West Palm Beach FL, January 9, 2013 - It is well known and widely accepted in the medical and scientific fields that mold exposure can trigger asthma in people who already have asthma. This is a very significant and important problem because asthma can literally take your breath away. According to the EPA “Asthma was responsible for 3,384 deaths in the United States in 2005” and, the EPA goes on to state that “Asthma accounts for approximately 500,000 hospitalizations each year.”* Thus the fact that mold can trigger asthma is a serious concern and effects our health and economy in significant ways.
According to Daryl Watters of A Accredited Mold Inspection Service, Inc. “More importantly than triggering asthma, mold appears to also cause asthma.” He went on to state that. “I have had a client; in fact I have had several clients who never had to deal with this debilitating condition, then upon moving into a new home or a rental property with hidden mold that was painted over by unscrupulous landlords, covered by drywall, of simply left unattended deep in the AC system, the unfortunate clients or one of their children starts to suffer from upper respiratory problems when in the property. After several weeks or months of this ordeal the client’s health problems worsen and they start having difficulty breathing, next their doctor diagnoses them with asthma that was never there before. I have seen it several times in my 8 years as a mold inspector and I am sure I will see it again.”
Important scientific studies have been done showing this correlation between asthma development and mold exposure, but many mold inspectors in the United States do not read scientific articles. Our industry knowledge seems to come more from the main stream media and two day mold certification courses and less from scientific studies so many people in the industry seem to have not known about these previous important studies connecting mold exposure to development of new asthma cases.
Fortunately a study was conducted by the University of Cincinnati. That important study appeared in the well-known and widely read Annuals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.” In recent years this new study was also discussed in an IE Connections article by Tom Scarlett. IE Connections is a popular and widely circulated newsletter published by the Indoor Air Quality Association. Finally the important news of a correlation between mold exposure and new asthma development has been made known to the masses.
According to the IQ Connections article titled Strong Link between Mold and Asthma in Children “Exposure to mold before the age of seven substantially raises a child’s chances of developing asthma. The researchers found that children living in homes with high levels of mold had more than twice the risk of developing asthma than did children in mold-free homes.”
The study looked at 577 homes and other residences. In these dwellings active water damage, history of past water damage, visible mold, mold odor, pet allergens, and dust mite allergens, were documented. Some specific molds looked at were Penicillium, Cladosporium, Aspergillius, and Alternaria.*
In regard to measuring mold concentrations, levels the study measured levels on the ERMI mold scale or Environmental Relative Moldiness Index. The ERMI scale uses data from the Environmental Protection Agency and from the 2006 HUD American Healthy Homes Survey. The test method is used to give a standardized measurement of the relative moldiness of dust in a home when compared to levels many other sampled homes.
The ERMI scale covers a range from -10 to 20. Homes at -10 are the cleanest in regard to mold and they produced dust samples at the far low end of the scale. Homes with a ERMI score of 20 are considered to be comparable to the studies moldiest homes.
Homes where children were significantly more likely to develop asthma were homes with an ERMI score above 5.2. This score is right in the middle of the ERMI scale. In fact if a child lived in a high ERMI home at age one they were twice as likely to develop asthma by age seven when compared to children who grew up in a low ERMI score home.
“This is significant because we are not talking about a rare top 1% or even top 5% of moldy homes increasing the chances of asthma development as one might guess, but we are talking about a much larger percentage of homes that were likely to contribute to asthma development if the children lived in the home from an early age Daryl Watters is quoted as saying.”
Mr. Watters also reported that in addition to showing the correlation between the moldiness of homes and asthma development the study also re-established the previously documented correlation between allergic sensitization to dust mites and asthma.
Hopefully now that the information has been made widely available it might finally disseminate to inspectors, doctors, the courts, and to the public.
According to Mr. Watters other well researched and important scientific studies have been done which show that mold has a direct correlation with the development of asthma. For example in one study published in Environmental Health Perspectives back in 2005 researchers concluded that children who grew up in homes with mold odor were twice as likely to develop asthma later in life.
In conclusion mold exposure can not only trigger preexisting health problems such as allergy and asthma, but it appears to be able to cause the development of serious health problems such as asthma.
When people suspect that they are living or working in a moldy environment they are strongly encourages to contact a qualified, certified, and where applicable licensed mold inspector to diagnose the problem and make recommendations in the form of a written report.
About A Accredited Mold Inspection Service, Inc.
Daryl Watters is a State of Florida licensed mold inspector and an ACAC Certified Indoor Environmentalist. He has offered mold inspections and indoor air quality testing in South Florida since 2003. For more information please visit: http://www.floridamoldinspectors.us/ or http://www.floridamoldinspectors.us/certified-florida-mold-inspectors.htm