12/15/2015

A Pet’s Effect on Indoor Air Quality

According to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, approximately 37 percent of U.S. households contain dogs and 30 percent of homes contain cats. Pets often bring owners companionship and happiness. However, pets may also bring unwanted allergens into the home and affect the air quality. There are ways to mitigate these issues, but awareness is key.

Pets and Allergens

While many people think that making sure their animals have short hair will help to mitigate allergy symptoms, this is often not the case. Millions of people that own pets are actually allergic to pet dander. Pet dander does not have any correlation to the length or type of fur that a pet has. Pet dander can cause an allergic reaction on its own, but pets can also bring in pollen, mold, and other allergens on their fur.

What is Pet Dander?

Pet dander is similar to dandruff in humans, as it is composed of the tiny specks of skin that flake off from animals. Since many animals lick themselves, there may be flecks of dried saliva included with pet dander that can cause additional irritation to people that are sensitive to allergens. Pet dander is lighter weight and smaller than most airborne allergens such as dust mites. This allows the dander to linger in the air longer, causing greater irritation. Dander may also linger on bedding, furniture, and other surfaces.

Pets, Air Quality, and Health

A higher percentage of Americans are allergic to cats than dogs. However, this number may be slightly skewed because many cats are kept strictly indoors, while most dogs are allowed outside for a portion of the day. As animal dander is continually released into the air, the concentration of harmful allergens in the air increases. Other pet-related irritants, such as odors and particles of feces and urine from litter boxes, may also contaminate the air.

Without proper ventilation, pet allergens may build up unchecked and have an impact on the pet owner’s health. Symptoms such as congestion, sneezing, and wheezing may manifest. Watering eyes, eczema, and rashes may also develop. Continually experiencing these symptoms can be uncomfortable and can have a detrimental effect on overall health.

Limiting Pet’s Effect on IAQ

To reduce the amount of pet dander that is released into the air, it is important to bathe and brush animals regularly. Keeping pets away from furniture, carpets, and bedding can help to keep these areas clear of dander and hair. Cleaning floors, carpets, and furniture regularly can help to eliminate any hair or dander that settles. Washing hands frequently after touching animals may also help to limit allergy effects.

To lower concentrations of pet allergens and other harmful VOCs in the air of the home, it is important to install a high-quality ventilation system. A professional ventilation company such as Zehnder America can provide advice regarding the best ventilation system to help with your specific circumstances and home setup. This may help to reduce allergy symptoms and improve the quality of the air in the home.