Feasibility of Using Subject-Collected Dust Samples in Epidemiologic and Clinical Studies of Indoor Allergens

Abstract

 

Studies of indoor allergen exposures are often limited by the cost and logistics of sending technicians to homes to collect dust. In this study we evaluated the feasibility of having subjects collect their own dust samples. The objectives were to compare allergen concentrations between subject- and technician-collected samples and to examine the sample return rate. Using a dust collection device and written instructions provided to them by mail, 102 subjects collected a combined dust sample from a bed and bedroom floor. Later the same day, a technician collected a side-by-side sample. Dust samples were weighed and analyzed for the cat allergen Fel d 1 and the dust mite allergen Der p 1. Fifty additional subjects who were enrolled by telephone were mailed dust collection packages and asked to return a dust sample and questionnaire by mail. A technician did not visit their homes. Correlations between subject- and technician-collected samples were strong for concentrations of Fel d 1 (r = 0.88) and Der p 1 (r = 0.87). With allergen concentrations dichotomized at lower limits of detection and clinically relevant thresholds, agreements between methodologies ranged from 91 to 98%. Although dust weights were correlated (r = 0.48, p < 0.001), subjects collected lighter samples. Among the group of 50 subjects, 46 returned a dust sample and completed questionnaire. The median number of days to receive a sample was 15. With some limitations, subject-collected dust sampling appears to be a valid and practical option for epidemiologic and clinical studies that report allergen concentration as a measure of exposure. Key words: allergens, environment, epidemiology, sampling.

 

Environ Health Perspect 113:665–669 (2005). doi:10.1289/ehp.7648 available via http://dx.doi.org/ [Online 14 March 2005]

 

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

 

Authors
Samuel J. Arbes, Jr. – 1
Michelle Sever – 1
Ben Vaughn -2
Jigna Mehta – 1
Jeffrey T. Lynch – 1
Herman Mitchell – 2
Jane A. Hoppin – 3
Harvey L. Spencer  – 1
Dale P. Sandler – 3
Darryl C. Zeldin  – 1

1 – Laboratory of Respiratory Biology, Division of Intramural Research, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA;
2- Rho, Inc., Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA;
3- Epidemiology Branch,  Division of Intramural Research, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA.