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You Could Be Sleeping With Billion Dust Mites : Health: Dust contains many allergens, including these tiny creatures that feed mostly on flakes of human skin.

December 12, 1993|GARRET CONDON | THE HARTFORD COURANT

You also can buy appliances and systems to clear the air of dust. ("What's important isn't what's on the floor but what they breathe in," Apter said.) Buying costly cleaners and vacuum systems should definitely be a last resort, both Apter and Gordon said.

Rita Rooney, health education specialist with the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America, believes that portable air filters--the "high efficiency particulate air" (HEPA) types are recommended--are good investments for those suffering from allergies. Several models cost about $250, and they are small enough (the size of a small footstool) to go on vacation with the allergy sufferer.

Also, if a home is equipped with central forced-air heating and cooling, HEPA or electrostatic filters can be added to the furnace to clean the air in the house.

Outside of the bedroom, carpeting and overstuffed chairs and sofas are the main dust mite motels. Gordon's best advice to allergy sufferers is to get rid of such furniture or to encase upholstered sections of antiques in plastic.

If all else fails, allergists can suggest over-the-counter allergy medicine or prescribe drugs that will alleviate allergy symptoms. Gordon says an effective prescription drug for allergy symptoms--Seldane--may be available in non-prescription form in a year or so. Allergy shots also are available, as a last resort for the highly allergic.

Having said all of this about avoiding dust mites, your problem with dust could be rodent droppings or cockroach bits or even high doses of lead from flaking lead paint. To solve these problems, you'll have to rid yourself of the pests or have your house tested for lead.

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