Are cockroaches an important source of indoor endotoxins?

Ka Man LAI*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
34 Downloads (Pure)


Endotoxins are common indoor biocontaminants. Their levels have been shown to link to many sources and factors. One of them is cockroach infestation but the role of cockroaches and contamination mechanisms are unclear. We hypothesized that not only is cockroach infestation a sign of poor hygiene, but it also contributes to indoor endotoxins via fecal contamination. In this study, different cockroach species were caught in homes. The endotoxin and allergen levels and their ratios in cockroach feces were determined. To estimate the amount of indoor endotoxins that originated from cockroaches, a new approach of using these new cockroach endotoxin and allergen ratios to compare with environmental data was employed. We found that Supella (S.) longipalpa, Periplaneta (P.) australasiae, and Blattella (B.) germanica were dominant in homes. On average, P. australasiae feces had a higher level but greater variation of endotoxins. B. germanica feces had the highest levels of allergens measured. Depending on environmental bacterial load and the type of cockroaches present, cockroach endotoxins in the environment may vary greatly. Cockroaches directly contribute to indoor endotoxins rather than just being a sign of poor hygiene. The type and extent of cockroach infestation should be taken into consideration when assessing and remediating indoor endotoxin contamination.

Original languageEnglish
Article number91
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 2017

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

User-Defined Keywords

  • Cockroaches
  • Endotoxins
  • Environmental assessment
  • Indoor hygiene


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