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J Sch Health. 2008 Jan;78(1):32-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1746-1561.2007.00263.x.

Identification of mold and dampness-associated respiratory morbidity in 2 schools: comparison of questionnaire survey responses to national data.

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1
Division of Respiratory Disease Studies, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1095 Willowdale Rd, Morgantown, WV 26505, USA. nsahakian@cdc.gov

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Dampness and mold problems are frequently encountered in schools. Approximately one third of US public schools require extensive repairs or need at least 1 building replaced. This study illustrates how national data can be used to identify building-related health risks in school employees and students.

METHODS:

School employees (n = 309) in 2 elementary schools (schools A and B) with dampness and mold problems completed standardized questionnaires. Responses were compared with participant responses from the 3rd National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and were indirectly standardized for gender, age, smoking status, and (for school B) race. Uncontrolled comparisons were made to responses from a study of office workers, as well as between responses from school employees in different sections of the school buildings designated by decade of construction.

RESULTS:

Employees from both schools had excess work-related throat and lower respiratory symptoms, as well as eye, nasal, sinus, and wheezing symptoms. School B employees also had excess physician-diagnosed asthma and work-related fatigue, headache, and skin irritation. Employees in sections of the school buildings that were categorized as having greater dampness and mold contamination had more frequent upper and lower respiratory symptoms than employees working in other building sections.

CONCLUSIONS:

This noncostly type of analysis of indoor air quality complaints can be used to motivate and prioritize building remediation in public schools where funds for building remediation are usually limited.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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