Asthma proof your home today. Experts agree tha the allergens found in your home are among the most dangerous triggers for your asthma. Dogs, cats, dust mites and cockroaches are some of the worst offenders.
Surprisingly enough, it doesn’t even matter if you own any pets, or have ever seen cockroaches or dust mites scurrying about. (Be sure to read “Asthma Triggers – Is Your Home Causing Your Asthma?” for more trigger information).
A surprising finding from a study conducted from 1998 to 2002 by the National Institute Of Environmental Health Sciences, shows that 100% of US homes have detectable levels of dog and cat allergens. In fact, most homes had levels of dog and cat allergens, exceeding the threshold for allergic sensitization.
The problem is only 24% of the surveyed homes reported cat ownership, while only 32% reported dog ownership.
So whether you live with a pet or not, according to the NIEHS, you are certainly living with pet dander.
Thankfully, as it turns out, one of the most cost effective and beneficial asthma management techniques is free and doesn’t require any special training. Keep your home clean.
Researchers from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, in collaboration with scientists from Harvard University and the University of Washington found that the simple act of washing your bedding in hot water, putting allergen impermeable covers on your pillows, box springs and mattresses, in addition to vacuuming and steam cleaning your carpets and upholstered furniture will significantly reduce dust mite and pet dander allergen levels.
Unfortunately, you have no control over the best predictors of dust mite allergen levels. The age of your home and your home’s indoor humidity level have the most significant impact on the amount of dust mites found in your home. Your only recourse if you live in an older home in a humid area, is to move, if you can afford it.
Over 60% of American homes have detectable levels of cockroach allergens. Recent studies have provided evidence which suggests exposure to cockroach allergens are the single most important risk factor for asthma in inner-city households.
Whether you’ve seen them scurrying about your kitchen or not, if you live in a high-rise apartment building, an urban setting, or in an older home, chances are you’re living with them and have been for quite a while.
The good news, according to a National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences study conducted in 2005, is that all it takes to reduce cockroach allergen levels in your home by 84% to 96% is a thorough cleaning and professional pest control.
Unfortunately, much of the asthma research conducted by government agencies, universities and privately funded entities, has focused on indoor allergens. As more and more data has proven, outdoor pollutants seem to play an even larger role in triggering asthma symptoms and asthma episodes.
Read about a recent study on asthma and air pollution conducted in Southern California.