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Bedroom allergen exposures contribute to allergic disease morbidity because people spend considerable time in bedrooms, where they come into close contact with allergen reservoirs.


We investigated participant and housing characteristics, including sociodemographic, regional, and climatic factors, associated with bedroom allergen exposures in a nationally representative sample of the US population.


Data were obtained from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2006. Information on participant and housing characteristics was collected by using questionnaires and environmental assessments. Concentrations of 8 indoor allergens (Alt a 1, Bla g 1, Can f 1, Fel d 1, Der f 1, Der p 1, Mus m 1, and Rat n 1) in dust vacuumed from nearly 7000 bedrooms were measured by using immunoassays. Exposure levels were classified as increased based on percentile (75th/90th) cutoffs. We estimated the burden of exposure to multiple allergens and used multivariable logistic regression to identify independent predictors for each allergen and household allergen burden.


Almost all participants (>99%) had at least 1 and 74.2% had 3 to 6 allergens detected. More than two thirds of participants (72.9%) had at least 1 allergen and 18.2% had 3 or more allergens exceeding increased levels. Although exposure variability showed significant racial/ethnic and regional differences, high exposure burden to multiple allergens was most consistently associated with the presence of pets and pests, living in mobile homes/trailers and older and rental homes, and living in nonmetropolitan areas.


Exposure to multiple allergens is common. Despite highly variable exposures, bedroom allergen burden is strongly associated with the presence of pets and pests.

Supported in part by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (grant no. Z01-ES-025041).

Disclosure of potential conflict of interest: J. Wilkerson’s, K. M. Rose’s, and R. D. Cohn’s institutions received grant HHSN273201600002I for this work. H. E. Mitchell’s institution received a grant from Rho for this work. M. L. Sever’s institution received National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases/National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant UM2AI117870 for this work. P. S. Thorne’s institution received NIH grant NIH P30 ES005605 for this work and received grants from the NIH and patents for inventions for other works, and P. S. Thorne is employed by the University of Iowa and personally received board membership from the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board, the NAS Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology, and the SC Johnson Science Advisory Group. The rest of the authors declare that they have no relevant conflicts of interest.

The findings and conclusions in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the RDC, the NCHS, or the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.