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Open AccessArticle

Respiratory Diseases in University Students Associated with Exposure to Residential Dampness or Mold

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Department of Community Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, QC J1H 5N4, Canada
2
Public Health Department of Eastern Townships, 300 King East, Sherbrooke, QC J1G 1B1, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Alessandra Cincinelli and Tania Martellini
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13(11), 1154; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph13111154
Received: 20 September 2016 / Revised: 8 November 2016 / Accepted: 15 November 2016 / Published: 18 November 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Indoor Air Quality and Health 2016)
University students are frequently exposed to residential dampness or mold (i.e., visible mold, mold odor, dampness, or water leaks), a well-known contributor to asthma, allergic rhinitis, and respiratory infections. This study aims to: (a) describe the prevalence of these respiratory diseases among university students; and (b) examine the independent contribution of residential dampness or mold to these diseases. An online survey was conducted in March 2014 among the 26,676 students registered at the Université de Sherbrooke (Quebec, Canada). Validated questions and scores were used to assess self-reported respiratory diseases (i.e., asthma-like symptoms, allergic rhinitis, and respiratory infections), residential dampness or mold, and covariates (e.g., student characteristics). Using logistic regressions, the crude and adjusted odd ratios between residential dampness or mold and self-reported respiratory diseases were examined. Results from the participating students (n = 2097; response rate: 8.1%) showed high prevalence of allergic rhinitis (32.6%; 95% CI: 30.6–34.7), asthma-like symptoms (24.0%; 95% CI: 22.1–25.8) and respiratory infections (19.4%; 95% CI: 17.7–21.2). After adjustment, exposure to residential dampness or mold was associated with allergic rhinitis (OR: 1.25; 95% CI: 1.01–1.55) and asthma-like symptoms (OR: 1.70; 95% CI: 1.37–2.11), but not with respiratory infections (OR: 1.07; 95% CI: 0.85–1.36). Among symptomatic students, this exposure was also associated with uncontrolled and burdensome respiratory symptoms (p < 0.01). University students report a high prevalence of allergic rhinitis, asthma-like symptoms and respiratory infections. A common indoor hazard, residential dampness or mold, may play a role in increasing atopic respiratory diseases and their suboptimal control in young adults. These results emphasize the importance for public health organizations to tackle poor housing conditions, especially amongst university students who should be considered “at-risk”. View Full-Text
Keywords: dampness; mold; housing; university students; asthma; allergic rhinitis; respiratory infections dampness; mold; housing; university students; asthma; allergic rhinitis; respiratory infections
MDPI and ACS Style

Lanthier-Veilleux, M.; Baron, G.; Généreux, M. Respiratory Diseases in University Students Associated with Exposure to Residential Dampness or Mold. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13, 1154.

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