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Pollen, Pets

9 Spots Where Allergy Triggers Hide

You may think you’ve got allergy and asthma triggers under control in your own home. But do you really? Allergic Living helps root out some crafty culprits that have your household wheezing and sneezing:

1. Faux Christmas Treesbigstock-Christmas-Tree-3942104

It’s that time of year for the Christmas tree in many living rooms. And along with the pine comes the perennial debate about which is worse for allergies, the real or the fake tree.

Dr. Eric Schenkel, director of Valley Allergy and Asthma Treatment Center in Bethlehem Township, Pennsylvania, cuts down the myth that pollen-producers are always to blame. “I find more problems develop with artificial trees because they have been kept up in an attic filled with dust, and that bothers people more.”

Schenkel says pine pollen is not as allergenic as most people think, although fresh-cut trees can introduce mold into the house. To minimize the spores, shake out the live tree or blast it outside with a leaf blower. Keep its stay in your home to a minimum; one study suggests a maximum of seven days for those sensitive to mold.

2. Inflamed Fragrances

Scented candles add ambiance to our homes, but comforting aroma comes at an irritating price. Candles, air fresheners, and even incense can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air that increase asthma risk and can elicit eye, skin, and nasal inflammation.

In a study published in the Journal of Environmental Health, 19 percent of the participants reported having breathing difficulties or other health issues when exposed to air fresheners.

To limit your VOC exposure, try other types of mood lighting and natural home fragrances, like fresh baked cookies and allergy-friendly plants. For clean-air plants, see this article.

1795367673. Mite-y Plush Toys

Sure you encased the mattresses in barrier bedding, but then you tucked little junior in with that cute stuffed lion (aka the dust mite colony). Those snuggly animals are a magnet for mites.

To eradicate the allergen army, you can wash stuffed animals in hot water, followed by a high temperature dry, but that may cause the toys to lose their fluff.

A good alternative? Freeze the toys in a plastic bag for 24 hours; freezing also kills dust mites. You can then wash them on the gentle cycle with warm or cold water, and let them air fluff in the dryer.

4. Too Cool Laundry

Some washing machines have heat settings that can be adjusted manually, but others feed the water straight from the pipes. If you need to turn up your hot water heater for a sanitizing clean, do use caution if you have young children. A temperature that high can scald little hands.You’re washing the sheets regularly in hot water, but the sniffling still ensues when your head hits the pillow. Question: Is the water actually hot? In a South Korean study, cotton sheets that were laundered at a standard 104 degrees F only shed 6.5 percent of their dust mites. However, a wash at 140 degrees F killed off 100 percent of the mites.

Next: Houseplants, dry cleaning, and more

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