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New technique links early mold exposure to asthma

A group of researchers at the University of Cincinnati have concluded that early exposure to mold at age 1 significantly increased the risk of asthma by age 7.

The new findings were reported May 30 in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

The study was conducted by using the Environmental Relative Moldiness Index (ERMI), which was developed and is being evaluated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The index is generated by collecting dust samples in a home and then analyzing the DNA from some of the molds in the sample.

The process samples 36 different fungi and compares them to a national Relative Moldiness Index Scale that was developed by HUD based on sampling of 1,096 homes nationally. The ERMI method is growing in popularity among professional air quality specialists. But physical inspection for mold and water damage remains the basis of EPA’s recommended mold remediation process.

Here’s agovernment presentation on ERMI.

Using the ERMI as the basis of the Cincinnati study provided researchers with a standardized approach to quantifying exposures to mold.

Previous studies have linked mold to asthma, but with less-objective precision. For example,a study in 2005 linked mold odor and asthma, though it was unable to draw a connection between asthma and visible mold, water damage or the presence of moisture.

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