Exposure to Airborne Mould in School Environments and Nasal Patency in Children
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Mould in schools has been associated with increased upper airway obstruction in adults. In this study, we investigated the relationship between school indoor mould spore exposure and nasal patency in children. Airborne mould samples were collected in 32 classrooms from 4 primary schools during both summer and winter using a single-stage Anderson sampler. Nasal patency was measured in 275 children in summer and 200 children in winter using acoustic rhinometry. Various mould species were isolated but the most common species found inside the classrooms were Alternaria, Aspergillus niger, Cladosporium spp. and Penicillium spp. In the univariate analyses, significant negative correlations were found between exposure to various mould species, particularly Alternaria, and rhinometric measures in the children. In multivariate analyses, exposure to Alternaria was associated with both decreased mean nasal cross-sectional area (p=0.001) and decreased nasal volume (p=0.026). Decreased nasal patency was also associated with exposure to A. niger (p=0.034) and Penicillium(p=0.043) in the classrooms. The findings of this study suggest that exposure to airborne mould, particularly Alternaria, in school environments may affect the upper airways of children.
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