Protocol - Dust Collection - Vacuum Bag

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The respondent is mailed instructions and a sealable plastic bag to collect dust from his or her vacuum cleaner. The respondent is asked to collect the dust from his or her vacuum cleaner and mail it to the laboratory. At the laboratory, the sample is sieved, weighed, and analyzed for environmental contaminants.

Specific Instructions

If the timing of the dust collection (e.g., time of year, timing with respect to prior house cleaning) is critical, the researcher should inform the respondent.




Note: The following protocol was used to measure the pesticide atrazine in the dust sample. Information has been provided at the end of this protocol on other types of environmental contaminants that can be obtained from this sample.


When to Collect

Collect the vacuum dust sample any time within 1 week after you received your sampling kit. Please send us a vacuum cleaner bag that has been in use for a while so that it contains plenty of dust. If a new bag has been installed in your cleaner recently, please vacuum twice before removing the bag.

If your vacuum cleaner does not have a disposable bag, then transfer the dust collected into the resealable plastic bag.

If your vacuum cleaner is the type that uses water, then try to scrape out some dust from the inlet hose and around the seals. Try to collect as much as possible. We do not want the water from the vacuum cleaner.

How to Collect

1. Remove the folded clear plastic trash bag or the resealable plastic bag marked Vacuum Dust from your sampling kit.

2. Following the instructions provided with your vacuum cleaner, remove the disposable bag and place it in the plastic trash bag. Tie the plastic bag with the tie wrap attached to the outside of the trash bag. If you do not have a disposable bag, then empty the contents of the vacuum into the resealable plastic bag marked Vacuum Dust.

3. Record the date and time on the label attached to the trash bag or the resealable plastic bag. Also record how many days the vacuum has been used since changing out the bag or emptying the collection container (in cases of vacuums with no bags). An estimated time will be appropriate if you do not know the exact number of days.

Vacuum Dust Bag

4. Place the trash bag containing the vacuum cleaner bag or the resealable plastic bag marked Vacuum Dust in the cardboard box that was used to ship your sampling kit to you. Do not refrigerate or freeze the vacuum dust sample.

5. If applicable, install another bag in your vacuum cleaner before you use it again.

6. Send the plastic bag (with dust sample enclosed) to the laboratory.

For pesticide analysis the dust samples can be shipped to the laboratory at room temperature. For allergen and endotoxin analyses the dust samples need to be shipped on frozen ice packs.


At the laboratory the dust sample needs to be sieved and weighed. Dust samples can be stored at -20° C until analysis. Organochlorine, organophosphates, carbamates, and pyrethroids require a hexane:acetone method and GC/MS analysis, cat and dust mite allergens require analysis via monoclonal-antibody-based, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays, and endotoxins require a limulus amebocyte lysate (LAL) assay.

Personnel and Training Required

The respondent collects a dust sample from his or her vacuum bag and is responsible for sending it to the laboratory for analysis. Trained laboratory technicians are required to sieve, freeze, and analyze the dust.

Equipment Needs

Supplies and equipment are needed to collect, process (through a mesh sieve), freeze (-20°C freezer), and analyze the dust sample. The equipment used for analysis depends on the analyte. Please refer to a specialist for more details on appropriate collection and storage recommendations.

Requirement CategoryRequired
Major equipment Yes
Specialized training Yes
Specialized requirements for biospecimen collection No
Average time of greater than 15 minutes in an unaffected individual Yes
Mode of Administration

Self-administered sample collection with laboratory analysis




Adult 18+

Selection Rationale

Vacuum bags can feasibly be collected by the respondent and are a low-cost method to obtain environmental samples from a home.


Chinese, English, Other languages available at source

Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes (LOINC) Environ expo dust vacuum proto 62536-8 LOINC
Human Phenotype Ontology Increased anti-dust mite IgE antibody level HP:0410223 HPO
caDSR Form PhenX PX061201 - Dust Collection Vacuum Bag 5870271 caDSR Form
Derived Variables


Process and Review

The Expert Review Panel #2 (ERP 2) reviewed the measures in the Demographics, Environmental Exposures, and Social Environments domains.

Guidance from ERP 2 includes:

• No significant changes to measure

Back-compatible: no changes to Data Dictionary

Previous version in Toolkit archive (link)

Protocol Name from Source

RTI International, Atrazine Exposure Study, Vacuum Cleaner Dust Collection Protocol, 2001


RTI International. (2001). Atrazine Exposure Study. Vacuum Cleaner Dust Collection Protocol. Research Triangle Park, NC: Author.

General References

Arbes, S. J., Jr., Sever, M., Vaughn, B., Mehta, J., Lynch, J. T., Mitchell, H., . . . Zeldin, D. C. (2005). Feasibility of using subject-collected dust samples in epidemiologic and clinical studies of indoor allergens. Environmental Health Perspectives, 113(6), 665-669.

Colt, J. S., Gunier, R. B., Metayer, C., Nishioka, M. G., Bell, E. M., Reynolds, P., Buffler, P. A., & Ward, M. H. (2008). Household vacuum cleaners vs. the high-volume surface sampler for collection of carpet dust samples in epidemiologic studies of children. Environmental Health 7, 6.

Metayer, C. (2006). The Northern California Childhood Leukemia Study (NCCLS): 10 Years of Experience in Environmental and Genetic Epidemiology. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Superfund Basic Research Program Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA.

Protocol ID


Export Variables
Variable Name Variable IDVariable DescriptiondbGaP Mapping
PX061201090000 Name of first allergen measured N/A
PX061201090100 Concentration of first allergen measured N/A
PX061201100000 Name of second allergen measured N/A
PX061201100100 Concentration of second allergen measured N/A
PX061201110000 Name of third allergen measured N/A
PX061201110100 Concentration of third allergen measured N/A
PX061201120000 Name of fourth allergen measured N/A
PX061201120100 Concentration of fourth allergen measured N/A
PX061201130000 Name of fifth allergen measured N/A
PX061201130100 Concentration of fifth allergen measured N/A
PX061201140000 Name of first endotoxin measured N/A
PX061201140100 Concentration of first endotoxin measured N/A
PX061201150000 Name of second endotoxin measured N/A
PX061201150100 Concentration of second endotoxin measured N/A
PX061201160000 Name of third endotoxin measured N/A
PX061201160100 Concentration of third endotoxin measured N/A
PX061201170000 Name of fourth endotoxin measured N/A
PX061201170100 Concentration of fourth endotoxin measured N/A
PX061201180000 Name of fifth endotoxin measured N/A
PX061201180100 Concentration of fifth endotoxin measured N/A
PX061201020000 Number of Days Vacuum Has Been Used Since more
Changing Out the Bag or Emptying the Collection Chamber show less
PX061201040000 Name of first organic compound measured N/A
PX061201040100 Concentration of first organic compound measured N/A
PX061201050000 Name of second organic compound measured N/A
PX061201050100 Concentration of second organic compound measured N/A
PX061201060000 Name of third organic compound measured N/A
PX061201060100 Concentration of third organic compound measured N/A
PX061201070000 Name of fourth organic compound measured N/A
PX061201070100 Concentration of fourth organic compound measured N/A
PX061201080000 Name of fifth organic compound measured N/A
PX061201080100 Concentration of fifth organic compound measured N/A
PX061201030000 Weight of dust collected N/A
PX061201010000 Time vacuum bag was emptied N/A
Environmental Exposures
Measure Name

Dust Collection - Vacuum Bag

Release Date

October 30, 2009


Self-administered collection of the respondent’s vacuum bag for measurement of various environmental contaminants.


Collection of a respondent’s vacuum bag yields a dust sample that may be used to measure various environmental contaminants in the home that are brought into the home on persons or objects or formed in the home. These contaminants include metals, toxic chemicals that may adhere to dust, and biologics like mold, dust mite, roach, rodent, and pet allergens. Such contaminants may affect the health of the residents who live in the home in a number of ways, including toxicity, sensitization with allergens, and triggering or exacerbating allergic and asthmatic responses.


Environmental Exposures, vacuum, dust, allergens, endotoxin, pesticides, mold, mildew, dust mite, roach allergens, rodent allergens, pet allergens, asthma, allergy

Measure Protocols
Protocol ID Protocol Name
61201 Dust Collection - Vacuum Bag

There are no publications listed for this protocol.