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Session 701

November 1, 8:30 - 9:30 a.m.

Connecticut Room (Lobby Level)

Click here for session handout.

Consider Surrogate Allergens for that Unsolved IAQ Mystery

Jeff May

IAQ Consultant

May Indoor Air Investigations, Tyngsborough, MA

Session Description 


Corn-starch granules that have acquired latex allergen from gloves are recognized surrogate allergens; inhalation of such granules can cause symptoms in a latex-allergic individual. Many cat owners use corn-starch-based kitty litter; the air in their homes is full urine-coated starch granules. Dander particles consist of keratin, a non-allergenic protein but dander is allergenic because of the salivary and skin-secreted proteins coating the particles. Labs do reports on corn starch. Respirable, inorganic particles such as rust and gypsum (from drywall) can also become coated with allergens if they were in contact with microbial growth and are then aerosolized. This presentation is based on case studies, will include photomicrographs of surrogate allergens, will stress the importance of microscopy in identifying particulate matter, and will encourage IAQ professionals to look beyond the usual suspects.

Presentation Categories:  Investigations, Testing & Research

Presentation Level: Intermediate

About Jeff May: 


Jeffrey C. May is principal scientist at May Indoor Air Investigations LLC, located in Tyngsboro, MA. His company investigates moisture, odor and mold problems throughout the U.S. Jeff is the author of “My House is Killing Me!” (2001), and My Office is Killing Me! (2006), and co-author, along with Connie L. May, of “The Mold Survival Guide” (2004), and Jeff May’s Healthy Home Tips, (2008), all published by The Johns Hopkins University Press. He has investigated thousands of “sick buildings” and analyzed by microscopy over 40,000 air and dust samples. Jeff received his master’s degree in organic chemistry from Harvard University and served an adjunct faculty member at UMass Lowell. He was inducted into the Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA) Hall of Fame in 2018.