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The effects of carpet fresheners and other additives on the behaviour of indoor allergen assays


Chew Columbia School of Public Health, 60 Haven Avenue B-1, New York, NY 10032–4206, USA.



Chemical agents such as tannic acid and detergents have been shown to introduce non-random bias in allergen measurement.


We investigated how several substances that are commonly found in floor dust (carpet fresheners, powdered pesticides, and table salt) affected immunoassays of purified standard allergens.


Three sets of experiments were conducted to: (1) screen for interference with allergen enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA); (2) test for concentration-response; and (3) assess the site-of-action of a given dust additive (i.e. the effect on allergen binding to primary or secondary antibody). The ELISAs are commercially available two-site monoclonal antibody assays for Der p 1, Der f 1, and Fel d 1, and a monoclonal/polyclonal assay for Bla g 1. Outcomes are reported in terms of reaction rate (colour change per unit time), which is directly proportional to the amount of bound allergen.


In the initial screening experiments, carpet fresheners tended to decrease Der p 1 assay reaction rates, increase Der f 1 assay rates, and produce little change in Fel d 1 assay rates. Three carpet fresheners decreased Der p 1 assay rate responses in a concentration-dependent manner. Two carpet fresheners noticeably increased Der f 1 assay reaction rates in both the screening and the concentration-response tests. Powdered pesticides increased reaction rates in the Bla g 1 assays and increased the slope of the dilution curve compared with that of the purified allergen. Salt decreased the reaction rates of Bla g 1 assays at allergen concentrations greater than 0.01 U/mL. For each of the four allergens, the largest effects of dust additives occurred when secondary antibody binding was altered.


Some common household dust components can introduce systematic error into immunoassays for arthropod allergens.

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