Building-related symptoms among U.S. office workers and risks factors for moisture and contamination: Preliminary analyses of U.S. EPA BASE Data

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The authors assessed relationships between health symptoms in office workers and risk factors related to moisture and contamination, using data collected from a representative sample of U.S. office buildings in the U.S. EPA BASE study. Methods: Analyses assessed associations between three types of weekly, workrelated symptoms-lower respiratory, mucous membrane, and neurologic-and risk factors for moisture or contamination in these office buildings. Multivariate logistic regression models were used to estimate the strength of associations for these risk factors as odds ratios (ORs) adjusted for personal-level potential confounding variables related to demographics, health, job, and workspace. A number of risk factors were ... continued below

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Mendell, Mark J. & Cozen, Myrna September 1, 2002.

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The authors assessed relationships between health symptoms in office workers and risk factors related to moisture and contamination, using data collected from a representative sample of U.S. office buildings in the U.S. EPA BASE study. Methods: Analyses assessed associations between three types of weekly, workrelated symptoms-lower respiratory, mucous membrane, and neurologic-and risk factors for moisture or contamination in these office buildings. Multivariate logistic regression models were used to estimate the strength of associations for these risk factors as odds ratios (ORs) adjusted for personal-level potential confounding variables related to demographics, health, job, and workspace. A number of risk factors were associated (e.g., 95% confidence limits excluded 1.0) significantly with small to moderate increases in one or more symptom outcomes. Significantly elevated ORs for mucous membrane symptoms were associated with the following risk factors: presence of humidification system in good condition versus none (OR = 1.4); air handler inspection annually versus daily (OR = 1.6); current water damage in the building (OR = 1.2); and less than daily vacuuming in study space (OR = 1.2). Significantly elevated ORs for lower respiratory symptoms were associated with: air handler inspection annually versus daily (OR = 2.0); air handler inspection less than daily but at least semi-annually (OR=1.6); less than daily cleaning of offices (1.7); and less than daily vacuuming of the study space (OR = 1.4). Only two statistically significant risk factors for neurologic symptoms were identified: presence of any humidification system versus none (OR = 1.3); and less than daily vacuuming of the study space (OR = 1.3). Dirty cooling coils, dirty or poorly draining drain pans, and standing water near outdoor air intakes, evaluated by inspection, were not identified as risk factors in these analyses, despite predictions based on previous findings elsewhere, except that very dirty cooling coils were associated with a nonsignificant increase in lower respiratory symptoms. These preliminary findings suggest that some factors that indicate risks for moisture or contamination in office buildings may have adverse effects on respiratory or neurologic health of office workers. More refined analyses are underway that will include these risk factors in simultaneous multivariate models along with additional risk factors that may be confounders, such as ventilation rate and indoor temperature. Future analyses will also use more refined metrics for both health outcomes and environmental risks, as well as assess risk in susceptible sub-groups.

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OSTI as DE00805151

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  • Other Information: PBD: 1 Sep 2002

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  • Report No.: LBNL--51567
  • Grant Number: AC03-76SF00098
  • DOI: 10.2172/805151 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 805151
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc736957

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  • September 1, 2002

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  • Oct. 18, 2015, 6:40 p.m.

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  • Dec. 1, 2017, 9:40 p.m.

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Mendell, Mark J. & Cozen, Myrna. Building-related symptoms among U.S. office workers and risks factors for moisture and contamination: Preliminary analyses of U.S. EPA BASE Data, report, September 1, 2002; Berkeley, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc736957/: accessed December 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.