Bedroom allergen exposures in US households

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Abstract

Background

Bedroom allergen exposures contribute to allergic disease morbidity because people spend considerable time in bedrooms, where they come into close contact with allergen reservoirs.

Objective

We investigated participant and housing characteristics, including sociodemographic, regional, and climatic factors, associated with bedroom allergen exposures in a nationally representative sample of the US population.

Methods

Data were obtained from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2006. Information on participant and housing characteristics was collected by using questionnaires and environmental assessments. Concentrations of 8 indoor allergens (Alt a 1, Bla g 1, Can f 1, Fel d 1, Der f 1, Der p 1, Mus m 1, and Rat n 1) in dust vacuumed from nearly 7000 bedrooms were measured by using immunoassays. Exposure levels were classified as increased based on percentile (75th/90th) cutoffs. We estimated the burden of exposure to multiple allergens and used multivariable logistic regression to identify independent predictors for each allergen and household allergen burden.

Results

Almost all participants (>99%) had at least 1 and 74.2% had 3 to 6 allergens detected. More than two thirds of participants (72.9%) had at least 1 allergen and 18.2% had 3 or more allergens exceeding increased levels. Although exposure variability showed significant racial/ethnic and regional differences, high exposure burden to multiple allergens was most consistently associated with the presence of pets and pests, living in mobile homes/trailers and older and rental homes, and living in nonmetropolitan areas.

Conclusions

Exposure to multiple allergens is common. Despite highly variable exposures, bedroom allergen burden is strongly associated with the presence of pets and pests.

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