Characterization of Allergens and Airborne Fungi in Low and Middle-Incomes Homes of Primary School Children in Durban South Africa
The South Durban Health Study is a population-based study that examined the relationship between exposure to ambient air pollutants and respiratory disease among school children with high prevalence of asthma who resided in two purposely-selected communities in north and south Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. From these participants, a subgroup of 135 families was selected for investigation of household characteristics potentially related to respiratory health. In these households, a walkthrough investigation was conducted, and settled dust and air samples were collected for allergen and fungal measurements using standardised techniques. Asp f1 allergen was detected in all homes, and Bla g1 allergen was detected in half of the homes. House dust allergens, Der f1 and Der p1 exceeded concentrations associated with risk of sensitization and exacerbation of asthma in 3 and 13%, respectively, of the sampled homes, while Bla g1 exceeded guidance values in 13% of the homes. Although airborne fungal concentrations in sleep areas and indoors were lower than outdoor concentrations, they exceeded 1000 CFU/m3 in 29% of the homes. Multivariate analyses identified several home characteristics that were predictors of airborne fungal concentrations, including moisture, ventilation, floor type and bedding type. Airborne fungal concentrations were similar indoors and outdoors, which likely reduced the significance of housing and indoor factors as determinants of indoor concentrations. Conclusion—Allergen concentrations were highly variable in homes, and a portion of the variability can be attributed to easily-recognised conditions.