We examined associations between observational dampness scores and measurements of microbial agents and moisture in three public schools. A dampness score was created for each room from 4-point-scale scores (0-3) of water damage, water stains, visible mold, moldy odor, and wetness for each of 8 room components (ceiling, walls, windows, floor, ventilation, furniture, floor trench, and pipes), when present. We created mixed microbial exposure indices (MMEIs) for each of 121 rooms by summing decile ranks of 8 analytes (total culturable fungi; total, Gram-negative, and Gram-positive culturable bacteria; ergosterol; (1→3)-β-D-glucan; muramic acid; and endotoxin) in floor dust. We found significant (P ≤ 0.01) linear associations between the dampness score and culturable bacteria (total, Gram-positive, and Gram-negative) and the MMEIs. Rooms with dampness scores greater than 0.25 (median) had significantly (P < 0.05) higher levels of most microbial agents, MMEIs, and relative moisture content than those with lower scores (≤0.25). Rooms with reported recent water leaks had significantly (P < 0.05) higher dampness scores than those with historical or no reported water leaks. This study suggests that observational assessment of dampness and mold using a standardized form may be valuable for identifying and documenting water damage and associated microbial contamination.
Keywords: Assessment; Building; Dampness; Microbial; Mold; School.
Published 2015. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.