Bacteria By-product in Dust May Trigger Asthma
Study Shows Adults in Homes With High Endotoxin Levels More Likely to Have Asthma
Sept. 9, 2005 - Bacteria by-products in household dust can trigger asthma,
The by-products are called endotoxins. Adults living in homes with high
endotoxin levels were more likely to have asthma, write Peter Thorne, PhD, and
colleagues. Thorne works at the University of Iowa's Environmental Health
Sciences Research Center.
Thorne's team did a national dust test from homes across the U.S. The
results are enough to make you want to swab the decks and rev up the vacuum
The study appears in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical
The researchers vacuumed more than 2,500 dust samples from more than 800
homes nationwide. They found endotoxins in dust from all over the house --
bedrooms, family rooms, kitchens, and bedding.
Dust in the bedroom was the biggest asthma trigger. Endotoxins from dust on
bedroom floors and in bedding were most strongly linked to adult asthma, the
Endotoxins in dust affected adults without allergies and those with
allergies, the researchers note.
Dust in 'Clean' Rooms
Dust mites are another well-known asthma trigger found in dust. That's all
the more reason to try to cut down on dust.
Dust can crop up in rooms that look tidy. You don't have to have big
"dust bunnies" under the bed. Dust can be much finer, sifting and
settling on surfaces and furniture around the home.
The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology offers these tips
to reduce dust:
- Vacuum frequently. Use a vacuum that doesn't raise a dust cloud as it
- Clean surfaces often with a damp or oiled cloth.
- Wash all bedding (including pillows without the cases) in hot water every
week to 10 days.
- Consider removing carpets. Hard surfaces may be easier to clean. If
carpeting is necessary, low-pile carpets or washable rugs may be better choices
than shag carpeting.
- Get special casings made of plastic or rubberized fabric that zip around
mattresses, box springs, and pillows.
- Place a filter made of cheesecloth in the bedroom's heating vent to help
prevent dust from circulating into the bedroom's air. Change the cheesecloth
- Get rid of stuffed animals or use washable ones.
- Hang clothes in a closet and keep the door shut.
- Use air conditioning during warm months to keep inside humidity low. That
can slow the growth of dust and molds.
- Change or clean filters for air conditioners and furnaces often.