Prevalence of mold and asthma in the Vine City and English Avenue neighborhoods of Atlanta, Georgia Open Access

Eiffert, Samantha (2015)

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English Avenue and Vine City are communities located just west of downtown Atlanta. Residents in these communities have expressed concerns about the potential health effects of frequent flooding. Flooding can impact health by contributing to damp indoor environments, which facilitates mold growth (Brandt et al., 2006). A survey was conducted in these neighborhoods, with participants recruited from a random sample of homes in areas that tend to be wet and adjacent areas. The survey included a questionnaire, an environmental inspection, and a dust sample. Dust samples were tested using quantitative PCR, and results were expressed in terms of the environmental relative moldiness index (ERMI). It was hypothesized that houses located in wet areas would be more likely to have observed mold and higher ERMI values than houses located in adjacent areas. It was hypothesized that residents who had observed mold would be more likely to self-report a current asthma diagnosis, and asthmatic participants' homes would exhibit higher average ERMI values. Mold was observed in 35% of residences. ERMI values were high in these neighborhoods with a mean of 11.1 compared with the average ERMI value for homes in Atlanta of 9.82 (Vesper, personal communication). The prevalence of self-reported current asthma among participants was 14%. Residences in wet areas did not exhibit higher ERMI values or odds of observed mold overall. However, homes with basements in wet areas did have higher odds of observed mold (OR=5.45; p=0.12). Air conditioning use was associated with lower odds of observed mold and lower ERMI values (p<0.05), while reported leaks were associated with higher odds of observed mold and higher ERMI values (p<0.05). Participants who had lived at their current residence for two years or less had a positive association between observed mold and asthma (OR=1.18; p=0.811) and between ERMI values and asthma (OR=1.12; p=0.036). These neighborhoods showed high prevalence of mold and current asthma. In these neighborhoods, flooding likely contributes to mold in some cases, but the structural integrity and overall maintenance status of residences is also of concern because reported leaks were strongly associated with observed mold and ERMI values.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Methods 6

Results 11

Discussion 16

Conclusions 20

References 22

Figures 27

Tables 31

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