June is home safety month! Mold and allergy tips for homeowners

Breathing. It’s something you rarely think about, yet do thousands of times per day. We all know how important it is to breathe clean air, and most of us associate air toxins—like acid rain and smog—with the world outside our homes. But the air you and your children breathe in your own house might be more dangerous than you think! We at Paul Davis Restoration of Central Maine care about your family’s well being. For Home Safety Month, we’ve put together a list of tips to help you keep the air in your house clean so you can breathe easy!

There’s a fungus among us!

You’ve probably heard about the dangers of black mold, or toxic spores that cause asthma and respiratory problems that can jeopardize even the healthiest individual’s constitution. But even common household molds can cause serious allergies, not to mention destroy the structure of the materials they infest (goodbye sturdy shower curtain!).

Here are the scary-sounding names of the most common molds:

• Alternaria
• Aspergillus
• Cladosporium
• Penicillium

What to know: Mold becomes a problem in parts of the U.S. where humidity levels are above 55-60 percent for extended periods of time. Unfortunately, this describes the majority of the country during the course of a year! Every home—whether you live in the humid Southeast or the dry deserts of the Southwest—is at risk for mold infestation in bathrooms, basements, poorly-ventilated rooms and anywhere where there’s a leak.

So how can you prevent this fungus from making you and family members sick? Keep the humidity low in your home. Dehumidifiers that keep humidity below 40 percent help to limit condensation and thus make it harder for mold to form. Mildewcides are a good preventative measure, as is using ultraviolet lighting (mold is particularly susceptible to high levels of UV rays). Unfortunately, if you already have a well-established mold problem, particularly if you think it might be dangerous black mold, you’ll need to call in the professionals to eradicate it and help make your air safe to breathe again.

What to do with all the “achoos”!

Has your youngest been sneezing for weeks on end? There may be something inside your home that’s triggering an allergic reaction. The most common household allergens include:

• Dust. Dust mites are the most common cause of chronic sneezing. Vacuums, allergen-free bedding and air purifiers all can reduce the number of dust mites in your home, potentially lessening the severity of allergies.
• Pets. Sure, you may have had Fluffy for years with nary a sneeze, but allergies can take two years of exposure to develop. Cats are the pets that most frequently trigger allergies, and not only do fur and dander cause the sniffles, so too do cat mucus and saliva. Air purifiers and frequent vacuuming can help alleviate your symptoms if you can’t bear to find a new home for Fluffy or Fido!
• Smoke. Cigarette smoke can irritate the respiratory system even with extremely limited exposure. If someone in your family develops a mysterious allergy, limit smoking to the outdoors and see if it reduces their symptoms.
• Chemicals. That product you use to clean the bathroom may be making you sneeze! Formaldehyde—found in air fresheners, toilet cleaners, paint, adhesives, liquid cleaners and carpet backing—is known to be particularly irritating to the throat and respiratory system (and is extremely dangerous at high levels of exposure). If you can identify a particular product that irritates you, stop using it; if not, an air purifier or a specialty chemical purifier can help reduce your symptoms.
• Pollen. Yep, the pesky particles that make your eyes water outside can follow you into your home, too! Make sure your windows and doors all are airtight, and use an air purifier to ensure you’re not breathing in pollen inside your home as well as outside it!

Paul Davis Restoration of Central Maine serves the following communities: Penobscot, Hancock, Aroostook, Kennebec, Knox, Piscataquis, Somerset, Waldo, & Washington Counties.