Respiratory health effects of home dampness and molds among Canadian children

Am J Epidemiol. 1991 Jul 15;134(2):196-203. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.aje.a116072.


In 1988, the authors conducted a questionnaire-based study on the health effects of the indoor environment in 30 Canadian communities. This paper focuses on the association between the respiratory health of young children and home dampness and molds. A total of 17,962 parents or guardians of schoolchildren received a questionnaire, and 14,948 (83.2%) questionnaires were returned. Children living in mobile homes, tents, and boats were excluded as were those with cystic fibrosis, leaving 13,495 children included in the study group. The housing stock was distributed as follows: 81% were one-family detached homes, 6% were one-family attached homes, and 13% were buildings for two or more families. Molds were reported in 32.4%, flooding in 24.1%, and moisture in 14.1% of the homes. Prevalences of all respiratory symptoms were consistently higher in homes with reported molds or dampness; i.e., adjusted odds ratios ranged from 1.32 (95% confidence interval 1.06-1.39) for bronchitis to 1.89 (95% confidence interval 1.58-2.26) for cough. The prevalence of home dampness or molds, 37.8%, indicates that it is an important public health issue. Further studies are required to elucidate the pathogenesis.

MeSH terms

  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Environmental Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Fungi*
  • Humans
  • Humidity / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prevalence
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / etiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires