Many people are allergic to dogs, cats and birds as well as other animals. According to the College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology an estimated 10 percent of the population may be allergic to animals. A higher rate of 20 to 30 percent of individuals with asthma have pet allergies. It is often a difficult decision whether or not to keep a pet.
Most common allergens are saliva, urine and dander. It is virtually impossible to fully eliminate pet dander from an environment with a pet living there. These become airborne when the animal sheds. Even when a pet has been removed it can take 6 months or longer since dander is very lightweight and difficult to remove from an area. Animal dander can be spread throughout a home by a forced air heating and cooling system. It can take years to completely remove all dander from carpeting and furniture.
If a child or adult has severe pet allergy, there are measures that can be taken to reduce exposure.
Levels may fall much more quickly if the homeowner makes extensive environmental changes such as removing carpets, upholstered furniture, and other allergen reservoirs. It has been shown that cat allergen may persist in mattresses for years after a cat has been removed from a home, so new bedding or impermeable encasements must also be recommended.
People can be affected by the dander in the clothes and belongings of pet owners even when the animal is not present. Studies have shown that cat allergen can be present in children’s classrooms even when no cats are allowed (Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 103:101201017: )
A Swedish study showed that when more than 18% of classmates owned a cat, lung function of allergic asthmatics was significantly decreased and there was a 9 fold increased risk of school time asthma attacks. (American journal of respiratory and Critical Care medicine, 163:694-698, March 2001.HEAL, winter 2001p6 )
Air filtration is an important factor in removing these lighweight particles from the air more quickly. Creating a safe room without carpeting where the pets are not allowed, preferably the bedroom, will reduce exposure time.
If you are looking for relief with a pet still in the house, an air filter will reduce airborne allergens. If you have decided to have a pet free home and are trying to remove previous allergens, it is very difficult to do so with cleaning alone. The circulating air and dust will continue to reintroduce old dander.
A HEPA filter is recommended to remove these particles. The Austin Air filters are excellent at trapping both particles such as dander and hair as well as lingering pet smell from urine (ammonia). Regular vacuuming can stir up small particles unless you have a HEPA vacuum. But they will be filtered by a HEPA air filter.If you do not have a pet but have friends or relatives who do, when they visit your home they will carry dander on their clothes. If you have a severe pet allergy, keeping surfaces washable such as floors and furniture and using an air filter will help control exposure.