Hot Water Wash Rids Laundry of Allergens: Study

SUNDAY, May 20 (HealthDay News) -- Doing your laundry in hot water -- 60 degrees C (140 degrees F) -- kills 100 percent of allergy-causing dust mites, compared to 6.5 percent of dust mites when using warm water -- 40 degrees C (104 degrees F), South Korean researchers find.

Hot water is also more effective at ridding laundry of other allergens such as dog dander and pollen, according to lead researcher Jung-Won Park of Yonsei University in Seoul. He also offered an effective alternative to using hot water -- wash laundry at a lower temperature (between 30-40 degrees C -- 86-104 degrees F), and then rinse the laundry in cold water twice, for three minutes each time.

The study was slated for presentation Sunday at the American Thoracic Society's international conference in San Francisco.

Another study to be presented at the same meeting finds that exposure to bacterial "endotoxin" up to age 3 may help lower children's risk of developing wheezing or the allergic skin condition eczema.

Endotoxin is made by certain types of bacteria. Increased levels of endotoxin are present in homes that are more than 30 years old; have carpeting; have a musty smell and interior wall leaks; and are in substandard condition.

In this study, researchers at the Arizona Respiratory Center in Tucson looked at 484 children and found that the lower the amount of endotoxin in their homes, the more likely the children were to have wheezing or eczema by age 3. The higher the endotoxin levels, the less likely they were to develop these conditions.

"We're trying to find why children exposed to endotoxin have lower levels of disease early in life," researcher Melisa Celaya said in a prepared statement. "We will be looking at the relationship between endotoxin levels in the home and chemicals (called cytokines) that are produced by certain immune system cells, to see why children exposed to lower levels are developing more allergic symptoms later on."

The researchers also plan to look at whether genetic factors affect a child's response to environmental allergy triggers.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about allergies.

SOURCE: American Thoracic Society, news releases, May 20, 2007

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