The link between mold and asthma

Two landmark studies released earlier this year provide the first solid evidence that damp buildings and exposure to indoor mold growth are risk factors for developing asthma and not just in making asthma symptoms worse. These studies are highlighted in a free new report titled, Asthma and Damp Buildings: Making the Connection.

The results from these studies indicate that the risk for developing asthma appears higher for, but is not limited to, people who are sensitive to mold allergens or who have parents with asthma. Also, spores are not the only particles in the air that come from moldy surfaces.

Specifically these studies showed that for every one intact spore in the air, more than 300 particles of dead parts of the mold colony or digested bits of the substrate on which the mold grew also may be in the air. These particles can carry the substances that can cause immune system and allergic reactions. And because these particles are much smaller than mold spores, they can be inhaled more deeply into the lung.

“What this means for buildings owners and facility managers is if your buildings are damp (have moisture or water intrusion problems), your buildings can support indoor mold growth and the people living, working, or going to school in your buildings have a higher potential risk for developing asthma. This in turn puts you at higher risk for liability and bad publicity,” says W. Elliott Horner, PhD, FAAAAI, principal scientist and microbial laboratory director for Air Quality Sciences, Inc. “These are extraordinary findings, with serious implications for building owners and facility managers,” he adds.

Other studies demonstrate that current methods for sampling and analyzing indoor air for mold may be underestimating the amount of airborne material that can trigger asthma attacks. To learn more about indoor air quality, visit the Aeias-AQS IAQ Resource Center.