Cow allergen (Bos d2) and endotoxin concentrations are higher in the settled dust of homes proximate to industrial-scale dairy operations
Airborne contaminants produced by industrial agricultural facilities contain chemical and biological compounds that can impact the health of residents living in close proximity. Settled dust can be a reservoir for these contaminants and can influence long-term exposures. In this study, we sampled the indoor- and outdoor-settled dust from 40 homes that varied in proximity to industrial-scale dairies (ISD; industrial-scale dairy, a term used in this paper to describe a large dairy farm and adjacent waste sprayfields, concentrated animal feeding operation or animal feeding operation, that uses industrial processes) in the Yakima Valley, Washington. We analyzed settled dust samples for cow allergen (Bos d2, a cow allergen associated with dander, hair, sweat and urine, it is a member of the lipocalin family of allergens associated with mammals), mouse allergen (Mus m1; major mouse allergen, a mouse urinary allergen, in the lipocalin family), dust mite allergens (Der p1 (Dermatophagoides pteronissinus 1) and Der f1 (Dermatophagoides farinae 1)), and endotoxin (a component of the cell walls of gram negative bacteria, lipopolysaccharide, which can be found in air and dust and can produce a strong inflammatory response). A concentration gradient was observed for Bos d2 and endotoxin measured in outdoor-settled dust samples based on proximity to ISD. Indoor-settled dust concentrations of Bos d2 and endotoxin were also highest in proximal homes. While the associated health effects of exposure to cow allergen in settled dust is unknown, endotoxin at concentrations observed in these proximal homes (100 EU/mg) has been associated with increased negative respiratory health effects. These findings document that biological contaminants emitted from ISDs are elevated in indoor- and outdoor-settled dust samples at homes close to these facilities and extend to as much as three miles (4.8 km) away.