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Asthma Allergens and Irritants

Updated: May 1

EPA has prepared a checklist of allergens and irritants commonly found in homes to educate and equip asthma patients with the tools to effectively manage their disease in concert with a physician’s care. This checklist—designed for home care visitors—provides a list of questions and action steps to assist in managing your asthma.

Asthma Allergens and Irritants.

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This will allow the home care visits to focus on specific activities or areas.

Dust Mites

Triggers: Body parts and droppings.

Where Found: Highest levels found in mattresses and bedding. Also found in carpeting, curtains and draperies, upholstered furniture, and stuffed toys. Dust mites are too small to be seen with the naked eye and are found in almost every home.

Pests (such as cockroaches and rodents)

Triggers: Cockroaches – Body parts, secretions, and droppings. Rodents – Hair, skin flakes, urine, and saliva.

Where Found: Often found in areas with food and water, such as kitchens, bathrooms, and basements.

Warm-Blooded Pets (such as cats & dogs)

Triggers: Skin flakes, urine, and saliva.

Where Found: Throughout the entire house, if allowed inside.


in any climate.

Secondhand Smoke

Trigger: Secondhand smoke – Mixture of smoke from the burning end of a cigarette, pipe, or cigar and the smoke exhaled by a smoker.

Where Found: Home or car where smoking is allowed.

Nitrogen Dioxide (combustion by-product)

Trigger: Nitrogen dioxide – An odorless gas that can irritate your eyes, nose, and throat and may cause shortness of breath.

Where Found: Associated with gas cooking appliances, fireplaces, wood stoves, and unvented kerosene and gas space heaters.

This checklist covers the following allergens and irritants commonly found in homes. Information is also provided on chemical irritants—found in some scented and unscented consumer products—which may worsen asthma symptoms.

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