Determinants of dust mite allergen concentrations in infant bedrooms in Tasmania.
Couper D., Ponsonby AL., Dwyer T.
BACKGROUND: High exposure to house dust mite allergen during the first year of life has been found to increase the risk of subsequent asthma and mite sensitization. Environmental factors, home construction and cleaning methods used are associated with levels of dust mites in the home. OBJECTIVE: To investigate determinants of levels of Der p 1 and Der f 1 mite allergens in homes of infants in southern Tasmania. METHODS: Dust samples were collected from 72 homes of infants participating in the Tasmanian Infant Health Survey (TIHS). The Der p 1 and Der f 1 allergen concentrations in these samples were measured. The TIHS interviewers obtained information from the mothers of the infants via a questionnaire, observed specified aspects of the home environment, and took readings of bedroom temperature and humidity. The effect of each item on allergen concentration in dust from bedroom floors was examined in a variety of ways. Those items which in this study appeared to be significantly related to allergen concentrations plus items which in other studies have been found to be related to allergen concentrations were then investigated further in multivariate models. RESULTS: Der p 1 allergen concentration (microg/g) and density (microg/m2) in dust from bedroom floors were found to be related to several home environment factors. In the univariate analyses, indoor humidity, 24 h maximum temperature, number of residents and a combination of floor covering and cleaning methods appeared to have a significant effect on allergen levels. These factors remained important in the multivariate model except that indicators for mould in the bathroom and drying washing on an outside line replaced indoor humidity. CONCLUSION: Features related to home dampness, the number of residents and floor covering and cleaning were major determinants of Der p 1 levels in the bedrooms studied.