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Research Review

Renting vs. Owning May Affect Your Health

According to a new study, Americans who suffer from common household allergens are significantly less likely to make indoor environmental changes to improve symptoms if they rent, rather than own, their home.

The study, published in the August issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, found that 91% of surveyed patients who own their home make recommended changes. These changes include wearing a mask while vacuuming, adjusting home humidity and keeping pets out of the bedroom to eliminate dust mites, mold, and pet dander.

Yet only 63% of renters make household modifications to reduce their allergy symptoms and suffering.

“By making recommended environmental changes around the home, people with allergies can substantially reduce their symptoms,” says allergist Michael Schatz, MD, lead study author and fellow of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. “While some changes are related to owning a home, other changes, such as encasing your mattress with a dust-proof cover, can and should be done no matter your real estate status.”

According to the study, most homeowners and renters are willing to wash bedclothes in hot water to reduce dust mites, clean visible mold and reduce home humidity below 60% to prevent mold. But a very low number will eliminate carpeting, cover upholstered furniture, or obtain a room air purifier.

Although symptoms may not always be severe, allergies are serious and, in some cases, deadly. The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology advises those with household allergies make the following environmental changes to reduce symptoms:

• encase bed pillows, mattresses, and upholstered furniture with dust-proof covers and wash covers regularly using hot water;

• eliminate carpet flooring;

• reduce home humidity to 60% via an air conditioner or dehumidifier;

• have a family member vacuum weekly using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, or wear a dust mask while vacuuming;

• clean visible mold and obtain an air purifier; and

• keeps pets out of the bedroom and wash them weekly to reduce dander.

— Source: American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology