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Sheets, Carpets Affect Allergen Levels in Suburban Homes

Combination of factors increase allergen levels by 49-fold in bedrooms

FRIDAY, Dec. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Certain room characteristics, including wall-to-wall carpeting and infrequent sheet washing, can substantially increase the level of allergens an asthmatic child is exposed to, according to a report in the November issue of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

Tamara Perry, M.D., of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, and colleagues studied the homes of 339 suburban asthmatic children, aged 6 to 17 years, to examine the relationship between room characteristics and indoor allergen concentrations.

The researchers found that infrequent sheet washing, no pillow or bed encasements, wall-to-wall carpeting and food remains were all risk factors for high allergen concentrations in the bedroom. Exposed food, leaks, and dirty pots were risk factors for allergens in the kitchen. A combination of having stuffed animals on the bed, a lack of pillow encasements and infrequent sheet-washing increased allergen levels by 49-fold.

"These data illustrate that a survey of room-specific characteristics can be useful in predicting exposure to common aeroallergens in clinical practice," the authors write. "Gathering thorough data on each room will assist practitioners and researchers in formulating the most effective allergen education and avoidance plans."

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