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Researchers are trying to prevent childhood asthma by studying mold in American homes

mold study
Posted at 8:36 AM, Nov 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-18 18:52:56-05

There are obvious places to look when it comes to the hunt for mold inside a home, but what most Americans don’t realize is that even after a natural disaster or flood, there may still be dangerous mold lingering that we can’t see.

Richard Shaughnessy is a researcher at the University of Tulsa and has spent decades studying mold. His department recently received a $1 million grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to study the connection between mold and an increase in childhood asthma cases nationwide.

Shuaghnessy and his team will use the money to conduct DNA testing in homes. Their hope is to identify mold, dampness, and fungi that might not be visible to the naked eye or even traditional methods of testing.

"Even 30 or 40 years ago, we didn’t have the DNA technology to be able to get that picture of all the fungi that are present," he said.

All of this is being done for kids across the country.

Kevin Kennedy is with Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. His hope is that by having a more exact science to detect mold, researchers can dramatically decrease the rate of childhood asthma in this country.

"To me, it’s being able to help more kids by developing technology that could be used in more homes," Kennedy said.

By some estimates, nearly 50% of homes in the US have some kind of mold in them. And when 21% of all childhood asthma cases are linked to dampness and mold in homes, you can understand the urgency of the study.

It will likely take about three years for the study to be complete. The hope is to give home inspectors better tools to detect hidden mold, and at the end of the day, that could keep countless kids across the country from getting sick.