New research shows that bacteria lurking in household dust produce chemicals that may trigger asthma and asthma-related symptoms such as wheezing. These bacterial chemicals, called endotoxins, particularly those found on bedroom floors, were linked with increased respiratory problems in adults. This study, supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), a part of the National Institutes of Health, is the first nationwide study of endotoxins in the household environment, and it involved analysis of more than 2,500 dust samples from 831 homes across the U.S.
Researchers at NIEHS and the University of Iowa found a strong association between endotoxin levels and the prevalence of diagnosed asthma, asthma symptoms, asthma medication use, and wheezing. These relationships were strongest for bedroom floor and bedding dust. Households with higher endotoxin concentrations experienced higher prevalence of respiratory symptoms.
Endotoxins are found in the cell wall of bacteria and are only released when bacteria ruptures or disintegrates. Because bacteria can be found everywhere in the home, the likelihood of their release is high. Once released, endotoxins can cause inflammation of the airways and lead to asthma symptoms.
Robin Mackar | EurekAlert!
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