Does Dampness and Mold in Schools affect Health? Results of a Meta-Analysis
This paper provides meta-analyses of the published findings relating the respiratory health of occupants of schools with visible dampness, water damage, visible mold, and/or mold odor. Random effects models were used to develop central estimates and confidence limits for the associations of respiratory health effects with school dampness and mold. Eleven studies, all with cross-sectional designs, were included in the meta-analyses; however, analyses for some health outcomes were based on as few as four studies. Analyses were performed using data from adults and children combined, using only data from children, and using data from adults and children after excluding two studies. The central estimates of odds ratios from the meta-analyses were consistently above unity. The evidence of adverse health effects was strongest for cough and wheeze, which had confidence limits excluding unity in some or all analyses. The odds ratios of 1.32 for cough and 1.68 for wheeze suggest moderate increases in health risk. Studies not included in the meta-analyses provide additional evidence that dampness and mold in schools are associated with adverse health outcomes. These meta-analyses and the published literature not included in the meta-analyses suggest that dampness and mold in schools are associated with adverse respiratory health effects.