Swamp Coolers and Kids' Allergies

A four to five month study looked at children with allergies and found that certain aggrevators thrive when there's a swamp cooler around.

Patti Boes came to Reno from Hawaii. She says when her family lived on the islands her daughter suffered through what they thought were allergies.

“She sneezed. Frequently she had red itchy eyes kind of crusty a little bit around them,” says Patti.

And when she moved to Nevada?

“Everything stopped,” says Patti.

Many people find their allergies subside when they come to a dry state like Nevada. But some who move here can't tolerate the heat well and install and run a swamp cooler during the summer months. Water is forced through blankets that cool air through evaporation. They tend to add humidity to the air, which allows molds and dust mites to thrive--two known aggrevators of kid's allergies.

“About three times more likely to have an allergy to dust mites or mold if you lived in an environment with a swamp cooler--particularly if you were less than the age of 6,” says allergy specialist Dr. Nevin Wilson.

Dr. Wilson is with the University of Nevada School of Medicine. His study on swamp coolers is expected to be published in Allergy Proceedings this fall. He says families who have kids with allergies can still use swamp coolers, but he says the humidity they produce should not exceed 40-percent inside the home. He says that's the tipping point for molds and mites that naturally live indoors.

Dr. Wilson says with the information they've gathered, it might also make sense to cut down on the use of humidifiers as well. Some families use them with children to moisten the air so they can breathe easier.
Doctor Wilson says the swamp cooler seemed to have more of an impact on *children* with allergies when compared to adults with allergies.