19 shocking places where allergens hide

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Do you know all the allergens that are around you every day?

Learn more about the places allergens are hiding in the bedroom, in the kitchen and at work!



Sheets on Bed
Permanent-press sheets can have formaldehyde. Choose untreated clothing and bedding made of natural or organic fibers when possible.

Flaking Paint
Homes and apartments built before 1978 have paint with high levels of lead. Clean paint chips immediately; repaint the surface; keep children from scratching, chewing or touching painted surfaces; and have your home tested for lead.

Make the bedroom a “no pet” zone. Run a HEPA air cleaner in your bedroom. Be sure to groom your pet regularly.

Dry Cleaning
When bringing home fresh dry cleaning, be sure to remove it from its protective plastic bag and air it out outdoors for several hours or until the chemical odor has completely dissipated.

Vacuum frequently and thoroughly—passing the vacuum four times over each area. Dust mite powder and flea control powder are also helpful in reducing allergens.

By law, most mattresses have flame-retardant chemicals. Your best bet to avoid both chemicals and dust mites? Switch to a fire-retardant-free solid memory foam mattress or latex mattress. Note: You may need a prescription from your doctor to buy one.

Opt for fragrance-free, organic and hypoallergenic cosmetic brands. Be sure to replace makeup on a regular basis (application sponges each week, liquid makeup every three months, lipstick every six months, etc.), as old makeup can harbor harmful bacteria.

Avoid brands that contain fragrances, baking soda (if you have a nickel allergy), essential oils and biological additives, parabens, vitamin E and lanolin. Opt for hypoallergenic brands and alternative deodorants such as crystal products.



Gloves can cause allergic reactions that can increase with repeated use and exposure. Request administration to provide non-latex, chemical accelerator–free glove brands.

Aerosolized Medication
Be sure to use gloves and a mask when administering aerosolized medications. This kind of medication is associated with the development of asthma in nurses.

Air Vent
Inadequate ventilation can exacerbate allergies. Ensure that your hospital routinely maintains HVAC. When outside, protect yourself from exhaust from idling ambulances by standing away from the fumes and wearing a mask.

Carpeting can be a major source of allergies, both new carpet that emits chemical odors and old carpet that harbors allergens. If your workplace is installing new carpets, ask to be excused from working in the installation area for at least 72 hours.

Chair with Upholstery
If you are having a reaction to the upholstered furniture in the rooms, ask hospital cleaning crew about the amount of synthetic chemicals being used to clean the furniture. Request that nontoxic, biodegradable solutions be used.

Wood Side Table
Avoid coming into contact with allergen hot spots such as manufactured wood. If your nurse’s station is built with it, or if it’s near a copy machine (another chemical emitter), use air purifiers and request to have potted plants to help remove chemicals in the air.



Fix leaky plumbing immediately. Thoroughly clean all surface molds. Dry water-damaged areas immediately.

Dirty Dishes
If you have a cockroach allergy, note that the highest concentration of cockroach allergens is in kitchens. Do not leave dirty dishes nor water in cups, glasses and bowls overnight.

Inadequate Ventilation
Install an exhaust fan or crack open a window when cooking. Improve air quality by installing an air conditioner or a humidifier. Be sure your air ducts are cleaned regularly.

Certain ingredients in insecticides may trigger allergic reactions including acute asthma attacks. Buy only organic fruits and vegetables. Use organic, chemical-free produce spray, and watch for any insecticide in your pet shampoos.

Cleaning Solutions
Opt for gentle yet effective cleaning solutions with more natural ingredients and avoid those with harsh chemicals and odors. Note: If you are removing mold, you should use cleaner without ammonia and with at least 5% chlorine (which is irritating to skin and eyes).

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