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Cockroaches, an issue mostly in cities and the southern United States, are believed to play a large role in asthma in inner-city populations, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The allergens are found in the saliva and feces of cockroaches. Don't think that because you saw one roach in your home and killed it that your problem is solved. "If you see evidence of a roach, that usually means there's a lot in the house," White says. If you live in an apartment or condo, call your landlord or condo association to arrange extermination of your entire building, she advises. Sometimes people with allergies are hesitant to have extermination done because they're worried about the impact of chemicals on their health. "But if they're allergic [to roaches], they should get it done," she says—while family and pets are out.
Other steps to take, advises the AAAAI: Block off cracks and crevices in the wall or windows. Keep food in containers with lids, put away your pet's dishes, clean up after meals, take garbage out promptly, and fix leaky faucets or pipes because roaches need water to survive. Wash dishes soon after eating, and clean under toasters, refrigerators, and stoves to get rid of crumbs.