Q. I have a patient with dust mite allergies who want to change her heating system. She has a hepa filter on the forced hot air system and individual room hepa filters. Also the home has hardwood floors and minimal carpeting. Do you know of any recent studies comparing baseboard hot water heat or radiant heat to the forced hot air?
A. Unfortunately, evidence from recent studies indicates that HEPA filters reduce the mite allergen content in rooms like bedrooms only modestly because mite allergens tend to accumulate on surfaces and are not suspended in sizable amounts in the air. For that reason, avoidance measures such as removal of carpets or rugs, use of impermeable covers on mattresses and box springs, and synthetic bedding, when feasible, are more helpful. Washing all bedding at temperature of at least 130 Deg F (when feasible) will at least partially denature the mite allergen. However, I find that there are other effects of different heating systems. Dust mites tend to replicate less well on drier environments. For this reason, maintenance of a relative humidity less that 45-50% reduces mite allergen levels. However, I find that excessively dry heat air(<20% humidity) in the winter months is irritating to the airways. Both forced air and electric heating tend to really dry the air. Insertion of a central humidifier in a forced air system will help but one has to be sure that molds do not grow in the reservoir. Also the forced air may contain any irritants present in the duct work, etc. (which may be removed by HEPA filters). Therefore, my first choice would be a hot water radiator system.
© Copyright 1996-2005 American Academy of Allergy , Asthma and Immunology. All rights reserved. https://www.aaaai.org/aadmc/
RBc: We will continue to point out that the health care professionals make better recommendations when it comes to HVAC systems. Why? Because they know more about your health, wellness and comfort than contractors and builders. For your next home hire an indoor environmental specialist...it'll be the best decision you can make.