Indoor dampness is thought to affect around 16% of European homes. It is generally accepted that increased exposure to indoor dampness and mould contamination (e.g., spores and hyphae) increases the risk of developing and/or exacerbating asthma. Around 30% of people in the
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Indoor dampness is thought to affect around 16% of European homes. It is generally accepted that increased exposure to indoor dampness and mould contamination (e.g., spores and hyphae) increases the risk of developing and/or exacerbating asthma. Around 30% of people in the Western world have an allergic disease (e.g., allergy, wheeze and asthma). The role of indoor mould contamination in the risk of allergic diseases in older adults is yet to be fully explored. This is of interest because older people spend more time indoors, as well as facing health issues due to the ageing process, and may be at greater risk of developing and/or exacerbating asthma as a result of indoor dampness. Methods
: Face-to-face questionnaires were carried out with 302 participants residing in social housing properties located in South West England. Self-reported demographic, mould contamination (i.e., presence of mould growth and mouldy odour) and health information was linked with the asset management records (e.g., building type, age and levels of maintenance). Multivariate logistic regression was used to calculate the odd ratios and confidence intervals of developing and/or exacerbating asthma, wheeze and allergy with exposure to reported indoor mould contamination. We adjusted for a range of factors that may affect asthma outcomes, which include age, sex, current smoking, presence of pets, education, and building type and age. To assess the role of mould contamination in older adults, we compared younger adults to those aged over 50 years. Results
: Doctor-diagnosed adult asthma was reported by 26% of respondents, 34% had current wheeze while 18% had allergies. Asthma was common among subjects exposed to reported visible mould (32%) and reported mouldy odour (42%). Exposure to visible mould growth and mouldy odour were risk factors for asthma, but not for wheeze or allergy. Exposure to mouldy odour increased the risk of asthma in adults over the age of 50 years (odds ratio (OR) 2.4, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.10–5.34) and the risk was higher for females than for males (OR 3.5, 95% CI 1.37–9.08). These associations were modified by a range of built environment characteristics. Conclusions
: We found that older adults living in social (public) housing properties, specifically women, may be at higher risk of asthma when exposed to mouldy odour, which has a number of implications for policy makers and practitioners working in the health and housing sector. Additional measures should be put in place to protect older people living in social housing against indoor damp and mould contamination.