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Abstract

Establishment and Application of an Environmental Relative Moldiness Index for Dwellings in Korea

Author(s): J. Lee*, E. Hwang, Ju-Yeong Lee, J. Ryu, Sooyun Seo, Myung-Hee Kwon, Hyen-Mi Chung, S. Vesper1 and S. Seo2
National Institute of Environmental Research, Incheon, Republic of Korea, 1United States Environmental Protection Agency, Cincinnati, OH, USA, 2Department of Environmental Health and Safety, Eulji University, Seoul, Republic of Korea

Correspondence Address:
National Institute of Environmental Research, Incheon, Republic of Korea, E-mail: [email protected]


This study aimed to develop a Korean version of the Environmental Relative Moldiness Index based on the specific distribution of fungal flora in Korea. A total of 126 dwellings were selected for mold sampling, and each was classified as, Flooded, Water leaks/condensation, or Non water-damaged. Dust on floors was sampled using a vacuum cleaner with a Dustream collector and analyzed by quantitative polymerase chain reaction for 36 types of molds included in the Environmental Relative Moldiness Index. The Environmental Relative Moldiness Index value was found to be 19.6 (-6.9–58.8) for flooded houses, 7.5 (-29.2–48.3) for water-damaged houses with leaks/condensation, and 0.8 (-29.2–37.9) for non-damaged dwellings. Significant differences were observed between flooded and non-water damaged dwellings (p<0.001) and between water-damaged and non-water damaged dwellings (p<0.032). The Korean Environmental Relative Moldiness Index consisted of 16 fungal species, which are very similar to those normally found in the Environmental Relative Moldiness Index in Korea (p=0.834). These findings indicate that Environmental Relative Moldiness Index values attributed to dust samples in Korea could be utilized for identification of flooded or water-damaged buildings. The Korean Environmental Relative Moldiness Index could also be a promising tool for inexpensive assessment of long-term fungal exposure in Korean dwellings.

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