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Culturable mold in indoor air and its association with moisture-related problems and asthma and allergy among Swedish children

Authors

  • J. Holme,

    1. Department of Materials and Structures, SINTEF Building and Infrastructure
    2. Department of Civil and Transport Engineering, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway
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  • L. Hägerhed-Engman,

    1. Department of Building Physics and Indoor Environment, SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden, Borås, Sweden
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  • J. Mattsson,

    1. Mycoteam AS, Oslo, Norway
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  • J. Sundell,

    1. International Centre for Indoor Environment and Energy, Technical University of Denmark, Lyngby, Denmark
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  • C.-G. Bornehag

    1. Department of Building Physics and Indoor Environment, SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden, Borås, Sweden
    2. International Centre for Indoor Environment and Energy, Technical University of Denmark, Lyngby, Denmark
    3. Public Health Sciences, Karlstad University, Karlstad, Sweden
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J. Holme
SINTEF Building and Infrastructure
NO – 7465 Trondheim
Norway
Tel.: +47 73593390
Fax: +47 73593380
e-mail: jonas.holme@sintef.no

Abstract

Abstract  In a nested case–control study with 198 children with asthmatic and allergic symptoms (cases) and 202 healthy controls in Värmland, Sweden, we have investigated the relationship between mold spore exposure (mean colony-forming unit) indoor and (i) different indexes of moldy odor indoor (observed by professional inspectors and reported by parents), (ii) visible signs of dampness in the homes of the children (observed and reported), and (iii) doctor-diagnosed asthma/allergy in children. No association was found between the spore concentration indoor and moldy odor and signs of visible dampness in the homes. When a semi-quantitative method in distinguishing between moldy houses or non-moldy houses was used, there were no significant differences between the observed indexes of moldy odor or visible signs of dampness (both observed and reported). No association could be found between the spore concentration in indoor air and asthma/allergy in the children.

Practical Implications

Mold spore exposure indoor have been suggested as a possible explanation for airway problems such as asthma and allergy among people living in buildings with moisture-related problems. However, this investigation could not find any associations between the spore concentrations in indoor air and signs of dampness and moldy odor reported by parents or observed by professional inspectors. Neither was there any association between the indoor spore concentration and asthma/allergy among children. With these results, there is no reason for one-time air sampling of mold colony-forming unit (CFU) in indoor air of homes to identify risk factors for asthma/allergy in children living in Scandinavian countries.

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