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Using particle measurements to pinpoint mould


Locating mould and damp in buildings is difficult, sometimes even impossible. The Tekes’ Fine technology programme explores ways to use the concentration and size distribution of particles to pinpoint mould damage and determine its effect on health. Researchers are also developimg a DNA-based microchip, which can be used for determining the microbes in indoor air rapidly. This is the first experiment where existing medical technologies are being applied to indoor air specimens.

"Up to now, nobody has studied how the concentration and size distribution of particles in the air inside buildings with mould problems differ from those inside healthy buildings. We took measurements in a building with mould problems at all four seasons of the year and measured the effects of repairs on indoor air quality in two buildings", explains Dr. Aino Nevalainen from the National Public Health Institute, who has been leading the research.

"Measurements were also taken in healthy buildings for comparison. The air in the building with mould problems showed inexplicable peaks in particle concentrations that could be caused by damp and mould. Analysis is continuing in those areas."

Procedures for determining the microbiological particles in indoor air using DNA-based methods were also developed in the research. DNA-based measurements have shown that there are a number of microbes in the air, which previously have been impossible to even observe.

A DNA-based microchip is being developed, which can be used for determining the microbes in indoor air rapidly. This is the first experiment in which existing medical technologies are being applied to indoor air specimens.

Aino Nevalainen believes that the DNA chip will be in use for determining damp and mould hazards in 3-5 years’ time. There is a demand for the new technology throughout the world as Finland is not the only country engaged in fighting mould problems. In the USA, for example, the problem is difficult to control.

Breaking the mould in interdisciplinary research

"It is thanks to the Tekes Fine technology programme that we have been able to launch this multidisciplinary research project, where particle and microbe research is being carried out hand in hand. The results are ground-breaking," says Aino Nevalainen.

As well as the National Public Health Institute, the aerosol research conducted by the Department of Physical Sciences at the University of Helsinki and the Institute of Biotechnology are also involved in the research.

Eeva Ahola | alfa
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