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PLoS One. 2018 Jan 11;13(1):e0191165. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0191165. eCollection 2018.

Changes in respiratory and non-respiratory symptoms in occupants of a large office building over a period of moisture damage remediation attempts.

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Respiratory Health Division, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Morgantown, West Virginia, United States of America.


There is limited information on the natural history of building occupants' health in relation to attempts to remediate moisture damage. We examined changes in respiratory and non-respiratory symptoms in 1,175 office building occupants over seven years with multiple remediation attempts. During each of four surveys, we categorized participants using a severity score: 0 = asymptomatic; 1 = mild, symptomatic in the last 12 months, but not frequently in the last 4 weeks; 2 = severe, symptomatic at least once weekly in the last 4 weeks. Building-related symptoms were defined as improving away from the building. We used random intercept models adjusted for demographics, smoking, building tenure, and microbial exposures to estimate temporal changes in the odds of building-related symptoms or severity scores independent of the effect of microbial exposures. Trend analyses of combined mild/severe symptoms showed no changes in the odds of respiratory symptoms but significant improvement in non-respiratory symptoms over time. Separate analyses showed increases in the odds of severe respiratory symptoms (odds ratio/year = 1.15‒1.16, p-values<0.05) and severity scores (0.02/year, p-values<0.05) for wheezing and shortness of breath on exertion, due to worsening of participants in the mild symptom group. For non-respiratory symptoms, we found no changes in the odds of severe symptoms but improvement in severity scores (-0.04‒-0.01/year, p-values<0.05) and the odds for mild fever and chills, excessive fatigue, headache, and throat symptoms (0.65-0.79/year, p-values<0.05). Our study suggests that after the onset of respiratory and severe non-respiratory symptoms associated with dampness/mold, remediation efforts might not be effective in improving occupants' health.

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