Symptoms in relation to chemicals and dampness in newly built dwellings

Posted by Siru Heiskanen on Sep 5, 2017

Authors: Saijo, Y., Kishi, R., Sata, F. Katakura, Y., Urashima, Y., Hatakeyama, A., Kobayashi, S., Jin, K., Kurahashi, N., Kondo, T., Gong, Y. Y. and Umemura, T.

Year of publication: 2004

Publication: International archives of occupational and environmental health, 77(7), pp.461-470.

Keywords: VOCs, chemicals, symptom,

Link to publication

Airtightness in buildings has increased during the last decades, and the trend has led to an increase in indoor air pollution and dampness. They in turn have become important environmental health issues. This study (2004) aimed to clarify whether symptoms in residents living in newly built apartments were related to chemicals and dampness.

317 residents participated in this study. They were surveyed by standardized questionnaires, and the concentrations of formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, and 17 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in their homes were measured. Also dampness (condensation on window panes and/or walls, and mold growth) was being measured with questionnaires to which participants and their partners answered.

The study found, that some VOCs (toluene, butyl acetate, ethylbenzene, alpha-pinene, p-dichlorobenzene, nonanal, and xylene) were significantly related to the symptoms. The sum of all identified VOCs was significantly related to throat and respiratory symptoms (odds ratio = 2.4; 95 %, confidence interval (CI) 1.0–5.5) – this was even though the concentrations of VOCs were relatively low. Dampness index indicated that condensation on window panes and/or walls was related to all symptoms. Mold growth was related to all symptoms except skin, throat and respiratory and general symptoms. As the number of dampness signs increased, the odds ratio increased for the symptoms (odds ratio = 4.4, 95 %, CI 1.6–11.9).

The study concludes, that VOCs and dampness were significantly related to symptoms. The researchers say, that it is necessary to take actions to reduce the concentration of VOCs, dampness and microbial growth in indoor environments.


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