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Mould linked to asthma

31 August 2007

A Cardiff University study has found that removing indoor mould improves the symptoms of people with asthma.

Asthma UK figures show the prevalence of asthma in Wales is among the highest in the world, with 260,000 people receiving treatment for their asthma and with the rate of hospital admissions for adults 12 per cent more than anywhere else in the UK.

Researchers in the School of Medicine asked patients with asthma living in two areas of South Wales if they noticed mould growing inside their houses which was then confirmed by a trained observer. In half of the houses with mould (chosen at random), the mould was removed (using a fungicidal wash to kill any remaining mould) and ventilation was improved by means of a fan in the loft. In the other houses, mould removal was delayed for twelve months.

Dr Michael Burr, School of Medicine’s Department of Primary Care and Public Health said: "In the houses where mould was removed, the symptoms of asthma improved and the use of inhalers decreased more than in the other houses. Removing mould also led to improvements in other symptoms: sneezing, runny or blocked noses, and itchy-watery eyes.

"There was no clear effect on measurements of breathing, but this may have been because patients used their inhalers as needed so that they could always breathe freely."

Jenny Versnel, Asthma UK’s Executive Director of Research and Policy said: "The publication of this study adds to the increasing bank of research that indoor mould may have a link with asthma, however more work is needed in this area before definitive conclusions can be drawn.

"Research into this area does, however, highlight the importance of keeping your house dry and well ventilated. This can reduce exposure to certain asthma triggers such as mould spores which are found in damp places."

The study was funded by the charity Asthma UK, the Medical Research Council, and the Wales Office of Research and Development. The research is published in the September edition of the medical journal Thorax.

Ends

MEDIC 20 Asthma

Notes to Editors:

1. To arrange interviews with Dr Michael Burr please ring (0)29 2068 7240. A copy of the paper "Effects on patients with asthma of eradicating visible indoor mould: a randomised controlled trial" published in the journal Thorax, Sep 2007; 62: 766 - 771 can also be requested or viewed online at: http://thorax.bmj.com/

2. Cardiff School of Medicine

Cardiff University’s School of Medicine is recognised as a significant contributor to healthcare in Wales, a major provider of professional staff for the National Health Service and an international centre of excellence for research delivering substantial health benefits locally and internationally. The school’s 800 staff include 500 research and academic staff who teach more than 2000 students, including 1,100 postgraduate students. The School of Medicine is based at the Heath Park Campus, a site it shares the University Hospital of Wales, the third largest university hospital in the UK. It has an all-Wales role, contributing greatly to promoting, enhancing and protecting the nation’s health in partnership with the National Health Service (NHS) in Wales. The medical curriculum followed at the School enables students to acquire and apply knowledge, skills, judgement and attitudes appropriate to delivering a high standard of professional care. Around 300 new doctors currently graduate from the School every year and the Welsh Assembly Government has invested substantially in new teaching facilities to increase this number further. The School is an international leader in basic and clinically applied research activities and scored highly in the most recent Government Research Assessment Exercise. School of Medicine researchers annually win tens of millions of pounds in research awards to work with Government, the healthcare industries and the charitable sector on the most pressing issues of human health. The School has also been instrumental in establishing and running many important national research initiatives including the Wales Gene Park, Wales Cancer Bank, the Cardiff Institute for Tissue Engineering and Repair and the Healing Foundation UK Centre for Burns Research.

3. Cardiff University

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities. Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, the University today combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Cardiff is a member of the Russell Group of Britain’s leading research universities.

Visit the University website at: www.cardiff.ac.uk

4. Asthma UK is the major funder of asthma research in the UK. Each year we spend approximately £3 million on research which includes project grants, four fellows, and two professors. Asthma UK is the charity dedicated to improving the health and well-being of the 5.2 million people in the UK whose lives are affected by asthma. For up-to-date news on asthma, information and publications, visit the Asthma UK website asthma.org.uk

Further Information:

Dr Michael Burr
Department of Primary Care & Public Health
School of Medicine
Cardiff University,
Tel (0)29 2068 7240
E-mail: burrml@cardiff.ac.uk

Emma Darling
Public Relations
Cardiff University
Tel: 029 20874499
Email: DarlingEL@cardiff.ac.uk

Veronica Parker,
Media & PR, Communications Department,
Asthma UK,
Tel: 020 7786 4985
Email: vparker@asthma.org.uk