Healthy Home Facts
The Importance of a Healthy Home
We all want to live in a safe environment, to keep ourselves and our families healthy. But to be able to maintain a healthy home, you need to be armed with the facts so you know what you’re up against and what to do about it.
For instance, did you know that...
We spend almost 90% of our lives indoors? 
Allergies are the sixth most common children’s health issue and the 6th most common chronic disease? 
It’s true. In fact:
- Up to 30% of adults and 40% of kids suffer from allergies. 
- And there are 6 or more allergens present in the majority of homes. 
Do Carpets Help or Hurt?
One little known fact is that carpets, rugs and upholstery act as air filters in the home, trapping allergens that would otherwise circulate more freely in your home. These soft furnishings are our healthy allies – sort of unsung heroes – in our home.
However, periodic deep cleaning of these carpets, rugs and upholstery is required for them to remain optimally effective in their mission of capturing and holding unhealthy particles.
There are other surfaces where allergens can build up. Over time, dirt, grime and allergens build up in the porous surfaces of your stone, tile and grout flooring and even granite countertops
How About Our Beloved Pets?
We love them and they’re a big part of our families. Although not all homes own a pet, one study found that 90% of homes in the U.S. have detectable levels of dog and cat dander.  However it got there, on clothes or footwear or some other way, pet dander is everywhere. And what’s even more shocking is the level of pet dander in many homes:
- Over 55% of homes were found to have high enough levels of pet dander to trigger allergies. 
- 35% of homes had levels high enough to trigger an asthma attack. 
- Beyond the dander and the implications for allergy sufferers, pet urine is another pet owner nuisance – and it can also be a health risk.
- Did you know that pet urine in your carpet, rugs or upholstered furniture can:
- Create potent odors that cause respiratory issues?
- Create a breeding ground for bacteria?
More Allergy Facts & Figures
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (aafa.org) defines an allergy as the reaction of your immune system to a foreign substance, called an allergen. An allergen could be something eaten, inhaled into your lungs, injected into your body or touched. Potential symptoms of an allergic reaction include coughing, sneezing, itchy eyes, a runny nose and a scratchy throat. Rashes, hives, low blood pressure, breathing trouble, asthma attacks and even death are more severe reactions to allergens.
The most common allergic reaction is called allergic rhinitis, more commonly known as hay fever. This condition is a general term used to described symptoms that affect the nose. Typical symptoms include:
- Stuffy nose
- Itching in the nose, mouth, eyes, throat or skin
- Puffy and often swollen eyelids
- Common triggers for hay fever include:
- Dust mites, pet hair dander, cockroaches or mold
- Airborne mold spores, pollens from trees, grasses or weeds
- Cigarette smoke
- Strong odors like perfume, hair spray or other fumes
- Laundry detergents
There are generally two types of hay fever:
- Seasonal – Symptoms occur in the spring, summer and fall. They are caused by sensitivity to airborne triggers like pollens and mold spores.
- Perennial – Symptoms can occur year-round and are triggered by sensitivity to pet dander, dust mites, cockroaches or mold.
How Many People are Affected by Allergies?
- Researchers estimate that approximately 50 million people in the United States are affected by nasal allergies. 
- Allergic disease, including asthma, is the sixth leading chronic disease in the U.S.
- 19.2 million adults and 5.2 million children had hay fever in 2012. 
How Many People Get Sick from Allergies?
- Over 11 million people were diagnosed with allergic rhinitis (hay fever) in 2012. 
- The single most common health issues affecting children in the U.S. are allergic conditions. 
What is the Financial Impact of Allergies?
- Nasal swelling, a symptom of an allergic reaction with an annual cost in excess of $18 billion.
What Are the Types of Allergies?
Allergic reactions come from indoor and outdoor triggers. Sinus swelling, seasonal and recurring allergies along with hay fever and nasal allergies can all be triggered by indoor and outdoor sources. 
The most common triggers include: tree, grass and weed pollen, mold spores, dust mites, cockroaches and dander (from cats, dogs and even rodents!). 
- According to the National Center for Healthy Housing, carpet and rugs account for 65% of floor coverings. 
- Carpets accumulate dust and dirt at approximately 5-25 grams per square meter of surface area. 
- Carpets and rugs can act as air filters, trapping dirt and allergens and preventing them from circulating freely in the air. That’s in contrast to hard surfaces, on which dirt and dust and other unhealthy particles can settle but are easily stirred back up into the air once there is activity in the room.
- A U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) study found that when bedroom floors were at least 50% carpeted, cockroach allergen concentrations were lower than bedrooms with less than 50% carpet. 
- The same study found that other allergens were as much as 25% lower on carpeted floors than smooth, hard floors. 
Benefits of Clean Carpets
Regular household cleaning is a simple, inexpensive but effective regimen that helps reduce overall exposure to allergens, dust, and dander.
It is recommended to use a quality vacuum with a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter weekly or at least every other week to pick up surface level dirt, dust and other unhealthy elements and to help maintain your carpet’s ability to act as an effective filter.
Periodic deep cleanings are also recommended, which can get down to the base of the carpet where much of the dirt and allergens settle. Seek the services of a qualified professional carpet cleaning company 2-3 times per year. Educate yourself on the options. Some services like traditional steam cleaners use not only soapy water but high pressure, which can soak through to the base of the carpet backing and create a breeding ground for mold, mildew and bacteria. With typical steam cleaning, your carpets often stay wet for 2 or more days, which is also a nuisance for the family. Other services like Chem-Dry use green certified solutions without any soaps or detergents and use far less water, so carpets dry faster – within a couple of hours rather than a couple of days.
-  Webmd.com Allergy Statistics - http://www.webmd.com/allergies/allergy-statistics
-  American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Allergy Facts. http://acaai.org/news/facts-statistics/allergies
-  CDC. National Center for Health Statistics.FastStats:Allergies and Hay Fever. 2012. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/allergies.htm. Last Updated 2014.
-  Jackson K, Howie L, Akinbami L. CDC. Trends in Conditions Among Children: United States, 1997-2011. NCHS Data Brief. No 121. May 2013. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db121.pdf
-  National Center for Healthy Housing - http://www.nchh.org/Portals/0/Contents/CarpetsHealthyHomes.pdf
-  National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) https://www.niehs.nih.gov/news/newsletter/2008/march/allergen.cfm
-  National Survey of Lead & Allergens in Housing, by National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) & U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15241352
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