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During Allergy Season, Keep Standards (and Tissues) Close at Hand

Every fall, ragweed pollen and mold spores are released en masse, triggering watery eyes, running noses, and other unpleasant symptoms in millions of allergy sufferers worldwide. While it's almost impossible to do much about exposure to allergens while out and about - other than stocking up on tissues and taking antihistamines to treat symptoms - standards can help you take steps to reduce allergen exposure in your home.

Washing sheets, pillowcases, and blankets at least once a week in water heated to at least 130° F is believed to reduce overall exposure to allergens, potentially reducing symptoms. A standard from the International Electrotechnical Commission, IEC 62512 Ed. 1.0 b:2012, Electric clothes washer-dryers for household use - Methods for measuring the performance, provides globally applicable guidelines for testing the effectiveness of the washing and drying function of combined washer-dryers, assuring the devices are up to the task.

Effective home humidity control is essential to managing seasonal allergies. Ideally, indoor humidity levels should be kept between 35 and 50%; lower humidity levels can dry out mucous membranes, triggering inflammation, while higher levels can encourage the growth of mold, a notorious allergy trigger. Insufficiently high home humidity levels can be effectively managed through the use of humidifiers and dehumidifiers. ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 164.2-2012, Method of Test for Residential Self-Contained Humidifiers, lays out an effective testing method of residential humidifiers that are not connected to a central heating and ventilation system. That standard was developed by ASHRAE, an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) member and audited designator.

Regular use of a residential air filter can also be an effective way to minimize allergen exposure inside the home. ISO/TS 21220:2009, Particulate air filters for general ventilation - Determination of filtration performance, sets down guidelines for testing the effectiveness of a given air filter. This technical specification from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) applies to air filters made for removing particulate matter including mold spores, dust mites, and pollen that has been carried inside through windows or on clothing or shoes. ISO/TS 21220:2009 was developed by ISO Technical Committee TC 142, Cleaning equipment for air and other gases. ASHRAE serves as the ANSI-accredited administrator of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to ISO TC 142.

These simple recommendations - made possible with the help of standards - are a safe, effective way to reduce allergen exposure in the home, providing sufferers with a much-needed respite from sniffling and other symptoms.


Jana Zabinski

Senior Director, Communications & Public Relations


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Beth Goodbaum

Journalist/Communications Specialist


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