Fungal Exposure in New York City Low-Income Homes Enrolled in a Mold Intervention Study

Luis M. Acosta, MD1 , Ray Lopez2 , Lindsey Realmuto, MPH3 , Adnan Divjan4 , Brett J. Green, PhD FAAAAI5 , Linda Weiss, PhD3 , and Matthew S. Perzanowski, PhD6

Author address: 

1 Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, New York, NY, 2 LSA Family Health Service, New York, NY, 3 The New York Academy of Medicine, Institute for Urban Health, New York, NY, 4 Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health, New York, NY, 5 Health Effects Laboratory Division, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morgantown, WV, 6 Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, New York, NY


RATIONALE: Fungal (mold) contamination is a common problem in urban homes of lower-income families who have less control over housing conditions conducive to mold growth. The Environmental Related Moldiness Index (ERMI) is a standardized, quantitative polymerase chain (PCR) method for assessing fungal species related to water damage. The aim of the study is to characterize changes in fungal species following a cost-effective home intervention in a low-income, primarily Latino neighborhood with high asthma prevalence. We hypothesized that the baseline ERMI score from a child’s home would be associated with asthma symptoms.

METHODS: Settled dust was collected from 28 homes that participated in an intervention 2-5 years ago and 33 newly recruited homes (homes that have a child with asthma and a report of mold). The ERMI score was assessed in settled dust.

RESULTS: Forty-nine percent of homes had an ERMI score >_5, which is a higher percentage than reported either for a nationally represented sample of homes (25% of homes) or homes we tested from middle-income NYC children with asthma and visible mold in their home (23%). ERMI scores did not differ among children in different recruitment groups (P50.25). In a model adjusting for sex, age, maternal asthma, paternal asthma, study group and dust sieve method, the ERMI score was positively associated with reports of wheeze in the previous 12 months (odds ratio 1.3; P50.027).

CONCLUSIONS: These preliminary findings suggest that fungal species in the homes of lower-income asthmatic children with asthma symptoms may differ from other communities and be associated with asthma symptoms.


abstract No: 


Full conference title: 

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology 2019
    • AAAAI 2019