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Indoor Air. 2016 Dec;26(6):892-902. doi: 10.1111/ina.12276. Epub 2016 Jan 21.

Higher measured moisture in California homes with qualitative evidence of dampness.

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Environmental Health Laboratory Branch, California Department of Public Health, Richmond, CA, USA.
Center for Children's Environmental Health Research, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA.
Natividad Medical Center, Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas (CHAMACOS), Salinas, CA, USA.


Relationships between measured moisture and qualitative dampness indicators (mold odor, visible mold, visible water damage, or peeling paint) were evaluated using data collected from California homes in a prospective birth cohort study when the infants were 6 or 12 months of age (737 home visits). For repeated visits, agreement between observation of the presence/absence of each qualitative indicator at both visits was high (71-87%, P < 0.0001). Among individual indicators, musty odor and visible mold were most strongly correlated with elevated moisture readings. Measured moisture differed significantly between repeated visits in opposite seasons (P < 0.0001), and dampness increased with the number of indicators in a home. Linear mixed-effect models showed that 10-unit increases in maximum measured moisture were associated with the presence of 0.5 additional dampness indicators (P < 0.001). Bedroom (BR) walls were damper than living room (LR) walls in the same homes (P < 0.0001), although both average and maximum readings were positively correlated across room type (r = 0.75 and 0.67, respectively, both P < 0.0001). Exterior walls were significantly damper than interior walls (P < 0.0001 in both LRs and BRs), but no differences were observed between maximum wall readings and measurements at either window corners or sites of suspected dampness.


Dampness; Dampness indicators; Measured moisture; Moisture location; Mold odor; Visible mold

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