The major triggers for allergic asthma are exposure to allergens of the house dust mite, Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus, and of pets. Unfortunately studies of techniques designed to reduce house dust mite and pet allergens have had mixed results. However, new so-called ‘improved’ products continue to appear on the market and require subjective evaluation. The homes of 60 house dust mite-allergic patients were studied to compare the effects of high-efficiency and standard vacuum-cleaners on allergen concentration. Der p 1 (house dust mite), Fel d 1 (cat) and Can f 1 (dog) allergens were measured in four separate locations in each home. Clinical analysis was by lung function, bronchodilator usage and histamine challenge techniques. There was a significant reduction in Fel d 1 (ng/m2) in dust samples from the living-room carpet (p = 0.046), bedroom carpet (p = 0.003) and mattress (p = 0.013) and living-room sofa (p = 0.005) after 12 months of using the high-efficiency cleaners, but only in the mattress sample using the standard cleaners (p = 0.014). Can f 1 (ng/g dust) was reduced in the mattress sample after using the high-efficiency vacuum-cleaners (p = 0.028), but not at other sites. Der p 1 levels were not significantly changed over this period. Clinically, patients in the high-efficiency group showed improvements in peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR) (p = 0.004), FEV1 (p = 0.026) and bronchodilator usage (p = 0.005) after 12 months. When the cat-sensitive patients were analyzed separately, improvements in histamine PC20 (p = 0.039) were also seen. Reducing Fel d 1 concentrations, in the absence of any change in Der p 1 concentrations, can produce significant improvements in the lung function of atopic, asthmatic patients. This effect was primarily achieved in those patients with cat sensitivity, but who did not possess a cat themselves.
Article first published online: 11 JAN 2002
Pediatric Allergy and Immunology
Volume 11, Issue 3, pages 142–148, August 2000