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Keywords:

  • Endotoxin;
  • Schools;
  • Exposure assessment;
  • Indoor air;
  • Electrostatic dustfall collector

Abstract

Indoor exposure to microbial agents is known to influence respiratory health. Besides home exposure, exposure in schools can affect respiratory health. In this study, we measured endotoxin in settled dust in primary schools in three European countries from three different geographical regions with different climates. Our aim was to characterize endotoxin levels in primary schools and evaluate associations with potential determinants. Endotoxin levels were repeatedly assessed in 23 schools in Spain (= 7), the Netherlands (= 10), and Finland (= 6) using electrostatic dustfall collectors. In total, 645 measurements were taken in 237 classrooms. Endotoxin levels differed significantly between countries; Dutch schools had the highest levels, while Finnish schools showed the lowest levels. In each country, differences in endotoxin levels were observed between schools and over the sampling periods. Estimates improved after adjustment for sampling period. Factors affecting endotoxin levels in a school differed per country. In general, endotoxin levels were higher in lower grades and in classrooms with higher occupancy. School endotoxin levels may contribute significantly to total endotoxin exposure in children and teachers. As the correlation between the repeated measurements is reasonable, single endotoxin measurements form a reasonable basis for estimating annual endotoxin levels in schools.