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Indoor Air. 2018 Jul;28(4):488-499. doi: 10.1111/ina.12464. Epub 2018 May 18.

Measured moisture in buildings and adverse health effects: A review.

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Indoor Air Quality Section, California Department of Public Health, Richmond, CA, USA.


It has not yet been possible to quantify dose-related health risks attributable to indoor dampness or mold (D/M), to support setting specific health-related limits for D/M. An overlooked target for assessing D/M is moisture in building materials, the critical factor allowing microbial growth. A search for studies of quantified building moisture and occupant health effects identified 3 eligible studies. Two studies assessed associations between measured wall moisture content and respiratory health in the UK. Both reported dose-related increases in asthma exacerbation with higher measured moisture, with 1 study reporting an adjusted odds ratio of 7.0 for night-time asthma symptoms with higher bedroom moisture. The third study assessed relationships between infrared camera-determined wall moisture and atopic dermatitis in South Korea, reporting an adjusted odds ratio of 14.5 for water-damaged homes and moderate or severe atopic dermatitis. Measuring building moisture has, despite extremely limited available findings, potential promise for detecting unhealthy D/M in homes and merits more research attention. Further research to validate these findings should include measured "water activity," which directly assesses moisture availability for microbial growth. Ultimately, evidence-based, health-related thresholds for building moisture, across specific materials and measurement devices, could better guide assessment and remediation of D/M in buildings.


asthma; atopic dermatitis; fungi; infrared camera; moisture meter; water activity

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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