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When allergens, substances causing allergic reactions, invade the home of an asthmatic or a person prone to allergies, an allergic reaction can occur. An allergic reaction is the body's response to a substance that many people can tolerate without any difficulty. Although people have varying degrees of sensitivity to allergens, information about allergies and asthma in the home and how to achieve a successful environmental control program can be a matter of life and death. A full line of supplies are now available to help assist in the reduction of allergen exposure from retailers and Internet sources. The idea is allergen avoidance. Even in the cleanest homes, microscopic dust mites can live in box springs, mattresses, blankets, pillows, carpets, and upholstered furniture. They produce waste particles that are very dangerous to a person prone to allergy or asthma.

The object is to reduce dust in the home environment. According to the National Institutes of Health, "Environmental control to reduce exposure to indoor and outdoor allergens is critical. It can reduce asthma symptoms, the need for medication, and the level of airway hyper-responsiveness." Scientific studies have indicated that taking steps to minimize dust mite allergen exposure in the bedroom leads to a decrease in allergic symptoms and a decrease in the need for medication.

Here are some things that can be done to reduce dust and dust mites in the home:

1) Clean up the cases: Encase pillows in zippered allergen-impermeable covers or wash them every week in hot water (130 degrees.)
2) Zip up the mattress: Encase mattress and box spring in zippered allergen-impermeable covers.
3) Wash everything: Wash all blankets, sheets, pillowcases, and mattress pads, if used, in hot water every week.
4) Wash some more: Comforters should be washed every two weeks, encased in allergen-impermeable interliners or placed within a finished allergen barrier duvet cover.
5) Wipe it away: Use wipeable furniture in place of upholstered furniture. Wood, plastic, vinyl, and leather are preferred.
6) Remove and dispose: Remove carpeting, if at all possible.
7) Clean it: When the removal of carpet is not possible, denature allergen in carpet using tannic acid.
8) Vacuum: Take steps to reduce carpet allergens levels:
a) Vacuum weekly using a mask.
b) Clean carpet with dry powdered cleaner to remove allergens.
c) Upgrade vacuum cleaner filtration to include exhaust filters, multi-layered bags, HEPA vacuum cleaners for high allergen containment.
9) Filter: For hot air heating systems:
a) Cover hot air vents with filters to clean air at point-of-entry.
b) Close bedroom vents and use an electric heater.
c) Use a filter in the central heating system.
10) Lock it up: Keep all clothing in a closet with the door shut and remove dust collectors.
11) More cleaning: Clean drawers, closets, and surfaces with a treated cloth.
12) Cover up: Wear a well-fitting face mask when doing housecleaning and other chores.
13) Eliminate: Use window shades instead of heavy blinds or curtains.
14) Dry it up: Mites grow best at 75-80% humidity, but cannot live under 50% humidity. Take steps to reduce humidity by using an air conditioner or dehumidifier.
15) Filter it out: Use HEPA air cleaners to remove airborne allergen particles.

For information where the above products can be purchased, contact the American Lung Association, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, or the Asthma Education Network.