JOURNAL ARTICLE

Differential effects of air conditioning type on residential endotoxin levels in a semi-arid climate

J D Johnston, B A Kruman, M C Nelson, R M Merrill, R J Graul, T G Hoybjerg, S C Tuttle, S J Myers, R B Cook, K S Weber
Indoor Air 2017, 27 (5): 946-954
28141892
Residential endotoxin exposure is associated with protective and pathogenic health outcomes. Evaporative coolers, an energy-efficient type of air conditioner used in dry climates, are a potential source of indoor endotoxins; however, this association is largely unstudied. We collected settled dust biannually from four locations in homes with evaporative coolers (n=18) and central air conditioners (n=22) in Utah County, Utah (USA), during winter (Jan-Apr) and summer (Aug-Sept), 2014. Dust samples (n=281) were analyzed by the Limulus amebocyte lysate test. Housing factors were measured by survey, and indoor temperature and relative humidity measures were collected during both seasons. Endotoxin concentrations (EU/mg) were significantly higher in homes with evaporative coolers from mattress and bedroom floor samples during both seasons. Endotoxin surface loads (EU/m2 ) were significantly higher in homes with evaporative coolers from mattress and bedroom floor samples during both seasons and in upholstered furniture during winter. For the nine significant season-by-location comparisons, EU/mg and EU/m2 were approximately three to six times greater in homes using evaporative coolers. A plausible explanation for these findings is that evaporative coolers serve as a reservoir and distribution system for Gram-negative bacteria or their cell wall components in homes.

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