Adverse health effects among adults exposed to home dampness and molds

Am Rev Respir Dis. 1991 Mar;143(3):505-9. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm/143.3.505.


To investigate the association between home dampness and mold and health, questionnaires were administered through the primary school system to parents of school-aged children in six regions of Canada. The present report focuses on the symptoms of the 14,799 adults at least 21 yr of age. The overall response rate was 83%, and missing values for individual variables ranged from 3 to 8%. The presence of home dampness and/or molds (that is, damp spots, visible mold or mildew, water damage, and flooding) was reported by 38% of respondents. The prevalence of lower respiratory symptoms (any cough, phlegm, wheeze, or wheeze with dyspnea) was increased among those reporting dampness or mold compared with those not reporting dampness or mold as follows: 38 versus 27% among current smokers, 21 versus 14% among exsmokers, and 19 versus 11% among nonsmokers (all p values less than 0.001). This association persisted after adjusting for several sociodemographic variables (including age, sex, and region) and several other exposure variables (including active and passive cigarette smoke, natural gas heating, and wood stoves). The odds ratio between symptoms and dampness was 1.62 (95% confidence interval, 1.48 to 1.78) in the final model chosen. This association persisted despite stratification by the presence of allergies or asthma. Exposure to home dampness and mold may be a risk factor for respiratory disease in the Canadian population.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asthma / etiology
  • Female
  • Fungi*
  • Housing*
  • Humans
  • Humidity / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / etiology
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / etiology*
  • Smoking