The Allergy and Asthma Crisis.
It has been well accepted by the medical community and government organizations such as the U.S. EPA and the Centers for Disease Control that allergic illnesses in America are reaching epidemic proportions.
These allergic illnesses include allergic rhinitis (nasal allergies), asthma, allergic conjunctivitis and otitis
media (middle ear infection). The symptoms of these illnesses can drastically impact the lives of those who suffer with them. Consider these alarming statistics:
• Well over 50 million North Americans suffer
• Allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic
disease in the United States
• Allergies are the most frequently reported
chronic illness in children
• Up to 40% of North American children suffer
• 20 million Americans suffer from asthma,
including 6.3 million children
• There are two million Emergency Room visits,
500,000 hospitalizations (half of which are
children) and 5,000 deaths (including hundreds
of children) due to asthma each year
• Asthma is the most common chronic childhood
disease. Nearly 1 in 13 school-aged children has
asthma, and the rate is rising more rapidly in
preschool-aged children than in any other age group
• Approximately 4.2 million children had an
asthma attack in the last year
• Asthma is growing at a rampant pace, increasing
from 7 million sufferers in 1980 to 20 million
• Allergies are estimated to cost our economy
$18 billion annually with asthma costs estimated
at $14.5 billion in 2000
• Approximately 14 million school days and an
equivalent number of workdays are lost due to
allergies and asthma
• Asthma causes over 11 million doctor’s office
visits each year
• Asthma is the leading cause of school absenteeism
due to chronic illness and during the past 20 years,
the number of school absences due to asthma has
more than doubled
• Asthma accounts for over 100 million restricted
activity days each year
• Since 1980, asthma related hospitalizations and
deaths are up by 75%
• The number of people affected by allergies,
asthma and other allergic diseases is growing by
10% each year, which means that the total cases
will double approximately every ten years!
It is estimated that there are more than 100 million pets in the United States and more than 70% of American homes have a dog or a cat or both. We are attached to our pets for a variety of reasons including unconditional love, companionship, security and comfort to name a few.
However, according to the Humane Society of the United States, approximately 15% of the U.S. population is allergic to pets and other animals. People with pet allergies are allergic to a protein, which is found in pet dander (dead skin flakes), oils secreted by the sebaceous (skin) glands, saliva and urine.
There is a common misconception that people are allergic to pet hair or fur. It is not the hair itself that causes the allergic reaction. However, exposure to pet hair can and does expose people to allergens carried on the hair. This is because when an animal grooms itself, allergen-containing saliva is deposited on the hair.
And, hair and fur can collect dust, pollen, mold and other allergens.
Naturally, what you charge for your services is up to you. However, you might find it useful to have an idea of how cleaners around the country are pricing anti-allergen cleaning and treatment services as a guide to your own pricing structure.
Cleaning professionals have indicated that there is a loss in value perception when services surpass the
$75 to $150 per man/hour rate. This varies depending on what part of the country the customer is in and what type of services are being performed. And given that anti-allergen services are not just “cleaning” but
are in a very real way medically related this limit may extend upward. In any case, for most cleaning professionals, these are limits they can live with.
Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning
Anti-allergen carpet and upholstery cleaning uses the same equipment and procedures that you’re already using. However, in order to safely clean around allergic illness sufferers and people with chemical sensitivities (often your clients will have both!), the special ResponsibleCare cleaning products must be used.
Given that these products are more expensive than petrochemical based detergents it is wise to increase your cleaning prices by ten to fifteen percent. Remember that cleaning agents probably represent only five percent of the cost of cleaning.
You should also be aware that humidity is often an asthma trigger and that speed drying is an important part of anti-allergen services. In some cases, the allergic person will actually have to leave the house during cleaning. Therefore, factor air movers into your pricing if this is not already part of your normal cleaning procedures.
Control Sources of Mold: Mold is the fourth most prevalent indoor allergen after dust mites, pets and cockroaches. Therefore, controlling mold is an important EC practice. The following are important mold control tactics:
- Clean moldy air conditioners, swamp coolers, humidifiers and/or dehumidifiers
- Use air conditioning and dehumidifiers to reduce indoor humidity to < 50%, if possible
- Use exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens to remove moisture
- Clean moldy refrigerator drip pans
- Immediately clean all moldy surfaces
- Fix all water leaks and have all water damage professionally remediated
- Cover over dirt floors in crawl spaces to reduce moisture seepage
- Ventilate crawlspaces
- Vent clothes dryers to the outside
- Avoid walking through uncut fields, working with compost or dry soil, and raking leaves
- Keep windows and doors closed and avoid using window or attic fans that draw in outside air