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Dampness in dwellings and sick building symptoms among adults: a crosssectional study on 8918 Swedish homes

Bornehag C.G., Sundell J., Hägerhed L., The DBH Study Group, 2003
health | moisture | residential building | sick building syndrome
Bibliographic info: Healthy Buildings 2003 - Proceedings 7th International Conference (7th-11th December 2003) - National University of Singapore - Vol. 1., pp 582
Languages: English

Moisture-related indicators indoors are, e.g. visible mould and damp spots, condensation onthe inside of window panes, detached floor covering materials, flooding and bad odours. Suchindicators are frequently found and are reported to appear in 25-80% of the buildingsworldwide (Bornehag et al., 2001). Dampness has also been identified as a major risk factorfor, e.g. respiratory symptoms such as asthma, cough and wheezing among both children andadults (Bornehag et al., 2001). However, only a few studies have investigated the associationbetween dampness at home and sick building syndrome (SBS) symptoms. The purpose of thisstudy is to investigate the association between self-reported dampness at home and SBSsymptoms among parents of pre-school children.An interdisciplinary epidemiological study on indoor environmental factors and health inchildren and their parents, Dampness in Buildings and Health (DBH), started in Sweden in2000. The first step of the study (carried out during spring 2000) included a cross-sectionalquestionnaire study on 14 077 children (1-6 years) and their parents with focus on their healthand their home environment, e.g. dampness indications. The questionnaire included questionson SBS symptoms and perceived indoor air quality among the parents of the children. Data on10 851 children, corresponding to a response rate of 79%, were collected in the questionnairestudy. The children came from 8918 families (homes), from which one randomly selectedparent was included in this study. Adjusted odds ratios (AORs) for symptoms among parentswere calculated with multivariate logistic regression.Most of the responding parents were female (83.1%), 17% were active smokers and 30.9%had allergic symptoms. Of SBS symptoms, general symptoms were most frequently reported(29.4%), followed by skin (11.1%) and mucous membrane symptoms (5.6%). Dampnessproblems such as condensation on the inside of window panes (COND), floor moistureproblems (FLOOR) and visible mould and/or damp spots in the dwelling (DAMP) weresignificantly associated with symptoms. COND was a risk factor for general symptoms [AOR1.63 (1.38-1.92)] and mucous membrane [AOR 1.64 (1.26-2.14)] and skin [AOR 1.59 (1.30-1.96)] symptoms. FLOOR was a risk factor for general symptoms [AOR 2.03 (1.64-2.52)]and mucous membrane [AOR 1.50 (1.08-2.09)] and skin [AOR 1.49 (1.14-1.93)] symptoms.DAMP was significantly associated with general symptoms [AOR 2.04 (1.12-3.70)]. Thesesymptoms were also significantly associated with female gender (AOR 1.07-1.99), tobaccosmoking (AOR 1.28-1.32), allergic symptoms (AOR 1.70-3.11) and living in multifamilyhouses (AOR 1.35-1.66). A perception of bad odour indoors was strongly associated withdampness problems (AOR 3.2-4.6) and with multifamily houses (AOR 9.72). Finally, aperception of dry air indoors was associated with dampness problems (AOR 2.5-2.7), tobaccosmoking (AOR 1.68), living in multifamily houses (AOR 5.64), living in a home built after1960 (AOR 1.93-1.77) and a mechanical exhaust and supply ventilation system (AOR 1.99).

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