Time-based measurement of personal mite allergen bioaerosol exposure over 24 hour periods

Publication Type:
Journal Article
PLoS ONE, 2016, 11 (5)
Issue Date:
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© 2016 Tovey et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Allergic diseases such as asthma and rhinitis are common in many countries. Globally the most common allergen associated with symptoms is produced by house dust mites. Although the bed has often been cited as the main site of exposure to mite allergens, surprisingly this has not yet been directly established by measurement due to a lack of suitable methods. Here we report on the development of novel methods to determine the pattern of personal exposure to mite allergen bioaerosols over 24-hour periods and applied this in a small field study using 10 normal adults. Air was sampled using a miniature time-based air-sampler of in-house design located close to the breathing zone of the participants, colocated with a miniature time-lapse camera. Airborne particles, drawn into the sampler at 2L/min via a narrow slot, were impacted onto the peripheral surface of a disk mounted on the hour-hand of either a 12 or 24 hour clock motor. The impaction surface was either an electret cloth, or an adhesive film; both novel for these purposes. Following a review of the time-lapse images, disks were post-hoc cut into subsamples corresponding to eight predetermined categories of indoor or outdoor location, extracted and analysed for mite allergen Der p 1 by an amplified ELISA. Allergen was detected in 57.2% of the total of 353 subsamples collected during 20 days of sampling. Exposure patterns varied over time. Higher concentrations of airborne mite allergen were typically measured in samples collected from domestic locations in the day and evening. Indoor domestic Der p 1 exposures accounted for 59.5% of total exposure, whereas total in-bed-asleep exposure, which varied 80 fold between individuals, accounted overall for 9.85% of total exposure, suggesting beds are not often the main site of exposure. This study establishes the feasibility of novel methods for determining the time-geography of personal exposure to many bioaerosols and identifies new areas for future technical development and clinical applications.
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