Damp housing and adult respiratory symptoms

Allergy. 1992 Oct;47(5):498-502. doi: 10.1111/j.1398-9995.1992.tb00672.x.


The relationship between home dampness and adult respiratory symptoms was investigated using data from a parent-administered questionnaire on childhood respiratory symptoms that also included questions on parental respiratory symptoms. Questionnaires were returned by the parents of 3344 children living in the town of Helmond, The Netherlands. The response was 73%. Home dampness was characterized by reports of damp stains or mould growth on indoor surfaces and was reported by 23.6% and 15.0% of the study population, respectively. Of the homes, 25.4% had dampness and/or mould. Information about respiratory symptoms was collected for the mothers and fathers of a population of 6-12-year-old schoolchildren. Symptoms analysed were cough, phlegm, wheeze, asthma, and allergy to pollen or house dust. Cough and phlegm in both men and women were found to be strongly associated with living in a damp home. Weaker associations were found for wheeze and asthma, and there was little association between living in a damp home and allergy to pollen or house dust. Current smoking was strongly associated with cough, phlegm and wheeze in both men and women. Smoking was inversely associated with allergy to pollen or house dust, suggesting that allergic subjects do not start smoking, or give up the habit. The results suggest that the association between home dampness and respiratory symptoms previously reported for children also applies to adults. Suggested mechanisms include exposure to biological contaminants produced by fungi or house dust mites, but it has not yet been documented to what extent these exposures are responsible.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Humidity / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Respiration Disorders / epidemiology
  • Respiration Disorders / etiology*
  • Respiration Disorders / physiopathology
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires