Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Indoor Mold, Building Dampness Linked to Respiratory Problems and Require

26.05.2004


Better Prevention; Evidence Does Not Support Links to Wider Array of Illnesses



Scientific evidence links mold and other factors related to damp conditions in homes and buildings to asthma symptoms in some people with the chronic disorder, as well as to coughing, wheezing, and upper respiratory tract symptoms in otherwise healthy people, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. However, the available evidence does not support an association between either indoor dampness or mold and the wide range of other health complaints that have been ascribed to them, the report says. Given the frequent occurrence of moisture problems in buildings and their links to respiratory problems, excessive indoor dampness should be addressed through a broad range of public health initiatives and changes in how buildings are designed, constructed, and maintained, said the committee that wrote the report.

"An exhaustive review of the scientific literature made it clear to us that it can be very hard to tease apart the health effects of exposure to mold from all the other factors that may be influencing health in the typical indoor environment," said committee chair Noreen Clark, dean, School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. "That said, we were able to find sufficient evidence that certain respiratory problems, including symptoms in asthmatics who are sensitive to mold, are associated with exposure to mold and damp conditions. Even though the available evidence does not link mold or other factors associated with building moisture to all the serious health problems that some attribute to them, excessive indoor dampness is a widespread problem that warrants action at the local, state, and national levels."


Excessive dampness influences whether mold as well as bacteria, dust mites, and other such agents are present and thrive indoors. Moreover, wetness may cause chemicals and particles to be released from building materials. Many studies of health effects possibly related to indoor dampness do not distinguish the specific health effects of different biological or chemical agents.

Through its careful review of the available scientific studies, the committee found sufficient evidence to conclude that mold and damp conditions are associated with asthma symptoms in asthmatics who are sensitive to mold, and to coughing, wheezing, and upper respiratory tract symptoms in otherwise healthy people. However, the evidence did not meet the strict scientific standards needed to establish a clear, causal relationship. An uncommon ailment known as hypersensitivity pneumonitis also is associated with indoor mold exposure in genetically susceptible people. Damp conditions and all they entail may be associated with the onset of asthma, as well as shortness of breath and lower respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children, although the evidence is less certain in these circumstances. Likewise, the presence of visible mold indoors may be linked to lower respiratory tract illness in children, but the evidence is not as strong in this case.

The committee found very few studies that have examined whether mold or other factors associated with indoor dampness are linked to fatigue, neuropsychiatric disorders, or other health problems that some people have attributed to fungal infestations of buildings. The little evidence that is available does not support an association, but because of the dearth of well-conducted studies and reliable data, the committee could not rule out the possibility.

Studies on animals and cell cultures in labs have found toxic effects from various microbial agents, raising concerns about whether these same agents growing in buildings can cause illness in people. Molds that are capable of producing toxins do grow indoors, and toxic and inflammatory effects also can be caused by bacteria that flourish in damp conditions, the report noted. Little information exists on the toxic potential of chemicals or particles that may be released when building materials, furniture, and other items degrade because of wetness. The committee recommended that current animal studies of short-term, high-level inhalation exposures to microbial toxins be supplemented with new research that evaluates the effects of long-term exposures at lower concentrations.

Moisture and mold problems stem from building designs, construction and maintenance practices, and building materials in which wetness lingers. Technical information describing how to control dampness already exists, but architects, engineers, building contractors, facility managers, and maintenance staff do not always apply this knowledge, the report says. Training curricula on why dampness problems occur and how to prevent them should be produced and disseminated. Guidelines for preventing indoor dampness also should be developed at the national level to promote widespread adoption and to avoid the potential for conflicting advice from different quarters. In addition, building codes and regulations should be reviewed and modified as necessary to reduce moisture problems.

Research on various means to prevent or eliminate excessive dampness -- including educational initiatives and building renovations or design changes -- should be undertaken to find out which are effective. While there is universal agreement that promptly fixing leaks and cleaning up spills or standing water substantially reduces the potential for mold growth, there is little evidence that shows which forms of moisture control or prevention work best at reducing health problems associated with dampness, the report notes. In addition, materials designed to educate the public about the actual health risks associated with indoor dampness should be developed and evaluated. The effectiveness of economic and other incentives to spur adherence to moisture prevention practices -- such as bonuses for facility managers who meet defined goals for preventing or reducing problems, or fines for failure to correct problems by a specified deadline -- should be evaluated, and successful strategies should be implemented.

The committee had insufficient information to recommend either an appropriate level of dampness reduction, or a safe level of exposure to organisms and chemicals linked to dampness. Better standardized methods for assessing human exposure to these agents are greatly needed, the report says. It calls for studies that compare various ways to limit moisture or eliminate mold and to evaluate whether the interventions improve occupants’ health.

The study was sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Institute of Medicine is a private, nonprofit institution that provides health policy advice under a congressional charter granted to the National Academy of Sciences. A committee roster follows.

Christine Stencel | The National Academies
Further information:
http://www4.nationalacademies.org/news.nsf/isbn/0309091934?OpenDocument

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Using fragment-based approaches to discover new antibiotics
21.06.2018 | SLAS (Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening)

nachricht Scientists learn more about how gene linked to autism affects brain
19.06.2018 | Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core

In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.

Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Graphene assembled film shows higher thermal conductivity than graphite film

22.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Fast rising bedrock below West Antarctica reveals an extremely fluid Earth mantle

22.06.2018 | Earth Sciences

Zebrafish's near 360 degree UV-vision knocks stripes off Google Street View

22.06.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>