Variability of airborne cat allergen, Fel d1, in a public place

Indoor Air. 2003 Dec;13(4):353-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0668.2003.00181.x.


Allergen exposure is a risk to develop an IgE-mediated sensitization. The amount of allergen inhaled per unit time should be related to the amount present in the air, i.e. airborne allergen. Thus, measuring allergen levels in the air would be more relevant than measuring allergen levels in dust. Allergens are present in the air in very minute quantities and usually become airborne after disturbance. Large variation of allergen levels have been found in dust. In this study, we measured variability of airborne cat allergen, Fel d1, in a public place using a high-volume air-sampler. We also studied the distribution and relationship between dust and airborne cat allergens in homes and schools. Air samples were collected at three different airflow rates, i.e. 55, 40, and 30 m3 of air per hour. The concentration of airborne Fel d1 in the community gymnastic hall varied from 1 to 10 pg/m3 within a period of 3 weeks, at airflow rates 55-30 m3/h. The coefficient of variation for repeated samplings was 14-43% (day-to-day variation) and 27-38% (within-day variation). As expected, higher levels of airborne cat allergens were found in homes with cats than in cat-free environments. There was a significant relationship between cat allergen levels in dust and air (r=0.7, P<0.01). Our study demonstrates that when measuring airborne cat allergen a large variation is observed within a day and between days. The large variability of measurement may be explained by the disturbance in the environments. We suggest, that when exposure assessment is made the environment in question should be analyzed, if possible in several occasions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution, Indoor / analysis*
  • Allergens / analysis*
  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Housing
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin E / immunology
  • Periodicity
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk Assessment


  • Allergens
  • Immunoglobulin E