The EPA warns that poor indoor air quality is among the greatest health risks facing Americans. In Nevada, air quality that can potentially affect your health is an increasing concern. The American Lung Association warns that the state is trending in the wrong direction when it comes to ozone and particulate matter levels, and there are a number of counties within the state in recent years that have at times far exceeded the federal allowance for certain pollution levels. Indoor air quality should certainly be an emphasis for most Nevadans, and with this in mind and as autumn approaches, let us explore the potential IAQ troubles the fall season can bring and what your options are.
Autumn in Nevada Can Feel Like an Extended Summer
Many regions in the United States have clearly defined seasons, and the transitions can often be jarring. That is not really the case in Nevada where autumn can seem like an extended summer even into December. This means that some of the IAQ issues that are prevalent in summer can continue to be problematic. A great example of this is the dust mite population. These buggers are a leading cause of poor indoor air quality and will continue to thrive throughout the fall without some control measures.
Fall Is the Start of Cold and Flu Season
September starts flu and cold season in this region, and October marks the beginning of the peak period for influenza. In recent years, Nevada has experienced some of the highest flu levels in the nation, and local health authorities recommend that all citizens get their flu shot before the season arrives. The CDC also recommends avoiding close contact, maintaining social distancing wherever required or it is practical, wearing a face mask wherever it is mandated or makes you feel safer, regular cleaning of hands and use of hand sanitizer and avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth. If you want even more protection for your home, you can consider a germicidal air purifier. These portable and whole-home systems can eliminate allergens, bacteria, fungi, germs, mold, viruses and much more.
Ragweed Wreaks Havoc on Allergy Sufferers
There are a number of substances present in fall that trigger allergies but not in higher levels than ragweed. It is estimated that at least 15% of Americans are allergic to ragweed, and almost anyone who suffers from springtime allergies will be prone in fall as well. Note that an allergist can confirm a ragweed allergy with a simple skin test. Knowing you do have the allergy can be a big help since you can begin treating yourself in advance of high allergen levels and thus significantly mitigate symptoms.
Ragweed can be tough to avoid, and medication—whether it be over the counter, prescribed or an allergy shot—is usually the best defense against it. But lifestyle changes can help as well. Pollen counts are lowest in the evening, which makes it a better time for exercise and other outdoor activities. You should also avoid natural ventilation and instead rely on your air conditioner even when it is not all that warm. It is also important to ensure that your mechanical ventilation system is up to the job, and allergists recommend using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to eradicate most ragweed from the home.
Temperature Can Range Greatly Over the Course of a Day
While autumn in Nevada can feel like an extended summer at times, the temperature fluctuations can be quite wild. Depending on where you live, you reach the high 80s or 70s during the day and then near freezing at night. Temperatures can be unpredictable too. If you are still adjusting the temperature in your home manually, it can be tough to keep up with and lead to a host of IAQ problems. We highly recommend a smart thermostat that will not only react to the external temperatures but can base its adjustment on whether you are at work or school, active in the home or fast asleep.
But Humidity Levels Tend to Remain Quite Low
Humidity is quite mild in Nevada, and this is particularly true in autumn. This does not present much of a problem if you are comfortable with screened windows opened or are running the air conditioner. That said, the lower humidity this time of year can irritate your eyes, nose, mouth and throat, and it can exacerbate any respiratory conditions that you may have. You should also be aware that if you need to run your home heating, then this will lower the humidity further and make the situation worse. A small humidifier that you can take from room to room should help alleviate the problem but is becoming increasingly common in this area for homeowners to invest in whole-home humidification systems.
Mold Thrives This Time of Year Despite the Dry Climate
Mold is often associated with moisture, and Nevada is a dry place. But that does not mean that Nevadans do not have mold problems. In fact, mold is the leading cause of autumn allergens in Nevada behind ragweed and dust mites. The first step is to ensure that you do not have a moisture problem in the home, and that includes overwatered plants. With that issue ruled out, it comes down to managing dust in the home, making sure that filters are clean and ensuring adequate ventilation.
Staying Indoors Makes You More Prone to Dust and VOCs
Dust and volatile organic compounds are problems throughout the year. But autumn is the period of the year where you begin to spend more time indoors, and that means increased exposure to VOCs. Dust control is an imperative. It combats the dust mite population and reduces your exposure to mold and VOCs. It is also important to be aware of the ways that you may inadvertently be polluting your home. Common examples include deodorizers, household cleaners, candles and houseplants.
Higher Air Quality Indexes Can Cause Trouble as Well
The Air Quality Index—or AQI—is something that Nevadans should monitor. Most days are rated good or better, and that is positive news. But there can be unhealthy days too. On these days, limit your exposure during peak periods. Your home or indoor workplace can provide sanctuary. Be mindful, however, that if there is an extended period of poor air quality, that will affect the air inside your home, and improving that situation would require some form of mechanical air cleaning.
Your Local IAQ Experts in Las Vegas
Express Home Services has more than 15 years of experience serving Las Vegas and the surrounding areas. Our company also has an office in Utah and serves homeowners throughout Bountiful and the neighboring communities. Our indoor air quality services extend to media air cleaners, air purifiers, humidifiers and smart thermostats. We also install, service and repair both ducted and ductless heating and cooling equipment, and we have expert plumbers who fix bathroom issues, can install tankless and tank-based water heaters and specialize in whole-home water-softening systems. Call today or contact us online to learn more about our services or to schedule an appointment at your convenience!