Evaluation of a Low-Cost Electrostatic Dust Fall Collector for Indoor Air Endotoxin Exposure Assessment



Exposure to endotoxin in home environments has become a key issue in asthma and allergy research. Most studies have analyzed floor or mattress dust endotoxin, but its validity as a proxy for airborne exposure is unknown, while active airborne dust sampling is not feasible in large-scale population studies because of logistic and financial limitations. We therefore developed and evaluated a simple passive airborne dust collection method for airborne endotoxin exposure assessment. We explored an electrostatic dust fall collector (EDC), consisting of a 42- by 29.6-cm-sized folder with four electrostatic cloths exposed to the air. The EDC was tested during two 14-day periods in seven non-farm and nine farm homes and in farm stables. In parallel, active airborne dust sampling was performed with Harvard impactors and floor dust collected by vacuuming, using nylon sampling socks. The endotoxin levels could be measured in all EDC cloth extracts. The levels (in EU/m2) between EDCs used simultaneously or in different sampling periods in the same home correlated strongly (r > 0.8). EDC endotoxin also correlated moderately to strongly (r = 0.6 to 0.8) with the endotoxin measured by active airborne dust sampling and living room floor dust sampling and—in farm homes—with the endotoxin captured by the EDC in stables. In contrast, endotoxin levels measured by floor dust sampling showed only a poor correlation with the levels measured by active airborne dust sampling. We therefore conclude that measuring endotoxin levels with the EDC is a valid measure of average airborne endotoxin exposure, while reproducibility over time is at least equivalent to that of reservoir dust analyses.




Ilka Noss -1*

Inge M. Wouters -1

Maaike Visser -1

Dick J. J. Heederik -1

Peter S. Thorne – 2

Bert Brunekreef -1 

Gert Doekes -1


1- Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands

2- Environmental Health Sciences Research Center, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa


*Corresponding author. Mailing address: P.O. Box 80178, 3508TD Utrecht, The Netherlands. Phone: 31-30-2539523. Fax: 31-30-2539499. E-mail: [email protected]




Appl Environ Microbiol. 2008 September; 74(18): 5621–5627.
Published online 2008 August 1. doi:  10.1128/AEM.00619-08
PMCID: PMC2547045

Copyright © 2008, American Society for Microbiology