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Asthma

Asthma and Fiberglass Bedbug Dust

04/22/2010

Question:

I recently had to fumigate my apartment because we had problems eradicating bedbugs through the natural heating process. We had an exterminator come in and place dust in all the nooks and cracks of our apartment, dressers, baseboards, all furniture. The white bedbug dust contained fiberglass to kill the bedbugs. He wore a suit and mask to protect himself while applying the dust. THE GOOD NEWS, after 3 months of treatment we have no more bedbugs. But 1 week after the dusting, my son, who has bad seasonal allergies (allergic to oak) developed a bad persistent cough at night. Could this bedbug dusting treatment have triggered asthma? This was the first year he has had the persistent cough at night. All allergy medications did not comfort his cough.

Answer:

It is difficult to know what the cause of your son?s nocturnal cough is. Several common causes of cough, including cough from asthma, post nasal drip (due to allergies or sinus infection), and cough from gastro-esophageal reflux, all tend to be worse at night. Whether the dust involved might have triggered the above is unclear. It would have had to still be airborne (for your son to have inhaled it), and also would have been expected to cause the most dramatic symptoms early on in the exposure.

I would recommend having your child evaluated for more common reasons for cough, and addressing these, before pursuing the dust exposure issue.

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Response by:

Elizabeth D Allen, MD Elizabeth D Allen, MD
Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University