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Scientists have long suspected that bacteria growing in water-damaged buildings and houses may be causing infections and respiratory conditions like asthma. But no one’s been sure which bacteria have been growing along with the mold.
Until now. And the findings are not reassuring.
In a new study, researchers at the University of Cincinnati have found evidence linking two specific strains of bacteria — Stenotrophomonas and Mycobacterium — to indoor mold from water damage. The research is part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s investment in research to protect the health of children from hazards in the home.
Disturbingly, Stenotrophomonas is a drug-resistant pathogen that can cause serious infections and often threatens the life of folks with compromised immunity.
“If we are going to understand the role of indoor bacteria in human health, we must be able to identify and quantify the relevant bacterial species contributing to the health problems,” says Atin Adhikari, Ph.D., assistant professor of environmental health at the UC College of Medicine and principal investigator of the study.
“The association between bacterial contamination and respiratory health has lagged behind mold studies because it is difficult to determine which species of bacteria are growing in homes and most of the bacterial species are non-culturable and not identified yet,” adds Adhikari.