen, mold, and other seasonal allergens on indoor air quality and how they affect health and wellness. We will also discuss how allergies impact those with asthma and what you can do to manage allergies.
How Can Pollen Affect Allergies?
Pollen is a common allergen that provokes seasonal allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever. Common hay fever symptoms include a runny nose, itchy eyes, sore throat, and sneezing. Pollen is released by plants in the spring and summer months, making it difficult for people with allergies to enjoy outdoor activities.
Allergies can impact the health and wellness of employees and students, leading to absenteeism and sick leave. Allergy symptoms can make concentrating and being productive difficult, leading to missed work or school days. According to a recent study by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, there are 4 million missed or low productivity workdays yearly due to hay fever allergies.
For those with existing respiratory issues such as asthma, allergies can trigger asthma attacks, which can be life-threatening. The same study found 14.4 million school days missed each year and 14.2 million work days missed yearly due to asthma-related allergy attacks.
How Can Pollen Affect Indoor Air Quality?
High concentrations of pollen can also impact indoor air quality. Pollen can enter buildings through open windows and doors or on clothing and shoes. Inside buildings, pollen concentrations can remain in the air without proper ventilation leading to poor indoor air quality and exacerbating allergies and asthma.
How To Eliminate Pollen From Indoor Air?
For buildings with poor ventilation, portable air purification systems are recommended to help remove pollen and other allergens from the air. These air purifiers, often equipped with True HEPA filters, can capture and reduce airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns. Multi-stage air purifiers with Activated Carbon filters can also help deodorize the purified air eliminating the presence and smell of allergens.
Portable air purifiers can be deployed in both low-density and high-density areas for continuous air filtration and increased air exchanges. HVAC induct air purifier systems can provide similar results in buildings with central HVAC systems and good ventilation distribution. Induct air purifiers can leverage emerging indoor air quality technologies to rapidly reduce airborne pollutants and pathogens throughout an entire facility.
How To Lower Exposure To Pollen And Allergens?
Exposure to pollen and allergens can be an uncomfortable experience for many employees, staff, and students that suffer from seasonal allergens. However, you can take a few simple steps to limit your building occupant's indoor exposure to pollen and allergens.
- Keeping windows and doors closed during peak pollen times.
- Dusting and cleaning surfaces regularly to remove allergens.
- Removing unessential area rugs and linen surfaces.
- Using vacuum cleaners with sealed HEPA filtration.
- Frequently wash linens regularly in hot water.
- Monitor the pollen counts in your area and adjust HVAC filtration and fresh air intakes accordingly.
How Can Mold Affect Allergies?
Mold is a common allergen that can become a problem in the springtime when the weather begins to warm up and humidity levels rise. Mold thrives in damp environments, making HVAC systems, bathrooms, gymnasiums, and basements some of the prime locations for mold growth. Many allergic reactions to mold are similar to the types of reactions you have to other allergens like pet dander or dust. Symptoms of mold allergies include sneezing, coughing, runny nose, itchy eyes, and skin irritation. Mold exposure can also trigger asthma attacks, leading to shortness of breath, wheezing, and chest tightness.
Among people with allergies, an allergy to mold or other environmental substances happens to 1 in 5 people. Mold is not only a problem for individuals with allergies and asthma. It can also cause other health issues like headaches, fatigue, and respiratory infections. In extreme cases, exposure to toxic mold can cause serious health problems, including neurological issues and immune system disorders.
How Can Mold Affect Indoor Air Quality?
With the arrival of spring showers, it's common in commercial buildings to experience moisture problems that can lead to mold growth and an increase in airborne mold. Once mold begins to grow, it can release spores into the air, and when inhaled, it can cause a range of health issues, especially for those with allergies or asthma.
How To Prevent Mold Growth And Reduce Airborne Mold Spores?
Mold growth can be expected in spring when humidity levels rise, and moisture problems occur. It's important to address mold growth as soon as possible to prevent it from spreading and causing further damage. If you suspect mold growth in your facility, it's essential to have it inspected and remediated by a professional. A professional can identify the source of the mold growth and safely remove it to prevent further exposure and health risks.
Here are some tips and preventative measures for mold growth and reducing airborne mold spore concentrations:
- Keep humidity levels in your building below 60 percent. You can use a dehumidifier to help regulate humidity levels.
- Fix any leaks or water damage immediately, including fixing leaky pipes, roofs, and windows.
- Increase air circulation and use of ventilation system exhaust fans to reduce moisture levels.
- Clean and dry any damp areas within 24-48 hours.
- Regularly clean and maintain HVAC systems to prevent mold growth.
- Use portable air purification systems with True HEPA filters and Activated Carbon filters.
- Use HVAC induct air purifiers and indoor air quality technologies proven to reduce airborne mold and fungi.
Preparing For The Spring Allergy Season
Spring allergy season is a concern for many people, especially those with asthma and allergies. Pollen and mold can impact indoor air quality and exacerbate allergy and asthma symptoms. Fortunately, you can take measures to eliminate allergens from the air, such as using portable air purifiers and induct air purifier systems, as well as lowering exposure to pollen and allergens. Similarly, preventing mold growth, reducing humidity levels, fixing leaks, and cleaning damp areas can help reduce the concentration of airborne mold spores. With these measures, building occupants can enjoy better indoor air quality, health, and wellness.