Airborne Mouse Allergen in the Homes of Inner-City Children with Asthma
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Background: Airborne mouse allergen has not previously been measured in inner-city homes, and its relationship to settled dust mouse allergen levels is unknown. Objective: To quantify airborne and settled dust Mus m 1 levels in homes of inner-city patients with asthma and to identify risk factors for mouse allergen exposure. Methods: One hundred inner-city school-age children with asthma in Baltimore underwent skin testing to a panel of aeroallergens, and their homes were inspected by a trained technician. Air and settled dust were sampled in the child’s bedroom. Mus m 1, particulate matter smaller than 10 microns (PM10), and particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns were quantified in air samples, and Mus m 1 was quantified in settled dust samples. Results: Mus m 1 was detected in settled dust samples from 100% of bedrooms. Airborne mouse allergen was detected in 48 of 57 (84%) bedrooms, and the median airborne mouse allergen concentration was 0.03 ng/m3. The median PM10 concentration was 48 mg/m3. Airborne and settled dust mouse allergen levels were moderately correlated (r = .52; P < .0001), and airborne Mus m 1 and PM10 levels were weakly correlated (r = .29; P = .03). Having cracks or holes in doors or walls, evidence of food remains in the kitchen, and mouse infestation were all independently associated with having detectable airborne mouse allergen. Conclusion: Airborne mouse allergen concentrations in many inner-city homes may be similar to those found in animal facilities, where levels are sufficiently high to elicit symptoms in sensitized individuals. Exposed food remains, cracks and holes in doors or walls, and evidence of mouse infestation appear to be risk factors for having detectable airborne Mus m 1.