Indoor Dampness Associated With Reduced Level of Asthma Control

Living in a home with indoor dampness is significantly associated with a reduced level of asthma control in adults, but mold exposure didn’t impact the level of asthma control, according to a recent study.

Maritta Jaakkola, MD, PhD, of the Center for Environmental and Respiratory Health Research and Biocenter Oulu at the University of Oulu, and colleagues conducted the study. The researchers published their findings in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

The population-based, cross-sectional Northern Finnish Asthma Study included 1995 adults with bronchial asthma. The researchers used the Asthma Control Test (ACT) as the measure of asthma control. Poor asthma control was defined as an ACT score of ≤ 19. Researchers calculated the mean difference in the ACT score between exposure and reference groups.

A significantly reduced level of asthma control was associated with exposure to indoor dampness at home (ACT difference between exposure and reference groups, −0.83; 95% CI, −1.60 to −0.07). The impact of indoor dampness on the level of asthma control was particularly pronounced in men (ACT difference between men in exposure and reference groups, −2.68; 95% CI, −4.00 to −1.37). Water damage (adjusted risk ratio, 1.29; 95% CI, 1.01 to 1.65) also increased the risk of poor asthma control.

“The present study did not detect a significantly increased risk related to indoor visible mold or mold odor, which may be explained by the fact that indoor dampness problems detected at home are most likely repaired rapidly before significant mold growth has time to develop,” Dr. Jaakkola and colleagues wrote.

The study’s results can inform strategies to manage the home environment for patients with asthma.

“The present study provides new evidence that exposure to water damage and indoor dampness at home reduces the level of asthma control among adults with diagnosed asthma. Men were found to be especially susceptible to this effect on reduced asthma control,” the authors concluded. “Advice on how to prevent indoor dampness at home should be included as an important part of asthma management for adults. Moreover, any water damage and/or indoor dampness detected should be repaired rapidly when such exposures are detected.”

Jaakkola MS, Hyrkäs-Palmu H, Jaakkola JJK. Residential exposure to dampness is related to reduced level of asthma control among adults. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022;19(18):11338. doi:10.3390/ijerph191811338