Indoor risk factors for asthma and wheezing among Seattle school children

Environ Health Perspect. 1997 Feb;105(2):208-14. doi: 10.1289/ehp.97105208.


Indoor risk factors for physician-diagnosed asthma and wheezing in the past 12 months without previous asthma diagnosis were assessed in a survey of parents of 5-9-year-old Seattle primary school students. Among the 925 respondents, 106 (11%) reported a physician diagnosis of asthma, 66 (7%) had wheezing without diagnosis, and 753 (82%) were asymptomatic. After adjusting for age, sex, gender, ethnicity, medical history, socioeconomic status (SES) and parental asthma status, an increased risk of physician diagnosis of asthma was associated with household water damage, the presence of one or more household tobacco smokers, and at least occasional environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) exposure. Similarly, an increased risk of wheezing in the past 12 months among children without diagnosed asthma was associated with household water damage, presence of one or more household tobacco smokers, and occasional or more frequent ETS exposure. No increased risk of either condition was associated with gas, wood, or kerosene stove use, household mold, basement water, or wall/window dampness. Similarities in the indoor risk factors patterns between diagnosed asthma and wheezing without diagnosis suggested a similar etiology of these two conditions. The slightly higher association between ETS and asthma may indicate that parents of diagnosed asthmatics were more conscious of ETS, and were more likely to prohibit household smoking by resident smokers. Future research is needed to quantify which aspects of household water damage are related to respiratory illness.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution, Indoor / adverse effects*
  • Asthma / epidemiology
  • Asthma / etiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Respiratory Sounds / etiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Washington / epidemiology


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution