New “Fall Allergy Capital” Rankings Push People Indoors for Relief

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But Air Quality in the Home Can Be Bad or Worse

Washington, DC – September 20, 2011 (PRNewswire) For most of the continental U.S., October brings cool fresh breezes, increasingly shorter days of sunlight and a slew of activities to enjoy the outdoors one last time before winter arrives. But for millions of adults and children allergic to pollen, the next few months will only push them indoors to escape the chronic symptoms of fall allergies: runny nose and congestion, itchy and watery eyes, violent sneezing, and even coughing and wheezing for people who have allergic asthma.

Nearly 40 million Americans have nasal allergies and over 10 million have allergic asthma, and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) has released its updated list of Fall Allergy Capitals™ – the most difficult places to live with fall allergies (AAFA does a similar report each year for the spring), available at www.AllergyCapitals.com. This year, Knoxville, Tennessee, achieved the dubious honor of top spot for 2011, but the city is no stranger to the fall list and has been in the top-10 many times over the past eight years.

The Inside Scoop

For families with allergies or asthma, the appeal of being outdoors in the fall is not so great, and they head for cover inside to avoid the massive amounts of wind-swept allergens each year. However, even average Americans are spending 60% or more of their time indoors. As a result, “everyone, especially those with allergies and asthma, need to pay close attention to indoor air quality,” advises Dr. Clifford W. Bassett, medical director of Allergy & Asthma Care of New York and assistant clinical professor of Medicine at the NYU School of Medicine. Household triggers like mold that grows in areas with high moisture, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in wood furniture, flooring and traditional paints, or strong chemical odors from some cleaning products are common problems. “Airborne triggers and irritants can be potentially serious problems and any home, school or office can be an obstacle course if you have asthma or allergies,” says Bassett. “But good air quality can be achieved through smart home solutions.”

“I see homes with poor air quality frequently in my design work and I also have allergies, so it’s something that I’m always noticing,” says HGTV host and interior designer, Genevieve Gorder. “Sometimes bad indoor air is a result of pollution or pollen from outside that gets in through doors, windows and air vents. But other times it’s because we bring bad chemicals into our homes without even knowing it, like VOCs and strong odors that you find in traditional paints and stains, or toxic formaldehyde in wood furniture and flooring,” says Gorder. “Everybody breathes, so everybody should learn to make smart choices about the products they bring into their homes.”

IAQ and You

“A good first step to improving the air quality of your home is as simple as not contaminating it in the first place,” according to Mike Tringale, Vice President at AAFA. “For example, your walls make up the largest surface area in your home so choosing interior paints like the new Valspar+Plus – which is zero VOC with no lingering odor and mold resistant – means you avoid the toxic fumes caused by traditional paints.” Valspar+Plus was recently the first paint certified “asthma & allergy friendly” by AAFA after independent scientific testing confirmed its zero VOC formulation, durability and quality claims.

AAFA encourages people to be aware of indoor air quality all year long no matter where they live, no matter what season of the year. In addition to painting with zero-VOC coatings, AAFA offers other simple tips for better indoor air quality:

– Control dust mites – Wash bed linens at least once weekly, and make sure your washing machine hot water temperature can exceed 130 degrees to kills dust mites and their eggs. Plus, keep dogs and cats off of your beds – pet dander is a primary source of food for dust mites.

– Healthy housekeeping – Vacuum at least once weekly and make sure you use a quality vacuum with good constant suction, tight seams with no leaks and a HEPA filter. Choose scent-free cleaning products and wear a face mask when dusting to reduce your exposure to airborne particles.

– Filter it out – Look for portable room air filters for bedrooms and common areas, and make sure to replace your HVAC filter at least four times per year.

AAFA offers a free “Guide for Reducing Allergens and Irritants in the Home” that can also be downloaded from www.AllergyCapitals.com.

About the Fall Allergy Capitals
Since 2004, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) has provided a new list of 100 Fall Allergy Capitals, the most challenging places to live with fall allergies. Knoxville was named the #1 Fall Allergy Capital this year due to high pollen counts, high use of allergy medications by patients and too few allergists to treat the burgeoning allergy population. A full report of all 100 cities is available for free on the Foundations’ Web site, www.AllergyCapitals.com.

About AAFA
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), a not-for-profit organization founded in 1953, is the leading patient organization for people with asthma and allergies, and the oldest asthma and allergy patient group in the world. AAFA provides practical information, community based services and support through a national network of chapters and support groups. AAFA develops health education, organizes state and national advocacy efforts and funds research to find better treatments and cures. The 2011 Fall Allergy Capitals™ report was made possible by a generous grant from the Valspar corporation.

SOURCE: Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America

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