Outdoor allergies keep many people from enjoying springtime activities. But indoor allergens are often overlooked, and may be just as harmful. During spring cleaning, for example, allergy sufferers should pay special attention to indoor allergens, as well as to chemical cleaning products, which can cause allergy symptoms to worsen.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the air inside many homes can be 2 to 5 times more polluted than the air outside with organic chemicals like methylene chloride and formaldehyde. While spring cleaning may help eliminate some of the allergens, along with dirt and bacteria, there is a general misconception that harsh chemical cleaners are needed to rid the household of germs and bacteria. These cleaners, however, emit harmful fumes that pollute the air in the home, triggering allergic reactions that could lead to asthma attacks.
The American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) classifies household cleaners and perfumes in the air as “irritants.” Most household cleaners contain harsh chemicals, and perfumes are a main ingredient in most standard air fresheners. These irritants can aggravate sensitive inflamed airways resulting in an asthma attack.
There are many natural homecare options available for homeowners seeking safer alternatives to typical household chemicals. Cleaners, air fresheners, and detergents made from natural ingredients are popular among allergy and asthma sufferers, as well as those who are concerned about the effects of their spring cleaning on the environment.
Here is some advice for choosing the safest cleaning products this spring.
The American Lung Association states that prolonged exposure to the particles released in aerosol sprays may cause a variety of health problems including headaches, nausea, shortness of breath, lung irritation, and liver damage. Instead of synthetic perfume aerosol air fresheners, try using citrus sprays labeled “all natural” or “non-aerosol”. These non-aerosol citrus air fresheners contain only citrus peel extracts, which are effective at dissolving airborne odors, but generally do not cause irritation to allergy and asthma sufferers.
It is also wise for consumers to know what to look for in safer all-purpose, bathroom, and kitchen cleaners. Citrus is the most common ingredient in the healthier cleaning options. Soy and vegetable enzymes are other effective components in many natural cleaners. Since extracts from citrus fruits are natural solvents that dissolve grease and grime, other harsh petrol-based chemicals are not needed in significant quantities, if at all.
Many grocery and health food stores carry a variety of natural cleaning products and air fresheners. Consumers, particularly those who suffer from seasonal allergies and asthma, should check the labels of their favorite products to ensure they are natural and non-irritating.
While it is important for homeowners to keep their homes clean to avoid allergies from mold, dust, and bacteria, it is equally important to make sure they do not inflict more suffering on themselves and their families through the cleaning process. Finding natural, safer alternatives to harsh cleaning chemicals and perfume air fresheners is a sure-fire way to help keep the indoor sniffles and sneezes away this spring.
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