Prediction of residential pet and cockroach allergen levels using questionnaire information

Ulrike Gehring, Elizabeth Triche, Robert T. van Strien, Kathleen Belanger, Theodore Holford, Diane R. Gold, Thomas Jankun, Ping Ren, Jean Ellen McSharry, William S. Beckett, Thomas A E Platts-Mills, Martin D. Chapman, Michael B. Bracken, Brian P. Leaderer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Scopus citations

Abstract

We assessed the accuracy of questionnaire reports of cat and dog ownership and presence of cockroaches in predicting measured allergen concentrations in house dust. We collected dust samples in the homes of 932 newborns living in New England. Dust samples were taken from the main living area and the infant's bedding. Allergen content of house dust was measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) and related to questionnaire information on past and current cat and dog ownership and presence of cockroaches. Allergen levels were dichotomized using the limit of detection and the following cut points: 1.0 μg/g and 8.0 μ g/g for cat, 2.0 μg/g and 10.0 μg/g for dog, and 2 U/g and 8 U/g for cockroach allergen. For the upper cut point, both specificity and sensitivity of questionnaire-reported cat and dog ownership and presence of cockroaches were high. For the limit of detection and lower cut point, specificity was high (> 80%), whereas sensitivity was low, particularly for current cat and dog ownership (21-60%). Taking pet ownership during the preceding 2 years into account increased the sensitivity by 10%, but it remained relatively poor. In conclusion, questionnaire-reported pet ownership and presence of cockroaches predicts allergen levels above the upper cut point but is a relatively poor measure of allergen exposure above the limit of detection and the lower cut point. Knowledge of past pet ownership can improve pet allergen exposure assessment by means of questionnaire. However, for epidemiologic purposes, measured concentrations of allergens are necessary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)834-839
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Volume112
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jun 2004
Externally publishedYes

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Keywords

  • Allergens
  • Cat
  • Cockroach
  • Dog
  • House dust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Cite this

Gehring, U., Triche, E., van Strien, R. T., Belanger, K., Holford, T., Gold, D. R., Jankun, T., Ren, P., McSharry, J. E., Beckett, W. S., Platts-Mills, T. A. E., Chapman, M. D., Bracken, M. B., & Leaderer, B. P. (2004). Prediction of residential pet and cockroach allergen levels using questionnaire information. Environmental Health Perspectives, 112(8), 834-839.