Distribution of peanut protein in the home environment

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To halt the increase in peanut allergy, we must determine how children become sensitized to peanut. High household peanut consumption used as an indirect marker of environmental peanut exposure is associated with the development of peanut allergy.


We sought to validate a method to quantify environmental peanut exposure, to determine how peanut is transferred into the environment after peanut consumption, and to determine whether environmental peanut persists despite cleaning.


After initial comparative studies among 3 ELISA kits, we validated and used the Veratox polyclonal peanut ELISA to assess peanut protein concentrations in dust and air and on household surfaces, bedding, furnishings, hand wipes, and saliva.


The Veratox polyclonal peanut ELISA had the best rate of recovery of an independent peanut standard. We demonstrated 100% sensitivity and specificity and a less than 15% coefficient of variation for intra-assay, interassay, and interoperator variability. There was high within-home correlation for peanut protein levels in dust and household surface wipes. Airborne peanut levels were lower than the limit of quantitation for the Veratox polyclonal peanut ELISA in a number of simulated scenarios, except for a brief period directly above peanuts being deshelled. Peanut protein persisted on hands and in saliva 3 hours after peanut consumption. Peanut protein was completely removed from granite tables after cleaning with detergent, and levels were reduced but still present after detergent cleaning of laminate and wooden table surfaces, pillows, and sofa covers.


Peanut spread easily around the home and might be resistant to usual cleaning methods. Peanut protein can be transferred into the environment by means of hand transfer and saliva but is unlikely to be aerosolized.

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