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Mr. Connelly said his team was
able to confirm that the vacuum
did indeed reach the promised
temperature. But there was no
way to confirm that the dust
mites had, in fact, died.
"It was difficult to prove one
way or another if this product ac-
tually worked," he said.
Standard vacuums stir up the
dust particles in the carpet and
then provide a comfortable breed-
ing ground in the porous vacuum
bag for the dust mites, which are
then released back into the envi-
"No vacuum does a great job
pulling dust mites out of carpet
because they are so small," Dr.
Wood said. "But certain vacuums
with filters don't leak as much as
other models, which spew the al-
lergens out in the air."
But before investing almost
$500 for a vacuum that claims to
be dustless, Dr. Wood recom-
mends trying special bags that
attach to standard vacuums and
supposedly reduce the number of
particles that escape into the air.
These double-layered bags cost
about $20 for six and are avail-
able from allergy relief compa-
The same holds true for dust-
Mr. Connelly suggests anoth-
less vacuum cleaners, some of er way to cut down on the dust
which claim to kill dust mites storm after vacuuming. Simply
with high temperatures, pre- replace the standard bag each
venting them from breeding in time the vacuum is used. Vacu-
the vacuum cleaner bags.
um manufacturers have begun
Consumer Reports tested a selling bags marked "micro-fil-
vacuum whose manufacturer tration" alongside their standard
claimed that's exactly what it did. bags, but Mr. Connelly doesn't
see much improvement in the
Dr. Scheiken, the allergist, ad-
Following are the major allergy relief
vises his patients to start with
companies. While it is not an en-
the cheapest method. "If it works,
dorsement, Dr. Robert Wood lists
stay with it. If not, try the next
these companies in his forthcoming
level," he said.
However, if a patient happens
to be building a new house, the
doctor does recommend installing
hardwood floors and a central
.Topeka; Kan 66r
vacuum system that empties into
one canister, preferably kept in
125 Haddon Avenue
Haddon Heights, N.J. 0803 5
Allergy Control Products
96 Danbury Road
Ridgefield, Conn. 06887
Allergy Relief Products
246-08 Jericho Turnpike
Floral Park, N.Y. 11001
P.O. Box 25380
National Allergy Supply
4579 Georgia Highway 120
P.O. Box 1658
Duluth, Ga. 30136
MEDICARE-MEDICAID-PRIVATE PAY-INSURANCE CLAIMS
Many doctors now recommend
some of these products to their
patients in conjunction with a
medically based treatment pro-
"When board-certified aller-
gists look at a patient's overall
history, it includes their home,
school and work environment,"
said Sarah Kaluzny-Petroff, di-
rector of communications for the
American Academy of Allergy
and Immunology, a profession-
al organization for allergists.
"Seeing where the environment
can be improved and thus reduce
exposure is part of the overall
Some insurance companies re-
imburse for the cost of these prod-
ucts but policies vary. There is
a quiet push within the allergy
relief industry to get insurance
companies to increase reim-
`These are medical devices and
they should be treated accord-
ingly," said Ms. Miller of Aller-
gy Control Products. "But
insurance companies are looking
to pay for less these days, not
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products and called them "ques-
tionable." They are air filtration
systems and dustless vacuum
cleaners. So leery is Mr. Connelly
of both products that he recom-
mends removing wall-to-wall car-
peting from the home rather than
buying either of them.
Air purifiers do not remove
dust mites because the dust mite
allergen particles are heavy and
sink to the floor. Air filters re-
move only airborne particles,
such as cat dander, pollen and
"Most allergens that bother us
are not airborne," said Dr. Wood.
He is currently involved in a
study with Honeywell, manufac-
turer of a popular filter, on the ef-
fect of the filters on the number
of allergens in home air.
Ms. Miller of Allergy Control
Products cautions that some com-
panies make unsubstantiated
claims about the effectiveness of
air purifiers. "There have been
some small studies of these de-
vices but not enough homework
has been done. This should not
be your first line of defense," she
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the dead dust mites. A 14-ounce
box of Acarosan sells for $67.
The only product Dr. Wood
dismisses as truly useless is the
spray or powder pet stores sell to
sprinkle directly on pets to reduce
dander. "They just don't work,"
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Among the other products on
the market are sprays that claim
to "denature" dust mites or cat
dander. Denature means to break
down the protein that produces
the allergy. The two most com-
mon sprays are tannic acid and
Dr. Wood considers tannic acid
"minimally effective. [The sprays]
reduce the allergen level quite a
bit but the dust mites remain,
and repeat applications are nec-
essary." A one-quart container of
Allersearch, which covers about
600 square feet, costs about $23.
Benzyl benzoate does kill dust
mites. It is a heavy, moist pow-
der that is sprinkled on the car-
pet and vacuumed up after it has
dried. But there's a hitch. Most
conventional vacuum cleaners
are not strong enough to suck up
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