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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2006 Oct;118(4):892-8.

Exposure to Alternaria alternata in US homes is associated with asthma symptoms.

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  • 1National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health (NIH), Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA.



Exposure to the fungus Alternaria alternata is a risk factor for asthma. Few studies have examined Alternaria exposures in indoor environments.


We examined whether exposure to A alternata in US homes was associated with asthma-related outcomes.


The data for this study were collected as part of the National Survey of Lead and Allergens in Housing. This cross-sectional study surveyed a nationally representative sample of 831 housing units inhabited by 2456 individuals in 75 different locations throughout the United States. An interviewer-administered questionnaire obtained information on demographics, household characteristics, and occupants' health status. Exposure to A alternata was assessed by measuring concentrations of A alternata antigens in vacuumed dust samples using a polyclonal anti-A alternata antibody assay. Dust samples were collected from a bed, a sofa, or a chair, and from bedroom, living room, and kitchen floors.


Lifetime prevalence of doctor-diagnosed asthma was 11.2%, and 6.9% of the study subjects reported active asthma symptoms in the past 12 months. The prevalence of current symptomatic asthma increased with increasing Alternaria concentrations in US homes; higher levels of A alternata antigens increased the odds of having asthma symptoms in the past year (relative to the lowest tertile, adjusted odds ratio was 1.52, 95% CI, 0.90-2.55 for the 2nd tertile; and 1.84, 95% CI, 1.18-2.85 for the 3rd tertile).


Exposure to A alternata in US homes is associated with active asthma symptoms.


Measures that reduce indoor exposure to A alternata may help control asthma exacerbations.

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