Do you have allergies when spending time at your home or work? Do they go away when you leave the space? Call Indoor Science at (312) 920-9393 to have us perform a home health assessment and allergen testing for common allergens such as dust mite, cockroach, cat, dog, mold, and others.
What are allergens?
In simple terms, allergens are substances that are recognized by our body’s immune system and cause allergies. These environmental substances may illicit severe symptoms in some individuals, and nothing in other people. Allergy symptoms are the result of the immune system flagging a foreign substance as a problem.
There are several allergens that commonly produce allergy symptoms in the US population. Indoor Science performs allergen testing for each of the following:
Dust mites come from the same family as spiders. The small feces of dust mites is a very common trigger to allergies and asthma. The scientific name for dust mites literally means “skin eater”. Don’t worry, they are different than bed bugs. Dust mites eat shed skin cells found in dust near areas when people spend time. Because we spend so much time in bed, in front of the TV, and at a desk, these are the prime areas to test for dust mites. They are also found in areas with higher humidity. Indoor Science can perform a dust test in key areas to determine if there are elevated levels of dust mite allergen.
Cockroach, Mouse, and Rat
Cockroach allergens are commonly found in kitchens and other areas you would expect to see cockroaches. Cockroach allergen has shown positive associations with inner-city asthma. Breathing difficulties may be a result of exposure to cockroach allergen.
Mice and rats also leave allergens behind which can trigger allergies in sensitized individuals. We often find mouse droppings during our site assessments, which is a telltale sign of a rodent problem. However, many times we detect mouse and/or rat allergens even when these pests haven’t been seen.
Cat, Dog, and Pet Allergens
Cats, dogs and other pets will shed allergens. The allergens may be found in the animal’s saliva, skin oils and dander, urine or hair. Cat and dog allergen, in particular, can be passively transported for great distances. For example, a workplace that has never had a cat or dog present may experience high concentrations due to an employee bringing in pet allergen. Another example is previous tenants in an apartment leaving pet allergen behind causing new tenants to react. Indoor Science can collect dust or air samples to detect the presence of these allergens.
Mold is also a common indoor allergen. There are thousands of different types of mold, so it is difficult for an allergist to test you for an allergy to each type. Many allergists will test patients for one or two different species and conclude “you’re not allergic to mold” even though there are tens of thousands of molds that were not tested. We can evaluate a property for mold as part of an allergen assessment, or we can perform a detailed mold inspection.
Outdoor pollen comes from trees, grasses, and other plants. Although the source of pollen is almost always outdoors, there can be pathways for the pollen to reach indoors. Indoor Science can perform an assessment and offer advice on how to minimize the infiltration of outdoor pollens.
We start by asking a series of questions to understand the background and history of the situation. We follow that up by performing a visual inspection of the affected areas. We may recommend an environmental sample to quantify the presence of a specific allergen. There are two main types of samples we may collect: dust and air.
Dust samples are collected using a vacuum and special filter cassette, following protocols developed by HUD. An area approximately 1 square meter is marked off in the area most likely to have the target allergen. We prefer to collect the dust sample in areas that are not regularly cleaned in order to get a more historical perspective. If the previous owners had a pet to which you are allergic, we may only find the allergen in the dust of an area not regularly cleaned.
Air samples must run for a long period of time to pick up enough allergen to meet the limit of detection. We typically run an air sample for approximately 1 week using a high-volume sampler. Many allergens are found in settled dust and may only become airborne for short periods of time when they get kicked up.
We help you interpret the laboratory results of the allergen testing to determine if you have an elevated amount. If we do find an allergen in high concentrations, we can put together a plan for you to control that allergen.
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