Asthma and Indoor Air Quality in the Home:
On average, adults and children spend 90% of their time in the home. Children can be exposed to
many asthma triggers in their homes. The presence of uncontrolled environmental triggers causes
irritation to the lungs and can lead to asthma, allergies and other health threatening problems.
Pet allergens, such as from dogs and cats, can collect in dust, on smooth floors, upholstered furniture, and
mostly on carpets or rugs. Some studies have reported significant associations between pets and asthma
symptoms, but others have not. Studies have shown that using air filters and getting rid of carpet or rugs
reduced levels of pet allergens in the home.
Pets are Indoor Environmental Asthma Triggers.
How do my pets cause allergies and asthma?
Your pet’s dead skin flakes, urine, feces, saliva and hair can trigger asthma.
Dogs, cats, rodents (including hamsters and guinea pigs),
and other mammals can trigger asthma in individuals with an
allergic reaction to animal dander. Proteins in the dander,
urine or saliva of warm-blooded animals (e.g., cats, dogs,
mice, rats, gerbils, birds, etc.) have been reported to
sensitize individuals and cause allergic reactions or trigger
asthma episodes in individuals sensitive to animal allergens.
What are the key points about pets in my home?
If pets are one of your asthma triggers, strongly consider finding a new
home for your pets.
Keep pets out of the bedroom and other sleeping areas at all times and
keep the door closed.
Keep pets away from fabric-covered furniture, carpets and stuffed toys.
Vacuum carpets, rugs and furniture two or more times per week.
How do I control animal allergens in the home?
The most effective method to control animal allergens in the
home is to not allow animals in the home. If you remove an
animal from the home, it is important to clean the home (including floors
and walls, but especially carpets and upholstered furniture) thoroughly.
Pet allergen levels are reported to stay in the home for several months after the pet is
removed even with cleaning. Isolation methods to reduce animal allergen in the home have
also been suggested by reputable health authorities (e.g., keeping the animal in only one
area of the home, keeping the animal outside or ensuring that people with allergies or
asthma stay away from the animal) but the effectiveness of these methods has not been
determined. Several reports in the literature indicate that animal allergen is carried in the air
and by residents of the home on their clothing to all parts of the home, even when the animal
is isolated. In fact, animal allergen is often detected in locations where no animals were
Often, people sensitive to animal allergens are advised to wash their pets
regularly. Recent research indicates that washing pets
may only provide temporary reductions in allergen
levels. There is no evidence that this short term
reduction is effective in reducing symptoms and it has
been suggested that during the washing of the animal
the sensitive individual may be initially exposed to higher
levels of allergens.
WHAT IS CAFA?
CAFA stands for COMMUNITY ACTION TO FIGHT ASTHMA, which is
program working to promote interventions and policies to improve the lives of
children with asthma. These efforts target the needs of their communities.
CAFA developed a series of “Asthma Fact Sheets” to help people learn what
asthma triggers are and how they can reduce them in their own environments.
The articles listed below have been written by scientists who study links between the environment and asthma. These
scientific articles have been “peer reviewed” which means that other scientists have read and approved the research methods used in
the study before the article was published in the scientific journal.
“IAQ fact sheet on Biological Pollutants In Your Home.” Indoor Air Quality (IAQ): Publications. Environmental Protection Agency.
“Magnets.” Los Angeles Controlling Asthma by Stopping Allergens (La Casa).
For a complete list of references, and more information on how you can take action in your community,
and to see if there is an asthma coalition in your community, go to CAFA’s website at www.calasthma.org.
THANKS TO CAFA FROM THE HOPE PARTNERSHIP
The HOPE Partnership (HEALTH OBSERVANCES AND
PUBLIC EDUCATION) is a nationwide project to raise public
awareness about ways research is helping to prevent,
detect and/or treat disease/illnesses. HOPE serves to
enhance the public’s understanding of biomedical research.
Educational materials are being developed on cancer,
asthma and allergies, and lead poisoning to coincide with
Cancer Control Month, Asthma and Allergy Awareness
Month and Lead Poisoning Prevention Week. Project
partners include staff and scientists at University of
Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (Project Managers),
Oregon State University, University of Arizona, University of
North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Southern
California/ University of California, Los Angeles, University
of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, and University of
For more information, please contact 732-235-4988 or email@example.com.
Thanks to CAFA for giving permission to the HOPE Partnership
to adapt these Asthma Fact Sheets for education use.
Fact Sheet text adapted with permission from the Fact Sheet created by the Southern California
“Asthma Fact Sheets” developed by Community Environmental Health Sciences Center (SCEHSC) at
Action to Fight Asthma (CAFA) the University of Southern California