Winter Allergy Season Approaching

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A lot of people believe that once the cold air arrives, their allergies will go away.  While that may be true for some, this is not the case for everyone.  Quite frequently, we tend to conclude that the symptoms we can experience during the harsh winter months are caused by either a cold or the flu. It can be difficult, at times, to distinguish the difference as many of the symptoms overlap. How can you be sure what you are dealing with? Understanding the variables can help you choose the right path of treatment and know whether you are going to be out of the woods relatively soon or if you are going down for the count. Here’s a breakdown comparison to help you narrow it down!

winter allergy season

So What’s The Deal With Winter Allergies?

As people spend more time indoors during the winter months in general, indoor allergies become more prevalent as compared to the rest of the year when the outdoor air is the biggest contributor to allergies.  As home furnaces kick in, dust, mold spores, and insect parts that have settled throughout the summer are dispersed into the air.  These allergens can cause a histamine response in the immune system, causing watery eyes, runny noses, and other symptoms of an allergy or asthma attack.  The most common winter allergy triggers are dust mites, mold, animals, and fragrances when it comes to indoor responses.  Dust mites are microscopic bugs that are most commonly found in mattresses and bedding, and their waste and remains trigger allergic responses when they become airborne or when you come in contact with them.  The spores of mold found in humid areas like bathrooms or basements can also trigger allergic responses.  Many people think they are allergic to Christmas trees, for example, but really they are allergic to the mold spores that may have collected on them while in storage.  Proteins found in pet hair, skin, saliva, and urine can also cause allergic reactions.  Finally, many perfumes and colognes, as well as lotions, hairspray, air fresheners, candles, and potpourri can elicit reactions with people who have allergies to fragrances.

There are many actions you can take in order to ease your winter allergies.  They include taking antihistamines, decongestants, and allergy shots.  Antihistamines are medicines that reduce sneezing, sniffling, and itching by blocking the effects of histamines in the body, and decongestants help clear mucus out of the nasal passageways.  They can be used together to treat both symptoms of allergies.  Allergy shots expose your body to gradually increasing doses of the allergen until you have time to grow to tolerate it.

Air Filters Can Help!

Filters serve the same main purpose in automobiles, vacuums, humidifiers, refrigerators, dryers, and your home furnace and air conditioner. Protection and removal of contaminants. In your HVAC system, the air filter is there to not only protect your system from harmful buildup on the internal components, but also to help keep the air in your home clean from dust and allergens. This is especially important during those harsh winter months where you are inside for longer periods of time and your house is kept closed to keep your warm air in and the cold air out. The benefits of clean, fresh air are particularly welcome in the winter season when it is more difficult to introduce fresh, outdoor air into the home. To help reduce those winter allergy triggers, make sure to replace your air filter regularly. If your allergies are particularly aggravated by the winter season, consider our highest-rated MERV 13 filters to capture the greatest percentage of microscopic contaminants. Not sure what size you need? Our air filter measurement guide can help!

Order Now and Receive FREE SHIPPING on Your Order!

Choosing the filters that are just right for you and your family can be a challenge sometimes. At US Home Filter we understand this, which is why we are here to help answer any questions you may have and help ensure that you have chosen the proper size air filter that will fit perfectly. If you need personal assistance with selecting your home air filters, contact us now online or call us at (855) 237-1673. We care about our customers and guarantee your satisfaction! Take advantage of our quality MADE IN THE USA products, vast selection, low prices, and enjoy FREE SHIPPING on every air filter order within the Contiguous USA!

The Eight Allergy Zones in the United States

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Eight Allergy Zones of the United States

Allergies are a common condition not only in the United States, but all over the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year. Allergies are defined as a hypersensitivity disorder of the immune system that occurs when the body’s immune system overreacts to what is normally a harmless substance. The allergen may irritate four of the five individual’s senses – smell, sight, taste and touch – causing inflammation, disability and in severe cases, even death. In order to avoid an allergic reaction, it is necessary to find out what you’re allergic to and then avoid exposure to that allergen as much as possible. However, this is not such an easy task as it may sounds, as each part of the U.S has different varieties of weeds, trees and grasses. This is where the eight (8) allergy zones come into play. Each zone is a different region of the United States, designed to help better identify the cause of a person’s allergic reaction.

The Different Zones

The eight allergy zones in the continental United States are defined as the Pacific, Mountain, Desert, Plains, Southwest, Great Lakes, South, and Northeast. Each zone has a distinctive ecosystem with unique varieties of common allergens present, as well as different allergy seasons. Factors including average temperature, humidity, elevation, precipitation, among others, are used to create the divisions and the common allergens found are fairly similar throughout each zone. Some of the most common allergens found in most of these regions include a variety of grasses, trees (such as oak and cedar), and ragweed.

Using Allergy Zones

Allergy zones were created in order to be able to better identify the triggers of individuals’ seasonal allergies. The zone map can be used as a reference to get more information on what is currently spreading pollen in your area and compare that against what you’re exposed to on a daily basis. Doctors will also use the allergy zone chart to determine which allergens to look for in an allergy skin test, which is used to determine the cause of your allergies. This test helps find the most effective treatments to effectively combat an individual’s allergy symptoms. Zones do have allergens in common, so if you move between zones and experience the same seasonal allergies, you’re probably allergic to something that is common in both zones.

The Most Common Outdoor Allergens in the United States

Southeast

The Southeast region of the United States is home to particular trees, weeds and grasses that cause more allergies than others, some blooming year round and others being active in specific months. One of the top year-round allergens is Bermuda grass which produces allergic reactions at virtually anytime of the year. Tree allergens are strongest and in full bloom from February and May – the main allergen culprits being oak, pecan and cedar. June through November, weed allergens are most active with nettle and ragweed being the most common.

Southwest

In the Southwest, the most prevalent grass allergy comes from redtop grass which is a perennial grass that blooms from May through July. This region is also home to tree allergens mainly from oak trees, but also from cedar and elm. July through September, chenopod blooms and causes the majority of weed allergies.

Northeast

If you’re visiting or living in the Northeast, there are specific trees, weeds and grasses to be aware of. Orchard and redtop bloom from May through August and are at the top of the list for grass allergies. If you’re allergic to tree pollen, oak, pine and birch are in high bloom from February through June. From August through October, ragweed and stinging nettle make weed allergies worse.

Midwest

One of the most common grasses in the Midwest that is likely to give you allergies is called Brome. It is a perennial grass that grows in the spring and blooms through July. Elder, elm and maple trees are the main culprits for tree allergies and bloom from early spring through early summer (March to June).

West

There are several common causes of allergies on the West coast. Grasses such as sweet vernal can cause severe allergies from March through November. From February though June, trees such as walnut and cedar are top allergen producers. Weed allergies are the worst from April through November with iodine bush and pigweed being the leading cause of seasonal allergies from weeds.

US Home Filter Offers AC Filters to Help Reduce Allergens

Family owned and operated for four generations now, we may not be doctors, but we certainly know about allergies and air filters! Over the years our experienced staff has help thousands of customers by answering the same questions that you may have.

At US Home Filter, we appreciate each and every one of our customers. We are here to help you choose the best solutions for your individual needs. Whether you need help with one of our standard stock size air filters, a Whole House Air Cleaner replacement filter, Grille filters, or if you are overwhelmed by choosing the right custom size air filter, we will be happy to personally work with you to help ensure you order exactly what you need and clear up any misconceptions! For personal assistance or questions about your air filter needs, please contact us now online or call us at (855) 237-1673 and we will do our very best to help you in selecting the perfect filter for your individual needs. We want to earn your business and we guarantee your satisfaction! Take advantage of our quality products, vast selection, low prices, and enjoy FREE SHIPPING on every air filter order within the Contiguous USA.

All About Dust & Dust Mites

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dust and dust mites

Have you ever gotten done cleaning and turned around only to see dust particles on the surfaces that you had just wiped down clean? Every home has dust and, unfortunately, there isn’t anything you can do to totally prevent or eliminate it entirely; however, there are some ways that you can control it. Dust and dust mites are one of the primary causes of indoor household health issues that include asthma, allergies and respiratory problems. So what can you do to minimize and manage the dust in your house and home?

What is Dust?

There are many factors that contribute to the production of dust, but first it’s important to understand what dust actually is. According to BusinessDictionary.com, dust is “airborne particulate matter ranging in diameter from 10 to 50 microns, generated by activities such as cutting, crushing, detonation, grinding, and handling of organic and inorganic matter such as coal, grain, metal, ore, rock, wood.” Within dust, there are also tiny bugs called dust mites that survive on the skin cells shed from humans. They are commonly found in rugs, carpets and upholstered furniture, as well as commonly seen in bedrooms. Dust mites are one of the most common year round triggers of asthma and allergies and in a warm, humid house, dust mites can survive all year long. With excess dust in the home, and humans shedding on average 1.5 grams of skin each day, it’s important to keep that dust under control in order to help reduce and minimize the amount of dust mites living in your house.

How to Control Dust and Dust Mites

There are four main or primary problems that can contribute to dust in your home. Luckily, there are ways to remedy these issues which will in turn help reduce the dust in your house.

1. Air Filters

If you have excessive dust in your home, the most likely culprit or cause is a dirty or cheap HVAC filter that isn’t working efficiently enough to effectively clean the air. A clean, efficient air filter prevents dust and debris from collecting on the mechanical parts of your heating and air conditioning system, as well as minimizes the dust levels in your home’s air. Using a high-efficiency pleated filter provides a large surface area with a considerable amount of dust-holding capacity. Pleated filters trap and hold several grams of dust that would otherwise be blown into your ducts and back into your air,  which then settles on those surfaces you had just dusted.

To control average levels of dust, we recommend a minimum of a MERV 8 rating on your home air filter. For greater protection from smaller dust particles (fine, suspended dust), a higher MERV rating is recommended. As the MERV rating increases, the finer the particles that are captured by the filter, thus removing a higher percentage of dust and microscopic particulate matter.

Battling dust that continues to reappear on bookshelves, tables, window treatments, and decor is a constant point of frustration for many people. It is virtually impossible to totally eliminate the dust because there are so many sources, but your air filter is a great supporter of your fight to reduce dust as much as possible.

2. Leaky Ducts

If you have efficient, clean air filters and are still battling large amounts of dust, leaky ducts may be your actual problem. If there is a leak in your ducts, they could be releasing dusty, unfiltered air back into your home. When you turn on an HVAC system that has ducts with holes or leaks, the ducts suck up the dirt, dust, and other contaminants in and around your crawl space/attic which then gets blown out of the air vents in your home, reducing your indoor air quality and increasing your energy bills. If you notice that your energy bills are higher, have hot and cold spots in your house or see dirty/lint covered vent registers, you may have leaky ducts present.

The best way to resolve this is to call an HVAC technician who can perform a pressure test that will tell them if the ducts need to be resealed. Getting your ducts cleaned and resealed by a professional will save you money in the long run by controlling your indoor temperature, reduce energy costs and most importantly, reducing the amount of dust in your home.

3. Humidity Level

The humidity level both on the outside and inside of your home is another main cause of dust. If you live in a dry climate, or perhaps in a dry season, this can affect the amount of dust in your home. Relative humidity inside and out also contributes to the survival of dust mites, so is related to the amount of dust mites in your home. According to the American Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), dust mites thrive in temperatures of 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit (20 to 25 degrees Celsius). They also like humidity levels of 70 to 80 percent. So, to put it simply, there will be a lot of dust in the desert, but relatively no dust in the rain forest.

If your indoor air is too dry, you’re going to see more dust in the air. The solution for this is to invest in a humidifier that will help you find a balance in the humidity level in your home. It’s also important to note that dusty and dry air may be a signal that there is a problem with your HVAC system, so if the dust is excessive, you’ll want to get your system checked out.

4. Flooring

The last primary factor that affects the amount of dust is the type of flooring in your house. If your home is carpeted, research has found that carpet harbors dust and dust mites; however, it also holds in the dust making it easier to vacuum it up. Controversially, hard floors don’t hold onto dust and dust mites, but they do contribute to the stirring up of the dust and getting it back into the air when vacuuming, sweeping or simply walking though the house. Regardless of the type of flooring that you have in your house, you’ll want to have a high quality vacuum cleaner that sucks up the dust and dirt, efficiently trapping it so it isn’t released back into the air that you and your family breathe.

US Home Filter is Here For You

Nobody wants to breathe dirty air. There’s no doubt that reducing the dust in the air in your home is highly beneficial for everyone – family members and visitors. The air that you breathe can have a significant impact on allergy symptoms, asthma triggers, and your overall level of comfort. Your air transports allergens and contaminants, allowing them to be inhaled or to settle on surfaces where they can spread to other areas. Using high-efficiency pleated air filters is a great added level of defense in helping to clean your home’s air from allergens and dust. Using a minimum of a MERV 8 rating will help to collect large amounts of dirt and debris, not only protecting your HVAC system, but going above and beyond by capturing common allergens such as pet dander, dust mite debris, pollen, and mold spores. Upgrading to a higher level such as MERV 11 or MERV 13 is recommended for those who desire a greater percentage of dust collection and trapping the smallest allergens.

At US Home Filter, we take pride in helping our customers find the best filtration solutions to fit their individual needs. Whether you need help with one of our standard stock size air filters, a Whole House Air Cleaner replacement filter, Grille filters, or a custom size air filter built to your specifications, we will be happy to personally assist you with any of your filtration needs!

DIY Allergy Relief Kit

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DIY allergy relief kitSpring has finally sprung which means that the birds are chirping and the flowers are blooming… and the pollen is increasing. Spring also means that allergy season has arrived. An allergy is a hypersensitivity disorder of the immune system. It occurs when the body’s immune system overreacts to what is normally a harmless substance. It irritates four of the five senses – smell, sight, taste and touch – causing inflammation, disability and in severe cases, even death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year.

If you’re a seasonal or year round allergy sufferer, it’s a good idea to have an allergy relief kit at the ready to help relieve those irritating symptoms.

DIY Allergy Relief Kit

1. Skin Creams and Lotions

Itchy skin, hives and rashes are all allergic skin reactions. The best treatment for these to keep in your allergy relief kit are small tubes of moisturizer and hydrocortisone cream. Hydrocortisone cream is a topical steroid treatment that reduces inflammation and lotion can help further soothe the dry, itchy feeling.

2. Injectable Epinephrine

For those at risk for severe, life-threatening allergic reactions, it is extremely important to have injectable epinephrine (EpiPen/Twinject) in your kit. Those that suffer from these severe reactions will experience difficulty with breathing, swelling of the bronchial airways and a drop in blood pressure. If these symptoms aren’t treated immediately they can be life-threatening. Treating these severe reactions with injectable epinephrine can reduce and even stop the life-threatening allergic reactions some have to certain foods, medications, or insect stings.

3. Eye Drops

Itchy, watery, red or swollen eyes can be one of the most irritating and frustrating of all the allergic reaction symptoms. Allergy eye drops work by reducing histamine in the eye tissues. Over the Counter (OTC) antihistamine drops are extremely effective in reducing or even eliminating allergic eye symptoms such as itchiness, redness, wateriness and puffy, swollen eyes. There are also drops for red eyes (decongestant drops) that may also sometimes contain antihistamines.

4. Decongestants

Allergies have you stuffed up and congested? Then a decongestant is a must for your kit. Some allergens cause nasal tissues to swell during a reaction and decongestants relieve this swelling, countering the allergic reaction.

5. Nasal Sprays

If your nose is feeling dry during allergy season, you’ll want to include a nasal spray. There are two types: saline and decongestant. A decongestant nasal spray shrinks the blood vessels inside your nose while a saline nasal spray adds moisture to your nose. Decongestant nose sprays (such as Afrin) should not be used for more than a few days, as they can actually make the symptoms worse leading to chronic nasal congestion.

6. Antihistamines

A small pill available over-the-counter, antihistamines such as Benadryl and Claritin can provide quick relief for allergy symptoms, including nasal congestion, eye irritation, itching, and hives. Allergy sufferers immune systems produce a substance called “histamine” when exposed to the allergen and antihistamines block this substance. Be aware that the majority of OTC antihistamines may cause drowsiness, especially if they’re combined with alcohol. So be careful if you’re driving!

7. Medical Information

If you have allergies that are so severe that they are life threatening, you should consider wearing a medical alert bracelet. For those with less severe allergies, include a medical information card in your DIY Allergy Relief Kit that includes your type of allergies, emergency contact information, insurance information and your doctors name and phone number.

8. Bronchodilators

For asthma sufferers, allergies can cause asthma attacks. Make sure your allergy kit includes an inhaler if you are prone to asthma attacks or bronchospasms.

Natural Allergy Relievers

If you prefer try natural remedies for your allergy symptoms, be sure to look into and add the following to your DIY allergy relief kit:

  1. Raw, Local Honey
  2. Apple Cider Vinegar
  3. Probiotics
  4. Stinging nettle
  5. Neti Pot
  6. Quercetin
  7. Essential Oils

Additionally, the following lifestyle changes can also bring extra allergy relief to sufferers.

  1. Wash clothes and bedding once a week
  2. Shower before bed to wash off any pollen on your skin or in your hair
  3. Wipe your pets down after they’ve gone outside
  4. Limit your exposure on days with super high pollen counts
  5. Keep windows shut to reduce the amount of pollen getting inside

Once your DIY Allergy Relief Kit is complete, make sure to go over the contents with your doctor and make sure you haven’t left anything important out. The kit should be small enough to carry with you in your purse or briefcase so that you always have it on you. You could also make multiple kits and keep one at home, one at work and one in the car. Just be sure to check the items left in the kit every once in awhile and remove/replace expired or missing medication. Don’t forget to store a kit in your carry-on when you travel!

US Home Filter Offers AC Filters to Help Reduce Allergens

Family owned and operated for four generations now, we may not be doctors, but we certainly know about allergies and air filters! Over the years our experienced staff has help thousands of customers by answering the same questions that you may have.

At US Home Filter, we appreciate each and every one of our customers. We are here to help you choose the best solutions for your individual needs. Whether you need help with one of our standard stock size air filters, a Whole House Air Cleaner replacement filter, Grille filters, or if you are overwhelmed by choosing the right custom size air filter, we will be happy to personally work with you to help ensure you order exactly what you need and clear up any misconceptions! For personal assistance or questions about your air filter needs, please contact us now online or call us at (855) 237-1673 and we will do our very best to help you in selecting the perfect filter for your individual needs. We want to earn your business and we guarantee your satisfaction! Take advantage of our quality products, vast selection, low prices, and enjoy FREE SHIPPING on every air filter order within the Contiguous USA.

What Hypoallergenic Really Means

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What does the term hypoallergenic really mean?Hypoallergenic is a term seen everywhere these days. From pets to cosmetics and everything in between, there seems to be a new, hypoallergenic alternative available. But what does that mean? Targeted at allergy sufferers, hypoallergenic products make otherwise unusable or unattainable products seem appealing. With promises of fewer health risks and allergy attacks, these products provide the ability to do things one may not be able to do otherwise – such as owning the pet you’ve always wanted or wearing the perfume you love the smell of so much. But is this actually true? Can products, even animals, truly be hypoallergenic and safer for those who suffer from allergies?

What Is The Definition of Hypoallergenic?

Its important to first understand what the term hypoallergenic actually means.

According to the FDA, hypoallergenic products are those that manufacturers claim produce fewer allergic reactions than other products. Consumers with hypersensitive skin, and even those with “normal” skin, may be led to believe that these products will be gentler to their skin than non-hypoallergenic cosmetics. In literal terms, the word hypoallergenic actually means “less allergenic” or in more friendly terms, “allergy friendly”. Products labeled as such are reportedly ‘less likely’ to cause an allergic reaction because they are supposed to contain less allergens (the substances and particles that cause allergy sufferers to have a reaction).

Interestingly enough, there are no Federal standards that govern the use of the term hyper-allergenic or its definition. It basically means whatever the company producing the product wants it to mean. There are also no regulations in place that require manufacturers that use this label to submit substantiation of their products hypoallergenicity claims to FDA. This provides a huge loop hole in promoting hypoallergenic products on the retail level, thus increasing the market value; however, dermatologists say it has very little meaning.

Hypoallergenic Cosmetics

So where did this relatively meaningless term come from? The term was invented in a 1953 cosmetics campaign to promote a new line of make-up and has no medical or scientific meaning. It has since blown up in the cosmetic world. Mascara making your eyes red and irritated? Lotion causing redness and itchy skin? Try this hypoallergenic formula! As it turns out it’s all just a marketing ploy to sell more cosmetics to those consumers manufactures would’ve otherwise lost a sale to. Over time, there have been many agencies and organizations that have tried to get some sort of regulation in place for the term, but so far the attempts have been unsuccessful in the US Court system.

The main reason for the lack of regulation for the hypoallergenic label is the perplexing nature of allergies themselves. What causes allergic reactions when comparing one person to another is not completely understood yet. Two people can have the same allergy, but react to it differently, so no allergies are exactly the same. This is why hypoallergenic products mean “less allergenic” and not “allergy free”. The cosmetics industry, nor federal regulations, can not ever guarantee that a particular product will never cause an allergic reaction in every individual person. Rather, it can only be taken to mean that the product would be less likely to cause a reaction when compared to another similar product with different ingredients known to cause allergic reactions in many individuals.

Hypoallergenic Pets

Another popular place you’ll see the term hypoallergenic is with pets. According to Wikipedia, the definition of “hypoallergenic pets” is: breeds of pet animals (e.g., some breeds of dogs) that are less likely to trigger allergic reactions in people who are sensitized to the pet species (e.g., in people generally allergic to dogs).

This sounds like the best bet for those who have pet allergies – enabling them to have a pet in their home where a fur-baby would otherwise never be possible. The breeds promoted as hypoallergenic are those that do not shed their hair, or shed very little hair, but this is not where the entire allergy stems from. The proteins that cause the allergic reactions are not only in the animal’s fur/hair, but are also in their mucous, urine, saliva and in the dander sloughed from the animal’s skin. A recent study also showed that the amount of allergens found in homes with supposed hypoallergenic breeds were no different than those found in homes with pets considered non-hypoallergenic.

US Home Filter Offers AC Filters to Help Reduce Allergens

Family owned and operated for four generations now, we may not be doctors, but we certainly know about allergies and air filters! Over the years our experienced staff has help thousands of customers by answering the same questions that you may have.

At US Home Filter, we appreciate each and every one of our customers. We are here to help you choose the best solutions for your individual needs. Whether you need help with one of our standard stock size air filters, a Whole House Air Cleaner replacement filter, Grille filters, or if you are overwhelmed by choosing the right custom size air filter, we will be happy to personally work with you to help ensure you order exactly what you need and clear up any misconceptions! For personal assistance or questions about your air filter needs, please contact us now online or call us at (855) 237-1673 and we will do our very best to help you in selecting the perfect filter for your individual needs. We want to earn your business and we guarantee your satisfaction! Take advantage of our quality products, vast selection, low prices, and enjoy FREE SHIPPING on every air filter order within the Contiguous USA.

Tree Pollen Signals the Onset of Spring

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The beginning of spring can be a refreshing time, a time of awakening, a welcomed reprieve from the harsh elements and gloomy winter weather. But for many of us, springtime is also the beginning of allergy season. Those with pollen allergies begin to feel the effects as early as January in the southern US states. Those in the north may not be affected until May or June. Trees are the earliest producers of pollen and will provide the first signs of allergy symptoms to those that have a pollen sensitivity. In fact, the pollen count is currently so elevated in some areas of the United States that even those without a known allergy to pollen can feel some of the effects of allergy symptoms.

Interesting Facts About Tree Pollen

  • It is the earliest seasonal allergen of the year
  • The most common allergenic tree is oak
  • Tree pollen is similar to proteins found in some varieties of nuts, fruits, and vegetables, making it more possible for someone that has tree allergies to also have some food allergies as well
  • 53 different allergens associated with trees have been established by the World Health Organization and International Union of Immunological Societies (WHO/IUIS) allergen nomenclature subcommittee.
  • Changes in weather can affect the onset, length, and severity of pollen season

When To Expect Tree Pollen Season In Your Area

As indicated in the chart below, tree pollen season rolls out as early as January in the southern states and can last into June. This season begins kicking in a little later the as you move up the map. As you can see, the best region for those with tree pollen allergies is in the northern states where tree pollen is typically only active for about four months out of the year. In the South, where the weather tends to become warmer earlier in the year, you can expect tree pollen to be in force for a full six months.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which Trees Cause The Most Problems

Tree pollen allergy is surprisingly a fairly broad subject once you begin to study it. For the most part, we can divide allergenic trees into four orders that have been determined to be the most potent sources: Fagales, Lamiales, Proteales, and Pinales. Each order has a pattern of geographical distribution. Allergenic trees are present in almost every part of the world. With pollen allergens being viewed as a significant health factor responsible for allergic rhinitis and asthma, it is no surprise that there have been and continue to be numerous in-depth studies regarding this subject. Below we will outline the basic details of each order of allergenic tree and the typical location of each within the US region.

Geographic distribution of allergenic Fagales, Lamiales, Proteales, and Pinales species. The distribution data were extracted from maps provided on www.eol.org. Photographs of florescences of members of the Fagales (birch Betula verrucosa), Proteales (plane tree Platanus acerifolia), Lamiales (lilac Syringa vulgaris and olive Olea europaea), and Pinales (mountain cedar Juniperus ashei and Japanese cedar Cryptomeria japonica) were obtained from Fotolia.
  • Fagales
    • can have the form of a tree or shrub
    • sometimes contain cylindrical or spiked flowers
    • prefer temperate climates
    • mostly located in eastern and extreme western US
    • Birch, Alder, Hornbeam, Hazelnut, Beech, Chestnut, and Oak
  • Proteales
    • deciduous trees that grow laterally
    • flowers appear in a ball form
    • located primarily in Arizona, New Mexico, and California
    • American Sycamore, California Sycamore, Arizona Sycamore, Western Sycamore, American Plane, and Buttonwood
  • Lamiales
    • flowering trees or shrubs
    • widely scattered across the United States
    • includes over 23,000 species, with four species that have been noted to have allergenic proteins
    • European Ash, Common Privet, Olive, and Lilac
  • Pinales
    • all trees in this order produce cones
    • the most prevalent group spread throughout most of the US
    • out of seven families within this order, only one genera (Cupressaceae) has been identified as allergenic
    • False Cypress, Japanese Cedar, Arizona Cypress, Mediterranean Cypress, Japanese Cypress, and Junipers

Dealing With the Symptoms

If you find yourself sneezing and sniffling at the start of spring, or even earlier if you are in one of the southern US states, it is probably due to tree pollen. In general, the symptoms of a pollen allergy are referred to as hay fever. These troubling symptoms include:

  • runny nose, sneezing
  • stuffy nose, congestion
  • itchy, watery, red eyes
  • puffy or swollen eyes

The treatments recommended by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America include:

  • Antihistimines
  • Decongestants
  • Nasal corticosteroids
  • Leukotriene receptors
  • Cromolyn sodium nasal spray
  • Immunotherapy

US Home Filter Offers AC Filters to Help Reduce Allergens

No matter which type of HVAC system your home has, every unit needs a quality air filter that fits properly in order to maximize your indoor air quality and keep your unit running efficiently. US Home Filter can provide you with the best and most efficient HVAC filter available! Changing the filter in your furnace is as important as changing the oil in your car and US Home Filter offers filters to fit all heating and air conditioning units. From standard to custom air filters, to whole-house filtersgrille filters and humidifier filters, we have all of your filter needs covered!

Order now from US Home Filter and receive FREE SHIPPING on your order!

Selecting the filters that are just right for your home can be difficult and confusing at times. At US Home Filter we understand this, which is why we offer an experienced staff to help answer any questions you may have. For personal assistance with your air filter needs, please contact us now online or call us at (855) 237-1673 and we will do our very best to assist you in selecting the right filter for your individual needs. We want to earn your business and we guarantee your satisfaction! Take advantage of our quality products, vast selection, low prices, and enjoy FREE SHIPPING on every air filter order within the Contiguous USA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Green Cleaning Tips to Reduce Home Allergens

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Green Cleaning Tips to Reduce Home AllergensAllergies are everywhere and as the seasons change, new allergens emerge causing allergy sufferer’s a multitude of symptoms. In fact, as many as 50 million Americans have some sort of allergy – most of which are not caused by the change of seasons, but are from substances found in their own home. In a research study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology  it surprisingly stated that over half (51.5%) of all US homes had at least 6 detectable allergens and 45.8% had at least 3 allergens exceeding normal levels. These indoor allergens included mold and mildew, dust mites and pet dander among many others which can affect both a person’s nasal passages and eyes. Outdoor pollutants (pollen, outdoor mold spores) can also enter the home as well, thus increasing the unpleasant side effects that allergy sufferers often times experience. While experts agree that anti-histamine medications may help lessen the effects of these symptoms, removing or reducing exposure to the allergens proves to the be the best way to manage allergy conditions by prevention. In other words: Stop treating the symptoms and start treating the cause!

Tips for Reducing Indoor Allergens In Your Home or Office

Go “Green” With Your Cleaning Supplies

According to The American Lung Association, many cleaning supplies or household products contain dangerous chemicals that can irritate the eyes or throat, cause headaches as well as other health problems, including cancer.  Some of these products even release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other dangerous chemicals. VOCs are found in cleaning products such as bleach, glass cleaner, detergents and air fresheners and have been shown to exacerbate asthma-related symptoms. To combat this, choose green cleaning products that contain natural and plant based ingredients. You can even make your own!

Reduce Pet Allergens

We love our pets, but it’s true, our four-legged fur babies make a huge contribution to allergens in our homes. In fact, up to 30% of all people with allergies have reactions to cats and dogs. Luckily, there are steps you can take to cohabitate with your pets without sneezing every time that they come into the room. First off, create a specific area in your home for your pet and make sure that its easy to clean. Keep soft furnishings to a minimum and make sure that they’re machine washable. You may also want to invest in a filter with a MERV rating of 8-13 to keep the air free from pet allergens – these filters can reduce pet allergens in the air substantially. We recommend our highest-rated MERV 13 pleated filters for your home or business if you are looking for the highest level of air quality and suffer from severe allergies such as those that can be triggered by your loving pets. Vacuum regularly and bathe your dog twice a week – don’t forget to find a pet shampoo that contains natural and plant based ingredients!

Control Your Heat and Humidity

Keeping your house at the right temperature and humidity level can make a huge difference in allergy control. Your house should be kept nice and dry, using a dehumidifier if needed. Dust mites and mold both thrive in moist, humid conditions. Another way to remove humidity is to open your windows for one hour per day (on dry days only), but be sure to check the pollen forecast first. On the flip side, if the humidity in your home is too low, other allergens can start to circulate in the air. Make sure to keep your home between 68°F-72°F with 40% humidity whenever possible.

Change Your HVAC Filter Regularly

The most important thing you can do to reduce allergens in your home is to choose the right filter for your HVAC system and change it regularly. The filter’s primary function is to trap and hold all the different kids of particulates and contaminants in the air that circulate through your heating and cooling system. All of the air that circulates through your HVAC system, to either heat or cool your home, will eventually pass through the air filter. This is why it is so VERY important to keep your air filters clean and change them regularly. Air filters should be checked at least once a month – if they are dirty they should be changed with a fresh clean filter to ensure home allergens are kept to a minimum.

US Home Filter’s is Here for YOU

Determining the size that your system requires and choosing the MERV rating that is best for you can be a little overwhelming, especially if you have never purchased air filters for your home or if you have a new unit or home to buy filters for. You can take a look at our air filter measurement guide to help you pick the right size or call us and we can easily assist you with ordering the exact air filter size you need and recommend the best rating for you depending on the level of filtration you want. Whether you need AC or furnace filters, a specialty Whole House filter, a Grille filter, or even a custom air filter size, we have a professional and helpful staff ready to take care of you!

Myths About Pet Allergies

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Did you know that over 60% of homes in the US own at least one pet? It is estimated that about 161 million of these pets consist of cats and dogs, the most popular domesticated household pets. Americans do love their pets, but about 15% of us are allergic to them. So if you enjoy having a furry companion but suffer the side effects caused by a pet allergy, you are definitely not alone. If you are fortunate enough not to be affected by pet dander, you most likely have a friend or family member that is. There is quite a bit of resourceful information available on the subject of pet allergies. And like most other subjects, you can find some inaccurate information that causes confusion. Here are some of the most popular misconceptions about allergies to animals.

Myth #1 Animal Hair Triggers Allergic Reactions

It is a common belief that animal hair is the cause of an allergic response to animals. While pet fur can certainly add to the problem and steps should be taken to keep the home as hair-free as possible, it is most important to recognize the actual source of the allergen. The proteins secreted in the saliva and skin of warm-blooded animals, not just cats and dogs, is the root cause of the allergy. These proteins are transferred onto the animal hair and surrounding surfaces, especially during the grooming process. So while more hair will result in more surface for the protein to adhere to, the hair in and of itself is not the source of the allergy.

Myth #2 Hairless Pets Are Hypoallergenic

Nice thought, but no. If it is warm-blooded, grooms itself or sheds skin, it can trigger an allergic response. Again, less hair certainly means less surface to collect dander and the proteins that cause the allergy, but there is no specific cat or dog that is certified as allergy-free. The levels of proteins (for example, Fel d 1 in cats) is unique to every individual cat. So finding that one particular cat does not inflame your allergies does not mean that all cats of that breed will produce the same results.

Myth #3 Pet Dander Is Only Present In Homes With Pets

That would seem logical and wonderful at the same time, but is unfortunately untrue. In fact, according to an in-depth study of the presence of animal allergens in the environment, cat and dog allergens can be detected in all variations of indoor environments even when a cat or dog has never been there. So this includes new construction, schools, museums, offices, and vehicles to name a few. Why would a brand new home or a school test positive for levels of these allergens when an animal has never been inside them? Due to the sticky nature of pet dander it is introduced to all of these unsuspecting environments due to the transfer effect, meaning it is carried on clothing or objects that have come in contact with an animal in another setting and then deposited in a new setting. Of course, the level of concentration of these allergy-causing proteins will be much higher in a home with pets. The highest levels are found in homes with pets that are primarily kept indoors.

Myth #4 The Only Pets That People Are Allergic To Are Cats And Dogs

Sometimes when there is a known allergy to cats or dogs, it may seem like a great option to get another type of animal such as a ferret or hamster. The truth is that every warm-blooded animal out there, domestic or wild, can have dander. All dander has the potential to trigger an allergic reaction as the protein that causes the symptoms is secreted through the skin and saliva. In some animals, such as birds and reptiles, allergens are transmitted through feathers and droppings. So all animals, including fuzzy guinea pigs, farm animals, and wild animals, can produce allergic reactions.

Myth #5 Pet Allergies Aren’t That Big Of A Deal

It’s a pretty common belief that the only thing you have to worry about if you have pet allergies is itchy eyes and sneezing. That’s a belief held mostly by those who do not suffer from a pet allergy. It would be wonderful if all you got was a little sniffle after cuddling with your fat, furry cat. Most of us that are allergic to cats, dogs, and other animals experience a greater number of symptoms. Sometimes, the range of reactions can be quite bothersome and severe. Some individuals react only after close and prolonged cuddling with an animal while others can simply exhibit symptoms just by being in the same home with one. While the idea of cat or dog allergies can be minimized by some, this list of possible reactions certainly matters to those who experience it:

  • sneezing, runny nose
  • itchy, red, swollen, watery eyes
  • sinus congestion, coughing
  • disrupted sleep
  • difficult, labored breathing
  • tightness in chest, wheezing
  • allergic dermatitis
  • eczema, hives

Myth #6 Removing The Animal Will Provide Immediate Relief

Obviously, the less exposure the less intense the symptoms will likely become. But if the symptoms are still going strong after the pet has been removed, don’t be surprised. It can take up to several months before symptoms improve or disappear. It will require a high level of filtration and deep cleaning to remove the dander as it is capable of attaching to almost any type of indoor surface and over time becomes embedded in cloth surfaces such as furniture, bedding, carpeting, and window coverings.

Myth #7 If You Have a Pet Allergy, You Must Get Rid Of Your Pet

Sometimes, this is the very unfortunate truth. But it is not absolutely the only choice in every situation. In certain cases you may be forced to rehome your pet, but there are times where it can depend on personal choice and being fortunate enough to find successful ways to reduce and manage the symptoms so you and your companion can remain together. Here are a few tips on balancing your allergy symptoms and keeping a pet:

  • use free-standing room air cleaners to add extra filtration to rooms where your pet is most often
  • use high-efficiency pleated air filters to keep your indoor air as clean as possible
  • make your bedroom a “no pet zone” to minimize the concentration of dander where you sleep
  • wash your hands often to prevent the transfer of dander to other surfaces as much as possible
  • saving the most fun part for last, when it comes to dander you cannot clean too much!

At US Home Filter, we enjoy helping our customers solve filtration issues and we are here to answer your questions about your indoor air quality and allergy concerns. We recommend our highest-rated MERV 13 pleated filters for your home or business if you desire the cleanest air possible and suffer from severe allergies such as those that can be triggered by your loving pets. Whether you need AC or furnace filters, a specialty Whole House filter, a Grille filter, or even a custom air filter size, we have a professional and helpful staff ready to take care of you!

 

 

Deadly Diseases Preventable With Air Filters

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preventing diseases with air filtersAre deadly diseases and other illnesses actually preventable by your AC filter? To answer that important question, let’s first answer another important question: What is air pollution? According to the Environmental Pollution Center, “air pollution can be defined as the presence of toxic chemicals or compounds (including those of biological origin) in the air, at levels that pose a health risk. So basically air pollution equates to the the presence of biologics or other chemicals or compounds in your breathable air that can cause humans harm. Air pollution has become an unintended consequence of our everyday lives with the increase of cars, trucks, factories and, in turn, has greatly affected the health of people worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that as of March 2012, around 7 million people died as a result of air pollution exposure, thus making the air that we breathe the world’s single largest environmental health risk. This includes air pollution outside of our homes, as well as inside. Let’s take a closer look at the potentially catastrophic consequences to ourselves and to our families when the air in our homes is polluted.

What Are The Top Three Health Consequences Of Indoor Air Pollution

Stroke

Every year, approximately 15 million people suffer a stroke worldwide and 33% of these are attributed to being caused by indoor air pollutants in our homes. Studies have shown that there is a direct connection between particulate matter (nitrates, sulphates, organic chemicals, metals, soil or dust particles, and allergens such as fragments of pollen or mold spores) and increased admissions to hospitals as well as death from strokes and transient ischemic attacks (TIA). TIA are also known as ‘mini-strokes’ which can lead to full ischemic strokes later.

Heart Disease

Air pollution is believed to have inflammatory effects on the heart, causing chronic cardiovascular problems. For those already struggling with heart disease, the effects of air pollution have an even greater effect as just the exposure can increase the heart rate and blood pressure. When the small particulates commonly seen in polluted air enter into a person’s blood stream they begin to irritate the lungs and blood vessels around the heart. Lowering your exposure to air pollution reduces this inflammation and improves the health of the lining of the blood vessels.

Lung Cancer

Once again, according to the World Health Organization, lung cancer is the cause of approximately six percent of all fatalities that are attributed to indoor air pollution. It has been proven many times by research studies that household dust may contain toxic, cancer inducing compounds and chemicals is both significant varieties and quantities. A recent study reported that an estimated 45 toxic chemicals were commonly found in the dust of many US households and homes. An almost unbelievable ten of these harmful chemicals were found in approximately ninety percent (90%) of all the the homes that were tested. Children are obviously the most vulnerable members of the household, since the majority of all dust collects at the ground level. The study also documented that the most common chemicals seen were actually a variety of flame retardants that are directly linked to lung cancer and can additionally cause further adverse reactions and effects on an individual’s central nervous system.

The Role of Air Filters

Knowing these obviously scary facts, it is clear how important it is to reduce exposure to air pollution within our homes. Not only for our selves, but for our families, neighbors and friends. Reducing your exposure to these potentially harmful toxins and chemicals saves lives. There is not a lot we can do about outdoor air pollution exposure, but we CAN control the amount of pollution we are exposed to in our homes. Using high-quality air filters in your HVAC system greatly reduces the number of pollutants you are exposed to in your home, therefore leaving you and your family healthier.

Air filtration provides us with a means to attain the highest level of indoor air quality possible in our houses and homes. Air filters were originally intended to simply protect your HVAC system, but as filtration media became more refined and specialized filters also now clean contaminants, allergens, and other bothersome particles from our air using high-efficiency pleated air filters. This has resulted in a significant improvement in our ability to provide the cleanest air to breathe in both our homes and businesses.

If indoor air quality is important to you, begin by selecting the level of filtration based on the types of particles that you aim to prevent entering your home’s “breathable air” with your air conditioning filters and furnace filters. You can choose a MERV rating that targets specific types of particles such as pet dander, mold spores, or pollen. The higher the rating, the smaller the particle that can be captured. A general guideline for MERV ratings is:

  • MERV 8 – for mild allergies and average dust particles
  • MERV 11 – for moderate allergies and smaller dust particles
  • MERV 13 – for severe allergies and the finest dust particles

Determining the size that your system requires and choosing the MERV rating that is best for you can be a little overwhelming, especially if you have never purchased air filters for your home or if you have a new unit or home to buy filters for. You can take a look at our air filter measurement guide to help you pick the right size or call us and we can easily assist you with ordering the exact air filter size you need and recommend the best rating for you depending on the level of filtration you want. Whether you need AC or furnace filters, a specialty Whole House filter, a Grille filter, or even a custom air filter size, we have a professional and helpful staff ready to take care of you!

For personal assistance with your air filter needs, please contact us now online or call us at (855) 237-1673 and we will do our very best to assist you in selecting the right filter for your individual needs.

All About Mold

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What is Mold?  

Mold is a living organism, classified as fungi, that reproduces through the development of spores that are separated and distributed from a parent source or organism. When in the ideal environment, the spores or “seeds” will attach to a source of nourishment and a colony will be established. Mold spores are present nearly everywhere as there are many possible indoor and outdoor sources for mold. These microscopic organisms can be dispersed year-round. There are over 100,000 types of mold ranging in size from 3-30 microns!

Intriguing Facts About Mold

  • Although bleach is commonly recommended to kill mold, it should not be considered an effective form of mold removal because dead or dormant mold spores are just as toxic as living spores. Bleach will kill mold spores, but the mold must be properly removed.
  • Studies indicate that the use of Vitamin D supplements is helpful in the treatment and prevention of allergies to mold
  • Mold, although harmful in many cases, also has many beneficial properties such as: assisting in the decomposition of organic material, aiding in the production of medications, producing enzymes that help to make certain foods such as cheese, assisting in the production of alcohol, flavorings, and even plastics.
  • Molds are classified by hazard levels A, B, and C. An example of a hazard A mold is Aspergillus fumigatus. It is commonly found in bathrooms and kitchens and is considered to be highly unsafe and should be immediately remediated. A class C mold such as Wallemia sebi, is a type that can grow in your carpeting or mattresses. While it is not one to be considered a health concern, it is still capable of causing damage to the surfaces it lives on and should be removed for that reason.

Requirements for Mold to Grow

Mold requires a few basic conditions in which to grow. The 3 main requirements are:

  • Food – an organic material or a surface where organic material is present. Examples include: cotton, wool, leather, paper, wood, food, grease, leaves, dirt, insulation, drywall, dust, carpet, wallpaper, upholstery
  • Moisture – leaky roof or pipes, condensation on window sills, humidifiers, vaporizers, damp basements or closets, garages or outdoor storage sheds, drains, areas with standing water
  • Temperature – mold can grow and multiply in temperatures between 32 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit, but the rate of growth is ideal and significantly increased when the temperature ranges between 79 and 90 degrees. When temperatures fall below freezing, mold will remain dormant and become active again once the temperature climbs back into range.

Accelerating the Growth of Mold

Mold will grow when the minimum requirements above are met, but there are certain conditions that increase the rate at which mold can multiply.

  • Humidity levels of 50% or greater – higher indoor humidity can allow moisture to develop on surfaces
  • Poor ventilation in bathrooms, laundry rooms, or kitchens. Proper air circulation can significantly reduce moisture in the air
  • Areas where piles have collected – leaves, damp clothing, food waste – ideal for holding moisture

Inhibiting the Growth of Mold

  • Reduce humidity – keep indoor humidity below 50%, keep air moving with fans or proper ventilation, and close windows when it is raining outside
  • Prevent moisture – when the conditions are met and moisture is available, mold will begin to grow in 24-48 hours. A prime example that you may have encountered is forgetting a load of laundry in the washing machine for a day or two. That awful smell is mold!
  • Use high-efficiency pleated air filters to help remove airborne mold spores which will eventually settle on surfaces and potentially begin to multiply. Mold can enter your indoor air through doors, windows, and can be transported on your skin, clothing, shoes, and pets. With proper circulation and a quality furnace filter or air conditioning filter, you can drastically reduce the number of mold spores floating in your air.
  • Add indoor room air cleaners if you have a sensitivity to mold. These can provide additional relief and protection from microorganisms such as mold that drift through your air.

Indoor Mold

Mold is commonly found indoors. The effects on people and animals can range from unnoticeable to debilitating. Indoor mold is typically identified by a musty odor and can be visible in the form of different colors depending on the type. As discussed, moisture is an absolute requirement for mold to multiply. Certain temperature ranges are ideal, but mold can grow at nearly any temperature but will become dormant below freezing. Common types of indoor mold are Cladosporium, Aspergillus, and Penicillium.

Outdoor Mold

We often think of mold as something that grows on surfaces such as food, leaky pipes, or wet basements. These can cause serious health issues in some cases, but also of concern are the outdoor airborne variety of mold particulates. These microscopic organisms are fungi that are related to mushrooms but have no roots, leaves, or stems. Outdoor mold spores can be present almost anywhere and are carried in the same way as pollen by air currents, insects, animals, people, leaves, grasses, weeds, and flowers. Outdoor mold begins to grow during the Springtime, with the highest concentrations occurring during different months depending on the region. Common outdoor molds types include Bipolaris, Ascospores, and Torula. Outdoor sources include wet branches, leaves, compost piles, grass clippings, and structures that are frequently shaded and damp.

Allergic Responses to Mold

We can all display reactions to mold, even if no allergy to mold has been formally diagnosed. An allergic response occurs when your immune system reacts unfavorably to the exposure of mold spores, either by contact or ingestion. The severity of these symptoms can vary depending on the level of sensitivity as well as the concentration of exposure.

  • watery, itchy, irritated eyes
  • runny nose, congestion
  • headache, cough, throat irritation
  • difficulty breathing, asthma, flu-like symptoms
  • Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (also known as Sick Building Syndrome)

The best treatment is to reduce the factors that help mold to grow and minimize exposure. Because of the size of mold particles, a MERV 8 pleated air filter will do a great job of capturing mold. For severe mold allergies, we recommend a higher rating such as our MERV 11 or MERV 13 air filters. Our MERV rating comparison chart can help you see which rating is the best choice for your needs.

At US Home Filter, we enjoy assisting our customers to help determine the best solutions for their individual needs. Whether you need help with one of our standard stock size air filters, a Whole House Air Cleaner replacement filter, Grille filters, or if you are overwhelmed by choosing the right custom size air filter, we will be happy to personally work with you to help ensure you order exactly what you need!

Call us toll-free at 1-855-237-1673!