Indoor environmental exposures and exacerbation of asthma: an update to the 2000 review by the Institute of Medicine.


Watcharoot Kanchongkittiphon,1,2,3* Mark J. Mendell,4,5* Jonathan M. Gaffin,1,2 Grace Wang,6 and Wanda Phipatanakul1,2
Environ Health Perspect. 2015 Jan;123(1):6-20.



Previous research has found relationships between specific indoor environmental exposures and exacerbation of asthma.


In this review we provide an updated summary of knowledge from the scientific literature on indoor exposures and exacerbation ofasthma.


Peer-reviewed articles published from 2000 to 2013 on indoor exposures and exacerbation of asthma were identified through PubMed, from reference lists, and from authors' files. Articles that focused on modifiable indoor exposures in relation to frequency or severity of exacerbationof asthma were selected for review. Research findings were reviewed and summarized with consideration of the strength of the evidence.


Sixty-nine eligible articles were included. Major changed conclusions include a causal relationship with exacerbation for indoor dampness or dampness-related agents (in children); associations with exacerbation for dampness or dampness-related agents (in adults), endotoxin, andenvironmental tobacco smoke (in preschool children); and limited or suggestive evidence for association with exacerbation for indoor culturable Penicillium or total fungi, nitrogen dioxide, rodents (nonoccupational), feather/down pillows (protective relative to synthetic bedding), and (regardless of specific sensitization) dust mite, cockroach, dog, and dampness-related agents.


This review, incorporating evidence reported since 2000, increases the strength of evidence linking many indoor factors to theexacerbation of asthma. Conclusions should be considered provisional until all available evidence is examined more thoroughly.


Multiple indoor exposures, especially dampness-related agents, merit increased attention to prevent exacerbation of asthma, possibly even in nonsensitized individuals. Additional research to establish causality and evaluate interventions is needed for these and other indoorexposures.