Four indoor allergens and how to find relief


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If you’ve already wiped the dust away, cleaned the animal dander and blocked out the pollen and your allergies continue their attack, you may need to redirect the blame. Below are four potential allergens that could be the source of your breathing problems and stuffy noses.


They’re repulsive, will probably survive an apocalypse and may be the cause of your allergies.

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), the first reported cockroach allergy was in 1943, and skin tests confirmed existence of the allergy in 1959. Even worse, studies in the 1970s found that that people with cockroach allergies can develop acute asthma attacks.

Symptoms: Mildly itchy skin, scratchy throat or itchy eyes and nose; severe, persistent asthma

Relief: Avoid contact with roaches and droppings (which you probably already do, allergies or no allergies). You may need to contact a pest control expert, since the damn bugs generally refuse to die. Use poison baits, boric acid and traps, but skip chemical agents since they can irritate allergies. If allergies persist, there are injections with the cockroach extract, which can reduce symptoms over time.

Dry cleaning

According to Environmental Protection Agency, perchloroethylene (perc) is the dominant chemical solvent used in dry cleaning, and people with chemical sensitivities, allergies and asthma can experience allergic reactions. The EPA recommends finding a cleaner that offers “wet cleaning,” which uses water as the solvent and is environmentally preferable. Check out this report from the Good Housekeeping Research Institute, which examines traditional and “green” processes, how eco-friendly they are and their cleaning abilities.

Symptoms: Watery eyes, runny nose, stuffy nose, swollen eyes, asthma

Relief: Don’t wear clothes that have been dry-cleaned and try to avoid buying dry-clean only pieces. If you do own clothes that can’t be cleaned in the washing machine, try choosing a place that employs greener methods. Allergy treatment injections may help, but this doesn’t usually address a chemical allergy.


New carpet, including the padding and adhesives, can be a major source of chemical emissions.

Symptoms: Upper respiratory irritations, headaches, skin rash, shortness of breath or cough, fatigue

Relief: If you must have carpeting, select a carpet that has lower emissions, according to MedicineNet. Unroll and air out the carpet in a well ventilated are, and make sure the installer follows the Carpet and Rug Institute’s installation guidelines. Leave during the installation if you can.
It’s also important that the areas you choose to have carpeted are well ventilated. Open windows and run fans.

Or skip carpeting altogether and choose hardwood or tiles.


Mold is everywhere and symptoms crop up when the source is disturbed, dispersing spores into the air. If you or other family members have allergies to such sources as pollen and animal dander, it is common to develop a mold allergy.

Symptoms: Sneezing, itching, nasal discharge, congestion and dry, scaling skin, asthma, allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis.

Relief: Mold is prevalent in bathrooms, basements and laundry rooms. The AAFA encourages sufferers to be vigilant about reducing dampness in those rooms by installing an exhaust fan or opening a window. Remove carpeting in these rooms. Scour sinks and tubs at least monthly. Mold love soap and other films that coat tiles and grout.

Use central air conditioning with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter attachment, which traps spores. Keep humidity below 45% (35% is better); humidity can be measured with hygrometers.

You can also take medications for nasal or other allergic symptoms, including antihistamines and decongestants. When published mold count is high outdoors, stay inside.