Higher Levels Of Asthma, Rhinitis And Mold Antibodies Following Hurricanes

Exposure to hurricanes, tornadoes, and other extreme weather events often produce flooded/ wet conditions which favor heavy growth of mold and bacteria.  Fungal concentrations as high as 500,000 spores per cubic meter were reported in water damaged homes in the months following 2005 Hurricane Katrina 1. 


Another study off 544 Louisiana residents reported that exposure to water damage following Hurricane Katrina was associated with significantly higher rates of wheezing, shortness of breath, cough and sinus problems as compared to those not exposed 2.

Exposure to hurricane-related water damage can also increase risk of mold sensitivity.  A New Jersey study of groups of 100 allergy patients reported that rates of mold skin test sensitivity increased significantly following exposure to the Hurricane Irene

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(2011) and Hurricane Sandy (2012) 
3. Post-hurricane patients had 34.6 times more positive reactions to mold allergens at weaker doses that pre-hurricane patients (p<0.0001).   Overall 62% of pre-hurricane patients and 95% of post-hurricane patients were skin test positive to at least one mold.  Significantly higher levels of many molds were seen in the post-hurricane patients versus the pre-hurricane patients for many specific molds, including Alternaria, Aspergillus, Chaetomium, Cladosporium, Epiccocum, Epidermophyton, Fusarium, Smuts, Mucor, Penicillium, Rhizopus and Trichophyton 3 .

References / Sources

1. Chew GL, Wilson J, Rabito FA, et al. Mold and endotoxin levels in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina: a pilot project of homes in New Orleans undergoing renovation. Environ Health Perspect. 2006;114(12):1883-1889.

2. Cummings KJ, Cox-Ganser J, Riggs MA, Edwards N, Hobbs GR, Kreiss K. Health effects of exposure to water-damaged New Orleans homes six months after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Am J Public Health. 2008;98(5):869-875.

3. Saporta D, Hurst D. Increased Sensitization to Mold Allergens Measured by Intradermal Skin Testing following Hurricanes. J Environ Public Health. 2017;2017:2793820.



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