Researchers from the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom found that the presence of several types of mold can lead to breathing problems in asthma sufferers, as well as increasing the likelihood of developing the condition.
“Molds are abundant in our outdoor and indoor environments, with around 10 varieties living in a typical home. We’ve found the strongest evidence yet of their potentially harmful effects, with higher levels of some of these molds presenting a breathing hazard to people suffering from asthma, worsening their symptoms significantly,” Richard Sharpe, lead author of the study, said in a statement. “It also looks as though mold may help to trigger the development of asthma — although research in this area is still in its infancy.”
For the study, the research team reviewed findings from 17 studies in eight different countries. They identified links between a number of different types of fungi and breathing problems in asthma sufferers, among them Aspergillus and the antibiotic-producing Penicillium. They also highlighted other factors that can contribute to the risk of asthma, including house dust mites, pets and chemicals.
Characterized by typically high humidity, homes with poor heating and ventilation can be a haven for house dust mites and mold. Dampness is one of the major factors affecting the growth of mold inside homes — a problem which has been on the rise as ageing houses are sealed and retrofitted with new energy efficient technology.
“This research has highlighted the need for housing providers, residents and healthcare professionals to work together to assess the impact of housing interventions,” Nick Osborne, co-author of the study, said in a statement. “We need to make sure that increasing the energy efficiency of people’s homes doesn’t increase their exposure to damp and mold, and potentially damage their health.”
The findings were recently published the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology