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Damp indoor spaces and health: Committee on Damp Indoor Spaces and Health, Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.
Pechter E; Committee on Damp Indoor Spaces and Health, Institute of Medicine of the National Academies
SENSOR Occup Lung Dis Bull 2004 Oct; :1-2
In this Bulletin, the Occupational Health Surveillance Program (OHSP) summarizes the recent Institute of Medicine (IOM) report on mold, damp environments and associated health effects. A CDC sponsored IOM panel reported that both mold and indoor dampness are associated with symptoms of asthma in susceptible people, and that excessive indoor dampness is a public health problem. The number of work-related asthma (WRA) cases associated with mold reported to OHSP has increased dramatically over the last 10 years. This may be ascribed to a true increase in cases associated with mold and/or increased awareness of mold as a hazard. Only 5 cases of WRA attributed to mold were reported from 1993-1996; mold was not among the top ten agents reported. By 2002, 53 people with WRA had identified mold as one of three asthma triggers coded in our data, and mold was the third most frequently reported exposure. The IOM report draws a link between damp building conditions, upper respiratory symptoms and asthma. Dampness is associated with coughing, sneezing and nasal and throat symptoms. Those with allergies to mold may develop asthma. Clinicians cannot predict who will become sensitized; protecting all workers from damp conditions and mold will reduce the incidence of WRA. NIOSH has been involved in mold and indoor air quality research, establishing exposure response relationships, exploring microbial exposure indices in relation to health, conducting assessments, developing a detection method for Stachybotras, and measuring intervention effectiveness. Remember to report suspected and confirmed cases of occupational asthma to the Occupational Health Surveillance Program by phone, fax or mail. Case reporting is mandated by public health regulations, and allows us to identify hazardous exposures in our state and plan informed prevention strategies. Please let us know if there is anything that we can do to reduce barriers you may face in reporting cases of occupational asthma. Escalating concern about the adverse effects of mold on human health led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to request a comprehensive review of the scientific literature on this subject. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) conducted the study, focusing on the relationship between damp or moldy indoor environments and adverse health effects, especially respiratory and allergic symptoms. They limited their report to exposures in homes, schools and office buildings, and excluded studies in barn, silo and factory environments.
Occupational-health; Work-environment; Workers; Occupational-exposure; Respiratory-system-disorders; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Bronchial-asthma; Surveillance-programs; Health-hazards; Air-contamination; Indoor-air-pollution; Worker-health; Occupational-diseases; Molds; Indoor-environmental-quality; Environmental-pollution; Public-health; Air-contamination; Microorganisms; Allergies; Health-care; Office-workers
Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Occupational Health Surveillance Program, 250 Washington Street, 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02108
SENSOR Occupational Lung Disease Bulletin
Massachusetts State Department of Public Health
Page last reviewed: April 1, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division