We used data from 4345 adult US residents who were part of a 2004 national random mail survey to investigate associations between dampness and air-conditioning (AC) in homes and offices, and health outcomes, sick leave due to respiratory symptoms and medical visits during the past 12 months. We identified from this group 1396 office workers employed in professional, executive, administrative, managerial or administrative support occupations. Office workers reporting home dampness had an elevated prevalence of nasal symptoms [prevalence ratio (PR) = 1.4, P = 0.01] and constitutional symptoms (PR = 1.3, P = 0.01) in the previous year. Office workers reporting workplace dampness had an elevated prevalence of sick leave attributed to respiratory symptoms (PR = 1.3, P = 0.04) in the previous year. Office workers with home AC were more likely to have visited a medical specialist in the previous year (PR = 1.3, P = 0.02). We did not find any statistically significant associations between workplace AC and any of the health outcomes. We estimated an annual cost of US$1.4 billion for excess respiratory-related sick leave among office workers with workplace dampness. Our study strengthens the evidence of a relationship between dampness and health effects, and highlights the resulting economic impact.
Indoor-air-pollution; Indoor-environmental-quality; Molds; Ventilation; Ventilation-systems; Office-workers; Respiratory-system-disorders; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Morbidity-rates; Humans; Epidemiology; Statistical-analysis;
Author Keywords: Indoor air quality; Mold; Ventilation; Air-conditioning; Office buildings; Asthma; Respiratory symptoms; Sick leave; Healthcare visits