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Effect of evaporative coolers on skin test reactivity to dust mites and molds in a desert environment

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Dust mites and molds are usually not found in arid environments and have a lower prevalence in desert areas. Evaporative (swamp) coolers increase indoor humidity significantly. The purpose of this study is to determine whether evaporative coolers affect the skin test rate to dust mites and molds in patients. Patients with asthma or allergic rhinitis who were undergoing skin testing for molds, indoor allergens, grasses, weeds, and trees were asked about presence of central, window, and evaporative cooler air conditioning in their home. All were tested using the prick technique with controls. One hundred ninety patients between 1 and 42 years (mean, 5.4 years) were evaluated. Fifty-nine (31%) had an evaporative cooler in their home. Twenty-five (42%) of those with evaporative coolers had a positive skin test to at least one mold compared with 26 (19%) without coolers (chi-square, 10.5; p = 0.001). Twenty (34%) of those with evaporative coolers had a positive skin test to dust mites compared with 23 (17.5%) without coolers (chi-square, 6.2; p = 0.013). Children ≤6 years of age had the greatest skin test prevalence (chi-square, 4.3; p = 0.03). In the desert, children in homes using evaporative coolers are significantly more likely to have positive skin tests to molds or mites. This appears to be because of humidity caused by these devices. Patients with asthma in homes with evaporative coolers should be counseled about the risk for mold and dust-mite allergy. Humidity monitoring, cooler maintenance, and filter changes should be discussed.
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Keywords: Allergic rhinitis; asthma; desert; dust mite; environment; evaporative cooler; humidity; indoor; mold; swamp cooler

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Pediatrics, Section of Allergy, Immunology, and Pulmonology, University of Nevada School of Medicine, Reno, Nevada, USA

Publication date: 2009-11-01

More about this publication?
  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

    Articles marked "F" offer free full text for personal noncommercial use only.

    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
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