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Pollen in your air

For allergy sufferers, the arrival of spring is a bittersweet time. While budding trees, blossoming flowers and fresh grass might be a feast for the eyes; frequent sneezing, itchy eyes and a sore throat can make for a miserable season. If you’re a seasonal allergy suffer, there are ways to make your home a safe haven from pollen so you can breathe easy.

WHAT IS POLLEN?

Pollen is made of very tiny grains and it usually looks like a fine yellow dust. And that’s how it got its name; in Latin, pollen means “fine powder.” The fertilizing element of a flowering or conifer plant, pollen carries the cells that enable a plant to reproduce. Called pollination, it’s responsible for the growth of apples, oranges and other fruits — without pollination, trees couldn’t grow fruit.

HOW DOES POLLEN GET INTO THE AIR?

Produced in very large quantities, grains of pollen are so very small and light that they are picked up and spread by bees, birds and other animals. The granules are also blown around by the wind and carried through the air — for miles.

WHAT’S THE PROBLEM? THE EFFECTS OF POLLEN EXPOSURE

Our immune system sees pollen as an invader and responds by producing antibodies to fight off the invasion. The result? Symptoms like itchy watering eyes, stuffy or runny nose, scratchy throat, hives, fatigue, and irritability. The intensity of the symptoms can vary from person to person, causing nothing more than a sniffle for one and in another, a response so severe that they can’t work or go outdoors. One person’s immune system can even respond differently from season to season. While spring is commonly the most intense time of year for pollen allergies, symptoms can be experienced year-round depending on climate and a region’s plant life. For example, trees, grasses, and weeds release their pollen at different times of the year:

Spring: Elm, pine, birch, ash, poplar and Cyprus trees

Summer: Timothy, rye, blue, and Bermuda grass

Fall: Ragweed, nettle, mugwort, fat hen, sorrel

BEST AIR FILTERS FOR POLLEN

While there is no preventing the production of pollen, you can limit its entry into your home. By installing air filters with a rating of MERV 6, MERV 8, MPR 300 or FPR 5 will trap pollen and other impurities so you can breathe fresh, clean air—reducing how often you sneeze.

WHEN TO REPLACE THE FILTER

It’s important to routinely replace your filter for clean air and optimal efficiency. Evert air filter comes with a recommended replacement frequency, commonly every 3 to 6 months. By following the manufacturer's recommendations, you can reduce the chance of your filter becoming clogged with particles. A clogged filter greatly reduces its efficiency, restricts airflow, and increases pressure on the fan side, which strains your air conditioner or furnace. It’s important to avoid reducing the airflow rate because it can negatively impact the air quality in your home.

POLLEN FAQ

How do I keep pollen out of my home?

Well, unless you live in bubble, there’s no way to make your home 100% free of pollen, but there are ways of reducing it from your air. A highly effective air filter will trap airborne allergens like pollen as they enter your air conditioner or furnace, resulting in clean air. Look for a filter with a rating of MERV 6, MERV 8, MPR 300 or FPR 5.

I live in an apartment and don’t have control over the air filters used — what can I do to reduce pollen in my home’s air?

Freestanding air purifiers like the Honeywell QuietClean Tower Air Purifier are a great way to capture airborne particles in apartments, dorms and even offices. They can trap dust, pollen, pet dander and smoke while quietly emitting clean, purified air. Look for Energy Star-rated products so you know they’re energy efficient.

If a MERV 6 is good, is a 12 twice as good? Is a higher rating better?

Not necessarily. While a higher rating often means better, it’s not the case with air filters. MERV ratings above 13 are used in hospitals, particularly in surgical suites, because their rigorous design can be supported by industrial-grade ventilation system.

What is a pleated filter?

A pleated air filter, unlike its flat fiberglass counterpart, doubles up its fabric, providing more surface area to capture airborne pollutants like pollen. As a result, a pleated filter will help reduce more pollutants from making it into your home’s air.

Do I really need to change my filter every 3 months?

If that’s the manufacturer’s suggestion, it’s wise to follow it. Depending on the air quality where you live, it might be wise to replace it even more often. It’s important to routinely replace filters because they lose their effectiveness over time. As the impurities are trapped, they build up and eventually clog the filter, slowing efficiency and decreasing the ability to purify.

GET ADVICE

For answers to filter-related questions, recommendations on the air filters, or general air quality questions, contact us.