University of Oulu

Jaakkola, M.S., Lajunen, T.K. & Jaakkola, J.J.K. Indoor mold odor in the workplace increases the risk of Asthma-COPD Overlap Syndrome: a population-based incident case–control study. Clin Transl Allergy 10, 3 (2020).

Indoor mold odor in the workplace increases the risk of Asthma-COPD Overlap Syndrome : a population-based incident case–control study

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Author: Jaakkola, Maritta S.1,2; Lajunen, Taina K.1,2; Jaakkola, Jouni J. K.1,2
Organizations: 1Center for Environmental and Respiratory Health Research (CERH), University of Oulu, Faculty of Medicine, Aapistie 5B, P.O.Box 5000, 90014, Oulu, Finland
2Medical Research Center Oulu, Oulu University Hospital and University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-03-04


Background: Previous studies have suggested an increased risk of asthma related to indoor dampness problems, but their role in the etiology of Asthma-COPD Overlap Syndrome has not been studied. We utilized a population-based incident case–control study to assess potential effect of indoor dampness and molds at home and at work on development of ACOS.

Methods: We recruited systematically all new cases of asthma diagnosed during a 2.5-year study period (1997–2000) and randomly selected controls from the source population of adults 21–63 years old and representing 500,000 persons-years in the Pirkanmaa Hospital District, South Finland. Exposure indicators included water damage, damp stains or paint peeling, visible mold, and mold odor, asked separately for home and workplace. The clinically diagnosed case series consisted of 521 adults with newly diagnosed asthma. Altogether 25 of them satisfied the criteria for ACOS-cases, i.e. FEV1/FVC < 0.70 in post-bronchodilator spirometry. The control series, including 932 controls, were from a random sample of source population, after excluding 76 (7.5%) controls with asthma.

Results: In logistic regression analysis adjusting for confounders, the risk of ACOS was significantly related to presence of mold odor in the workplace (OR 3.43; 95% CI 1.04–11.29), but not to other dampness indicators. The fraction of ACOS attributable to workplace mold odor was 70.8% (95% CI 3.8–91.1%) among the exposed. The risk of ACOS was not related to mold exposures at home.

Conclusions: Present results provide new evidence of the significant relation between workplace exposure to mold odor and adult-onset ACOS.

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Series: Clinical and translational allergy
ISSN: 2045-7022
ISSN-E: 2045-7022
ISSN-L: 2045-7022
Volume: 10
Article number: 3
DOI: 10.1186/s13601-019-0307-2
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3121 General medicine, internal medicine and other clinical medicine
3142 Public health care science, environmental and occupational health
Funding: This study was supported by the Academy of Finland [grant numbers 266314, 267675, 267995 (APTA Consortium) and 31071 and 31072 (GLORIA Consortium)], The Research Foundation of the Pulmonary Diseases, Ella and Georg Ehrnrooth Foundation, Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation, and the University of Oulu strategic funds. The funders had no role in study design, data collection or analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 266314
Detailed Information: 266314 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
267995 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
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