IOM Study Reports Limited Adverse Health Consequences from Mold

May 26, 2004

A recently released study by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (IOM) supports the finding in previous reports by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Texas Medical Association, and the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine that mold presents no serious adverse health consequences to most people.

Key results of the study included:

· “There was sufficient evidence of an association between exposure to damp indoor environments and some respiratory health outcomes: upper respiratory tract (nasal and throat) symptoms, cough, wheeze, and asthma symptoms in sensitized asthmatic persons … and hypersensitivity pneumonitis (a relatively rare immune-mediated condition) in susceptible persons.”

· “Limited or suggestive evidence was found for an association between exposure to damp indoor environments and dypsnea (the medical term for shortness of breath), respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children, and the development of asthma in susceptible persons. It is not clear whether the latter association reflects exposure to fungi or bacteria or their constituents and emissions, to other exposures related to damp indoor environments, such as dust mites and cockroaches, or to some combination thereof. The responsible factors may vary among individuals. For the presence of mold (otherwise unspecified) indoors, there is limited or suggestive evidence of an association with respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children.”

· “Inadequate or insufficient information was identified to determine whether damp indoor environments or the agents associated with them are related to a variety of health outcomes… Included among these is acute idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage in infants (AIPHI). The committee concluded that the available case-report information constitutes inadequate or insufficient information to determine whether an association exists between AIPHI and the presence of Stachybotrys chartarum or to exposure to damp indoor environments in general.”

· Finally, the study considered whether any of the health outcomes listed above met the definitions for the categories “sufficient evidence of a causal relationship” and “limited or suggestive evidence of no association” and concluded that none did.

“It is noteworthy that no health effects carried ‘sufficient evidence of a causal relationship.’ This corresponds with prior scientific research and with PCI’s view on mold,” said David Golden, director – commercial lines for PCI. “Most mold problems can be avoided through routine property maintenance, quick response to water leaks, and early detection of water or dampness in buildings. We support the reports recommendations for better scientific study of how to prevent moisture problems through construction and maintenance, how to handle moisture, and when and how to correct moisture problems.”

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