Fungal Toxins Easily Become Airborne Creating Potential Indoor Health Risk

 

Recent research in Applied and Environmental Microbiology published in late June 2017 stated that many fungi can develop on building materials in indoor environments if moisture is high enough.

Among species that are frequently observed, some are known to be potent mycotoxin producers. This presence of toxinogenic fungi in indoor environments raises the question of the possible exposure of occupants to these toxic compounds by inhalation after aerosolization.

The study investigated the mycotoxin production by Penicillium brevicompactum, Aspergillus versicolor and Stachybotrys chartarum and their growth on wallpaper and the possible subsequent aerosolization of produced mycotoxins from contaminated substrates.

The researchers stated ‘The possible colonisation of building material by toxinogenic fungi in case of moistening raises the question of the subsequent exposure of occupants to aerosolized mycotoxins. In this study, we demonstrated that three different toxinogenic species produce mycotoxins during their development on wallpaper. These toxins can subsequently be aerosolized, at least partly, from mouldy material. This transfer to air requires air velocities that can be encountered in real life conditions in buildings. The most part of the aerosolized toxic load is found in particles whose size corresponds to spores or mycelium fragments. However, some toxins were also found on particles smaller than spores that are easily respirable and can deeply penetrate into human respiratory tract. All these data are important for risk assessment related to fungal contamination of indoor environments.

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