Dust mites, pet dander, and mold are common culprits when it comes to triggering allergic asthma, a chronic, inflammatory airway disorder. However, researchers have discovered a new risk factor in ordinary house dust called endotoxins.
An endotoxin is a poisonous substance found in certain types of bacteria. Household studies show a direct link between the toxins found in house dust and asthma symptoms. Nearly every area of the houses tested had high levels of endotoxins. Studies have shown the highest concentrations of endotoxins reside in kitchen and living room floor dust. Bedding has the lowest toxin levels.
When the bacteria in house dust disintegrates, the endotoxins are released, become airborne, and are inhaled, spelling trouble for allergic asthma sufferers. In addition to common dust, endotoxins are found in dirt, outdoor air, and particles brought inside by a variety of sources.
The connection between endotoxins and asthma is believed to exist in people with and without allergies and primarily affects lung inflammation. While more research is needed to understand the link and to find ways to reduce endotoxin levels so that asthma and allergy sufferers can prevent severe reactions, this is an encouraging development in understanding asthma and allergy triggers.