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Quantifying mold using DNA signatures in schools and homes of children with asthma

Published online: October 19, 2020

Asthma afflicts 14% of children worldwide. Mold exposures have been associated with some cases of asthma development and exacerbation. Therefore, objective measurements of mold exposures in homes and schools will improve our understanding of asthma’s etiology and lead to processes to reduce asthma. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) developed the technology to quantify molds based on their unique DNA signatures. In the current issue of The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, Howard et al, describe application of this technology in a study of the comparative level of molds in schools and homes located in the northeastern US.   

Average mold levels with this technique were greater in northeastern schools compared to homes. Asthma prevalence from schools reported in publicly available databases is higher in schools with higher measured mold levels. In addition, higher asthma prevalence correlated with schools predominantly attended by African American and Hispanic students. Our results suggest environmental conditions such as mold levels may be important in schools and homes, and there may be disparities in asthma prevalence and environmental conditions. More information about the study can be found in the current issue of The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, an official journal of the AAAAI, focusing on practical information for the practicing clinician.

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