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Thorax. 2006 Mar;61(3):221-5. Epub 2006 Jan 5.

Prevalence and incidence of respiratory symptoms in relation to indoor dampness: the RHINE study.

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  • 1Department of Medical Sciences, Respiratory Medicine and Allergology, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden. maria.gunnbjornsdottir@medsci.uu.se



An association between indoor dampness and respiratory symptoms has been reported, but dampness as a risk factor for the onset or remission of respiratory symptoms and asthma is not well documented.


This follow up study included 16 190 subjects from Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Estonia who had participated in the European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS I). Eight years later the same subjects answered a postal questionnaire that included questions on respiratory symptoms and indicators of indoor dampness.


Subjects living in damp housing (18%) had a significantly (p<0.001) higher prevalence of wheeze (19.1% v 26.0%), nocturnal breathlessness (4.4% v 8.4%), nocturnal cough (27.2% v 36.5%), productive cough (16.6% v 22.3%) and asthma (6.0% v 7.7%). These associations remained significant after adjusting for possible confounders. Indoor dampness was a risk factor for onset of respiratory symptoms but not for asthma onset in the longitudinal analysis (OR 1.13, 95% CI 0.92 to 1.40). Remission of nocturnal symptoms was less common in damp homes (OR 0.84, 95% CI 0.73 to 0.97).


Subjects living in damp housing had a higher prevalence of respiratory symptoms and asthma. Onset of respiratory symptoms was more common and remission of nocturnal respiratory symptoms was less common in subjects living in damp housing.

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