Hidden Allergens: Autumn Leaves
Posted by Shifrah on Monday, October 25, 2010
leaf piles like this one can grow mold.Here in Atlanta we are enjoying the first cool rain day of the season. (Well, I'm enjoying it; I get to wear my rainboots and the scarf my sister brought back from Chile. And my soup-making is actually justified, as opposed to "understandable" during the 70-degree weather that only seemed crisp compared to our sweltering, humid summer.)

While rain is usually initially good news for allergy sufferers – it washes allergens like ragweed pollen out of the air, for instance – it can spell trouble in a few days, especially during this time of year.

The leaves are starting to turn and starting to fall, and already little piles of autumn can be raked up on front lawns. But leaves that get left under bushes or in unattended ditches and the like become hotbeds for one of fall's most problematic allergens: mold.

Even if you are not actually allergic to mold, you can still experience reactions to the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and mycotoxins (toxic chemical byproducts of mold) that many molds produce. These reactions include respiratory symptoms, headaches, fatigue, and nasal and sinus irritation that can lead to infections, among others.

So don't wait until your yard is covered with leaves before you start fall yardwork. As WebMD states, "Help prevent mold allergies by avoiding activities that trigger symptoms, such as raking leaves." Also keep in mind that when conditions become drier, mold spores become airborne; so don't wait until the leaves are dry either.

As always, arming yourself with knowledge and avoiding allergy triggers by taking control of your environment goes a long way in coping with allergies. For more information, see Five Things Every Allergy Sufferer Needs to Know about Mold and the Mold and Mildew Solution Guide.

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