dust sampling

Dust Sampling for Allergens that Cause Asthma and Other Allergic Reactions:

Background: House dust is a complex mixture of particles ranging from the very large (grains of silica) to the very small (individual bacteria). Some of the most common house dust components are human skin scales, animal dander (especially when animals occupy the home), starch particles, food fragments, soot, a variety of crystalline and amorphous substances that either come in from outdoors or are applied as cleaning agents, arthropod parts and excreta, fibers form carpeting, clothing and other fabrics, fiberglass from insulation, and, of course, fungal spores, mycelial fragments, yeast cells and bacteria.

The relative concentrations of these different components probably depend on many factors, although no good studies have been reported that clearly document these relationships. Some of these possible factors area:

1. Number and ages of occupants
2. Number and types of pets
3. Housekeeping practices
4. Presence of smokers
5. Use of fireplaces, candles, oil lamps
6. Ventilation type
7. Humidity
8. Water events
9. Characteristics of the surroundings

House dust is generally dry and easily aerosolized from smooth surfaces. Vacuuming and other disturbances will release aerosols from furniture, bedding, carpeting, drapery, etc. Some of the components of house dust are toxic (e.g., lead, pesticides). Others are allergenic (e.g., dust mite fecal balls, cockroach excretions, animal dander). Rarely, infectious agents could be trapped in dust (e.g., anthrax spores during recent terrorist events).

Another reason an environmental investigator might be interested in house dust is that it may represent past exposures. For example, if a transient fungal contamination ever occurs, the spores could become trapped in dust and be recovered even after the event is over.

Interpretation of house dust data depends on why you collected the sample. Interpreting allergen data is relatively straightforward. Tentative guidelines have been published that guide interpretation based on the risk of occupant health effects. Your Allergist (physician) can be instrumental in identifying what may be causing particular allergic reactions.

Our sampling is fairly straightforward. By using a special collector attached to a vacuum hose, we need about a thimble's worth to provide an adequate sample. Problem areas can be targeted...a child's living environment, for instance. We then ship the sample to EMLab P&K Labs in Phoenix. They perform the bioassay and provide a list of allergen concentrations. EMLab P&K is a leader in the laboratory field, promoting scientific standards to their field testing and have been instrumental in forming IESO (Indoor Environmental Standards Organization), a nonprofit group that promotes uniformity in testing, thus bringing consistent science to the collection and analyses of allergens.





Call David Hartman today at 505.345.4465 or email: info@airqualitynm.com