Comparison between outdoor and indoor airborne allergenic activity

Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 1996 Aug;77(2):147-52. doi: 10.1016/S1081-1206(10)63501-6.


Background: Allergenic pollens are usually detected in outdoor air by using volumetric spore traps, which allow measurement of atmospheric concentration as pollen grains per m3 of air. The results of the pollen count are useful primarily for outdoor environments while most people spend most of the day indoors.

Objective: The purpose of our study was to compare outdoor pollen levels with allergenic activity measured both outdoors and indoors.

Methods: We used a Lanzoni spore trap to measure airborne Urticaceae pollen and filters collecting particles simultaneously indoors and outdoors and assayed each filter for Parietaria judaica allergenic activity. Samples were collected at the Allergological Service of the "A. Cardarelli" Hospital in Naples with the balcony open on some days and closed on others. Allergenic activity (ng/m3) was measured using the immunocapture RAST.

Results: With the balcony open there was no great difference between outdoor and indoor allergenic activity, but with the balcony closed there was a reduction of indoor allergenic activity of about one-third in comparison with outdoor allergenic activity. Statistical analysis (Pearson correlation test) indicated a significant correlation between outdoor allergen levels and indoor allergen levels with the balcony open (r = .4415, P < .05), but not with the balcony closed (r = .3160, P > .05); a significant correlation between outdoor pollen count and indoor allergen levels with the balcony open (r = .4809, P < .05), but not with the balcony closed (r = .3858, P > .05); and a highly significant correlation (r = .5225, P < .001) between outdoor pollen count and outdoor allergen levels.

Conclusions: These data provide scientific evidence for the recommendation to hay fever patients to remain indoors during seasons with high levels of outdoor pollens.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / analysis*
  • Allergens / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Filtration
  • Humans
  • Immunoelectrophoresis, Two-Dimensional
  • Plant Proteins / immunology
  • Pollen / immunology*
  • Rabbits
  • Radioallergosorbent Test
  • Weather


  • Air Pollutants
  • Allergens
  • Par j I protein, Parietaria judaica
  • Plant Proteins