Allergy-proof Your Atlanta apartment

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Photo by Architecturist, via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0
Photo by Architecturist, via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

Seasonal allergies are a fact of life in Atlanta. If you rent your place, eliminating allergens from your home doesn’t have to involve drastic measures such as ripping up carpet, installing a pricey ventilation system or other renovations that could potentially violate your lease.

Pollen counts usually spike in early to mid-April and begin tapering off around June, according to a graph of historical data mapped by the University of Georgia. Though the worst might be over, consider the following steps you can take right now to help rid your place of pollen, dust mites and pet dander.

Pollen Prevention

The Weather Channel lists more than 200 plants–from trees to weeds to grasses–that can trigger allergic responses in Georgia. This time of year, some of the trees responsible for pollen production in Atlanta are Hickory/Pecan, Cottonwood, English Plantain and Sheep Sorrel/Dock, according to the Atlanta Allergy & Asthma Clinic, which is the only National Allergy Bureau-certified pollen counting station in the Atlanta area.

A look at Atlanta Allergy & Asthma Clinic’s pollen count data shows April has been the worst month so far this year, with 21 days in the very high range. The count on April 11th hit a misery-inducing high-point for the year at 8,024. That’s more than four times higher than April 2013′s average pollen count, which was 1,683.

When pollen levels are soaring outside, you don’t want to open up your apartment to the yellow stuff. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation and the Atlanta Allergy & Asthma Clinic (AAFA) offer the following tips to help reduce the amount of pollen in your home.

  • Close the windows and run your air conditioner during warm weather.
  • Vacuum once or twice a week using a HEPA filter. Use attachments to clean sofas and chairs.
  • If you have access to your air filters, change them regularly and use the highest rated anti-allergy filters you can find. If you don’t have access to them, check with your landlord.
  • Shower when you get home or right before bed to remove the pollen in your hair and on your skin. 
  • Wipe your pet’s paws and fur if they’ve been outside.

Dust Mites and Dander

While pollen gets a lot of blame, pet dander and dust mites are a common cause of indoor allergies, according to AAFA. The foundation says about 20 million Americans are allergic to the microscopic creatures that thrive in bedding, furniture and carpets. There is no way to rid your home completely of dust mites, but these steps from AAFA can help lessen the effects they have on your allergies.

  • Use dust mite-proof plastic pillow and mattress covers.
  • Wash bedding weekly in hot water that’s at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Replace curtains with non-cloth shades or blinds, or wash curtains regularly.
  • Use a dehumidifier and air conditioner to keep the humidity in your home below 50 percent.

According to AAFA, up to one-third of people with other allergies may experience an allergic reaction to pet dander. If you keep pets in your home, AAFA offers the following advice to reduce allergen exposure.

  • Keep pets out of bedrooms and off upholstered furniture.
  • Have the pet brushed regularly — outside of your home and by someone who’s not allergic.
  • Steam-clean carpeting frequently and use a HEPA filter when vacuuming
  • Cover HVAC vents in your bedroom with filtering material such as cheesecloth

Counteracting pollen and other allergens in your apartment means investing a little extra time for diligent cleaning and maintenance. When Atlanta’s allergy season hits, your efforts can help avoid sniffling, sneezing and the other annoyances of allergies.

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