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Indoor Air. 2004 Aug;14(4):284-92.

Levels and predictors of endotoxin in mattress dust samples from East and West German homes.

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GSF National Research Center for Environment and Health, Institute of Epidemiology, Neuherberg, Germany.


East-West differences in prevalence of asthma and allergies were suggested to be associated with lifestyle factors. To describe endotoxin levels in mattress dust samples from East and West German homes collected approximately 10 years after reunification. To identify factors that may account for an East-West difference. Dust was collected from mattresses of 2157 infants and 2108 mothers living in Leipzig (former East Germany) and Munich (West Germany). Endotoxin was measured using a chromogenic kinetic Limulus amoebocyte lysate test. Data on bedding, dwelling, and housing characteristics, and occupants' behavior were collected using a self-administered questionnaire. Endotoxin levels were significantly higher in Leipzig compared with Munich for the infants' mattresses but not for the mothers' mattresses. Apart from this, predictors for the mothers' and the infants' mattresses were very similar. Pet-ownership and contact with animals outside the home were most influential. Endotoxin levels in mattress dust were highest in summer and increased with the number of persons living in the household. The overall percentage of variability in endotoxin levels explained by these factors was low. Endotoxin levels were associated with lifestyle factors discussed within the framework of the hygiene hypothesis. None of these factors explains the difference in infant's mattress dust endotoxin between Leipzig and Munich or could be used as a surrogate for endotoxin.


Endotoxin levels in mattress dust are associated with a number of factors discussed in the framework of the hygiene hypothesis; among other things they are associated with pet-ownership, contact with pets and number of persons living in the home. However, none of these factors and not even a combination of factors explains the variability of endotoxin levels between homes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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