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Your Environment. Your Health.

Dust Sampling

Most epidemiological and clinical studies that involve indoor allergen exposures typically measure these exposures by analyzing samples of settled dust collected at one or more sites within the home.


One of the major limitations of these studies is the need for a trained technician to make home visits. Because home visits are expensive in terms of labor costs and pose logistical challenges for studies conducted in multiple or distant geographic areas, researchers often conduct studies with fewer subjects and with fewer repeated measurements than would be ideal.


We investigated having study subjects collect and mail in their own dust samples.


Women placing envelope into mailbox
A subject mailing a sample to the laboratory at NIEHS.
Women vacuuming outlined area on bed with hose attachment
A subject collecting a dust sample from her bed.

There are many potential applications for this methodology, such as epidemiological studies that examine the relationships between allergen exposures and disease, clinical studies in which repeated measurements of indoor allergens are required, and the national surveillance of indoor allergens.


The objectives of this study were to compare allergen concentrations between subject- and technician-collected samples and to examine the sample return rate. We concluded that with some limitations, subject-collected dust sampling appears to be a valid and practical option for epidemiological and clinical studies that report allergen concentration as a measure of exposure.


See Related Publications for further information about this study.

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