Background: Sensitization and exposure to indoor allergens are the major risk factors for asthma. It is possible that significant exposure to domestic allergens occurs outside the home.
Objectives: To investigate the levels of Can f 1 and Bla g 2 in the dust from carpeted floors and upholstered seats in public buildings and public transport and the airborne concentrations of Der p 1, Fel d 1, Can f 1 and Bla g 2 in schools and offices.
Methods: Can f 1 and Bla g 2 were measured in the dust collected by vacuuming a 1 m2 area of carpet, as well as upholstered seats in five schools, six hotels, four cinemas, six pubs, three buses and two trains. Dust was also collected from the bedroom carpet, living room carpet, mattress and sofa in 20 homes with and 20 homes without a dog in the same area. Personal airborne sampling (2 L/min) was conducted for 8 h in offices (n = 16) and classrooms (n = 9). In addition, airborne samples in schools were collected using a high volume pump (60 L/min) for 1 h in three classrooms immediately after the children vacated the school. Can f 1, Bla g 2, Der p 1 and Fel d 1 were assayed using a two-site monoclonal antibody-based ELISA.
Results: Can f 1 was detected in all dust samples from public places, ranging from 0.2 to 52.5 micrograms/g. Significantly higher levels were found in upholstered seats (geometric mean--GM 9.4 micrograms/g) than in carpets (GM 1.5 micrograms/g; P < 0.001), and levels of Can f 1 > 10 micrograms/g were found in 40% of upholstered seats in public places. Can f 1 was significantly higher in upholstered seats in public places than in sofas in homes without a dog (GM 1.8 micrograms/g; P < 0.001). Detectable levels of Bla g 2 were found in all of the schools (GM 2.4 U/g, range 0.8-4.4 U/g). Bla g 2 concentration greater than 2U/g (provisional threshold level representing risk of sensitization) was measured in 65% of the classrooms sampled. Der p 1 and Bla g 2 were below the detection limit in all airborne samples. However, airborne Fel d 1 and Can f 1 were detected in schools and offices, albeit in low concentrations.
Conclusions: Upholstered seats from public places constitute a reservoir for the accumulation of dog allergen, and a source of exposure to Can f 1 inside public buildings or on public transport. Exposure to cockroach allergens in schools may be important for cockroach sensitized asthmatic children.