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May 2005 is National Awareness Month

Contact:     Angel Waldron at 202-466-7643, x248

WASHINGTON, May 1, 2005 -- Spring-cleaning is alive and well, according to a recent survey by The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA).  According to the study, sixty-seven percent of allergy sufferers clean their homes and work environments in the spring to help prevent their allergy symptoms.

The Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America wants to make sure that these allergy sufferers are cleaning effectively and is dedicating this May’s National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month to indoor air quality patient education.

“Allergy and asthma control begins at home for more than 50 million Americans who have allergies, and the 20 million who have asthma,” said Mike Tringale, director of Marketing and Communications for AAFA.  “When allergy sufferers clean properly, they can manage their indoor air quality, and lessen the nasal congestion, coughing, sneezing, headaches and severe, flu-like symptoms, they often experience.” 

AAFA stresses the importance of using appropriate and effective cleaning methods to address the most common indoor allergy triggers; dust mites, pet dander and common household mold.  For example, simply sweeping the home could actually make allergies worse because it may stir up pet hair and dust mites.

To manage dust mites and pet dander, AAFA recommends:

  • Maintaining the humidity in your home below 50 percent;
  • Vacuuming regularly with a double-bag or Hepa vacuum cleaner;
  • Keeping pets off of the furniture;
  • Bathing a cat or dog on a weekly basis;
  • Encasing mattresses and pillows in airtight, allergen proof covers; and
  • Washing bed linens in 130° hot water once a week.

“With indoor allergies, an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure,” said Dr. Jay Portnoy, chief, Section of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, Children’s Mercy Hospitals & Clinics, Kansas City, MO and author of a recent article on indoor air quality published in the Annals of Allergy.   However, Dr. Portnoy states in his article that some indoor allergy triggers, like common household mold, are often overlooked and ineffectively addressed.

“People are often surprised to find out that their allergies can be triggered by common household mold,” says Dr. Portnoy, “The Mold Doctor.” “I recommend that people who have mold allergy take simple actions to avoid exposure and reduce growth by managing moisture and cleaning regularly and properly."

To manage common household mold, AAFA recommends:

  • Running the air conditioner during humid months;
  • Fixing leaky pipes to limit moisture in the home;
  • Using exhaust fans to increase kitchen and bathroom ventilation;
  • Cleaning and killing mold spores on hard, non-porous surfaces with an EPA-registered cleaning solution containing low concentrations of bleach*; and
  • Removing moldy soft surfaces immediately.

While soap and water may remove the mold stain from hard, non-porous surfaces, highly allergenic fragments still remain, quickly reproduce and potentially trigger allergies.

Learn more about mold allergies and other indoor/outdoor allergy triggers.

*Because of the potential sensitivities of allergy and asthma sufferers to cleaning products, cleaning should be done by non-sensitive individuals and the area should be allowed to ventilate before re-entry.   Always read and follow all precautions and usage directions before using cleaning products. 

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