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NIOSH alert: preventing occupational respiratory disease from exposures caused by dampness in office buildings, schools, and other nonindustrial buildings.
Martin M; Cox-Ganser J; Kreiss K; Kanwal R; Sahakian N
Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2013-102, 2012 Nov; :1-21
Office buildings, schools, and other nonindustrial buildings may develop moisture and dampness problems from roof and window leaks, high indoor humidity, and flooding events, among other things. For this Alert, we define "dampness" as the presence of unwanted and excessive moisture in buildings [AIHA 2008]. This can lead to the growth of mold, fungi, and bacteria; the release of volatile organic compounds; and the breakdown of building materials. We use the term "mold" for a group of fungi that are common on wet materials. Outdoors, molds live in the soil, on plants, and on dead or decaying matter. There are thousands of species of molds and they can be any color. Different mold species can adapt to different moisture conditions. Research studies have shown that dampness-related exposures from building dampness and mold have been associated with respiratory symptoms, asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, rhinosinusitis, bronchitis, and respiratory infections in research studies. Individuals with asthma or hypersensitivity pneumonitis may be at risk for progression to more severe disease if the relationship between illness and exposure to the damp building is not recognized and exposures continue.
Respiratory-system-disorders; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Microorganisms; Molds; Organic-dusts; Organic-compounds; Office-workers; Humidity; Fungi; Bacteria
Director, Division of Respiratory Disease Studies, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1095 Willowdale Road, Suite 2900, Morgantown, WV 26505
Numbered Publication; Alert
NTIS Accession No.
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2013-102; B20121218D
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: March 25, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division