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The largest study (Spengler, 1994) ever done on U.S. homes with water damage had reported prevalence of various moisture-related conditions such water damageas “any dampness or mold category”, had shown that 50% or more of the homes had these conditions. Another study (Maier 1999) had shown that the homes they tested were at 68% for any dampness or mold.

These numbers show that approximately 7 in 10 homes have water damage and mold!!!

“Almost every U.S. home has at least a little mold, but roughly 47% of homes have more substantial mold or dampness,” says William Fisk, senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, who has researched mold for more than 10 years.

People who are exposed to mold are 30% to 50% more at risk of asthma, coughing, and wheezing, he adds. Mold exposure also has been associated with other health problems, such as bronchitis and respiratory infections.” (Source: The $500,000 House Cleaning – The Wall Street Journal, May 3, 2013)

The other studies below in the comparison chart, report prevalence values below 50%. Excluding the Freeman study because it only included bathrooms, the average prevalence of dampness or mold from these studies is 47% in the U.S.

The second table below shows a study from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of 100 representative public and commercial U.S. office buildings, showing 85% of buildings had past water damage and 45% had current water leaks. The General Accounting Office had conducted a survey of U.S. schools reporting that 30% of schools had plumbing problems and 27% had roof problems .

So there you have it. Approximately 50% or more of U.S. homes have water damage and mold issues. 85% of commercial structures have water damage, and at least 30% of our children’s schools have water damage which would equate to mold as well.

Table 1. Reported prevalence of dampness and mold in U.S. houses.

Author Location Population
(housing units)
Prevalence
Mold or mildew Water damage or dampness Basement water Any dampness or mold
Brunekreef 1989 [5] 6 U.S. cities 4625 30% 17% 32% 55%
Chiaverini 2003 [6] Rhode Island 2600 18% 23%
Freeman 2003 [7] New Jersey 4291 (Hispanic) 17% (in bathroom)
Hu 1997 [8] Los Angeles & San Diego 2041 8%
Maier 1997 [9] Seattle 925 54% 20% 22% 68%
Slezak 1998 [10] Chicago 910 (Head Start) 16%
Spengler 1994 [11] 24 cities in U.S. & Canada 12,842 36% 24% 20% 50%
Stark 2003 [12] Boston 492 38% 34% 52%
Population weighted average 33% 22% 23% 47%*

* Population weighted average excludes Freeman (2003) because it only considered bathrooms

The largest identified data set for dampness in offices is from a survey by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of 100 representative public and commercial U.S. office buildings. Table 2 provides data on the prevalence of past water damage and current water leaks from this survey [13].

Eighty five percent of buildings had past water damage and 45% had current water leaks. For U.S. schools, a survey by the General Accounting Office reported that 30% of schools had plumbing problems and 27% had roof problems [14]; however, the nature of the problems were not described so the prevalence of associated dampness and mold cannot be determined. Many small studies have documented dampness problems in schools [15].

Table 2. Prevalence of past water damage and current water leaks from a survey of 100 representative U.S. office buildings [13].

Total
Prevalence
Basement Roof Mechanical
Rooms
Occupied
Space
Past Water Damage 85% 28% 50% 17% 71%
Current Leaks 45% 13% 15% 3% 34%

SOURCE: Berkeley Lab Indoor Air Quality Scientific Resource Bank