Indoor Environmental Exposures for Children with Asthma Enrolled in the HEAL Study, Post-Katrina New Orleans
L. Faye Grimsley,1 Patricia C. Chulada,2 Suzanne Kennedy,3 LuAnn White,1 Jeremy Wildfire,3 Richard D. Cohn,4 Herman Mitchell,3 Eleanor Thornton,5 Jane El-Dahr,6 Mosanda M. Mvula,7 Yvonne Sterling,8 William J. Martin,9 Kevin U. Stephens,7 and Maureen Lichtveld1
1School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; 2Clinical Research Program, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA; 3Rho Federal Systems Division, Inc., Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; 4SRA International, Inc., Durham, North Carolina, USA; 5Visionary Consulting Partners, LLC, Fairfax Station, Virginia, USA; 6School of Medicine, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; 7New Orleans Health Department, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; 8Health Sciences Center School of Nursing, Louisiana State University, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; 9National Institute of Child Health and Development, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
Background: Rain and flooding from Hurricane Katrina resulted in widespread growth of mold and bacteria and production of allergens in New Orleans, Louisiana, which may have led to increased exposures and morbidity in children with asthma.
Objectives: The goal of the Head-off Environmental Asthma in Louisiana (HEAL) study was to characterize post-Katrina exposures to mold and allergens in children with asthma.
Methods: The homes of 182 children with asthma in New Orleans and surrounding parishes were evaluated by visual inspection, temperature and moisture measurements, and air and dust sampling. Air was collected using vacuum-pump spore traps and analyzed for > 30 mold taxa using bright field microscopy. Dust was collected from the children’s beds and bedroom floors and analyzed for mouse (Mus m 1), dust mite (Der p 1), cockroach (Bla g 1), and mold (Alternaria mix) allergens using ELISA.
Results: More than half (62%) of the children were living in homes that had been damaged by rain, flooding, or both. Geometric mean indoor and outdoor airborne mold levels were 501 and 3,958 spores/m3, respectively. Alternaria antigen was detected in dust from 98% of homes, with 58% having concentrations > 10 µg/g. Mus m 1, Der p 1, and Bla g 1 were detected in 60%, 35%, and 20% of homes, respectively, at low mean concentrations.
Conclusions: Except for Alternaria antigen in dust, concentrations of airborne mold (ratio of indoor to outdoor mold) and dust allergens in the homes of HEAL children were lower than measurements found in other studies, possibly because of extensive post-Katrina mold remediation and renovations, or because children moved into cleaner homes upon returning to New Orleans.
Key words: allergens, asthma, endotoxin, environmental remediation, glucan, Hurricane Katrina, mold.
Environ Health Perspect 120:1600–1606 (2012). http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1104840 [Online 15 August 2012]
Address correspondence to L.F. Grimsley, 1440 Canal St., Suite 2100 (SL-29), New Orleans, LA 70112 USA. Telephone: (504) 988-8262. E-mail: Grimsley@tulane.edu
Supplemental Material is available online (http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1104840).
This project has been funded, in whole or in part, with federal funds from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), National Institutes of Health (NIH), under contract NO1-ES-55553. Additional funding support was provided by the Merck Childhood Asthma Network and the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities under the auspices of the Foundation for the NIH, a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) charitable organization that raises private-sector funds for a broad portfolio of unique programs that complement and enhance the NIH priorities and activities. Other organizations that contributed include the National Toxicology Program (NIEHS), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Cincinnati, OH), and the de Laski Family Foundation. The Clinical and Translational Research Center of Tulane and Louisiana State Universities Schools of Medicine was supported in whole or in part by funds provided through the Louisiana Board of Regents RC/EEP. H.M., J.W., and S.K. are employed by Rho Federal Systems Division, Inc. R.D.C. is employed by SRA International, Inc. E.T. is employed by Visionary Consulting Partners, LLC.
The authors declare they have no actual or potential competing financial interests.
Received 9 December 2011; Accepted 9 August 2012; Online 15 August 2012.
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