House dust mite allergen levels in university student accommodation in Dunedin

N Z Med J. 2002 Jul 2;115(1157):U30.


Aim: To quantify the levels of Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus (Der p1) in different university student accommodation in Dunedin, and to assess relationships with housing characteristics and housekeeping practices.

Methods: Dwellings (n=178) were randomly selected from a database of first year university students in Dunedin. Dust samples were collected from both bed and the bedroom floor by standardised procedures. Der p1 levels were quantified by monoclonal antibody ELISA techniques. Details of housing characteristics, occupancy and housekeeping practices were obtained by questionnaire.

Results: Geometric mean (95% confidence intervals) Der p1 allergen levels from bedroom floors were: family homes (n=61) 5.58 (3.73-8.36) microg/g; student flats (n=43) 3.89 (2.49-6.07) microg/g; halls of residence (n=74) 0.26 (0.16-0.43) microg/g. Der p1 allergen levels from beds were: family homes 15.85 (9.78-26.57) microg/g; student flats 10.5 (6.41-17.19) microg/g; halls of residence 3.25 (2.33-4.54) microg/g. In all accommodation lower levels of Der p1 were found on the floor compared to the bed (p<0.005). Halls of residence had significantly lower Der p1 levels in both bed and floor (p<0.0005). Higher levels of Der p1 were associated with longer duration of occupancy, a history of condensation or mold in the accommodation, failure to use a hot wash for sheets, mattress age greater than one year and infrequent vacuuming of the bedroom floor.

Conclusions: Wide variations in Der p1 levels were observed between different forms of student accommodation. Higher levels of Der p1 are found in family homes than in student flats or halls of residence.

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Dermatophagoides
  • Climate
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dust / analysis*
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods
  • Environmental Monitoring / statistics & numerical data*
  • Epidemiological Monitoring
  • Glycoproteins / analysis*
  • Housing / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • New Zealand / epidemiology
  • Students / statistics & numerical data
  • Universities / statistics & numerical data*


  • Antigens, Dermatophagoides
  • Dust
  • Glycoproteins