The prevalence of Dermatophagoides mite allergen in Colorado homes utilizing central evaporative coolers

A R Ellingson, R A LeDoux, P K Vedanthan, R W Weber
Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 1995, 96 (4): 473-9

OBJECTIVE: The prevalence of mite allergen was studied in homes in which the indoor relative humidity may be increased by use of an evaporative cooler.

METHODS: Colorado homes in which central evaporative coolers are used and control homes were evaluated. ELISAs with monoclonal antibodies specific for Der p 1 and Der f 1 were performed on dust samples from each home in May and August. Indoor relative humidity and temperatures were recorded daily.

RESULTS: May samples did not show significant levels of mite allergen ( < 2 micrograms/gm dust). Of the August samples, 48 of 95 samples from homes with evaporative coolers (50.5%) had levels of Der p 1 and Der f 1 of 2 micrograms/gm dust or greater, but only 5 of 95 control samples (5.2%) had levels of 2 micrograms/gm dust or greater (p < 0.00001). Twelve of 19 homes with evaporative coolers (63%) were positive for mite allergen. Five of 19 (26%) control homes were positive (p < 0.05). The homes with evaporative coolers had average indoor relative humidity of 51% or greater: control homes had average relative humidity of less than 45%.

CONCLUSION: Altering the indoor environment by raising indoor relative humidity through use of evaporative coolers leads to conditions that may facilitate Dermatophagoides survival.

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