Why Do So Many People Have Allergies
Click here to browse Amazon for books about allergies and remedies to allergies.
When I was a child I remember very few people had allergies or asthma. Now it seems everyone around me has either an allergy or asthma. So I checked out the facts. I was shocked: according to Web MD.com 55% of Americans test positive for one or more allergies. 4 million work days are lost in the USA because of hay fever. Between 1980 and 1994 the number of children under 5 with asthma went up 160%. Allergies now rank as 5th in the United States among the most dangerous chronic diseases.
This is frightening stuff. The symptoms of allergies vary – especially food allergies – but the most common symptoms are:
- Runny nose
- Dry eyes
- Eye irritation
It is stupid to blame nature for our allergies. It cannot simply be pollen causing people to have streaming eyes and noses every spring and summer. If anything since deforestation and the obsessive desire to concrete over everything that characterizes the developed world there should be less allergic reactions not more. Furthermore, in developing countries where often there is more ‘nature’ the incident rate of allergic reaction is much lower. So what is going on?
Under a microscope
So What are Allergies?
To start at the beginning what is an allergy?
Well to put it simply it is when a foreign body comes into contact with your body’s immune system. In people without allergies the body does not respond. However, in people with an allergic predisposition the immune system tries to fight the foreign body and produces antibodies. These antibodies cause a release of the chemical called histamine that causes swelling and irritation of the upper respiratory passages.
Other than some particular foods such as nuts, the most common causes of allergic reaction are pollen, mold, dust mites and danders (from animal hair). Allergies are also inherited. If one parent has an allergy the child has a 33% of developing an allergy. If both parents have an allergy, than that chance goes up to a staggering 70%. It might well be that over the generations that heredity has created a population in America with over 50% having an allergy.
What Makes Allergies and Asthma Worse
I think this is the key question. You can have an allergy or asthma but not suffer very much. There are certain triggers that start allergic reactions these include cigarette smoke, diesel fumes and various chemicals found in pollution and indoor products. Here is a list of products to watch out for:
1) Adhesives containing formaldehyde
2) Cleaning detergents containing phosphates
3) Pesticide residues
Cork Flooring is Mold and Fungus Resistant
How To Make Your House Allergen Free
It cannot be an accident that in the developed world where the majority of people spend 90% of their time indoors that it is indoor air that is the biggest issue. If you have allergies you shouldn’t have pets. Danders from pet hairs aggravate allergic reactions. And you should avoid smoking or passive smoking. Also if you have allergies then rip up your carpets. The excretion from microscopic dust mites causes many people to get hay fever and develop runny noses, sore eyes and other respiratory symptoms. Dust mites love hot and humid conditions and thrive on human skin. Their excrement gathers in carpets and causes asthma and allergy attacks. Much better than carpet, is to install cork flooring, reclaimed hardwood flooring or strand woven bamboo flooring that is allergen free. Strand woven bamboo flooring is also anti-microbial as is cork flooring. But only cork flooring is also mold resistant.
Other precautions you can take are to regularly beat with a broom any rugs and wash furniture covers. Also regularly change your bedding.
Because organic volatile compounds (VOCs) such as formaldehyde trigger allergy and asthma attacks, it is important to try and clear your house of VOC containing products such as normal paint, paint thinners, nail polish and some detergents. The dry cleaning process also brings VOCs into your house. Fabric conditioners are also often high in VOCs. With all household products read the labels carefully and look for the environmentally friendly alternative. LEED recommendations for improving air quality are good guides to reducing allergens and VOCs in a household.
By improving the indoor air quality of your home or your office you will reduce the likelihood of allergic reaction or asthma attack. Avoid mold, pets, cigarette smoke and dust mites. If you are really concerned you should consult a qualified green interior decorator who will have an extensive knowledge of VOCs and allergens and will be able to recommend furniture, flooring and soft furnishing that is anti-allergenic or allergen free.
Allergy Resources online
- House dust mite allergy
House mite allergy is a hypersensitive reaction to proteins in the excretion of dust mites. The protein attacks the respiratory passages causing hay fever and asthma. It will aggravate atopic dermatitis in people who have a tendency to this problem.
- Allergy (Allergies) Symptoms, Causes and Signs on MedicineNet.com
Get the facts about allergic reactions, causes, allergy types (food, dust, mold, seasonal), symptoms and signs (skin rash, itching, red bumps, sneezing).
I still feel science has yet to provide all the answers to why so many people in the developed world have allergies. In Japan there is a very high percentage of allergy sufferers in cities and areas near busy roads. Although diesel and other petrochemical products are only recognized as allergy triggers (only making allergies worse Not causing allergies), it seems to me that either people are getting allergies from over-exposure to petrochemical pollution (VOCs, nitrogen oxide, lead etc.) or pollution is somehow combining with pollen to make a more virulent and widespread allergic response in the population. Time will tell. But what is certain is that greening up your house makes sense for the health of you and your family, not just sense for the environment.
Comments 1 comment
More Hubs & Sites on Green Issues and Health Issues
- VOCs in the Home
Did you imagine that your perfume or dry cleaned clothes were making you sick?
- Sustainable Flooring and Green Interior Design
Sustainable flooring is very relevant to green interior design and in particular cork flooring is of great relevance to green interior design.
- How to Reduce Your Home Electricity Bills
The average family in the USA spends $2,200 a year on energy bills. A lot of these dollars are wasted. This article is about what you can do to reduce the waste in electricity use in your home.
- The Bamboo Shop
Best prices for bamboo home and garden products. Bamboo is a renewable resource that is great for mats, blinds, furniture, office equipment, kitchen ware and many other environmentally friendly products.
- Water Supply Crisis
1.3 billion people have no access to clean water and 2.5 billion lack adequate sewage or sanitation. The demand for water doubles every 20 years. At this rate, demand for fresh water will outpace supply by 50% in less than 20 years.
- Planned Obsolescence
Until recently companies did not see that it was in their interest to build products that last forever. If they did sell a product that never wore out or broke they would quickly run out of customers.
- Bamboo is one of the Answers
At present there are about 40 million hectares of bamboo forest in the world, mostly in Asia. In China alone there is about 4 million hectares of moso bamboo.
- The Truth About Coconut Oil and Saturated Fats
In the 1980s there was a media blitz telling everyone that they should switch to using polyunsaturated fats and oils in their diets instead of saturated fats. At the same time the American agri-business invested heavily in soy crops.
- Review of Reclaimed Ash Flooring
The ash tree or fraxinus is in the same genus or family as olive and lilac trees. Ash timber is popular because it has a distinctive light color, a long grain and it has an elastic quality.
- Coconut Flooring
Coconut palms take only 5 to 6 years to reach maturity. Coconut flooring is a strong and durable alternative to hardwood flooring. Coconut flooring has all the benefits of hardwood flooring but it is environmentally friendly.
- About Cork Bark and Cork Flooring
Cork has been used since ancient times. It is an incredibly versatile material that man has been using for millennia. As far back as 2500 BC the ancient Egyptians were using cork for fishing floats.
- The Benefits of Installing a Honeywell RTH7500D Conventional 7-Day Programmable Thermostat
The Honeywell RTH7500D costs less than $60 and can save you more than $700 a year on heating and cooling costs. This good news for you and the environment.
- Reduce Dust Mites by Installing Reclaimed Hardwood Flooring
55% of people in the USA test positive for one or more allergy. One of the biggest allergies is hay fever. This condition is aggravated by dust mites. A good way to reduce dust mites in your home is to install reclaimed hardwood flooring.
- Buy Cork Flooring
Click here to browse the full range of cork flooring tiles on Amazon. Cork is perhaps the most environmentally friendly flooring type available for purchase. Cork like bamboo, rattan, jute, hemp and water...
- Green Cleaning: alternatives to normal detergents
It is hard to be as happy as the woman above when you have a mountain of laundry to do. Even with a washing machine it often seems a chore. The modern housewife relies on technology to help make her life...
- Eimann Fabrik VOC Free Engine Degreaser
'Low VOC', 'zero VOC' and 'VOC free' are new buzz phrases in the green blogosphere that have yet to be come fully mainstream. Most commonly the appellations are given to paints, adhesives, varnishes and paint...
- Conflicting Green Issues
Green is the new black. Everything should be green and environmentally friendly. Sustainability, recycling, off-setting, renewable energy, environmental certification, local sourcing and carbon footprint are...
- Before You Buy a Hardwood Floor Consider This
Before you buy a hardwood floor you should consider the future health of the planet. Every second an acre and a half of rain forest is cut down. In 40 years there will be no rain forests left.
- What is Green Interior Design
A detailed description of how green interior design is radically different to interior design.
- Why You Should Buy Reclaimed Hardwood Flooring
One and a half acres of rain forest are lost every second. That is, to put it mildly, an unsustainable rate of consumption of the planet's most necessary species of flora.
More by this Author
An article explaining the guiding principles of Green Interior Design and how it a discipline that is focused on ethics more than aesthetics.
An article about the health and beauty benefits of bamboo charcoal soap with activated carbon.
A revealing insight into the difference between the two Thai islands of Koh Samui and Koh Phangan.