Bedroom allergen exposures in US households

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2018 May;141(5):1870-1879.e14. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2017.08.033. Epub 2017 Nov 30.


Background: Bedroom allergen exposures contribute to allergic disease morbidity because people spend considerable time in bedrooms, where they come into close contact with allergen reservoirs.

Objective: We investigated participant and housing characteristics, including sociodemographic, regional, and climatic factors, associated with bedroom allergen exposures in a nationally representative sample of the US population.

Methods: Data were obtained from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2006. Information on participant and housing characteristics was collected by using questionnaires and environmental assessments. Concentrations of 8 indoor allergens (Alt a 1, Bla g 1, Can f 1, Fel d 1, Der f 1, Der p 1, Mus m 1, and Rat n 1) in dust vacuumed from nearly 7000 bedrooms were measured by using immunoassays. Exposure levels were classified as increased based on percentile (75th/90th) cutoffs. We estimated the burden of exposure to multiple allergens and used multivariable logistic regression to identify independent predictors for each allergen and household allergen burden.

Results: Almost all participants (>99%) had at least 1 and 74.2% had 3 to 6 allergens detected. More than two thirds of participants (72.9%) had at least 1 allergen and 18.2% had 3 or more allergens exceeding increased levels. Although exposure variability showed significant racial/ethnic and regional differences, high exposure burden to multiple allergens was most consistently associated with the presence of pets and pests, living in mobile homes/trailers and older and rental homes, and living in nonmetropolitan areas.

Conclusions: Exposure to multiple allergens is common. Despite highly variable exposures, bedroom allergen burden is strongly associated with the presence of pets and pests.

Keywords: Allergen; allergy; exposure; home; indoor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / prevention & control
  • Allergens / immunology*
  • Asthma / immunology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dust / immunology
  • Environmental Exposure / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Housing
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Nutrition Surveys / methods


  • Allergens
  • Dust