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 Diabetes mellitus: A risk factor for early colorectal cancer
27.05.2020 | Nationales Centrum für Tumorerkrankungen (NCT) Heidelberg

nachricht Ultra-thin fibres designed to protect nerves after brain surgery
27.05.2020 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

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: Biotechnology: Triggered by light, a novel way to switch on an enzyme

In living cells, enzymes drive biochemical metabolic processes enabling reactions to take place efficiently. It is this very ability which allows them to be used as catalysts in biotechnology, for example to create chemical products such as pharmaceutics. Researchers now identified an enzyme that, when illuminated with blue light, becomes catalytically active and initiates a reaction that was previously unknown in enzymatics. The study was published in "Nature Communications".

Enzymes: they are the central drivers for biochemical metabolic processes in every living cell, enabling reactions to take place efficiently. It is this very...

Im Focus: New double-contrast technique picks up small tumors on MRI

Early detection of tumors is extremely important in treating cancer. A new technique developed by researchers at the University of California, Davis offers a significant advance in using magnetic resonance imaging to pick out even very small tumors from normal tissue. The work is published May 25 in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

researchers at the University of California, Davis offers a significant advance in using magnetic resonance imaging to pick out even very small tumors from...

Im Focus: I-call - When microimplants communicate with each other / Innovation driver digitization - "Smart Health“

Microelectronics as a key technology enables numerous innovations in the field of intelligent medical technology. The Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering IBMT coordinates the BMBF cooperative project "I-call" realizing the first electronic system for ultrasound-based, safe and interference-resistant data transmission between implants in the human body.

When microelectronic systems are used for medical applications, they have to meet high requirements in terms of biocompatibility, reliability, energy...

Im Focus: When predictions of theoretical chemists become reality

Thomas Heine, Professor of Theoretical Chemistry at TU Dresden, together with his team, first predicted a topological 2D polymer in 2019. Only one year later, an international team led by Italian researchers was able to synthesize these materials and experimentally prove their topological properties. For the renowned journal Nature Materials, this was the occasion to invite Thomas Heine to a News and Views article, which was published this week. Under the title "Making 2D Topological Polymers a reality" Prof. Heine describes how his theory became a reality.

Ultrathin materials are extremely interesting as building blocks for next generation nano electronic devices, as it is much easier to make circuits and other...

Im Focus: Rolling into the deep

Scientists took a leukocyte as the blueprint and developed a microrobot that has the size, shape and moving capabilities of a white blood cell. Simulating a blood vessel in a laboratory setting, they succeeded in magnetically navigating the ball-shaped microroller through this dynamic and dense environment. The drug-delivery vehicle withstood the simulated blood flow, pushing the developments in targeted drug delivery a step further: inside the body, there is no better access route to all tissues and organs than the circulatory system. A robot that could actually travel through this finely woven web would revolutionize the minimally-invasive treatment of illnesses.

A team of scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems (MPI-IS) in Stuttgart invented a tiny microrobot that resembles a white blood cell...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Dresden Nexus Conference 2020: Same Time, Virtual Format, Registration Opened

19.05.2020 | Event News

Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium AWK'21 will take place on June 10 and 11, 2021

07.04.2020 | Event News

International Coral Reef Symposium in Bremen Postponed by a Year

06.04.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Black nitrogen: Bayreuth researchers discover new high-pressure material and solve a puzzle of the periodic table

29.05.2020 | Materials Sciences

Argonne researchers create active material out of microscopic spinning particles

29.05.2020 | Materials Sciences

Smart windows that self-illuminate on rainy days

29.05.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>