Rhinosinusitis and mold as risk factors for asthma symptoms in occupants of a water-damaged building

.-H. Park, K. Kreiss, J. M. Cox-Ganser
Article first published online: 21 MAR 2012
DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0668.2012.00775.x

Abstract  Mold exposure in damp buildings is associated with both nasal symptoms and asthma development, but the progression of building-related (BR) rhinosinusitis symptoms to asthma is unstudied. We examined the risk of developing BR-asthma symptoms in relation to prior BR-rhinosinusitis symptoms and microbial exposure among occupants of a damp building. We conducted four cross-sectional health and environmental surveys among occupants of a 20-story water-damaged office building. We defined BR-rhinosinusitis symptom (n = 131) and comparison (n = 361) groups from participants’ first questionnaire responses. We compared the odds for the development of BR-asthma symptoms between these two groups over the subsequent surveys, using logistic regression models adjusted for demographics, smoking, building tenure, and first-survey exposures to fungi, endotoxin, and ergosterol. The BR-rhinosinusitis symptom group had higher odds for developing BR-asthma symptoms [odds ratio (OR) = 2.2; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.3–3.6] in any subsequent survey compared to those without BR-rhinosinusitis symptoms. The BR-rhinosinusitis symptom group with higher fungal exposure within the building had an OR of 7.4 (95% CI = 2.8–19.9) for developing BR-asthma symptoms, compared to the lower fungal exposure group without BR-rhinosinusitis symptoms. Our findings suggest that rhinosinusitis associated with occupancy of water-damaged buildings may be a sentinel for increased risk for asthma onset in such buildings.

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