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Development of a semi-quantitative mold exposure index for epidemiological studies.

Park J; Rao C; Cox-Ganser J; Boylstein R; Piacitelli C; Schleiff P; Yereb D
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 10-15, 2003, Dallas, Texas. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2003 May; :60
Current methods for assessing exposures to indoor mold contamination are problematic. Available sampling methods do not accurately assess mold exposures, especially historical exposures. Visual assessments are common practices in indoor air quality investigations. We developed semi-quantitative environmental checksheets to assess indicators of mold contamination and water damage for use in our indoor air quality investigations. Industrial hygienists conducted standardized evaluations using the environmental checksheet in 2 hospital buildings and 13 college campus buildings. We evaluated several areas of each room (ceilings, walls, windows, floors, HVAC components, water pipes, and furniture) and scored-on a scale of 0 to 4-each area for water stains, visible mold, mold odor, and signs of current moisture. We then integrated area scores within each room and calculated individual exposure indices by taking into account the time employees spent in each room. In the hospitals, the evaluated areas had mold exposure indices ranging from 0 to 20. There was little visible mold or mold odors. Signs of stains on ceiling tiles and around windows dominated the indices. The indices were positively associated with work-related lower respiratory symptoms and showed evidence of an exposure-response trend after adjustment for personal factors and reported presence of water-damage and mold in homes. For the college buildings with a history of water-damage, 20% of the rooms had visible mold; 3% of the rooms in buildings with no known water-damage had visible mold. Positive relationships between work-related respiratory health symptoms and individual exposure indices were found. The checksheet method may be a valuable tool to assign consistent numerical scoring of mold contamination and water damage for large epidemiological studies of moldy indoor environments.
Molds; Exposure-levels; Epidemiology; Quantitative-analysis; Sampling-methods; Air-quality; Air-quality-control; Industrial-hygienists; Occupational-exposure; Work-environment; Workplace-studies; Respiratory-irritants; Worker-health; Fungi; Microorganisms; Indoor-air-pollution; Indoor-environmental-quality
Publication Date
Document Type
Fiscal Year
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Disease and Injury: Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Source Name
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 10-15, 2003, Dallas, Texas
Page last reviewed: December 18, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division