House dust mite allergen exposure is a postulated risk factor for allergic sensitization, asthma development, and asthma morbidity; however, practical and effective methods to mitigate these allergens from low-income, urban home environments remain elusive. The purpose of this study was to assess the feasibility and effectiveness of physical interventions to mitigate house dust mite allergens in this setting. Homes with high levels of house dust mite allergen (Der f 1 + Der p 1 ≥ 10 μg/g dust by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) in the bed, bedroom carpet, and/or upholstered furniture were enrolled in the study. Carpets and upholstered furniture were subjected to a single treatment of either dry steam cleaning plus vacuuming (carpet only) or intensive vacuuming alone. Bed interventions consisted of complete encasement of the mattress, box spring, and pillows plus either weekly professional or in-home laundering of nonencased bedding.
Dust samples were collected at baseline and again at 3 days (carpet and upholstery only) and 2, 4, and 8 weeks posttreatment. We compared pretreatment mean allergen concentrations and loads to posttreatment values and performed between-group analyses after adjusting for differences in the pretreatment means. Both dry steam cleaning plus vacuuming and vacuuming alone resulted in a significant reduction in carpet house dust mite allergen concentration and load (p < 0.05). Levels approached pretreatment values by 4 weeks posttreatment in the intensive vacuuming group, whereas steam cleaning plus vacuuming effected a decrease that persisted for up to 8 weeks. Significant decreases in bed house dust mite allergen concentration and load were obtained in response to encasement and either professional or in-home laundering (p < 0.001).
Between-group analysis revealed significantly less postintervention house dust mite allergen load in professionally laundered compared to home-laundered beds (p < 0.05). Intensive vacuuming and dry steam cleaning both caused a significant reduction in allergen concentration and load in upholstered furniture samples (p < 0.005). Based on these data, we conclude that physical interventions offer practical, effective means of reducing house dust mite allergen levels in low income, urban home environments. Key words: allergen avoidance, asthma, environmental intervention, house dust mite, indoor allergens. Environ Health Perspect 109:815–819 (2001).
Patrick J. Vojta – 1
Sandra P. Randels – 2
James Stout – 2
Michael Muilenberg – 3
Harriet A. Burge – 3
Henry Lynn – 4
Herman Mitchell – 4
George T. O’Connor – 5
Darryl C. Zeldin – 1
1 – Division of Intramural Research, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA;
2 – Department of Pediatrics, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA;
3 – Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA;
4 – Rho, Inc., Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA;
5 – Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.