Study: 99 Percent of U.S. Homes Have at Least One Major Allergen

CLEVELAND – For those who might be thinking about procrastinating their spring cleaning, a recent study might change some minds.

The report, which was the nation’s largest indoor allergen study to date, looked at dust samples from bedroom floors of nearly 7,000 U.S. homes.

Sandra Hong, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic did not take part in the study, but said the research revealed that almost all of the homes studied contained at least one problematic allergen.

“They found that 99 percent of individuals had found at least one of eight common allergens in their home,” she said. “Up to 70 percent had actually had three or more in their homes.” 

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Researchers studied eight common allergens – cat, dog, cockroach, mouse, rat, mold and two types of dust mites.

They found that homes with animals and pests were most likely to have more than one allergen present, as were older homes, rental homes, mobile homes and homes in rural areas.

Dr. Hong said the findings are important to people who have asthma and allergies, as exposure to these irritants can put them at higher risk for sinus infections and asthma attacks.

In order to keep symptoms under control, she said it’s essential to cut down on the amount of allergens in the home – especially in the bedroom where people breathe them in all night long.

“Get dust mite covers around your bed,” said Dr. Hong. “Do a lot of vacuuming, especially on upholstered furniture and also in the bedrooms and carpeting. If you can go carpet-free, that definitely can help.” 

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Dr. Hong also recommends frequently washing bed linens in hot water and drying them in hot heat. If children have stuffed animals in their beds, wash them in hot water once a week or put them in the freezer in a plastic bag to kill off any potential allergens.

Complete results of the study can be found in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.