Prevalence of Residential Dampness and Mold Exposure in a University Student Population
Lanthier-Veilleux, M., Genereux, M. and Baron, G. (2016). Prevalence of Residential Dampness and Mold Exposure in a University Student Population. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 13(2): 194. DOI: 10.3390/ijerph13020194
The impact of residential dampness or mold on respiratory health is well established but few studies have focused on university students. This study aims to: (a) describe the prevalence of exposure to residential dampness or mold in university students according to socio-geographic factors and (b) identify associated housing characteristics. A web survey was conducted in 2014 among the 26,676 students registered at the Université de Sherbrooke (QC, Canada). Residential dampness and mold being closely intertwined, they were considered as a single exposure and assessed using a validated questionnaire. Exposure was compared according to socio-geographic and housing characteristics using chi-square tests and logistic regressions. Among the 2097 participants included in the study (response rate: 8.1%), over 80% were tenants. Residential exposure to dampness or mold was frequent (36.0%, 95% CI: 33.9–38.1). Marked differences for this exposure were noted according to home ownership (39.7% vs. 25.5% among tenants and owners respectively; OR = 1.92%, 95% CI: 1.54–2.38). Campus affiliation, household composition and the number of residents per building were associated with exposure to dampness or mold (p < 0.01), while sex and age were not. Exposure was also associated with older buildings, and buildings in need of renovations and lacking proper ventilation (p < 0.001). This study highlights the potential risk of university students suffering from mold-related health effects given their frequent exposure to this agent. Further research is needed to fully evaluate the mold-related health impact in this at risk group.