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Tuesday, 9 May, 2000, 11:56 GMT 12:56 UK
Your bedding could make you ill
Boy in bed
Beds can hide allergy causing particles
Almost half of households in the US have levels of dust mites in their bedding which can cause allergies and asthma, research suggests.

Researchers used vaccuum cleaners to suck up samples of dust from more than 800 homes in 75 different areas of the US.



A large number of US homes contain dust mite allergen levels which pose a significant risk for the development of allergies and asthma

Dr Patrick Vojta
They found that 45% of households had bedding with concentrations of dust mite allergens above 2 micrograms per gram of dust - the level at which allergies begin to develop.

And 17% of households reported problems with cockroach infestations.

The results suggest that 44m homes in the US are running the risk of asthma and other allergies because of their bedding.

And 22m of these homes have dust mite concentrations of 10 micrograms or higher, enough to trigger asthmatic attacks.

Figures on cockroach infestations of kitchens are due next year and are expected to show high levels.

Concern

Dr Patrick Vojta, who carried out the research, called the First National Allergen Survey, for the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, said the results were a source for concern.

"This study suggests that a large number of US homes contain dust mite allergen levels which pose a significant risk for the development of allergies and asthma," he said.

"For people who are not allergic to these allergens, steps to reduce exposure may reduce the chance of developing allergies and asthma.

"For those who are already allergic and/or asthmatic, steps to reduce exposure may decrease the frequency and severity of the symptoms of these diseases."

Good housekeeping and the use of allergen proof bedding covers could reduce the risks, he added.

Results of the study were presented at the 96th International Conference of the American Lung Association/American Thoracic Society and their Canadian counterparts in Toronto.

The National Asthma Campaign said it was not aware of any similar research having been carried out in the UK.

A spokeswoman added: "It is likely that house-dust mites are present in most homes in the UK. Most modern, centrally heated homes are the ideal breeding ground for the house-dust mite.

"There are various measures that can be taken to reduce exposure to high levels of this allergen and potentially reduce the chance of developing allergic asthma. We are currently funding a major research project that is investigating exactly this."

Dust mites could also be found in carpets, fabrics and upholstered furniture.

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See also:

08 Jun 99 | Health
Childhood asthma soars
10 Sep 99 | Health
Living with allergies
15 Jun 99 | Medical notes
Asthma
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