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Tests for Gluten on Household Surfaces

by | Nov 19, 2019

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In a blog post not long ago, I discussed the phenomenon of airborne gluten—the ability that gluten has to sometimes become airborne and float around.  That post originated from an experiment I conducted during our kitchen de-glutenizing project, where I decided to gluten-test the dust that had collected on top of our refrigerator.  I was intrigued when the result of that gluten test came back “gluten found”.  So, I decided to do a few more tests to see just how pervasive airborne gluten is.

The big question in my mind was just how far could gluten travel?  It had probably gotten onto the fridge from one primary source: Our Kitchen Aid Mixer, which sits on the countertop next to the refrigerator.  So, in that case, it likely came from a very nearby source.  But can it go further?

As I thought about this, I decided to do a few more tests to attempt to answer that very question.

Test Synopsis

I decided to run a series of tests in various locations throughout our home.  I opted for areas that are high points, mainly because those are the out-of-sight, out-of-mind places that get cleaned less often.  So I knew I would have a better chance of picking up some dust (and possibly gluten) that would have been accumulating for a while.

In the end, I opted to test three locations:

Master Bathroom Door Casing

Top of door and door casing
Nima Sensor showing a smiley face gluten free indication

Our master bathroom sits roughly 60 feet away from the kitchen, and around two 90 degree turns.  Gluten would have to travel quite a distance in order to make it to this location.

Similar to the fridge test, I used a cotton swab to lift dust from the top of the door casing.  I then cut off the end of the swab and put in in Nima Capsule.  The capsule was then inserted into Nima Sensor device for testing.

Result: GLUTEN FREE

Based on this test, it appears that fortunately gluten had not traveled far enough to reach the Master Bedroom/Bathroom.

Bathroom Medicine Cabinet

Bathroom light fixture above a mirror
Nima sensor showing a smiley face gluten free indicator

This bathroom is pretty much a straight shot from the kitchen, although it sits about 40 feet away.

Once again, I used a cotton swab to lift dust from the top of the medicine cabinet / mirror.  As usual, after taking the dust sample using the swab, I then cut off the end of the swab and placed it in a Nima Capsule.  The capsule was then placed into the Nima Sensor for testing.

Result: GLUTEN FREE

Once again, it appears that the gluten originating from the kitchen had not traveled far enough to reach this bathroom.

Dining Room High Shelf

Shelf with some greenery and a red candle
Nima sensor showing a smiley face gluten free indication

For the final test, I found a location relatively close to the kitchen.  This shelf sits atop a wall that separates the dining room from the living room.  This is roughly 20 feet from the kitchen.

As with the previous tests, I used a cotton swap to lift dust that had accumulated on this shelf.  After cutting off the end of the swab, I put it a Nima Capsule.  The capsule was then placed in the Nima Sensor for testing.

Result: GLUTEN FREE

As with the previous two tests in this series, the Nima Sensor did not detect any gluten in the dust that had collected on top of this shelf.

Conclusion

I was honestly quite surprised by the overall results of these tests.  The door casing and the bathroom tests didn’t come as too much of a surprise due to their distance from the kitchen.  But I really assumed that the shelf would be rife with gluten, being only about 20 feet away.  The fortunate takeaway from this is that perhaps gluten doesn’t travel as much as I expected it would [EDIT 12/10/2019: Please take a look at Airborne Gluten Test #3 for a relevant update on the tests presented here].

Obviously, however, if you have gluten-sensitive people living in a home where there is gluten present, there is still substantial cause for concern and caution.  In Airborne Gluten Test #1, we established that gluten can definitely travel.  Even though it appears that maybe it doesn’t travel far, it could still make its way onto nearby kitchen surfaces, such as dishes, food preparation areas, and eating areas.

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