Is your home causing your asthma? Recent studies say yes. They also say that exposure to indoor allergens such as rodents, molds, fungi, dust mites, dogs, cats and cockroaches are among the most important and dangerous environmental triggers for asthma.
The National Survey of Lead and Allergens in Housing, conducted from 1998 to 2002, conducted by the NIEHS (National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences) in conjunction with researchers from HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development), showed that 100% of US homes had detectable levels of cat and dog allergens. Even though cat ownership was reported in only 24% of the surveyed homes and dog ownership was reported in only 32% of the surveyed homes.
Nearly 100% of the homes surveyed had levels of cat and dog allergen which exceeded the threshold for allergic sensitization and over 30% had allergen levels high enough to produce asthma symptoms and asthma episodes.
In other words, even if you don’t own a dog or cat, chances are you’ve got cat and dog allergens all over your home at fairly significant levels.
The survey also showed that 46% of the houses surveyed had levels of dust mite allergens high enough to produce allergic reactions. Over 20% of all the surveyed homes had combined allergen levels high enough to trigger asthma symptoms and asthma episodes in genetically susceptible individuals.
As if that weren’t enough, survey results also show that over 65% of American homes have detectable levels of cockroach allergens, whether you see them or not.
The highest cockroach allergen concentrations are found in high-rise apartment buildings, urban settings, older homes, and low income households. Roughly 10% of the surveyed homes had cockroach allergen levels above the threshold for triggering asthma symptoms.
What can you do? NIEHS scientists, in collaboration with researchers from other asthma research centers have developed intervention strategies designed to reduce exposure to asthma triggers found in the home.
Read Asthma Proof Your Home.