The environmental relative moldiness index (ERMI) metric was previously developed to quantify mold contamination in U.S. homes. This study determined the applicability of the ERMI for quantifying mold and moisture damage in Finnish residences. Homes of the LUKAS2 birth cohort in Finland were visually inspected for moisture damage and mold, and vacuumed floor dust samples were collected. An ERMI analysis including 36 mold-specific quantitative PCR assays was performed on the dust samples (n = 144), and the ERMI metric was analyzed against inspection-based observations of moisture damage and mold. Our results show that the ERMI was significantly associated with certain observations of visible mold in Finnish homes but not with moisture damage. Several mold species occurred more frequently and at higher levels in Finnish than in U.S. homes. Modification of the ERMI toward Finnish conditions, using a subsample of LUKAS2 homes with and without moisture damage, resulted in a simplified metric based on 10 mold species. The Finnish ERMI (FERMI) performed substantially better in quantifying moisture and mold damage in Finnish homes, showing significant associations with various observations of visible mold, strongest when the damage was located in the child’s main living area, as well as with mold odor and moisture damage. As shown in Finland, the ERMI as such is not equally well usable in different climates and geographic regions but may be remodeled to account for local outdoor and indoor fungal conditions as well as for moisture damage characteristics in a given country.

  1. Martin Täubela,
  2. Anne M. Karvonena,
  3. Tiina Reponenb,c,
  4. Anne Hyvärinena,
  5. Stephen Vesperd and
  6. Juha Pekkanena,e

  1. aLiving Environment and Health Unit, National Institute for Health and Welfare, Kuopio, Finland

  2. bDepartment of Environmental Health, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

  3. cDepartment of Environmental Science, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland

  4. dUnited States Environmental Protection Agency, National Exposure Research Laboratory, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

  5. eDepartment of Public Health, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
  1. C. A. Elkins, Editor

+Author Affiliations

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