Higher measured moisture in California homes with qualitative evidence of dampness

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Relationships between measured moisture and qualitative dampness indicators (mold odor, visible mold, visible water damage, or peeling paint) were evaluated using data collected from California homes in a prospective birth cohort study when the infants were 6 or 12 months of age (737 home visits). For repeated visits, agreement between observation of the presence/absence of each qualitative indicator at both visits was high (71–87%, P < 0.0001). Among individual indicators, musty odor and visible mold were most strongly correlated with elevated moisture readings. Measured moisture differed significantly between repeated visits in opposite seasons (P < 0.0001), and dampness increased with the number of indicators in a home. Linear mixed-effect models showed that 10-unit increases in maximum measured moisture were associated with the presence of 0.5 additional dampness indicators (P < 0.001). Bedroom (BR) walls were damper than living room (LR) walls in the same homes (P < 0.0001), although both average and maximum readings were positively correlated across room type (r = 0.75 and 0.67, respectively, both P < 0.0001). Exterior walls were significantly damper than interior walls (P < 0.0001 in both LRs and BRs), but no differences were observed between maximum wall readings and measurements at either window corners or sites of suspected dampness.

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