The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health investigated respiratory symptoms and asthma in relation to damp indoor environments in employees of two hospitals. A cluster of six work-related asthma cases from one hospital department, whose symptoms arose during a time of significant water incursions, led us to conduct a survey of respiratory health in 1171/1834 employees working in the sentinel cases hospital and a nearby hospital without known indoor environmental concerns. We carried out observational assessment of dampness, air, chair, and floor dust sampling for biological contaminants, and investigation of exposure-response associations for about 500 participants. Many participants with post-hire onset asthma reported diagnosis dates in a period of water incursions and renovations. Post-hire asthma and work-related lower respiratory symptoms were positively associated with the dampness score. Work-related lower respiratory symptoms showed monotonically increasing odds ratios with ergosterol, a marker of fungal biomass. Other fungal and bacterial indices, particle counts, cat allergen and latex allergen were associated with respiratory symptoms. Our data imply new-onset of asthma in relation to water damage, and indicate that work-related respiratory symptoms in hospital workers may be associated with diverse biological contaminants.
Biohazards; Biological-effects; Biological-monitoring; Breathing; Bronchial-asthma; Environmental-exposure; Environmental-health; Epidemiology; Exposure-assessment; Exposure-levels; Exposure-methods; Humidity; Indoor environment; Indoor-air-pollution; Indoor-environmental-quality; Inhalation-studies; Occupational-exposure; Occupational-health; Occupational-respiratory-disease; Pulmonary-congestion; Pulmonary-function; Pulmonary-system; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Respiratory-hypersensitivity; Respiratory-infections; Respiratory-irritants; Respiratory-system-disorders; Statistical-analysis; Work-environment; Worker-health; Work-performance; Work-practices;
Author Keywords: Building-related asthma; Indoor environmental quality; Mold; Ergosterol; Healthcare workers; Dampness