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A Citizen-Science Study Documents Environmental Exposures and Asthma Prevalence in Two Communities
Eiffert, S., Y. Noibi, S. Vesper, J. Downs, F. Fulk, J. Wallace, M. Pearson, AND A. Winquist. A Citizen-Science Study Documents Environmental Exposures and Asthma Prevalence in Two Communities. JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL AND PUBLIC HEALTH. Hindawi Publishing Corporation, New York, NY, 2016:1962901, (2016).
To address community concerns about potential health effects of flooding in the English Avenue and Vine City communities of Atlanta, we conducted a survey of homes in these areas to examine the prevalence of mold and mold-associated health conditions. We assessed the presence of mold both by visual observations in residences and using the ERMI metric. The relationships between these measures of mold and self-reported asthma among current residents was also examined.
A citizen-science study was conducted in two low-income, flood-prone communities in Atlanta, Georgia, in order to document environmental exposures and the prevalence of occupant asthma. Teams consisting of a public-health graduate student and a resident from one of the two communities administered a questionnaire, inspected residences for mold growth, and collected a dust sample for quantifying mold contamination. The dust samples were analyzed for the 36 molds that make up the Environmental Relative Moldiness Index (ERMI). Most residents (76%) were renters. The median duration of residence was 2.5 years. Although only 12% of occupants reported a history of flooding, 46% reported at least one water leak. Homes with visible mold (35%) had significantly (P < 0.05) higher mean ERMI values compared to homes without (14.0 versus 9.6). The prevalence of self-reported, current asthma among participants was 14%. In logistic regression models controlling for indoor smoking, among participants residing at their current residence for two years or less, a positive association was observed between asthma and the homes' ERMI values (adjusted odds ratio per unit increase in ERMI = 1.12, 95% confidence intervals (CI): 1.01-1.25; two-tailed P = 0.04). Documentation of the exposures and asthma prevalence has been presented to the communities and public officials. Community-based organizations have taken responsibility for planning and implementing activities in response to the study findings.