Sharing our home with companion parrots means sharing the air as well. We know what not to bring into their air quality for their health, but they can not control what they bring into ours. This can be a problem for some and a health issue for others. What steps can we take to clear the air? What points of issue can we remove or change to facilitate better air quality for all?
First things first. There are dusty parrots, and there are oily parrots. And when they are molting, there are snowing parrots. The more parrots you have the bigger the impact and the more seasonally extreme it can be in your home. Like Spring and pollen counts, so goes parrots and particle levels. Cockatoos, and their smaller counterparts, cockatiels, give off amazing amounts of dust. Greys, too, are notorious for their dusty ways. These parrots in particular hold the top spots in the Most Wanted for Dust. All other parrots follow in creating air quality issues, to no fault of their own.
The other impact our parrots have on air quality is their poop. Dried poop will disintegrate into dusty matter as well. Another particle for the parrot particle count.
Controlling these two particle points starts with bathed birds and clean cages. We'll assume these actions are already always taken and your parrots are spic and span and their cages respectably clean. And let's get on this clear on clean cages, keeping a parrot cage clean as a whistle is pretty much impossible. Unless you don't have a parrot. I work from home, and my cages are not 100% clean. Ever. 80% clean, yes. But never perfectly. Triaging cage cleaning relies on daily changes of newspaper on the bottom. Newspapers are your best bet for air quality control and cost effectiveness. Easy, cheap, absorbent and safe.
Let's look at our home decor. Carpets, cloth curtains and window treatments, throw blankets, pillows, area rugs and cloth furniture are the sponges holding all air quality combatants. Seriously, these all catch and hold all manner of air quality allergens, not just parrot particles. The less cloth and carpet you have the better off you will be in the fight to win air quality. Carpets are the number one source of in home air quality problems by their very nature. We faced an Allergist's order to "get rid of your pets". We got rid of a home with carpet. All hardwood and tile, leather-like furniture, no curtains, no pillows and one throw blanket. The difference was beyond amazing.
Consider the Horizontal surfaces in tables, decorating items, ceiling fans and horizontal blinds. They are the be all catch all surfaces that trap and collect particles for distribution back into the air with flying birds and use. If you've seen my "Horde Movies" you know we have ceiling fans with huge fins. These are 2 foot by 2.25 foot fins, five on each fan. I am always cleaning these. I have to without fail. They catch so much parrot particle that turning them on is like turning on a mixer with the lid off. We plan on taking these down.
Removing tables meant for simple decor and decorating value will also help in fight for air quality. You'll soon find that the more minimalist you are in your home and bird room, the easier a time your HEPA filters, air filters and air conditioning return vent/filtration has in fighting the war on your behalf. You want easy open air movement so your filters can move air with efficiency. Your goal is getting as much air volume through your fans and filters per minute as possible. Just like an aquarium filter, it is only as good as the amount of filtered volume that can be passed through unhindered. Placing HEPA filters in a room full of carpet, furniture and dust collecting surfaces is unreasonable expectation for good results. This just won't be very successful. Remember, when an air filter company claims volume of air moved and filtered per minute, that volume was measured in an simple empty room devoid of surfaces that trap or collect allergens and particles. It's the best case number and scenario.
What of your air conditioner and it's duct work? Have all your duct work cleaned once a year. Without fail. Have your air conditioner serviced and cleaned once a year. Tell them no anti bacterial sprays or chemical based cleaners. You want a simple, organic cleaning. No more no less with NO chemical leave behinds. Your duct work is the conduit to all the air quality in your home. You don't want clogged air arteries. Change your return air conditioner filter twice a month. Don't use the extreme HEPA high rated filter that catches microbe aliens from mars either. It affects the efficiency of the air movement and is alot harder on your air conditioner system. Use the next level down. Change it more often. When we use the filters that claim long life or microbial based filtration remember you are catching things in there, and they are collecting in there and they will break down in their and they will at some percentage make it back out and into your air ducts. It's worth every dime to change filters every 14 days. You'll notice a difference.
The question may rise; do I create a separate area with separate air circulation? You can of course. That is as close as "getting rid" of your parrots without doing so as you could come. And I've had a flock do it. You know the end result? After awhile, they ended up spending all their time in the separate bird room anyway.They literally abandoned the "clean side" of the house to continue being with their birds. Now I've seen success is separating out the worst air quality offenders into their own air serviced room. Moving the dustiest offenders to their own area goes very far in helping. But again, this isn't a cheap or simple emotional move either. Finding that balance for you, your health and your flock can be very tricky. Be true to yourself, and honestly assess how these spaces will end up being serviced and used. You may find investing in new flooring, cleaning the air handling system of your home and redecorating will get you further down the air quality road.
Stand alone air filters, HEPA filters and all air filtering systems work better for you if they are given a fighting chance. There isn't a system available outside of industrial products that can compensate for carpets, dirty air ducts and fully furnished and heavily decorated homes. Your goal is air movement, clean efficient air moving devices, clean and changed filters with minimal surface and materials collecting particles and storing/hiding them.
I'm not a doctor and I am not attempting to override any doctor's orders here. As with our Avian Vets we have to listen to our own Doctor's as well. But if you feel this is a life quality decision, and you personally can not or will not follow the extreme doctor order of "getting rid" of your parrots, then these are powerful moves to make.