Ah, allergies – this gift that keeps on giving. For most people, they tend to act up in the spring and summer months when outdoor air is ripe with pollen.
But if during our recent “January thaw” you noticed your allergies kicking in, this is why.
Mold, mold, mold
There’s a certain degree of mold present outside year-round, but most grows in the fall season. At this time piles of leaves and other dead vegetation absorb moisture and create dark, wet places ideal for bacteria growth. Anyone with allergies or respiratory sensitivities has probably noticed they are aggravated by activities like raking leaves or turning a compost pile.
Here’s the surprising part: many of these mold strains are not killed off by winter frosts. Instead, they lay dormant until mid-winter warm-ups when they become exposed on the ground, brush and trees as ice and snow begin to melt off.
So if your allergies flare up whenever the weather gets above 0 degrees outside, particularly when you are spending time outside, this could be why.
Cold weather indoor allergens
However, we can’t forget about allergens that strike in the home all winter long. Forced air heating systems do make homes drier this time of year, but condensation gathers in the more humid parts of homes, such as bathrooms and kitchens. Cold weather means windows stay closed, so if you have an HRV/ERV it’s important to keep them running to exchange fresh outdoor air with indoor air. If you do find mold is growing in your home, it can be cleaned with vinegar or a gentle bleach and hot water solution.
Air filtration products can also be your friends year-round when it comes to reducing indoor allergens like dust, bacteria, and pet dander. There is a huge difference between a standard 1-inch furnace filter and something like the Lennox PureAir which can remove 99.9% of airborne particles and 90% of bacteria. Because the whole family and pets tend to spend more time bundled up inside in the cold months, that’s more hair, dust, pet fur and dirt accumulating inside. Ventilation upgrades – plus not skimping on the dusting and vacuuming – can help reduce respiratory irritants that bother us in winter.
By following these methods, as well as limiting time outdoors on warmer and windy winter days you can reduce your allergy flare-ups in winter…at least until spring allergies kick in.