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Indoor Air. 2005 Aug;15(4):228-34.

Mouse and cockroach allergens in the dust and air in northeastern United States inner-city public high schools.

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Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA.


Considering that high school students spend a large proportion of their waking hours in the school environment, this could be an important location for exposure to indoor allergens. We have investigated the levels of mouse and cockroach allergens in the settled dust and air from 11 schools in a major northeastern US city. Settled dust samples were vacuumed from 87 classrooms, three times throughout the school year. Two separate air samples (flow = 2.5 lpm) were collected by 53 students over a 5-day period from both their school and their home. Mouse allergen (MUP) in the dust varied greatly between schools with geometric means ranging from 0.21 to 133 microg/g. Mouse allergen was detectable in 81% of the samples collected. Cockroach allergen (Bla g 2) ranged from below limit of detection (<0.003 microg/g) to 1.1 microg/g. Cockroach allergen was detected (>0.003 microg/g) in 71% of the dust samples. Bla g 2 was detected in 22% of airborne samples from the schools. By comparison, mouse allergen was only detected in 5%. These results indicate that the school may be an important location for exposure to allergens from mice and cockroaches and is an indoor environment that should be considered in an overall allergen intervention strategy.


To date, cockroach and mouse allergen intervention strategies have been mainly focused on the home environment. Considering that children spend a significant amount of time in schools, some studies have assessed cockroach allergen levels in schools. This study provides a clearer picture of the distribution and variability of not only cockroach allergen, but also mouse allergen in the school environment. In addition, this study describes limitations of personal air sampling in a student population. Our results suggest that although cockroach and mouse allergens are commonly recovered in classroom dust samples of inner city schools, cockroach allergens are recovered in the personal air samples with a greater frequency relative to mouse allergens.

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