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Researchers have uncovered why household dust can worsen asthma. The dust may contain endotoxins that are produced by bacteria and are released when the bacteria die. The endotoxins are primary triggers for adult asthma and asthma- related symptoms.
The 2-part study first analyzed dust samples from 831 households across the country and determined the endotoxin levels. Simultaneously, the investigators interviewed 2456 residents of the households regarding asthma symptoms and medicines.
The highest levels of endotoxins were found in kitchens. The effects on health, however, were most evident in bedrooms, where individuals spend more time in close contact with them. The results of the study showed that the higher the levels of endotoxins in the dust samples, the more likely the residents were to have asthma, take asthma drugs, and experience wheezing and other symptoms. The link held only for adults, not for children, however. (The findings were reported recently in the American Journal of Respiratory and Clinical Care Medicine.)