Dust and Indoor Allergen Control

dustHouse dust is a mixture of fine particles of fibers of rugs, feathers, cotton, sand, insect scales, human hair and dander. The whole house should be kept dust free as much as possible. Since we sleep eight to ten hours in the bedroom, a great effort should be made to keep a clean, dust-free bedroom.


Tips for minimizing dust

• With a good vacuum cleaner, suction walls, ceilings, and windows and wipe with a damp cloth.
• Bedroom furnishings should be kept to a minimum.
• Remove heavy drapes, upholstery, stuffed animals, animal skins and furs from the bedroom, as well as feather beds and pillows, down comforters, and wool blankets.
• Strip floors of old carpets, substituting them with hardwood, vinyl, or tile. Carpets and the padding beneath are notorious nesting grounds for mites.
• Vacuum bedrooms weekly, including the bed itself with a brush attachment that is used for the bed only. Systematically, vacuum the pillow, box spring, mattress, sheets, bedspread, etc. Bedspreads/quilts/ comforters gather settling dust. At bedtime, roll the bedspread and put it on the floor and use another blanket to cover.
• Wash bed linens in hot water once every week or two. The mattress, box spring, and pillows should be encased in texturized vinyl encasings which act as barriers and prevent mite material from being inhaled.
• Do not use fans in the bedrooms as they stir up dust. If there is a heat vent by the bed, cover it with a filter to prevent direct air flow on the sleeper’s face.
• Vacuum the entire house regularly. If dust settles on furniture within a day or two of vacuuming, the vacuum cleaner may be inefficient in holding dust particles in the bag. Use impermeable bags made of special material (Hysurf-Dupont). Consider buying a vacuum cleaner with HEPA bags. HEPA is a fine filter that filters 99.9% of particles more than 0.3 u in size. For new homes, central vacuum systems are highly recommended as the dust is carried outside the house.
• Frequently, the duct system is the source of the dust (especially in very old houses). Open heat registers and vacuum as far inside as you can. Professionally suction-clean the duct system once every 3 to 4 years (preferably in the fall before heating season). Ordinary filters on the furnace allow too much dust to pass through. A special washable electrostatic lifetime filter (cost $75-100) is recommended. 3M’s ‘Filtrete’ is also a good filter for the furnace. Remember, environmental changes are a key component to changing allergic conditions in addition to sublingual immunotherapy.
• Central air conditioners control the amount of air allowed in the house; hence they control the amount of outdoor particles coming in. Air that is allowed in is filtered before it is cooled. Air conditioners are excellent devices in controlling pollen and mold spore exposures in the summer. Air purifiers are not as beneficial devices as air conditioners and quality vacuum cleaners except when there is continual dust pollution within the house (a smoker or a pet that sheds fine dander particles). Very old, dusty homes or those near unpaved roads may also benefit from an air purifier.
• Old worn carpets are best removed and a vinyl or hardwood floor installed.


Common Allergens

Dust mites

• These are small creatures that live in old, dusty carpets, mattresses, stuffed animals, and upholstery.
• They thrive on dead skin shed by humans and animals. They multiply on animal skins like furs, buckskin, down, feather, silk, etc.
• The mites do not directly harm humans, but their fecal pellets dry and float in the air which people inhale, and some people react to these.
• Mites multiply rapidly in warm, humid air, especially in the winter. It is also an important cause of asthma in childhood.
• Old worn carpets are best removed and a vinyl or hardwood floor installed.

Pollens

• Pollens are produced by male plants for reproduction. They need to be transferred from male to female flowers.
• Big trees, grasses, and weeds are wind-pollinated; they transfer their pollen through the air. This light, powdery pollen is blown over many miles in season, and thus, people are exposed by inhalation.
• Plants pollinate in season only. Tree pollination — mid-March through the end of May Grasses and crops (corn) — June, July, and August Weeds (ragweed) — August through mid-September • An air conditioner is an ideal way to keep pollens out of the house.
• Small plants and bushes are insect-pollinated and are not a cause of allergy.
• Do not dry clothes outside if you are pollen allergic because pollens settle on them and can easily be transferred indoors on clothing.

Pets

• House pets shed a lot of dander (dead skin) and hair that carry dried saliva. Cats are more allergenic than dogs because of their habits of licking their bodies. Pets should not be allowed in the bedroom.
• If you are going to be exposed to an allergenic pet, take an extra red antigen drop and/or an antihistamine to prevent a reaction.
• Rodents (mice, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, rabbits) do not have allergenic dander, but they do have allergenic proteins in their urine.
• The down and feathers of birds are allergenic, as well as their fecal droppings. • Allergenicity of reptile pets (snakes, turtles, chameleons, etc.) is not known.
• If it is hard to part with a pet, then an air purifier should be installed in the bedroom to remove the dander material.

Molds

• There are different kinds of molds in nature. Molds are fungus-like organisms that multiply on moist organic surfaces and produce spores which float in the air and germinate when conditions are favorable. Mold spores, when inhaled, can cause allergy.
• Molds are everywhere. - Outdoors: Fields, barns, and even camping and swimming in lakes exposes you to molds. - Indoors: Bathtub mildew, plant fuzz, and musty material in the attic are examples of molds you can be exposed to.
• Some molds are highly allergenic, especially those in silos, barns, and grain bins. Repeated exposures to these molds damage the lung over years (Farmer’s Lung).
• Borax powder or bleach are commonly-used mold retardants. Impregnon is another anti-mold solution.


Call Temple Allergy Clinic in Temple Texas today at (254) 778-6475 to determine which allergy treatment options is right for you or request an appointment online.