Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 84, Issue 2, pp 185–197 | Cite as

Determinants of Allergen Concentrations in Apartments of Asthmatic Children Living in Public Housing

  • Junenette L. Peters
  • Jonathan I. Levy
  • Christine A. Rogers
  • Harriet A. Burge
  • John D. Spengler
Article

Abstract

There is growing evidence linking poor housing conditions and respiratory diseases, including asthma. The association between housing conditions and asthma in the inner city has been attributed in part to cockroach and mouse infestation and the resulting allergen exposures. Multiple social and behavioral factors can influence environmental exposures and health conditions, necessitating a thorough examination of such factors. As part of the Healthy Public Housing Initiative, we evaluated the association between physical and household characteristics and pest-related allergen levels in three public housing developments in Boston, MA. We detected cockroach allergens (Bla g 1 and Bla g 2) in bedroom air, bed, and especially high concentrations in kitchen samples. In multivariate Tobit regressions controlling for development and season, clutter and lack of cleanliness in the apartment were associated with a tenfold increase in Bla g 1 concentration in the air, a sevenfold increase in Bla g 1 and an eightfold increase in Bla g 2 concentrations in the bed, and an 11-fold increase in Bla g 2 in the kitchen (p<0.05 for all). Holes in the wall/ceiling were associated with a six- to 11-fold increase in kitchen cockroach allergen concentrations (p<0.05). Occupancy in an apartment unit of 2 years or more was also associated with increased cockroach allergen concentrations. In contrast, there were low concentrations of mouse urinary protein in this population. In conclusion, these results suggest that interventions in these homes should focus on reducing cockroach allergen concentrations and that building-wide interventions should be supplemented with targeted efforts focused on high-risk units.

Keywords

Asthma Allergen Cockroach Mouse Home characteristics Low-income Community-based participatory research 

Abbreviations

HPHI

Healthy Public Housing Initiative

ELISA

Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay

MUP

Mouse urinary protein

LLOD

Lower limit of detection

NCICAS

National Cooperative Inner-City Asthma Study

CCCEHS

Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health Study

NSLAH

National Survey of Lead and Allergen in Housing

References

  1. 1.
    Neukirch C, Henry C, Leynaert B, Liard R, Bousquet J, Newukirch F. Is sensitization to Alternaria alternata a risk factor for severe asthma? A population-based study. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1999;103:709–711.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Institute of Medicine, Committee on the Assessment of Asthma and Indoor Air. Indoor biological exposures: cockroach. In: Clearing the Air: Asthma and Indoor Air Exposures. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 2000.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Rosenstreich DL, Eggleston PA, Kattan M, et al. The role of cockroach allergy and exposure to cockroach allergen in causing morbidity among inner-city children with asthma. N Engl J Med. 1997;336:1356–1363.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Ramsey CD, Celedon JC, Sredl DL, Weiss ST, Cloutier MM. Predictors of disease severity in children with asthma in Hartford, Connecticut. Pediatr Pulmonol. 2005;39:268–275.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Gruchalla RS, Pongracic J, Plaut M, et al. Inner city asthma study: Relationships among sensitivity, allergen exposure, and asthma morbidity. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2005;115:478–485.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Chew GL, Perzanowski MS, Miller RL, et al. Distribution and determinants of mouse allergen exposure in low-income New York City apartments. Environ Health Perspect. 2003;111:1348–1351.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Phipatanakul W, Eggleston PA, Wright EC, Wood RA. Mouse allergen. I. The prevalence of mouse allergen in inner-city homes. The National Cooperative Inner-City Asthma Study. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2000;106:1070–1074.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Chew GL, Correa JC, Perzanowski MS. Mouse and cockroach allergens in the dust and air in northeastern United States inner-city public high schools. Indoor Air. 2005;15:228–234.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Matsui EC, Simons E, Rand C, et al. Airborne mouse allergen in the homes of inner-city children with asthma. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2005;115:358–363.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Kitch BT, Chew G, Burge HA, et al. Socioeconomic predictors of high allergen levels in homes in the greater Boston area. Environ Health Perspect. 2000;108:301–307.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Leaderer BP, Belanger K, Triche E, et al. Dust mite, cockroach, cat, and dog allergen concentrations in homes of asthmatic children in the Northeastern United States: Impact of socioeconomic factors and population density. Environ Health Perspect. 2002;110:419–425.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Rauh VA, Chew GR, Garfinkel RS. Deteriorated housing contributes to high cockroach allergen levels in inner-city households. Environ Health Perspect. 2002;110:323–327.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Hood E. Dwelling disparities: How poor housing leads to poor health. Environ Health Perspect. 2005;113:A310–A317.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Brugge D, Melly S, Finkelman A, et al. A community-based participatory survey of public housing conditions and associations between renovations and possible building-related health symptoms. Appl Environ Sci Pub Health. 2003;I:89–101.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Rappaport S, Boodram B. Forecasted state-specific estimates of self-reported asthma prevalence—United States, 1998. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 1998;47:1022–1025.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Hynes HP, Brugge D, Osgood ND, Snell J, Vallarino J, Spengler J. “Where does the damp come from?” Investigations into the indoor environment and respiratory health in Boston public housing. J Public Health Policy. 2003;24:401–426.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Chew GL, Burge HA, Dockery DW, Muilenberg ML, Weiss ST, Gold DR. Limitations of a home characteristics questionnaire as a predictor of indoor allergen levels. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1998;157:1536–1541.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Custis NJ, Woodfolk JA, Vaughan JW, Platts-Mills TA. Quantitative measurement of airborne allergens from dust mites, dogs, and cats using an ion-charging device. Clin Exp Allergy. 2003;33:986–991.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Platts-Mills J, Custis N, Kenney A, et al. The effects of cage design on airborne allergens and endotoxin in animal rooms: high-volume measurements with an ion-charging device. Contemp Top Lab Anim Sci. 2005;44:12–16.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Platts-Mills JA, Custis NJ, Woodfolk JA, Platts-Mills TA. Airborne endotoxin in homes with domestic animals: implications for cat-specific tolerance. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2005;116:384–389.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Lubin JH, Colt JS, Camann D, et al. Epidemiologic evaluation of measurement data in the presence of detection limits. Environ Health Perspect. 2004;112:1691–1696.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Eggleston PA, Arruda LK. Ecology and elimination of cockroaches and allergens in the home. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2001;107:S422–S429.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Platts-Mills TA, Thomas WR, Aalberse RC, Vervloet D, Chapman MD. Dust mite allergens and asthma: report of a second international workshop. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1992;89:1046–1060.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Ingram JM, Sporik R, Rose G, Honsinger R, Chapman MD, Platts-Mills TA. Quantitative assessment of exposure to dog (Can f 1) and cat (Fel d 1) allergens: Relation to sensitization and asthma among children living in Los Alamos, New Mexico. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1995;96:449–456.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Phipatanakul W, Eggleston PA, Wright EC, Wood RA, the National Cooperative Inner-City Asthma Study. Mouse allergen. II. The relationship of mouse allergen exposure to mouse sensitization and asthma morbidity in inner-city children with asthma. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2000;106:1075–1080.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Levy JI, Welker-Hood LK, Clougherty JE, Dodson RE, Steinbach S, Hynes HP. Lung function, asthma symptoms, and quality of life for children in public housing in Boston: A case-series analysis. Environ Health. 2004;3:13.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Mollet JA, Vailes LD, Avner DB, et al. Evaluation of German cockroach (Orthoptera: Blattellidae) allergen and seasonal variation in low-income housing. J Med Entomol. 1997;34:307–311.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Gergen PJ, Mortimer KM, Eggleston PA, et al. Results of the National Cooperative Inner-City Asthma Study (NCICAS) environmental intervention to reduce cockroach allergen exposure in inner-city homes. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1999;103:501–506.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Breysse PN, Buckley TJ, Williams D, et al. Indoor exposures to air pollutants and allergens in the homes of asthmatic children in inner-city Baltimore. Environ Res. 2005;98:167–176.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Arbes SJ Jr., Sever M, Archer J, et al. Abatement of cockroach allergen (Bla g 1) in low-income, urban housing: A randomized controlled trial. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2003;112:339–345.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Cohn RD, Arbes SJ Jr., Yin M, Jaramillo R, Zeldin DC. National prevalence and exposure risk for mouse allergen in US households. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2004;113:1167–1171.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Chew GL, Higgins KM, Gold DR, Muilenberg ML, Burge HA. Monthly measurements of indoor allergens and the influence of housing type in a northeastern US city. Allergy. 1999;54:1058–1066.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Junenette L. Peters
    • 1
  • Jonathan I. Levy
  • Christine A. Rogers
  • Harriet A. Burge
  • John D. Spengler
  1. 1.Department of Environmental HealthHarvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA

Personalised recommendations