What is an Allergy Filter and Other Questions about Allergy Filters

No matter what time of year it is, people are asking about allergy filters. In spring, summer and fall people folks are concerned about pollen. In fall and winter, people want an allergy filter to handle mold, dust mites, and pet allergens. Everyone wants an allergy filter, but they don’t understand what makes an allergy filter. What is an allergy filter? Are all allergy filters the same? Let’s answer these questions and other common questions people have about allergy filters.

allergy filter for petsWhat is an Allergy Filter?

An allergy filter is a filter, attached to a machine, that is designed to remove allergens from the air. All makes and models have a few things in common. They all have a motor that moves air to and through the filter as well as the actual filtering media itself. They do the same thing, but achieve various results.

Different filters remove different allergens. Some allergy filters aren’t even filters at all. Sound confusing? It can be difficult to compare allergy filters. So let’s break it down.

Allergen Particle Sizes

If you are shopping allergy filters, you already know the particles you want removed from the air. But do you know the size of those particles? That’s important.

freezing kills dust mites
Dust Mite Magnified

Dust Mites.  The allergens from dust mites range from 10 microns to 3 microns. Dust

mite bodies and body parts are at the top of the range (10 microns) and dust mite feces are at the bottom. All parts of the dust mite make you sick, but no dust mite allergen is visible. Whether you can see them or not,  you don’t want to breathe any dust mites or feces. Dust mite allergens can only be removed by HEPA filtration.

Molds. Mold spores are giants of the allergen world. These spores can range from 10 to 30 microns. Some mold spores are visible to the naked eye. That’s good news for air filtering. The larger the particle size, the easier it is to trap. Some dust masks act as wearable allergy filters. The Q-Mask and μ2 Mask stop mold. Many AC filters can capture mold as well.

fight ragweed allergy with masks and nasal irrigationPollen.  Pollen can be as small as 2 microns and as big as 750 microns. Most of the allergy-causing pollen can be seen unaided. It’s that white or yellow stuff you see on your car in the spring. Pollen can be captured by special window screens, masks, AC filters or HEPA filters.

Pet Allergen. Pet allergens are tricky. Technically, it is a protein in the saliva and urine that causes a problem. Dried saliva bits can be as small as 2 to 3 microns. Their jagged edges cause them to stick to just about everything. That makes them hard to filter. Fortunately, most pet allergen is attached to a bit of skin or fur (dander) that is much larger; making it easier to filter out.

Air Fresheners Toxic For Allergy Sufferes

 

VOCs and Gasses. Gasses must be filtered using a different process. The aerosol particles that hold the gas in suspension are so small that regular allergy filters won’t do the job. VOCs and gasses must be absorbed to remove them from the air.

 HEPA Filters

Most allergy filters contain some form of HEPA filtering media. So, what is a HEPA filter? HEPA is a measurement that means the filter removes 99.97% of particles as small as .3 microns. That’s really small! HEPA filters remove allergens from pets, dust mites, pollen, and mold. This type of allergy filter will capture bacteria, but not viruses.

In order for a HEPA filter to work, a motor must use a fan to pull air to the machine, through the filter, and back out into the room.

allergy filter to improve indoor air qualityEvaluating HEPA Filters.

To evaluate a HEPA filter, you need to look at:

  • the size of the motor
  • filtering capacity
  • the size of the room

The motor must be strong enough to move the air in the room. It must pull air from all around the room and through the filter. The filter should be large enough to hold a substantial load of particles. Because HEPA filters can’t be washed and they must be replaced, you want a filter that will serve you for an extended period of time. Changing filters frequently is time consuming

Thermodynamic Filters

These filters are often sold as allergy filters, but they don’t filter at all. They remove allergens from the air by moving air to the unit by convection (no fan) and then destroying the allergen with heat.  These machines are popular with people that are just as interested in ridding the air of bacteria and viruses as allergens. That’s because the same technology that lays waste to pet allergen also incinerates viruses and bacteria.

Evaluating Thermodynamic Filters

These units are mini crematories. They destroy with heat. Because they rely on  convection to move air, there are no motors or fans to evaluate. Focus on the incinerator.

  • How hot does it get?
  • Does it emit or produce ozone as a by-product?
  • Does the heating unit create light?

That final bullet is important if you put one of these units in a bedroom. If you need total darkness for sleep, any light might keep you awake.

Allergy  Filters for HVAC

If you have a furnace or central AC unit, you’ve got to keep a filter on the unit. The purpose of the filter is to keep the unit clean, not your house.  However, a quality filter on the furnace or AC will help keep dust and allergens from circulating in the house.

You must walk a fine line with high efficiency filters.  Air can’t get through the filter and be heated or cooled if the filter is too fine. It puts a strain on the blower motor. Too little filtration and you might as well not have any filter at all.

Evaluating HVAC Allergy Filters

Most important is the fit. Air follows the path of least resistance. If your filter doesn’t fit properly, air flows around it and not through it.

Use a MERV 8 filter. A filter with a lower MERV rating is okay if it is treated  with a tacking agent. The tacking agent makes the filter media sticky and increases efficiency.

multigas filter to improve indoor air qualityPicking an Allergy Filter

Now that we’ve answered the question, “What is an allergy filter”, you are probably asking yourself “what kind of filter do I need?”.

We can help!  Read “ How to Evaluate Allergy Filters” next!

Wishing you the best of health
Mike Krause

AllergStore.com

©Copyright 1996-2018  AllergyStore.com™ All Rights Reserved

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What Does Pore Size Mean in Allergy Proof Bedding

If you are diagnosed with dust mite allergies, the doctor will tell you to encase your bed in dust mite proof covers. That’s great advice. But, it isn’t all the information you need to make an informed buying decision. I know. That’s because we field lots of calls from people that want to know about pore sizes, microweaves, and laminated or coated allergy proof bedding. They are confused and looking for answers. We’re here to help.

get your allergy zippered mattress covers protect against sick bed syndromeThe Role of Allergy Proof Bedding in Keeping Allergens at Bay

The doctor tells you to use allergy proof bedding because it protects you from allergens that are too small to be seen. Dust mites, dust mite feces, bits of pollen and animal allergens collect in and on fiber surfaces. Your mattress, pillows, duvet or comforter are all places for allergens to collect.

Allergy proof bedding puts a barrier between you and the allergens. If you can’t breathe the allergen, it won’t make you sick.

As long as you wash your sheets every 7 days in 140ºF water, allergens won’t build up on top of your allergy covers.  The special zippered covers and the hot water washing keep the allergens at bay.

allergy proof bedding is 25% offWhat Makes Bedding Allergy Proof?

So, now we understand why we need allergy-proof bedding, but what is it that makes bedding allergy proof?

There are two ways to approach making a fabric allergy-proof: laminate it or weave it tightly.

Laminated fabrics are just a traditional bed linen fabric that has been bonded to a material that makes the fabric impenetrable to allergens. These fabrics can be cotton, synthetic, or a blend of the two.  It’s not the fabric that is allergy-proof, it’s the laminated backing. The laminate is some form of plastic. Heats bonds the plastic to the fabric.  Laminated fabrics don’t depend on the fabric to provide protection; they rely on the laminate. Laminates don’t have a pore size.

Microweave fabrics provide a barrier that allergens can’t get through. That’s because they have a very tight weave. The space between the fibers used to weave the fabric is the pore size. The larger the pore size, the more allergens that can get through. The smaller the pore size, the more particles the fabric can stop.

dust mites cause dust allergy
Small Pore Sizes Keep Dust Mites Out

Effective Pore Sizes

The pore size is determined by how tightly the fabric is woven.  Natural fibers like cotton are not very strong. You can’t weave cotton tightly. Polyester is a very strong fiber. It’s perfect for tight microweaves.

Allergy proof bedding with the smallest pore size will be all polyester. All cotton allergy proof bedding will have a larger pore size. Cotton/polyester blends are in the middle when it comes to pore sizes.

Dust mite fecal matter and/or body parts (we don’t actually breathe in whole dust mites) are as large as 10 microns. Pet allergen and mold spores are about 3 microns. In order for a microweave mattress encasing to be effective against dust mites it needs a pore size of 10 microns or less and 3 microns or less to be effective against mold and dander.

With that being said, all laminated mattress encasings are effective against dust mite, animal dander and mold allergens because they are a total barrier. They are water-proof too.

Differences in Allergy Proof Bedding

Microweaves and laminates are both effective in protecting against allergens. Which one you choose boils down to personal preference and budget.

Laminates are waterproof, microweaves are not.

Microweaves are generally cooler than laminated fabrics.

Laminated fabrics usually cost less.

Both fabrics require special care when washing. You can’t use high temperatures or chlorine bleach on laminates. Microweaves need gentle agitation to protect the weave.

Hope this clears up the pore size question. Have other questions about bedding? Just enter your question in the comments below.

Wishing you the best of health
Mike Krause

AllergyStore.com

©Copyright 1996-2018  AllergyStore.com™ All Rights Reserved

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What is Healthy Sleep?

healthy sleep leaves you refreshed
Dust Mites in Your Bed?

We spend one-third of our life asleep. Everybody wants a good night’s rest. Everybody wants to sleep healthy. We all agree on that. But what is “healthy sleep”?

The National Sleep Foundation defines “healthy sleep” as sleep that meets the following:

 

 

  • You fall asleep within 15-20 minutes of lying down
  • You regularly sleep a total of seven to nine hours in a 24-hour period.
  • While in bed, your sleep is continuous—you don’t have long periods of lying awake when you wish to be sleeping.
  • You wake up feeling refreshed.
  • You feel alert and are able to be fully productive throughout the waking hours.
  • Your partner or family members do not notice any disturbing or out of the ordinary behavior from you while you sleep, such as snoring, pauses in breathing, restlessness, or otherwise nighttime behaviors.

The Harvard Medical School devotes significant resources to studying sleep and promoting healthy sleep. They have an extensive video library here if you would like to hear from medical experts about the importance of healthy sleep.

Tips for Healthy Sleep

Most experts agree that there are steps you can take to get to sleep, stay asleep, and wake refreshed.

  • Avoid caffeine late in the day
  • Limit your exposure to light
  • Establish a bedtime routine and keep it
  • Exercise daily, but not just before bedtime
  • Keep your room dark and cool
  • Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows
  • Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and heavy meals just before bedtime

Healthy Sleep Hygiene

The debate rages about whether to shower or bathe at night before fight over shower at night or in morningyou go to bed or in the morning when you rise. That is one sleep hygiene fight we will not wade into. If it helps you sleep, bathe or shower before you sleep. If not, do it in the morning.

However, bathing at night does reduce the amount of skin and body oils in your bed. Those are just food for dust mites. 

Speaking of dust mites, it is important to control their population if sneezing, wheezing, or coughing keeps you from getting a good night’s sleep. So, be sure to wash your sheets, pillowcases, and blankets every 7 days in hot water. This will remove the skin cells that are food for the dust mites as well as removing the dust mites themselves.

Protect your mattress and pillows with zippered dust mite-proof covers. You’ll extend the life of your mattress and pillows and make it much easier to keep your bed clean.

zippered mattress covers promote healthy sleepFor temperature regulating comfort, choose natural fibers for sleeping. Cotton wicks away moisture to keep you dry. Both silk and wool fibers work to regulate body temperature as well. This makes these fibers great choices for comforters, blankets, and duvets.

If you’ve got any bedtime routines that work for you, drop us a line. We would love to hear what you do to get a healthy sleep.

Til Next Time!

Cheryl

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