29 Aug Indoor Mold Exposure Can Post Health Risk To Asthma Patients
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Richard Sharpe PhD
Study – Health and Housing
European Centre for Environment and Human Health
University of Exeter Medical school
Knowledge Spa, Royal Cornwall Hospital
Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study?
Dr. Sharpe: By systematically reviewing the findings from 17 studies across 8 different countries, we’ve found that increased levels of the fungal species Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Cladosporium can pose a significant health risk to people with asthma. The presence of these fungi in the home can worsen symptoms in both children and adults.
Medical Research: Were any of the findings unexpected?
Dr. Sharpe: Dampness and fungal contamination in the home has been consistently shown to increase the risk of asthma and the severity of its symptoms. Fungi are ubiquitous in indoor and outdoor environments, and most studies have focused on visible fungi and moldy odors or on identifying fungi to the genera, but not on the type of species. This is important to consider because there are many different allergenic fungal species, but it is not clear how the diversity and indoor concentrations are influenced by occupant behaviors, the built and outdoor environment. Majority of the evidence reviewed focuses on the exacerbation of asthma symptoms, and few assess their role in the development of asthma. So far Aspergillus and Penicillium species have already been linked to an increase in the risk of asthma development in children, but we know little about the effects of the other species we considered.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Sharpe: Characterized by typically high humidity, homes with poor heating and ventilation can be a haven for house dust mites and mold. Dampness is one of the major factors affecting the growth of mold inside homes – a problem which has been on the rise as aging houses are sealed and retrofitted with new energy efficient technology. We currently know very little about how people’s living habits can contribute to indoor air quality, and ultimately affect their health. This study highlights the need for homes to have adequate heating, ventilation and home maintenance – all factors that will help to reduce the presence of mold and its effects on asthma symptoms.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Sharpe: We recommend that future studies should consider the adoption of a multidisciplinary approach using both molecular and epidemiologic tools to accurately estimate the extent and timing of exposures and reliably assess their potential health effects.
Richard A. Sharpe, Nick Bearman, Christopher R. Thornton, Kerryn Husk, Nicholas J. Osborne. Indoor fungal diversity and asthma: A meta-analysis and systematic review of risk factors. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2014.07.002