Study Examines Relationship between Mold Index and Asthma

In an article published online in February 2016, in the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, researchers note that “Indoor mold exposures have been qualitatively linked to asthma for more than 25 years. Our goal has been to turn this qualitative link into a quantitative assessment of asthma risk from mold exposures as estimated by the home’s environmental relative moldiness index (ERMI) value. The home’s ERMI value is derived from the quantitative PCR analysis of 36 molds in a dust sample. Six epidemiological studies of the relationship between ERMI values and asthma, in cities across the U.S., showed that both children and adults with asthma were living in homes with significantly higher ERMI values than the control or comparison homes. Based on these six studies, the accuracy of the ERMI value’s link to occupant asthma was analyzed using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve and area under the curve (AUC) statistical analysis. The AUC was 0.69 which places the test accuracy in the ‘fair to good’ range for a medical diagnostic test. A logistic regression analysis of the six studies was performed to generate an equation that can be used to predict occupant asthma at specific ERMI values. The ERMI metric may be a useful tool to link the quantification of mold contamination in U.S. homes to some asthma health effects.”

To read the abstract, click here.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency helped to develop the ERMI to help researchers “estimate the amount of mold in a home as well as indicate some of the types of mold that are present.” The EPA notes that “At this point in its development, the ERMI should be used only for research. The ERMI has not been validated for routine public use in homes, schools, or other buildings. EPA does not recommend that homes routinely be tested or sampled for mold. Testing may be done for research. Testing may also be useful to help characterize or identify mold problems in some buildings. Physical inspection for water damage and mold is a key part of current EPA mold remediation guidance.” For more information, click here.