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Semi-quantitative mold exposure index predicts building-related respiratory symptoms.

Park-J-H; Schleiff-PL; Attfield-MD; Cox-Ganser-JM; Kreiss-K
Working Partnerships: Applying Research to Practice, NORA Symposium 2003, June 23-24, 2003, Arlington, Virginia. Washington, DC: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 2003 Jun; :154
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) investigated 13 college buildings to examine whether a semi-quantitative mold exposure index (EI) could efficiently predict work-related respiratory symptoms. We collected work-related symptom data and room locations/time fractions through questionnaires. Industrial hygienists classified rooms for factors including extent of water stain, visible mold, mold odor, and dampness. We estimated 323 individual EIs based on each factor or a combination of the factors weighted by time fraction in particular rooms. In logistic regression models adjusting for age, gender, job position, hire years, smoking, allergies, and use of latex gloves, we found a significant exposure-response relationship for wheeze (Odds Ratio(OR)=2.3) with stain-based EI. EI based on the combined factors showed significant exposureresponse relationships for chest tightness (OR=2.2), and shortness of breath (OR=2.7). Our findings suggest that an observational semi-quantitative exposure index can support public health action to prevent risk of buildingrelated respiratory disease. Our semi-quantitative mold exposure index, based on visual and olfactory observation, was associated with building-related symptoms that may reflect asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, and nasal/sinus disease. From a public health perspective, these observational findings justify action to control water damage with attention to hidden reservoirs of bioaerosols, in order to prevent building-related respiratory disease.
Molds; Respiratory-system-disorders; Respiratory-irritants; Questionnaires; Visual-perception; Pulmonary-system-disorders
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Disease and Injury: Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
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Working Partnerships: Applying Research to Practice, NORA Symposium 2003, June 23-24, 2003, Arlington, Virginia