Allergies? New device measures what you’re breathing

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Now comes the missing piece of the puzzle for our friends with asthma and allergies: what allergens they’re actually breathing at home.

Scientists at Chicago startup Inspirotec developed an air sampler they call Exhale.  https://exhalenow.com/  You place this small device in your bedroom, leave it for five days, and then mail it back to Inspirotec labs. They test the collected air and tell you which and how much of 13 common allergens are floating around your bedroom. (Pollen, dog, cat, dust mite and mold, for examples.)

The Inspirotec team presented new research today at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Their study proved the technology works and is easy to use, and also provided the first-ever extensive statistical measure of airborne allergens in homes.

I’m writing about this because I’m doing a bit of consulting with Inspirotec, and I find this team and their work fascinating.

Implications for asthma and allergy sufferers and their doctors are significant.

“This is an important educational tool, allowing patients and their doctors to know for the first time precisely what airborne allergens they have in their homes,” said Julian Gordon, the biophysicist who developed the technology.

This allows “more focused remediation measures,” which means, simply, patients and their doctors know what to tackle.

For years, collected dust has served as a surrogate for assessing exposure to allergens.

“But every physician will tell you that it’s what you breathe in, what’s in the air, that really matters,” said Prasanthi Gandhi, co-founder and CEO of Inspirotec.

Asthma and allergy sufferers visit their doctors and are tested to determine what they’re allergic to.  “The missing piece of the puzzle is what they’re exposed to. Exposure triggers the symptoms,” said Gandhi, a life-long asthma and allergy sufferer.

The study used Inspirotec’s device in 75 homes. This established an initial framework of median values for these allergens, statistically significant as a guide — and as the basis for future large-scale trials.

The research delivered some intuitive findings — such as the number of dogs and cats were linked to the level of pet allergens, and humidity was linked to dust mite allergens.

There was a surprise or two as well. For example, keeping the cat out of the bedroom did not significantly reduce cat allergens in the air, contrary to advice typically given to cat-loving allergy patients.

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