Pet Dander Found In Most Homes
If you think your house is free of pet dander, you are probably wrong. Regardless of whether a dog or cat lives in a residence, virtually all homes in the United States contain dog and cat allergens.
A study found that pet dander was present in almost 100 percent of the homes that were surveyed, even when dogs and cats lived in only half the homes. The finding is bad news for those who suffer from asthma since pet allergens complicate the condition.
The researchers used data from the first National Survey of Lead and Allergens in Housing, which had been gathered in 1998 and 1999. The surveyors collected vacuumed dust samples from the bed, bedroom floor, living room floor and living room sofa in 831 housing units containing 2,456 people in 75 locations nationwide.
The highest concentrations of dog and cat allergen were found on couches. In homes with pets, this finding may be reflective of where pets like to lounge. It could also reflect the site most likely to come in contact with clothing worn outside the home.
Although most U.S. households have neither a dog nor an indoor cat, the question arises: Why are these allergens found in homes without pets? A potential explanation could be that pets lived in the home previously and their allergens have persisted over time. Dog and cat allergen easily adhere to many surfaces in the home, including rugs, walls and clothing, thus making total elimination of allergen difficult.
Another possible explanation is that dog and cat allergen are easily transported on clothing, making it detectable in locations free of dogs and cats. Pet allergens have been detected in a variety of public places such as schools, trains, buses, hospitals, shopping malls, cinemas, hotels, and even in allergists' offices. People suffering from animal allergies may find that they experience symptoms such as coughing, sneezing and watery eyes even when there is no animal around.
Researchers consider these findings reason to call for the development of environmental interventions that take into account the community as a potential reservoir for dog and cat allergens.
Here are a few tips for people who suffer from pet allergies:
Wash Pets Frequently: You should wash your pets at least once a week. Studies have shown that doing so significantly reduces allergens. When cleaning your pets, consider using a special shampoo that neutralizes allergens.
Brush Pets Outside: Frequent brushing can also reduce allergens and, if at all possible, brush outside. And make sure that the person doing the brushing doesn't suffer from allergies, because brushing releases allergens into the air.
Keep Pets Out Of Bedrooms: People spend most of their time in the bedroom, often allowing pets to climb onto the bed. This is not a good idea because the allergens will just attach themselves to blankets.
Change Your Pet's Diet: Talk to your vet about changing your pet's diet. Certain foods may help minimize hair loss, thereby reducing allergens.
Use Hepa Filters: If you or someone in your family has problems with these allergens, consider buying a Hepa filtering system. Another option is to use a vacuum cleaner equipped with a Hepa filter.
Clean Or Remove Carpeting: This can be very costly, but if you are living in a home where the previous occupants had pets and the same carpeting is on the floor, you may consider purchasing new carpeting. If that's too costly, you can always buy chemicals that will reduce the number of allergens in the carpet.