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Pet allergies are often blamed on a cat or dog’s hair, when in fact; pet hair is not an allergen. The proteins found in dander and saliva are the actual culprits. These proteins are released in saliva and from skin glands, so when skin and fur is licked, it’s getting a second dose of the protein, which dries and then is shed off in the form of dander.


The small, even microscopic, bits of skin shed from animals (and humans), dander travels around in the air or by clinging to fibers. So tiny and lightweight, dander can flake off of a pet, become airborne and then be inhaled by a person. It can also remain suspended in the air for a long time, traveling far and wide, and ending up in places where no cat or dog has ever been like schools, offices and hospitals. Its ability to float and hitch hike on various surfaces makes it difficult to avoid.


The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America reports that, “in the United States, as many as three in 10 people with allergies have allergic reactions to cats and dogs. Cat allergies are about twice as common as dog allergies.” While its normally harmless, some people’s immune systems see dander as a harmful intruder and attack it with antibodies to protect the body. Symptoms like congestion, sneezing, runny nose, chest tightness, wheezing, itching and watery eyes, eczema, or rashes are a commonly experienced after exposure to dander. The severity of the reaction can range from mild sniffles to anaphylaxis, requiring hospitalization.


Between the abundance of and transportability of dander make it difficult to avoid. By installing air filters with a rating of MERV 6, MERV 8, MPR 300 or FPR 5, you can breathe fresh, clean air—thanks to the filter trapping the itch-causing impurities.


It’s important to routinely replace your filter for clean air and optimal efficiency. Evert air filter comes with a recommended replacement frequency, commonly every 3 to 6 months. By following the manufacturer's recommendations, you can reduce the chance of your filter becoming clogged with particles. A clogged filter greatly reduces its efficiency, restricts airflow, and increases pressure on the fan side, which strains your air conditioner or furnace. It’s important to avoid reducing the airflow rate because it can negatively impact the air quality in your home.


How do I keep dander out of my home?

Dander has a remarkable way of traveling, both in the air and attached to fibers or surfaces, so you can unknowingly bring it into your own home. There are small, simple things you can do to prevent spreading it further, like changing clothes when you come home, and frequently vacuuming floors and furniture. But one of the most effective solutions is using an air filter designed to trap airborne allergens like dander before they enter your home. For clean, purified air in your home, use a filter with a rating of MERV 6, MERV 8, MPR 300 or FPR 5.

I live in an apartment, what can I do to reduce dander in my home’s air?

It might be helpful to invest in and air purifier like the 3M Filtrete Office Air Purifier. They are a great way to capture dust, pollen, pet dander and smoke in apartments, dorms and even offices. They quietly clean a room’s air, emitting fresh, purified air. If energy efficiency is important to you, look for an Energy Star-rated purifier.

If a MERV 6 is good, is a 12 twice as good? Is a higher rating better?

While a higher rating often means better, it’s not necessarily the case with air filters. Higher MERV ratings can restrict airflow, which would be counterproductive. MERV ratings above 13 are used in hospitals, particularly in surgical suites, because their rigorous design can be supported by industrial-grade ventilation system.

What is a pleated filter?

A pleated air filter, unlike its flat fiberglass counterpart, doubles up its fabric, providing more surface area to capture airborne pollutants like dander. As a result, a pleated filter will help reduce more pollutants from making it into your home’s air.

Do I really need to change my filter every 3 months?

If that’s the manufacturer’s suggestion, it’s wise to follow it. Depending on the air quality where you live, it might be wise to replace it even more often. It’s important to routinely replace filters because they lose their effectiveness over time. As the impurities are trapped, they build up and eventually clog the filter, slowing efficiency and decreasing the ability to purify. In addition to replacing your air filter, make sure the filter on your vacuum cleaner is routinely washed or replaced. A dirty, clogged vacuum filter loses its effectiveness and will essentially “rearrange” the dirt and allergens. By cleaning or replacing the filter, you’ll keep the allergens contained and not causing irritation.


For answers to filter-related questions, recommendations on the air filters, or general air quality questions, contact us.