A placebo-controlled trial of a HEPA air cleaner in the treatment of cat allergy

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1998 Jul;158(1):115-20. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.158.1.9712110.


To evaluate the effect of a room high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) cleaner on cat-induced asthma and rhinitis, 35 cat-allergic subjects who were living with one or more cats were studied in a double-blind, placebo controlled trial. After a 1 mo baseline period, subjects' bedrooms were equipped with an active or placebo air cleaner for the following 3 mo. Evaluations included monthly measurement of cat-allergen levels, daily morning, afternoon, and nighttime nasal- and chest-symptom scores, twice-daily measurement of peak-flow rates, daily medication scores, monthly spirometry, and methacholine (MCh) challenge testing before and after the study. Airborne allergen levels were reduced in the active-filter group as compared with the placebo group (p = 0.045). However, no differences were detected in settled-dust allergen levels (p = 0.485), morning, afternoon, or nighttime nasal-symptom scores (p = 0.769, 0.534, and 0.138), chest-symptom scores (p = 0.388, 0.179, and 0.215), sleep disturbance (p = 0.101), morning or afternoon peak-flow rates (p = 0. 424 and 0.679), or rescue medication use (nasal, p = 0.164, chest, p = 0.650), respectively. Although the combination of a HEPA room air cleaner, mattress and pillow covers, and cat exclusion from the bedroom did reduce airborne cat-allergen levels, no effect on disease activity was detected for any parameter studied.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Allergens / analysis*
  • Animals
  • Cats / immunology*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Dust / analysis
  • Environment, Controlled*
  • Female
  • Filtration / instrumentation*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Allergens
  • Dust