Food allergens in mattress dust in Norwegian homes – a potentially important source of allergen exposure




Sensitization to food allergens and food allergic reactions are mostly caused by ingesting the allergen, but can also occur from exposure via the respiratory tract or the skin. Little is known about exposure to food allergens in the home environment.


The objective of this study was firstly to describe the frequency of detection of allergens from fish, egg, milk, and peanut in mattress dust collected from homes of 13-year-old adolescents and secondly to identify home characteristics associated with the presence of food allergen contamination in dust.


Food allergens were measured by dot blot analysis in mattress dust from 143 homes in Oslo, Norway. We analysed associations between home characteristics (collected by parental questionnaires and study technicians) and food allergens by multivariate regression models.


Fish allergen was detected in 46%, peanut in 41%, milk in 39%, and egg allergen in 22% of the mattress dust samples; only three samples contained none of these allergens. All four food allergens were more frequently detected in mattresses in small dwellings (< 100 m2) than larger dwellings (≥ 130 m2); 63–71% of the small dwellings (n = 24) had milk, peanut, and fish allergens in the samples compared with 33–44% of the larger dwellings (n = 95). Milk, peanut, and egg allergens were more frequently detected in homes with bedroom and kitchen on the same floor as compared with different floors, with odds ratios of 2.5 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.1, 5.6) for milk, 2.4 (95% CI: 1.0, 6.1) for peanut, and 3.1 (95% CI: 1.3, 7.5) for egg allergens.

Conclusions and clinical relevance

Food allergens occurred frequently in beds in Norwegian homes, with dwelling size and proximity of kitchen and bedroom as the most important determinants. Due to the amount of time children spent in the bedroom, mattress dust may be an important source of exposure to food allergens.