Housing and allergens: A pooled analysis of nine US studies

Jonathan Wilson, Sherry L. Dixon, Patrick Breysse, David Jacobs, Gary Adamkiewicz, Ginger L. Chew, Dorr Dearborn, James Krieger, Megan Sandel, Adam Spanier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Background: Housing conditions can contribute to allergen exposures that are linked to asthma, but little is known about which of those conditions are most likely to predict high levels of allergens in settled house dust. Methods: We pooled allergen, housing condition, occupant behavior, demographic, and other data from nine asthma studies (n=950 homes in 6 US cities). Dust mite (Der f 1 or Der p 1), cockroach (Bla g 1 or Bla g 2), mouse (Mus m 1), cat (Fel d 1) and dog (Can f 1) allergens were measured in settled dust from kitchens or bedrooms, and concentrations were categorized according to previously published asthma symptom thresholds. We calculated odds ratios (OR) using logistic regression to identify those housing conditions and occupant behaviors that were associated with clinically significant allergen levels, after adjusting for numerous confounding variables. Results: The adjusted results show that high cockroach allergen was associated with cracks or holes in walls (OR=2.1), high dust mite allergen was associated with mold odor (OR=2.5), housing built before 1951 (OR=2.1), and single-family home with slab on grade (OR=1.9); and mouse allergen was associated with rodent control or signs of rodents (OR=3.62) and inversely associated with presence of a cat (OR=0.20). Water leaks and below average housekeeping had unadjusted high odds ratios for high cockroach allergen. Conclusion: We have identified a number of housing conditions that are consistently associated with increased allergen dust concentrations. This study indicates that screening for housing-based asthma triggers should include presence of cats, dogs, cockroaches, or rodents; water leaks; mold or mold odor; holes or cracks in walls; and below average housekeeping. Single family houses that have basements or crawl spaces or are built before 1951are also important predictors for increased allergens in housing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-198
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2010


  • Allergens
  • Asthma
  • Housekeeping
  • Housing
  • Mold

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)


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