Housing Characteristics in Developing Countries as Important Determinants of Household Indoor Dampness and Mould

IJEP 39(2): 100-109 : Vol. 39 Issue. 2 (February 2019)

M. Saraswathy1, Vidhya Venugopal1, Anupma Jyoti Kindo2 and Ravinder Thyagarajan3

1. Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education and Research, Department of Environmental Health Engineering, Chennai – 600 116
2. Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education and Research, Department of Microbiology, Chennai -600 116
3. Government Kilpauk Medical College, Department of Microbiology, Chennai – 600 010


Housing characteristics are important determinants of indoor dampness and mould contamination, a risk factor known to be associated with an increased prevalence of respiratory symptoms. However, few efforts have been undertaken to assess the prevalence of dampness and mould in residential environments and finding its association with housing characteristics have not been explored in developing countries. Dampness was assessed in 710 households (408 rural and 302 urban) enrolled in a (The Tamil Nadu Air Pollution and Health Effects (TAPHE)) cohort study using a combination of questionnaires and quantitative measurements of moisture. Mould assessments were performed using standard gravitational settle plate technique. A subset of households was examined longitudinally for all the month in a year to find the seasonal impact on the mould prevalence. The prevalence of dampness and mould was examined in relation to a range of household level variables known to influence their distribution. The prevalence of the self-reported dampness was around 50% with moderate to severe levels of moisture percentage recorded in nearly 12-26% of households. Further, one or more species of mould were detected in 83.5% of households with Aspergillus being the most dominant (72.5%). Housing characteristics, such as location, poor housing construction, presence of animals, air conditioner, wall furnishing, high relative humidity and low wind velocity were found to be significantly associated with atleast one of the four selected mould genera as well as with one of the self-reported moisture indicators in the house. This study provides important baseline information for the prevalence of indoor dampness and mould and identified the housing characteristics that would influence the same in the households of southern India.


Housing characteristics, Indoor dampness, Indoor mould, Southern India