Raging ragweed! Hot, humid weather having returned, we woke this morning with itchy eyes and sneezing, along with possibly another 36 million or so allergic Americans. Ragweed tends to peak around Labor Day weekend, and, thanks in part to global warming, some varieties are producing 61-90 percent more pollen, and blooming longer, than ever before. 

Here's some simple advice from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI).

Check your region's daily pollen counts at the National Allergy Bureau database.

Keep windows closed to keep pollen outdoors, especially during the high pollen times of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Use fans and air conditioners lightly, as needed, for ventilation.

Change clothes after spending time outdoors, and hang dry laundry inside. 

Shower and wash hair before going to bed to wash off any pollen that may cling to you.

Still sneezing, coughing, weeping? A room air purifier that traps pollens, dust, danders and other allergens (but not toxic VOCs) can provide some relief. These machines have, on desperate occasions, helped us. Do, however, avoid adding indoor smog to your air with electrostatic, "ozonator" models, which are frowned on by Consumer Reports

Instead, try a simple fan model equipped with an HEPA filter that traps small particles. CR's top quick picks for best room air purifiers:  Whirlpool Whispure and Kenmore Progressive.

For more info on getting better indoor air quality, see the EPA and American Lung Association sites.

This article originally appeared in Plenty in September 2008. The story was added to MNN.com.

Copyright Environ Press 2008

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