Asthma and Allergen Sampling Study in Boston

Project Funder: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

Project Partner: Boston Medical Center

Project Contact: David E. Jacobs, djacobs@nchh.org, 410.992.0712

Project Description: This study investigated three leading allergen sampling methods to determine which correlates best with asthma clinical status to provide the field evidence base needed for method standardization. The study used three methods of measuring allergens in settled house dust, with individual, single-surface, noncomposited samples collected from three areas (child’s bed, living room, and kitchen). Current medical practice includes standardized diagnostic testing of patients, but only rarely does it include the measurement of asthma triggers and allergens in the home environment. The study compared allergen measurements from dust collected from 200 households with asthmatics and conducted a side-by-side vacuum sampling of settled dust in each home’s kitchen, living room, and subject’s bedroom by three methods. Each sample was analyzed for dust mite, cockroach, mouse, rat, cat, and dog allergens. The number of samples with sufficient dust mass for allergen analysis was significantly higher for Eureka Mighty Mite (EMM) and high-volume small surface sampler (HVS4) compared with the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) method in all rooms and surfaces tested (all P<0.05). The allergen concentration (weight of allergen divided by total weight of dust sampled) measured by the EMM and HVS4 methods was higher than that measured by the AIHA method. Allergen loadings (weight of allergen divided by surface area sampled) were significantly higher for HVS4 than for AIHA and EMM. Cockroach and rat allergens were rarely detected via any method. The EMM method is most likely to collect sufficient dust from surfaces in the home and is relatively practical and easy. The AIHA and HVS4 methods suffer from insufficient dust collection and/or difficulty in use.