Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Mould monitored


Fungi that trigger allergies go under scrutiny.

Industry researchers have produced the largest study yet of airborne fungi in US buildings. The fungal fingerprints may help scientists understand their role in triggering allergies and other medical conditions.

Exposure to spores released by moulds is known to cause or worsen allergies and trigger asthma episodes in sufferers. Spores enter buildings through air ducts or open windows and can thrive in moist indoor conditions.

Brian Shelton and his colleagues at the microbiology laboratory PathCon in Norcross, Georgia, found Stachybotrys chartarum, a fungi thought to be toxic, in 6% of indoor air and in 1% of the outdoor air from buildings surveyedsup>1.

"Finding some of these organisms is not uncommon," says Shelton. He hopes the study will provide baseline figures on the natural occurrence of fungi. This could be of use in future studies on the health effects of particular species.

"The list of identified fungal species is certainly a contribution to science," says David Miller, who studies allergens at Carleton University in Canada. But he cautions against extrapolating detectable quantities of fungi to an individual’s exposure level.

Isolation of the mould does not necessarily indicate exposure to toxins that they produce. It is not known whether spores produce toxins as the mould does, or exactly what their health effects are, Shelton says.

Other rare health effects, such as bleeding lungs, have been attributed to Stachybotrys chartarum - dubbed ’toxic mould’. But the link is disputed: "There is no good evidence that mould in indoor environments is a significant health problem other than being a potential cause of allergy and asthma," says Richard Wasserman, allergist and spokesman for the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

The controversy is, however, highlighting mould-related heath issues. "Mould is replacing asbestos as the next issue for industrial hygiene," says Henry Lick, president of the American Industrial Hygiene Association.

Mould inspection

The PathCon lab received over 12,000 samples during air-quality investigations in 1996 to 1998 - primarily from indoor samples of 1,700 buildings across the United States. This allowed it to provide detailed lists and concentrations of fungi for individual regions, including moulds.

The survey measured culturable fungi, which are those that can be isolated on specially designed laboratory media. Even though cultures provide the best available measures, they are subject to limitations because not all fungi can be grown in this way.

"The number of viable spores detected by this method is extremely low," says Miller. Shelton counters that those that can’t grow on culture aren’t of concern in buildings.

A National Academy of Sciences report in 2000, called Clearing the Air, identified a need for a standardized method, other than culturable fungi, to document exposure to fungal allergens.

The authors concede that this is primarily a descriptive study. However, it provides profiles that would probably not come from any other source, given the cost and logistics involved in collecting samples.

  1. Shelton, B.G. Kirkland, K.H. Flanders, W.D. Morris, G.K. Profiles of airborne fungi in buildings and outdoor environments in the United States. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 68, 1743 - 1753, (2002).

VIRGINIA GEWIN | © Nature News Service

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht NIH scientists describe potential antibody treatment for multidrug-resistant K. pneumoniae
14.03.2018 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

nachricht Researchers identify key step in viral replication
13.03.2018 | University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>