Asthma is a leading chronic disease among children and places a significant burden on public health. Exposure to indoor mold has been associated with asthma symptoms. However, many mold assessments have relied on visual or other identification of damp conditions and mold presence, thus have not examined associations with specific fungal genera. The objective of this case-control study was to examine the relationship between airborne mold concentrations and asthma status among children and to identify the contribution from specific mold genera in air. Participants completed a questionnaire of home environmental conditions and underwent indoor air sampling in the home, from which viable and total-count fungal spores were quantified. The most prevalent fungi in the homes were the allergenic molds Cladosporium (98% and 87% of homes from viable and total count samples, respectively) and Penicillium (91% and 73%). There were no significant differences in mean fungal concentrations between the homes of cases and controls, although the observed rate of exposure to several molds was higher among the cases. Among children who lacked a family history of asthma, cases had significantly higher exposures to viable Aspergillus. Measured humidity levels in the home corresponded with some self-reported indicators of mold and dampness.
Practical implications: The results of this study support existing literature that indoor fungal exposures play a role in current asthma status and that some qualitative assessments of mold exposure correspond to fungi present in indoor air.
© 2011 John Wiley & Sons A/S.