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Environ Health Perspect. 2005 Nov;113(11):1516-21.

Within-home versus between-home variability of house dust endotoxin in a birth cohort.

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Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Endotoxin exposure has been proposed as an environmental determinant of allergen responses in children. To better understand the implications of using a single measurement of house dust endotoxin to characterize exposure in the first year of life, we evaluated room-specific within-home and between-home variability in dust endotoxin obtained from 470 households in Boston, Massachusetts. Homes were sampled up to two times over 5-11 months. We analyzed 1,287 dust samples from the kitchen, family room, and baby's bedroom for endotoxin. We fit a mixed-effects model to estimate mean levels and the variation of endotoxin between homes, between rooms, and between sampling times. Endotoxin ranged from 2 to 1,945 units per milligram of dust. Levels were highest during summer and lowest in the winter. Mean endotoxin levels varied significantly from room to room. Cross-sectionally, endotoxin was moderately correlated between family room and bedroom floor (r = 0.30), between family room and kitchen (r = 0.32), and between kitchen and bedroom (r = 0.42). Adjusting for season, the correlation of endotoxin levels within homes over time was 0.65 for both the bedroom and kitchen and 0.54 for the family room. The temporal within-home variance of endotoxin was lowest for bedroom floor samples and highest for kitchen samples. Between-home variance was lowest in the family room and highest for kitchen samples. Adjusting for season, within-home variation was less than between-home variation for all three rooms. These results suggest that room-to-room and home-to-home differences in endotoxin influence the total variability more than factors affecting endotoxin levels within a room over time.

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