60-Second Science

Mold On The Mind

Damp, moldy houses may contribute to depression--although the mold just may be a marker for poor living conditions. Kevin Begos reports.

Is mold in your house affecting your brain? A study just published in the American Journal of Public Health found that damp, moldy houses may contribute to depression.

Researchers interviewed nearly 6000 individuals in eight European cities, and just 6.5 percent of people who lived in homes with no apparent mold showed signs of depression. With just a little mold the figure jumped to 9.7 percent, and in the dampest, moldiest homes 15.8 percent of the people reported extensive signs of depression.

But wait a minute - mold wasn’t the only factor linked to depression. People who lived in the smallest and most crowded homes showed higher rates of depression, as did heavy smokers and people with the least education. But young people and single men had lower rates. Which raises one interesting point: those who said they felt in control of their homes were less likely to be depressed, even if it had mold. Which might help explain why college students are so unfazed by the things that grow in old pizza boxes and under piles of clothes. Dude, what mold?

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