A number of studies and case reports have linked indoor exposure to molds and or water damage to significantly greater risk of skin rashes and angioedema. Both molds and bacteria produce a large number of toxins that can cause toxic or allergic skin reactions.
Park, J. H., Cox-Ganser, J., Rao, C., & Kreiss, K. (2006). Fungal and endotoxin measurements in dust associated with respiratory symptoms in a water-damaged office building. Indoor Air, 16(3), 192-203. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0668.2005.00415.x
Platts-Mills, T. A., Fiocco, G. P., Hayden, M. L., Guerrant, J. L., Pollart, S. M., & Wilkins, S. R. (1987). Serum IgE antibodies to Trichophyton in patients with urticaria, angioedema, asthma, and rhinitis: development of a radioallergosorbent test. Journal of Allergy Clinical Immunology, 79(1), 40-45.
Shiue, I. (2015). Indoor mildew odour in old housing was associated with adult allergic symptoms, asthma, chronic bronchitis, vision, sleep and self-rated health: USA NHANES, 2005-2006. Environ Science Pollution Research International, 22(18), 14234-14240. doi:10.1007/s11356-015-4671-8.
Thomas, G., Burton, N. C., Mueller, C., Page, E., & Vesper, S. (2012). Comparison of work-related symptoms and visual contrast sensitivity between employees at a severely water-damaged school and a school without significant water damage. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 55(9), 844-854. doi:10.1002/ajim.22059
Flooding and water damage indoors promote heavy growth of both molds (fungi), bacteria and their toxins. Lieberman reported that 13 of 48 (27%) of mold exposed patients reported frequent skin rashes (Curtis L, 2004). Another case series of 89 patients allergic to Trichophyton mold reported that 57 (64%) had significant skin rashes, urticaria, and angioedema (Palma-Carlos & Palma-Carlos, 2006).
Significant skin test allergy to the mold Trichophyton was seen in 14 out of 27 patients (52%) with chronic angioedema (Platts-Mills et al., 1987). A large, representative, nationwide study of 4,917 US adults reported that the presence of musty/ moldy odors indoors was associated with an almost doubled risk of skin rash (OR or Odds Ratio of 1.88, 95% Confidence Interval or CI of 1.50-2.36) (Shiue, 2015).
A study of 888 adult workers in an office building with water damage reported the risk of itchy skin rash was about three times as great in areas with high levels of fungi (molds) in dust as compared to areas with lower levels of fungi (OR 3.0, 95% 1.47-6.19) (Park, Cox-Ganser, Rao, & Kreiss, 2006). Another study reported that prevalence of skin rash was more than three times greater in 88 adult employees of a water damaged school as compared to 107 employees in a school without water damage (OR 3.70, 95% CI 1,24-11.06) (Thomas, Burton, Mueller, Page, & Vesper, 2012).
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