They’re finally off to college, and you’ve got them settled into the dorm—- perhaps their very first home-away-from-home. The cleanliness of the dormitory is probably not up to your standards, but did you know that dorm rooms are also notorious sources of mold, allergens and airborne chemicals? What many students and their families don’t realize is that the result can be much more serious than a case of the sniffles.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that poor indoor air quality can affect concentration, attendance, and student performance. Airborne menaces can also seriously compromise a student’s health -- especially if the student already suffers from allergies or asthma.
Old buildings, poor air circulation, dirty carpets, used mattresses and uncontrolled humidity all contribute to the terrible air quality found in most dorms, not to mention the general apathy on the part of many students towards keeping their rooms clean and allergen-free.
The Top 10 Solutions to Clean Dorm Air
Students and their parents need to take a proactive approach to clearing the air. Here are a few strategies to consider when moving into a dorm:
10. Request a Smoke-free RoomThis is a must for those who suffer from allergies or other respiratory conditions. A letter from a physician to the school may also help your chances of landing a “clean” room.
9. Cover the Mattress
A mattress protector that completely encases the mattress will offer protection from the 100,000 to 10 million dust mites living inside it…not to mention their fecal droppings.
8. Vacuum the Carpet Often
A tough sell for many students, but necessary to keep allergens at bay. There are several compact models now available with HEPA filters for maximum protection.
7. Avoid Air Fresheners and Chemical Cleaning Products
When chemical products and artificial scents are used in small, poorly ventilated spaces there is a high probability that people in those spaces will inhale those chemicals. Chemical exposure, even at low levels, can trigger allergies and asthma attacks and may lead to long-term health problems.
6. Green Plants
A cheap and simple solution is to fill your dorm room with green plants that help to absorb your home-away-from-home’s off gassing.
5. Fresh Air
Open the windows as much as possible, if even just for a few minutes in winter.
4. Use a Dehumidifier
Moist conditions favor mold growth. Try using a dehumidifier, especially in warmer climates.
3. No Shoes Inside!
Don't wear shoes in your dorm room. They can drag in a lot of nasty airborne particles from the street.
2. Don’t Overheat
High temperatures can actually increase concentrations of particles and bioaerosols. If you can control the temperature in the dorm, don’t overheat—put on a sweater!
1. Choose the RIGHT Air Purifier
When you consider the amount of allergens, airborne toxins and odors likely to be lingering in the air, an air purifier is an absolute must for any dorm room. The key is choosing the right air purifier. Make sure to select a unit that has both a medical-grade HEPA filter for particles, and a separate activated carbon filter for chemicals, mold mycotoxins and odors. A HEPA alone can’t remove chemicals and odors-–it’s designed only for particles.
The Indoor Air Quality Experts at AllerAir say following some of these guidelines, plus incorporating a HEPA & granular carbon air purifier will make an incredible improvement to the indoor air quality in your child’s dorm room.