Occupational Asthma Reference

Al-Ahmad M, Manno M, Ng V, Ribeiro M, Liss GM, Tarlo SM, Symptoms after mould exposure including Stachybotrys chartarum, and comparison with darkroom disease, Allergy, 2010;65:245-255,

Keywords: darkroom disease • mould • multiple chemical sensitivity • sick building syndrome • Stachybotrys chartarum

Known Authors

Garry Liss, Toronto Garry Liss

Susan Tarlo, Toronto Susan Tarlo

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Background: Mould-attributed symptoms have included features which overlap with unexplained syndromes such as sick building syndrome.

Objectives: We describe questionnaire and chart review findings in patients following exposure to moulds which include Stachybotrys and compare responses with two control groups.

Methods: Thirty-two patients presented with symptoms attributed to mould exposures. Exposure identification for 25 patients had reported S tachybotrys chartarum as well as other mould (Aspergillus, Penicillium), 88% at work. The remaining seven had professionally visualized or self-reported/photographic exposure evidence only. A chart review was performed and a follow-up with a questionnaire, including questions on current health status, and nonspecific symptoms.

Results: Cough, shortness of breath and chest tightness (at presentation) were reported in 79%, 70% and 64%, respectively, and persisted >6 weeks in 91%. Skin test(s) were positive to fungal extract(s) in 30%. Seventeen returned questionnaires were obtained 3.1 (SD 0.5) years after the initial clinic assessment. Among this subgroup, persisting asthma-like symptoms and symptoms suggestive of sick building syndrome were frequent, and similar to a group previously assessed for darkroom disease among medical radiation technologists. The mould-exposed group more commonly reported they were bothered when walking in a room with carpets, complained of a chemical or metallic taste in their mouth, and had problems in concentration when compared with a control physiotherapist group (P < 0.005).

Conclusions: Although only a minority with health concerns from indoor mould exposure had demonstrable mould-allergy, a significant proportion had asthma-like symptoms. Other symptoms were also common and persistent after the initial implicated exposure.

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