Online Program

People with Asthma and Other Vulnerable Groups in California Have a High Burden of Damp and Moldy Housing Conditions: Findings from the California Behavioral Risk Factor Survey (CBRFS)

Monday, November 2, 2015

Justine Hutchinson, PhD, MPH, Environmental Health Investigations Branch, California Department of Public Health, Richmond, CA
Meredith Milet, MPH, California Breathing, Impact Assessment Inc. (Contractor to the California Department of Public Health), Richmond, CA
Background:  Increasingly, evidence links dampness and mold in the home to increased risk of respiratory disease. In California, the uniform building code addresses water intrusion into the home, but no government agency regulates mold. This study characterizes the burden of damp and moldy housing conditions among Californians, emphasizing vulnerable groups.

Methods:  The 2012 and 2013 California Behavioral Risk Factor Survey (CBRFS) included similar questions about recurring or continual dampness in the home within the preceding year. Prevalence of dampness was estimated among persons with chronic respiratory disease, and by age, gender, race/ethnicity, home ownership, household income, and disability. Overlapping housing-related exposures were examined. Reported dampness was compared to presence of mold using a question available on the 2012 survey.

Results:  In 2013, 12.2% (95% CI 11.2%-13.2%) of California adults experienced dampness in the home. Current asthma sufferers had a higher prevalence of dampness, 19.5% (95% CI 15.1%-23.8%). Prevalence was elevated among women, non-whites, renters, disabled persons, and those in lower income households. Among those in pre-1978 housing, reported dampness was associated with a high prevalence of chipping or peeling paint, demonstrating overlap in healthy housing indicators. Mold frequently presented with dampness, with 39.6% (95% CI 36.0%-43.3%) of respondents reporting dampness also reporting mold.

Conclusions:  Persons with chronic respiratory conditions, a sensitive population to the health effects of dampness and mold, have high levels of exposure. Greater exposure was found among more disadvantaged groups by gender, race/ethnicity, household income, home ownership, and disability, raising questions of environmental justice.

Learning Areas:

Environmental health sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the burden of damp and moldy housing conditions among Californians, emphasizing vulnerable groups.

Keyword(s): Healthy Housing, Asthma

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have served as PI, co-PI and analyst on environmental and occupational epidemiology studies. I also contributed to a literature review on health effects of mold exposures.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.