Studies Confirm Public Health, Economic Risks of Dampness and Mold

The journal Indoor Air will publish a pair of studies, from Berkeley Lab and the EPA, that quantify the public health risks and economic consequences from building dampness and mold.


The journal Indoor Air will publish a pair of studies that quantify the public health risks and economic consequences in the United States from building dampness and mold.

One paper by William J. Fisk, Quanhong Lei-Gomez and Mark J. Mendell, all from the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), concludes that building dampness and mold raised the risk of a variety of respiratory and asthma-related health outcomes by 30% to 50%.

"Our analysis does not prove that dampness and mold cause these health effects," Fisk said. "However, the consistent and relatively strong associations of dampness with adverse health effects strongly suggest causation by dampness-related [pollutant] exposures."

The second paper, written by David Mudarri of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Fisk, uses results from the Berkeley Lab study plus additional data on dampness prevalence to estimate that 21% of asthma cases in the United States should be attributed to dampness and mold exposure.

The EPA paper estimates that the annual cost of asthma attributed to dampness and mold exposure is $3.5 billion. The paper also summarizes the evidence of adverse health effects from dampness and mold in offices and schools, and suggests that exposure to dampness and mold in those venues appear to have similar health impacts on those exposed.

These studies are part of the Indoor Air Quality Scientific Findings Resource Bank project, funded by the Indoor Environments Division, Office of Radiation and Indoor Air of the EPA. The project is a cooperative venture between EPA and Berkeley Lab to quantify the health and productivity impacts of indoor air exposures and make those data publicly accessible.

To view the papers from the web site of the /Indoor Air/ journal, click here .

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