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Excess dampness and mold growth in homes: An evidence-based review of the aeroirritant effect and its potential causes

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Exposure to fungi produces respiratory disease in humans through both allergic and nonallergic mechanisms. Occupants of homes with excess dampness and mold growth often present to allergists with complaints of aeroirritant symptoms. This review describes the major epidemiological and biological studies evaluating the association of indoor dampness and mold growth with upper respiratory tract symptoms. The preponderance of epidemiological data supports a link between exposure to dampness and excess mold growth and the development of aeroirritant symptoms. In addition, biological and clinical studies evaluating potential causal substances for the aeroirritant effect, notably volatile organic compounds (VOCs), are examined in detail. These studies support the role of VOCs in contributing to the aeroirritant symptoms of occupants of damp and mold-contaminated homes.
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Keywords: Adverse health effect; aeroirritant; allergy; evidence based; fungi; mold; nonallergic rhinitis; respiratory symptoms; toxicity; volatile organic compounds

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: 1: From the Division of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, Scripps Clinic, La Jolla, California, and , La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, La Jolla, California 2: From the Division of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, Scripps Clinic, La Jolla, California, and

Publication date: 2007-05-01

More about this publication?
  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

    Articles marked "F" offer free full text for personal noncommercial use only.

    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
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