House Dust Endotoxin Association with Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema

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Thursday, March 1, 2018
Angelico Mendy
Paivi M. Salo
Richard D. Cohn
Jesse Wilkerson
Darryl C. Zeldin
Peter S. Thorne
Journal Title: 
Environmental Health Perspectives

Endotoxin has been reported to be associated with chronic bronchitis or emphysema (CBE) at high occupational exposures. However, whether levels found in domestic environments have similar effects is unknown.

We aimed to study the association between house dust endotoxin and CBE in a sample representative of the U.S. population.

We analyzed data from 3,393 participants ≥20 y old from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2005-2006. House dust from bedding and from bedroom floors was analyzed for endotoxin content. NHANES participants received questionnaires and underwent examination as well as extensive laboratory testing. Logistic regression was used to examine the association of endotoxin levels with CBE diagnosis and symptoms, adjusting for covariates. The survey design and weights were applied so that estimates were nationally representative and so that statistical inferences were made appropriately.

The median endotoxin concentration in house dust was 14.61 EU/mg dust, and CBE was reported by 8.2% of participants. In the adjusted analysis, one unit (EU/mg) increase in log10-transformed endotoxin concentrations was associated with a 27% increase in the odds of CBE diagnosis [OR=1.27 (95% CI: 1.00, 1.61)] and a 78% increase in the odds of chronic bronchitis symptoms (defined as cough and phlegm for ≥3 mo in a year for ≥2 y) [OR=1.78 (95% CI: 1.01, 3.12)]. Sensitization to inhalant allergens (p=0.001) modified the relationship between endotoxin and CBE diagnosis, with stronger associations observed in sensitized participants [OR=2.46 (95% CI: 1.72, 3.50) for a unit increase in log10-endotoxin].

In a population-based sample of U.S. adults, endotoxin levels in homes were associated with a self-reported history of CBE diagnosis and chronic bronchitis symptoms, with stronger associations among people sensitized to inhalant allergens.


Mendy A, Salo PM, Cohn RD, Wilkerson J, Zeldin DC, Thorne PS. House Dust Endotoxin Association with Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema. Environmental Health Perspectives (Online). 2018 Mar 1;126(3). DOI: 10.1289/EHP2452.