Previous studies have suggested that exposure to cats and dogs during early childhood reduces the risk of allergic disease, possibly by increasing home endotoxin exposure. This study asked the question of whether cats and dogs are the dominant influence on dust endotoxin concentrations in homes after considering other variables reportedly associated with endotoxin. The presence of cats or dogs in homes, household and home characteristics, and dust endotoxin concentrations from 5 locations were assessed in 966 urban and suburban homes. Whether considered together as pets or as cats and dogs separately, the presence of cats and dogs significantly contributed to living room and bedroom floor endotoxin concentrations, but not to bed endotoxin concentrations. However, the two variables consistently related to endotoxin in all home sites were the home occupant density (occupants/room) and cleanliness of the home. Our data suggest that reducing occupant density and improving home cleanliness would reduce home endotoxin concentrations more than removing pet cats or dogs from the home.
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