An allergy is a hypersensitivity to what are normally innocuous entities such as certain foodstuffs, cleaning products, dust, plant pollen and so on. Whilst debate over the scale, change in scale and root causes of people suffering from allergies is beyond the scope of this article, consideration of how to minimise the impact of allergens on the inhabitants a healthy house is. So, what steps can we take in the design and construction of our buildings to minimise the risk from allergens?
For a start, we can consider the minimisation of those factors that we have already considered under Air Quality.
Minimise dust. Use timber and tiled flooring, use closed storage rather than open storage.
Be aware of the seasons. Keep the house well ventilated and be aware of the pollen seasons and minimise the exposure of those who suffer with hay fever during them. Pollen levels are at their worst in the early morning and evening during pollen season so try to keep windows closed at these times.
Ventilation. To ensure minimal mould growth, keep the house well ventilated and manage humidity levels. Where mould grows, try to use vinegar or lemon juice based cleaning agents rather than chemical ones. In modern well insulated homes, the ability to ventilate properly is a major design consideration.
Pets. Minimise the potential impact of pets by grooming them regularly outdoors, keeping them and their bedding clean and minimising their contact with soft furnishings and carpets to which hairs and associated allergens may cling.
Through apropriate selection of the materials used in the construction and maintenance of our buildings and informed housekeeping practices we are able to minimise and to some degree manage the allergens within our home environment.