PURPOSE OF THE STUDY.
To compare school allergen exposure to home allergen exposure in a cohort of children with asthma.
Twelve public elementary schools from an urban metropolitan area in the northeastern United States were included. Children with asthma attending these schools were then recruited for participation in the study.
Settled dust and airborne samples from 12 schools were analyzed for indoor allergens using multiplex array technology. School samples were linked to students with asthma enrolled in the School Inner-City Asthma Study, and settled dust samples from these students’ homes were analyzed similarly for indoor allergens.
Two hundred twenty-seven settled dust samples and 117 airborne dust samples were collected from schools. Settled dust samples (n = 118) were collected from homes. There were higher levels of dog, cat, and mouse allergens in settled dust samples from schools compared with homes (545% higher for mouse, P = .001; 198% higher for cat, P = .0033; 144% higher for dog, P = .0008). However, on average, for both schools and homes, the levels of dog and cat allergens were much lower than those found in households with pets (geometric means: Canis familiaris allergen 1 0.08 vs 0.03 µg/g; Felis domesticus allergen 1 0.19 vs 0.06 µg/g). Airborne and settled dust mouse allergen levels in classrooms were moderately correlated (r = 0.48, P < .0001). In general, dust mite levels were low in both home and school samples but were higher in the home samples (geometric means: Dermatophagoides farinae 1 allergen 0.08 vs 0.04 µg/g; Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus 1 allergen 0.02 vs 0.01 µg/g). For cockroach allergen, there was no difference between school and home samples, and the levels were almost undetectable in both locations.
There were higher levels of mouse, cat, and dog settled dust allergen in schools versus homes of asthmatic students from an urban metropolitan area. Cockroach and dust mite allergens were present at undetectable to low levels across sites. Mouse allergen levels were highest overall, and aerosolization of mouse allergen in classrooms may be a significant exposure for students because levels of mouse allergen were correlated in settled dust and airborne samples from classrooms.
This is the first study to compare indoor allergen levels in schools versus homes of children with asthma. Most studies of indoor allergen exposures focus on the home environment, particularly the bedroom because this is considered to be the main site of allergen exposure, especially during sleep. This study demonstrates that school may be another important site of exposure to indoor allergens, particularly mouse allergen. Mouse allergen has been implicated as a contributor to asthma morbidity in school-age children in other studies. Additional studies are needed to better understand the role of school allergen exposures on asthma morbidity among children with asthma.
- Copyright © 2013 by the American Academy of Pediatrics