Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mould monitored

15.04.2002


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.

References
  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 Fast-tracking T cell therapies with immune-mimicking biomaterials
16.01.2018 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard

nachricht Dengue takes low and slow approach to replication
12.01.2018 | Duke University

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: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

Im Focus: A thermometer for the oceans

Measurement of noble gases in Antarctic ice cores

The oceans are the largest global heat reservoir. As a result of man-made global warming, the temperature in the global climate system increases; around 90% of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

White graphene makes ceramics multifunctional

16.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

Breaking bad metals with neutrons

16.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

ISFH-CalTeC is “designated test centre” for the confirmation of solar cell world records

16.01.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>