RIYADH — With sandstorms, pollen and airborne allergens such as tobacco and cooking smoke, unclean air is a reality in the Saudi Arabia. As we head into Ramadan and the hot season, Blueair’s General Manager for Middle East & Africa, TR Ganesh offers some tips on how to combat seasonal respiratory complaints.
Sick days at school and work have been common in recent weeks as inclement weather batters Saudi Arabia and residents deal with a sudden onset of allergies and asthma attacks. With sandstorms affecting large parts of the country and forecasters expecting the bad weather to continue, the situation could remain difficult for those susceptible to atmospheric triggers. Retreating indoors won’t help much – indoor air can be two to five times more polluted than outside air according to the US Environmental Protection Agency, thanks to in-home risk factors.
Unfortunately, allergy season also coincides with the holy month of Ramadan, when we discipline our bodies with a month of fasting. Repeated studies have also shown that breathing in unclean air could be making us more tired than normal – not something anyone wants at this special time! Besides irritating the airways and lungs, unclean air makes you lethargic, forgetful and lowers productivity. For these reasons, allergic rhinitis could present more severely than usual, preventing people from living a normal life, whether by attending work and school, enjoying time with family, or sleeping well at night.
The good news is that the symptoms of hay fever, also called allergic rhinitis, can be alleviated with a few simple steps during the holy month of Ramadan and all through summer. Blueair explains where to start.
1. Vacuum frequently
Vacuuming is one of the most effective ways to remove allergens such as pollen, sand particles, dust, pet dander and the micro-organisms they harbour. Use a vacuum cleaner with a bag to trap dust and prevent it from being rereleased into the air, and one with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, as these remove at least 99.97% of the ultra-small particles that cause health problems.
2. Clean the air vents
Clean the air vents in your home regularly by vacuuming and wiping them down with a damp cloth and non-toxic cleaner. Consider professional air duct cleaning for thorough cleaning with organic cleaning agents if you suspect that there is mold, insect or rodent infestation, or clogging.
3. Purify the air you breathe
Indoor air is a cocktail of undesirable pollutants. Besides sandstorm-borne allergens, it contains cigarette smoke, emissions from paint and upholstery, air fresheners and particulate matter from cooking. Air purifiers remain the most efficient way to eliminate these pollutants. Blueair units use HEPASilent technology, which removes 99.97% of all harmful particles in a room, so you can sleep well, wake up happy and remain focused all day. Also, look for endorsements from health organisations. Blueair’s Classic models, for example, are recommended by Asthma Allergy Nordic, the association of allergy and asthma organisations, for those with hypersensitivity to allergens such as dust and pollen.
4. Use dust mite covers
Use protective dust mite covers on pillows, mattresses, and box springs to prevent dust mite from getting to their food source, to prevent their waste and body parts already in the mattress from becoming airborne, and to keep the mattress and pillows free from our sweat and the natural oils on our skin.
5. Control temperature and humidity
Keep indoor temperatures under 21°C and relative humidity in your home below 50% to make it difficult for dust mites to thrive. The most common of indoor air allergens fare badly in these conditions.
6. Check allergy maps and adapt your routines
Monitor your allergy triggers via websites such as the government-recommended Plume Air Report, and Meteoblue.com, which track the air quality and pollen counts. Air pollution leads to more atmospheric particulate matter, and consequently a greater chance of allergies, so if you live in a big city you may want to avoid being outside in rush hour.
7. Use a car air purifier
Commuters in the Kingdom may not realise the air in their cars can be up to 15 times more polluted than on the road outside. Poor indoor air quality is caused by vehicle exhaust – the car’s own and others’ – as well as tire and road wear products that enter through ventilation systems. During sandstorms, silica crystals may carry viruses, bacteria and dust mites. An in-car air purifier with HEPASilent technology, such as Blueair Cabin Air, will filter 99.97% of these impurities. – SG
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