Bedroom allergens a menace to Americans

By Greg Hamilton • Published: February 6th, 2018
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Your bedroom may be making you sick, or at least causing you to sneeze and rub your eyes.

And guess what? You’re not alone. A new analysis has found that more than 90 percent of all homes in the United States have at least three detectable allergens, and 73 percent had at least one allergen that was at an elevated level.

National Institutes of Health researchers tested about 7,000 bedrooms around the country measuring levels of eight common allergens: cat, dog, mouse, rat, mold, cockroach and two kinds of dust mites. They found that living in a mobile home or an older home in a rural area led to higher levels of allergens. Geography seemed to be important as well, with dust mite levels higher in the South and the Northeast while cat and dust mite allergens were more pronounced in rural areas.

Two other findings seemed to mesh. They found that pets and pests were the primary culprits and that bedrooms often had the highest levels of allergens.

They theorized that people spend more time in bed where they are closest to allergen reservoirs such as bedding, especially if they are cozying up with Fido or Mrs. Whiskers. When people or pets move around in bed, they stir up these allergens right where they are breathing for hours at a time.

For those pet owners who just can’t bear to close the door on their furry friends, the NIH recommends vacuuming carpets weekly, washing bedding in hot water each week, using allergen-impermeable covers for mattresses and pillows, and keeping indoor humidity levels below 50 percent.

Or you might just want to change your choice of pet. Goldfish, anyone?