The health of those who live, attend school, or work in damp buildings has been a growing concern through the years due to a broad range of reported building-related symptoms and illnesses. Research has found that people who spend time in damp buildings are more likely to report health problems such as these:
- Respiratory symptoms (such as in nose, throat, lungs)
- Development or worsening of asthma
- Hypersensitivity pneumonitis (a rare lung disease caused by an immune system response to repeated inhalation of sensitizing substances such as bacteria, fungi, organic dusts, and chemicals)
- Respiratory infections
- Allergic rhinitis (often called “hay fever”)
Exposures in damp buildings are complex. They vary from building to building, and in different places within a building. Moisture allows indoor mold to multiply more easily on building materials or other surfaces, and people inside buildings may be exposed to microbes and their structural components, such as spores and fungal fragments. Mold may also produce substances that can cause or worsen health problems, and these substances vary depending on the mold species and on conditions related to the indoor environment. Moisture can also attract cockroaches, rodents, and dust mites. Moisture-damaged building materials can release volatile organic compounds that can cause health problems.
Researchers have not found exactly how much exposure to dampness-related substances it takes to cause health problems. Research studies report that finding and correcting sources of dampness is a more effective way to prevent health problems than counting indoor microbes. Therefore, NIOSH developed a tool to help assess areas of dampness in buildings to help prioritize remediation of problems areas.
Content Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention