Archive for the 'Home Tips' Category

Air Purifiers

May 11, 2010

There are lots of different air purifiers on the market and I will often be asked by patients which air purifier is the best.  First off, it is important to make a differentiation between HEPA filtered air purifiers and the rest.  I recommend HEPA filtered air purifiers to my patients.  They work by filtering out very small particles from the air as the air passes through the filter.  The size of the unit you need depends on the size of the room.  If the window or door to a room is open, the air purifier will not be as efficient in filtering the air in the room.  

I think the best brand is IQAir.  Unfortunately, it is also the most expensive.   There are units you can purchase that contain a carbon filter in addition to a HEPA filter.  Carbon filters help remove odors and chemical pollutants from the air.

I do not recommend that you buy any air purifier that produces ozone.  Many of these types of air purifiers have electrostatic panels that you wash, instead of HEPA filters that need to be changed.   Although they often only emit small amounts of ozone, why emit ozone into your home if you don’t need to?

Note: The content of this blog is for informational purposes only and is not meant as specific medical advice for a specific person.   If you have a medical problem, please contact your doctor.

Dust Mite Environmental Control

January 11, 2010

Dust mites are tiny microscopic organisms that are not visible to the human eye. They live in upholstered furniture, beds, drapes, old clothes, stuffed animals, pillows, carpets and bedding. They live off of naturally shed human skin and need humidity to grow. Their presence in your house has nothing to do with your level of cleanliness. No matter how clean you keep things, dust mites will be present. Dust mite droppings and decaying bodies are highly allergenic. They are relatively heavy allergens and do not get aerosolized readily, however they do get aerosolized when vacuuming.

Direct contact with dust mites result in the most significant allergic symptoms. Direct contact occurs in many different ways including sleeping on a mattress containing dust mites or lying on a dust mite laden carpet. Dust mite allergy can cause nasal allergy symptoms, eye symptoms, asthma or worsening of eczema.

Exposure to dust mites can be reduced in the following ways:

1. Encase your pillow, mattress and box spring in special dust mite proof covers. Place your regular sheets and pillow cases over the dust mite proof covers. Not all products are the same. The products sold through Mission Allergy ( are of a high quality that I can recommend.  Products can also be purchased through various on-line sources such as, or, or at local retail stores.

2. Wash all bedding, including blankets, in hot water (130 degrees) once a week. All stuffed animals or toys must be able to be washed in hot water as well.

3. Remove carpeting from bedroom if possible.

4. Do not lie down and especially do not sleep upon upholstered furniture or carpets. Use area rugs that can be washed weekly in hot water.

5. Use leather, vinyl or wood furniture whenever possible and especially in the bedroom.

6. Try to keep the relative humidity in your home, and especially in the bedroom, as low as possible and ideally below 40%. Air conditioners and dehumidifiers can be used to help keep the humidity at a lower level. Do not use a humidifier.

7. Tannic acid, used as directed, can help denature and neutralize dust mite and pet allergens. This can be purchased through the on-line sources listed above.

8. Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. The dust-mite-allergic person should not be involved in vacuuming or dusting unless absolutely necessary.

9. HEPA filtered air purifiers are helpful for animal allergen exposure in the home but are less helpful for dust mite allergy.

Home Allergy Tips: Forced Air Heating

January 4, 2010

Forced air heating systems work by transmitting warm air from a central heating source (furnace) to various rooms in your house through a series of ventilation ducts.  If there is any break in the continuity of the ventilation duct  system, or if the central heating source is not equipped with a HEPA filtered air purifier, these ducts can easily become contaminated with mold, dust particles, insect carcasses, insect droppings or even mice and mouse droppings.   I’m sorry if this sounds disgusting, but it is true.  You can avoid circulating these allergens throughout your home by professionally cleaning your ventilation duct system on a regular basis, inspecting and repairing any small breaks in the system and installing a HEPA filtered air purifier onto the furnace.   The quality of air in your home will be improved and the allergen level will be greatly diminished when these steps are taken.