Allergens Are Everywhere

Nearly every household in the US contained at least one allergen

(RxWiki News) Most Americans are exposed to multiple allergens, according to the largest indoor allergen study ever conducted in the United States.

And for many people, allergen exposure can be problematic.

“Elevated allergen levels can exacerbate symptoms in people who suffer from asthma and allergies, so it is crucial to understand the factors that contribute,” said senior study author Dr. Darryl Zeldin, of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, in a press release.

This study's findings were based on data from the 2005-06 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, in which the researchers looked at nearly 7,000 bedrooms in US homes. These researchers studied eight common allergens, including cat, dog, cockroach, mouse, rat, mold and two types of dust mite allergens.

Over 99 percent of American homes had at least one detectable allergen. Nearly 73 percent of homes had one allergen in excessive amounts.

Among the factors influencing allergen exposure were sex, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, geographic location and climatic conditions. For example, elevated dust mite allergen levels were more likely to be found in the South and Northeast (areas with a humid climate).

The research team emphasized that, although allergen exposure varied greatly among regions and ethnic groups, high exposure to multiple allergens was more likely to be found in older homes, mobile homes and trailers, homes with pets and pests and homes in rural places.

The following preventive actions may lower your exposure to indoor allergens:

  • On a weekly basis, vacuum carpets and upholstered furniture and wash sheets and blankets in hot water.
  • Encase mattresses, pillows and box springs in allergen-impermeable covers.
  • Aim to bring indoor humidity levels below 50 percent.
  • Remove pets from homes. If this is not an option, limit pets' access to bedrooms.
  • Seal entry points and eliminate nesting places for pests. In addition, remove their food and water sources.

Ask your health care provider how to reduce your allergen exposure.

This study was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. The study authors received several grants from the National Institutes of Health.