What to Know About Indoor Allergens

Allergies come from more than just outdoor pollen. The dust inside your home can contribute just as much to allergy suffering. Here are some common indoor allergy culprits and products to combat it.

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Dust blows from flowering plants, trees and grasses, sending tiny pollen seeds directly into your nose and eyes. This is allergy season, the time when you and some 50 million other American allergy sufferers stay inside for weeks or maybe months at a time, hoping to avoid an allergic reaction to pollen.

The problem is that the sources of your discomfort can be indoors too, causing coughing, sneezing, itchy eyes and more.

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Indoor Dust is a Problem

Pollen, whether from grasses or flowering trees, is the most convenient scapegoat for allergy sufferers whose immune systems react to airborne dust. But indoor dust, with a high presence of dust mites, is equally to blame. And it can cause problems for people with asthma, too.

How to Reduce Indoor Allergens

In guidelines for those with asthma and allergies, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends multiple strategies to reduce allergens. Among them: Using pillow and mattress covers that prevent dust mites from passing through, as well as high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration vacuum cleaners.

Dust mites

Dust mites are microscopic arthropods that can be anywhere and everywhere. With the exception of Antarctica, every continent reports dust mites.

And here’s the scary part: According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) website, dust mites “feed mainly on the tiny flakes of human skin that people shed each day. These flakes work their way deep into the inner layers of furniture, carpets, bedding and even stuffed toys.

“An average adult person may shed up to 1.5 grams of skin in a day. This is enough to feed one million dust mites!”

Allergy-Friendly Products

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Beyond simply sharing the creepy truth about dust mites, the AAFA certifies several indoor household items as Asthma and Allergy Friendly. Many manufacturers claim their products are “hypoallergenic” or “allergy-friendly,” but no federal standard or regulation governs the use of those terms.

The Asthma and Allergy Friendly Certification Program is a partnership between the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America and Allergy Standards Limited (ASL). Together these groups test products and will certify those they deem can “improve the air quality and health of homes.”

A wide range of home products have earned the Asthma and Allergy Friendly certification, including:

For the complete list, visit www.asthmaandallergyfriendly.com.

Glenn Hansen
A magazine editor and writer by trade, Glenn gained experience in home repair when he bought his first old home while working side jobs in construction to supplement his starving-writer salary. He has built several furniture projects from the pages of Family Handyman magazine and worked through countless fix-it-up projects at home to save a few bucks.