Background: Exposures to dog and cat allergens are believed to play important roles in the etiology of asthma; however, the levels of these allergens have never been assessed in a representative sample of US homes.
Objective: The objective of this study was to estimate and characterize exposures to Can f 1 (dog allergen) and Fel d 1 (cat allergen) in US homes.
Methods: Data were obtained from the National Survey of Lead and Allergens in Housing, a nationally representative survey of 831 US homes. Vacuumed-collected dust samples from the bed, bedroom floor, living room floor, and living room sofa were analyzed for concentrations of Can f 1 and Fel d 1 (micrograms of allergen per gram of dust).
Results: Although a dog or cat had lived in only 49.1% of homes in the previous 6 months, Can f 1 and Fel d 1 were detected in 100% and 99.9% of homes, respectively. Averaged over the sampled sites, geometric mean concentrations (microg/g) were 4.69 for Can f 1 and 4.73 for Fel d 1. Among homes with an indoor dog and cat, respectively, geometric mean concentrations were 69 for Can f 1 and 200 for Fel d 1. Among homes without the indoor pet, geometric mean concentrations were above 1.0. The independent predictors of elevated concentrations in homes without pets were all demographic variables that were also linked to a higher prevalence of pet ownership.
Conclusions: Can f 1 and Fel d 1 are universally present in US homes. Levels that have been associated with an increased risk of allergic sensitization were found even in homes without pets. Because of the transportability of these allergens on clothing, elevated levels in homes without pets, particularly among demographic groups in which pet ownership is more prevalent, implicate the community as an important source of these pet allergens.