Clean Air in the Car

Your car's air conditioning could be making your allergy symptoms worse

In many parts of Canada and the United States, the allergy season is particularly challenging. If you have seasonal or pollen allergies, you've likely heard all the advice on how to manage your symptoms. There are a number of tips recommended by experts to help reduce your symptoms that go above and beyond taking over-the-counter antihistamines. These include:

1) Washing your bedding in hot water once a week

2) Using air conditioning in your home so that you can keep the windows shut

3) Changing the filters in your air conditioning system regularly.

The idea is to leave outdoor pollen outdoors.

We rarely think the same way about our cars, but if you have severe seasonal allergies, you should. Your car can become a pollen trap, which you then sit inside on a fairly regular basis. If you are a commuter and use your vehicle for an hour or more a day, this can become a major source of your pollen exposure!

While in your car, you are sitting in a tightly enclosed space, and pollen is likely being sprayed right into your face. How, you ask? Well, unless you regularly change the air filter for your passenger-compartment air vents, your auto's air conditioning is delivering your daily pollen dose.

I'd never even thought about this source of pollen until my most recent oil change at the full-service oil-change specialist in town. The package deal included a survey of the entire car and a top-up of all fluids. I usually take the package deal. The manager of the shop pointed out to me that my passenger-compartment air conditioning filter was filthy. I squinted at the part being held in front of me and said, "Passenger-compartment filter?" His response was a knowing smile.

Apparently, most of us don't think about this part of our vehicle, and we suffer as a net result. My husband, in fact, had been complaining about how bad he felt each time he put on the air conditioning in our car. Now, I had the culprit behind the complaint.

So, if you are an allergy or asthma sufferer, be sure to change the filter for your passenger compartment regularly. At a minimum, have the filter checked to see if it looks dirty. Regardless of looks, however, you might want to consider changing the filter every year - before allergy season starts.

June 12, 2007

Monique L. Attinger, Special report to

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