International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene

Home Hygiene & Health

The Leading Source of Scientific, Professional & Consumer Information
International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene

Home Hygiene & Health

The Leading Source of Scientific, Professional & Consumer Information

Dampness and Mould in Schools and Respiratory Symptoms in Children: The HITEA Study

BACKGROUND: The adverse respiratory health effects of dampness and mould in the home have been extensively reported, but few studies have evaluated the health effects of such exposures in schools.

OBJECTIVES: To assess the associations between dampness and mould in school buildings and respiratory symptoms among 6-12-year-old pupils in three European countries with different climates.

METHODS: Based on information from self-reports and observations, we selected 29 primary schools with and 27 without moisture damage in Spain, the Netherlands and Finland. Information on respiratory symptoms and potential determinants was obtained using a parent-administered questionnaire among 6-12-year-old pupils. Country-specific associations between moisture damage and respiratory symptoms were evaluated using multivariable multilevel mixed effects logistic regression analysis.

RESULTS: Data from 9271 children were obtained. Nocturnal dry cough was consistently associated with moisture damage at school in each of the three countries: OR 1.15; 95% CI 1.00 to 1.30 with p for heterogeneity 0.54. Finnish children attending a moisture damaged school more often had wheeze (OR 1.36; CI 1.04 to 1.78), nasal symptoms (OR 1.34; CI 1.05 to 1.71) and respiratory-related school absence (OR 1.50; CI 1.10 to 2.03). No associations with these symptoms were found in the Netherlands or Spain (p for heterogeneity <0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: Moisture damage in schools may have adverse respiratory health effects in pupils. Finnish school children seem to be at higher risk, possibly due to quantitative and/or qualitative differences in exposure.