Possible relationships between mold contamination, as described by the Environmental Relative Moldiness Index (ERMI), home characteristics, and the development of wheeze in the first year of life were evaluated among a cohort of urban infants (n = 103) in Syracuse, New York. When the infants were approximately 3 months of age, a home inspection was carried out and indoor environmental samples collected, including vacuumed house dust. ERMI levels in the Syracuse cohort homes were higher than the U.S. average, with an overall mean of 11.4. ERMI levels were significantly higher in homes with visible water problems (p = 0.023) and visible mold (p = 0.023). ERMI levels in apartments were significantly lower than the values measured in houses (p = 0.0003). While infants experiencing wheeze (38%) tended to live in homes with higher ERMI values than those without wheeze (ERMI values of 12.3 and 10.9, respectively), the differences did not reach statistical significance. A subset analysis limited to infants with living room samples who remained in the same home during the study (n = 25) was suggestive of an association between higher ERMI values and wheeze (p = 0.10). In summary, Higher ERMI levels were indicators of water problems, mold, and type of housing.
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