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Control Allergy Symptoms by Improving Air Quality

Even though you can’t always see them, the air in your home is full of allergens.

We humans are pretty resilient, but prolonged exposure to indoor air pollution and high concentrations of allergens will eventually get the best of us. Fortunately, if you take common-sense steps, including properly monitoring and maintaining humidity and temperature, you can help reduce allergy symptoms.

Following is an overview of actions you can take to maintain comfortable and healthy indoor conditions, as well as our recommended solution for easy home environment monitoring so you can make the invisible visible, and breathe easier.


How to Minimize Indoor Air Pollution and Reduce Allergy Symptoms

Monitor and maintain safe humidity levels: The EPA recommends indoor humidity stays between 30% and 60% to help prevent mold. Dust mites often die when humidity dips below 50%.

  • Use dehumidifiers and air conditioners to combat high-humidity: When household humidity is above 60%, dehumidifiers and/or air conditioning are effective tools for reducing conditions friendly to dust mites and mold. These are particularly useful in summer and/or in southern and southeast regions of the US.
  • Ventilate areas where high-humidity occurs: Daily activities like laundry, showers, and cooking can all lead to mold. Keep air moving by opening bathroom doors, opening windows if possible, running exhaust fans, etc.
  • Use humidifiers to increase low humidity: When household humidity is below 30%, humidifiers are effective tools for combating dry air. These are particularly useful in winter and southwest regions of the USA.

Make sure your home is well ventilated: When the temperature and humidity outdoors are conducive to proper indoor conditions, opening windows to bring in fresh outdoor air can reduce the concentration of indoor pollutants.

Take steps to minimize potential for seepage, leaks and flooding: These can include simple solutions like keeping gutters clean and maintained, and more extensive projects like ensuring the grade of your yard sufficiently directs water away from your home’s foundation, having your basement professionally sealed, repairing an old roof, replacing old appliances, resealing your shower, etc.

Inspect inside your home to identify potential problem areas: Check for condensation around windows, and measure humidity levels in attics, basements, crawlspaces, and storage rooms. If you find problem areas, take corrective action.

Clean up water quickly: Since mold grows when water is present, the moment you find moisture, start cleaning it up. Mold typically requires 24-48 hours in a moist environment to grow.

Identify and mitigate potential sources of indoor air pollution: For example, regularly replace central heat/air filters, inspect stoves, etc.

Keep your home clean: Many recommend using a vacuum with a HEPA filter, as well as mopping hard floors, and placing floor mats by doors to minimize dirt that enters the house. This will, in turn, help minimize allergy-causing particles in the air.

Regularly wash bedding: This is a prime place where dust mites can flourish. Hot water and a hot dryer are generally recommended for best results.

Don’t leave wet clothes laying around: Put your clothes in the dryer as soon as possible after washing them. Same holds true if you’re caught in a rain storm and walk in the door drenched.

Grow indoor plants: Plants can serve as natural air purifiers, helping you breathe easier.

Common Sources of Indoor Air Quality Problems

Mold: Mold spores are practically everywhere. They typically aren’t bothersome in dry environments. But when moist conditions present themselves, mold can grow, reproduce and really cause allergy symptoms and reduce indoor air quality. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Molds produce allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions), irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances (mycotoxins). Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Allergic responses include hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash (dermatitis). Allergic reactions to mold are common. They can be immediate or delayed. Molds can also cause asthma attacks in people with asthma who are allergic to mold. In addition, mold exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs of both mold-allergic and non-allergic people.” Needless to say, mold is a form of indoor air pollution and not something you want to be breathing in for extended periods and on a daily basis.

Dust Mites: These microscopic insects thrive in humid, warm environments. They also prefer to set up shop in carpet, upholstered furniture, and bedding. As gross as this sounds, digestive enzymes in their waste are a primary cause our allergic reactions.

Cockroaches: In a lot of homes, our dust particles contain cockroach saliva, droppings, and even body parts, causing allergic reactions for many.

Pollen Count: This common cause of allergies can originate from weeds, flowers, grasses, and even trees.

Pets: Fur, feathers, saliva, urine, droppings, and dander (skin flakes), can all potentially cause problems. Speaking of skin flakes, we people leave a lot of those lying around too...and skin flakes are a favorite snack of dust mites.

Dry Air: While high humidity is something to be avoided, a low humidity level can cause its share of problems too. Primarily, it can dry out your nasal passages, making you more susceptible to illness and allergies. Other issues can include cracked, itchy skin, chapped lips, a sore throat, and nose bleeds.


AcuRite Tips for Monitoring Indoor Air Quality

Beneath Sinks Water Heater
  1. Monitor Environmental Conditions: Place AcuRite Room Monitors around the home (ex. bedrooms, living areas, attics, basements, etc.) to measure humidity and temperature conditions.
  2. Monitor for Water Leaks: Position one or more Water Leak Detectors in areas of potential leaks and flooding.
    • Beneath appliances: Set up a leak detector beneath dishwashers, washing machines, water heaters, and other appliances that are susceptible to leaks
    • Beneath sinks and showers: Gain early warning of leaky pipes, or when to replace caulking
    • Inside sump pump wells: Hanging a leak detector in a sump pump well can give you early warning of impending flood conditions
    • On basement or attic floors: Get instant notification if your home is taking in water during a storm
  3. Use a Home Environment Display for convenient viewing of conditions measured by multiple Monitor and Sensors in and around your home. Set alarms on the display for early warning of conditions that are conducive to mold growth:
    • High Humidity Alert: Take corrective action if relative humidity levels exceed the EPA-recommend maximum of 60% RH.
    • Low Humidity Alert: Take corrective action if relative humidity levels dip below the EPA-recommend minimum of 30% RH.
    • Water Present Alert: Take corrective action to fix leak and remove water before mold has chance to grow.

AcuRite Recommends

AcuRite’s recommended home environment monitoring solutions to ensure good indoor air quality:


Room Monitor with Optional Water Leak Detector

Room Monitor with Optional Water Leak Detector

Measures ambient air temperature and humidity, as well as leak detection where the water detector is positioned (optional), and displays data on a built-in display. The Room Monitor will sound an alarm if water is detected. The leak detector is attached to a 5 foot cord to help access hard-to-reach places. To monitor a wide area for leaks, multiple leak detectors can be connected together. The Monitor can be paired with a Home Environment Display to view data and set alarms for multiple Monitors.

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Displays

Home Environment Displays

Displays synchronize with up to three sensors, so you can observe multiple indoor and/or outdoor areas within 330 feet. Set an audible alarm on the display to alert you when conditions exceed your desired range.

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Monitor Indoor Air Quality – View All Products

Monitor environmental conditions in multiple areas in and around the home.

Further Reading

The following list includes great resources for more information on this topic: