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Comparison of work-related symptoms and visual contrast sensitivity between employees at a severely water-damaged wchool and a school without significant water damage.

Thomas G; Clark Burton N; Mueller C; Page E; Vesper S
Am J Ind Med 2012 Sep; 55(9):844-854
Background: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) conducted a health hazard evaluation (HHE) of a water-damaged school in New Orleans (NO), Louisiana. Our aim in this evaluation was to document employee health effects related to exposure to the water-damaged school, and to determine if VCS testing could serve as a biomarker of effect for occupants who experienced adverse health effects in a water-damaged building. Methods: NIOSH physicians and staff administered a work history and medical questionnaire, conducted visual contrast sensitivity (VCS) testing, and collected stickytape, air, and dust samples at the school. Counting, culturing, and/or a DNA-based technology, called mold-specific quantitative PCR (MSQPCR), were also used to quantify the molds. A similar health and environmental evaluation was performed at a comparable school in Cincinnati, Ohio which was not water-damaged. Results Extensive mold contamination was documented in the water-damaged school and employees (n = 95) had higher prevalences of work-related rashes and nasal, lower respiratory, and constitutional symptoms than those at the comparison school (n = 110). VCS values across all spatial frequencies were lower among employees at the water-damaged school. Conclusions: Employees exposed to an extensively water-damaged environment reported adverse health effects, including rashes and nasal, lower respiratory, and constitutional symptoms. VCS values were lower in the employees at the water-damaged school, but we do not recommend using it in evaluation of people exposed to mold.
Indoor-environmental-quality; Indoor-air-pollution; Microorganisms; Respiratory-irritants; Skin-irritants; Skin-disorders; Skin-diseases; Skin-infections; Molds; Respiratory-system-disorders; Immune-system-disorders; Neurological-reactions; Molds; Gastrointestinal-system-disorders; Fungi; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Author Keywords: mold; school; visual contrast sensitivity; respiratory; asthma; health hazard evaluation; HETA 2005-0135-3116
Elena Page, MD, MPH, Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations, and Field Studies; National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 4676 Columbia Parkway,Mailstop R-10, Cincinnati,OH 45226
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American Journal of Industrial Medicine
Page last reviewed: September 23, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division