Prevalence of house dust mite allergens in low-income homes with evaporative coolers in a semiarid climate

James D Johnston, Taylor P Barney, Justin H Crandall, Marinn A Brown, Tarah R Westover, Sterling M Paulson, Madeleine S Smith, K Scott Weber
Archives of Environmental & Occupational Health 2018 January 2, 73 (1): 38-41
House dust mites are typically absent in homes in arid and semiarid climates due to low humidity. Evaporative "swamp" cooling significantly increases indoor humidity in dry climates and is suspected of promoting dust mite survival in these regions. We investigated the prevalence and concentration of mite allergens in dust from low-income homes (N = 22) with evaporative coolers in Utah County, Utah. Overall, 15 homes (68.2%) were positive for either Der p 1 or Der f 1 in at least 1 location. Geometric mean allergen levels in mattresses were 0.107 and 0.087 ug/g dust for Der p 1 and Der f 1, respectively. In furniture, levels were 0.143 and 0.165 ug/g dust for Der p1 and Der f 1, respectively. The percentage of positive homes in this study was much higher than previously reported in larger homes with swamp coolers in the same community. These results suggest socioeconomic factors may play a role in dust mite allergen prevalence in homes with evaporative coolers in dry climates.

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