We examined 12,026 fungal air samples (9,619 indoor samples and 2,407 outdoor samples) from 1,717 buildings located across the United States; these samples were collected during indoor air quality investigations performed from 1996 to 1998. For all buildings, both indoor and outdoor air samples were collected with an Andersen N6 sampler. The culturable airborne fungal concentrations in indoor air were lower than those in outdoor air. The fungal levels were highest in the fall and summer and lowest in the winter and spring. Geographically, the highest fungal levels were found in the Southwest, Far West, and Southeast. The most common culturable airborne fungi, both indoors and outdoors and in all seasons and regions, were Cladosporium, Penicillium, nonsporulating fungi, and Aspergillus. Stachybotrys chartarum was identified in the indoor air in 6% of the buildings studied and in the outdoor air of 1% of the buildings studied. This study provides industrial hygienists, allergists, and other public health practitioners with comparative information on common culturable airborne fungi in the United States. This is the largest study of airborne indoor and outdoor fungal species and concentrations conducted with a standardized protocol to date.
In this study, the culturability of indoor and outdoor airborne fungi was determined through long-term sampling (24-h) using a Button Personal Inhalable Aerosol Sampler. The air samples were collected during three seasons in six Cincinnati area homes that were free from moisture damage or visible mold. Cultivation and total microscopic enumeration methods were employed for the sample analysis. The geometric means of indoor and outdoor culturable fungal concentrations were 88 and 102 colony-forming units (CFU) m-3, respectively, with a geometric mean of the I/O ratio equal to 0.66. Overall, 26 genera of culturable fungi were recovered from the indoor and outdoor samples. For total fungal spores, the indoor and outdoor geometric means were 211 and 605 spores m-3, respectively, with a geometric mean of I/O ratio equal to 0.32. The identification revealed 37 fungal genera from indoor and outdoor samples based on the total spore analysis. Indoor and outdoor concentrations of culturable and total fungal spores showed significant correlations (r = 0.655, p<0.0001 and r = 0.633, p<0.0001, respectively). The indoor and outdoor median viabilities of fungi were 55% and 25%, respectively, which indicates that indoor environment provides more favorable survival conditions for the aerosolized fungi. Among the seasons, the highest indoor and outdoor culturability of fungi was observed in the fall. Cladosporium had a highest median value of culturability (38% and 33% for indoor and outdoor, respectively) followed by Aspergillus/Penicillium (9% and 2%) among predominant genera of fungi. Increased culturability of fungi inside the homes may have important implications because of the potential increase in the release of allergens from viable spores and pathogenicity of viable fungi on immunocompromised individuals.
Indoor air; Outdoor air; Total fungal spore; Culturable fungi; Culturability
Airborne fungi, a significant constituent of atmospheric bioaerosol, are well-known source of allergens and can cause allergic rhinitis and bronchial asthma in sensitive subjects. Rhizopus stolonifer, the filamentous fungus is a widely distributed thread-like Mucoralean mold. Commonly found on bread surfaces, it takes food and nutrients from the bread and causes damage to the surface where it lives. Although a significant exposure risk is assumable in indoor environment, the role of this fungus in provoking allergic symptoms in pre-sensitized individuals, however, was poorly investigated. We conducted this study to monitor airborne R. stolonifer and to evaluate its potential as an aeroallergen causing nasobronchial allergy in sensitized individuals.
Seasonal periodicity of R. stolonifer was studied for 2 years (March, 2009-Feb.11) by Andersen air sampler. The relationships between meteorological parameters and airborne R. stolonifer concentration were explored by linear regression models. The allergic potential of R. stolonifer extract was studied on 389 respiratory allergic patients by performing skin prick tests (SPT) and measuring the allergen-specific IgE levels in SPT positive patient's sera by Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay. SDS-PAGE and immunoblotting with pooled patient sera were performed to identify its IgE-binding components.
Airborne R. stolonifer concentration range was 4 to 47 CFU/m3 and reached the peak concentration in March. Relative humidity was found to be a significant predictor for occurrence of R. stolonifer in air. Positive skin reaction was observed in 105 patients (27%) including 10 (9.5%) showing markedly high (2+ to 3+) skin sensitization. Crude antigenic extract of R. stolonifer was resolved in 16 protein bands in the molecular weight range of 12 to 72 kDa on SDS-PAGE (12% gel). Three IgE-binding protein bands (17, 21and 67.12 kDa) were detected by immunoblot analysis.
Exposures to R. stolonifer in environments where it naturally occurs may confer risk of IgE-mediated sensitization in sensitive individuals.
This field study investigated the relationship between indoor and outdoor concentrations of airborne actinomycetes, fungal spores, and pollen. Air samples were collected for 24 h with a button inhalable aerosol sampler inside and outside of six single-family homes located in the Cincinnati area (overall, 15 pairs of samples were taken in each home). The measurements were conducted during three seasons – spring and fall 2004, and winter 2005. The concentration of culturable actinomycetes was mostly below the detection limit. The median indoor/outdoor ratio (I/O) for actinomycetes was the highest: 2.857. The indoor of fungal and pollen concentrations followed the outdoor concentrations while indoor levels were mostly lower than the outdoor ones. The I/O ratio of total fungal spores (median = 0.345) in six homes was greater than that of pollen grains (median = 0.025). The low I/O ratios obtained for pollen during the peak ambient pollination season (spring) suggest that only a small fraction penetrated from outdoor to indoor environment. This is attributed to the larger size of pollen grains. Higher indoor concentration levels and variability in the I/O ratio observed for airborne fungi may be associated with indoor sources and/or higher outdoor-to-indoor penetration of fungal spores compared to pollen grains.
Bioaerosol; Exposure; Indoor; Outdoor; Bacteria; Fungal spore; Pollen
Typically, studies on indoor fungal growth in buildings focus on structures with known or suspected water damage, moisture, and/or indoor fungal growth problems. Reference information on types of culturable fungi and total fungal levels are generally not available for buildings without these problems. This study assessed 50 detached single-family homes in metropolitan Atlanta, Ga., to establish a baseline of “normal and typical” types and concentrations of airborne and dustborne fungi in urban homes which were predetermined not to have noteworthy moisture problems or indoor fungal growth. Each home was visually examined, and samples of indoor and outdoor air and of indoor settled dust were taken in winter and summer. The results showed that rankings by prevalence and abundance of the types of airborne and dustborne fungi did not differ from winter to summer, nor did these rankings differ when air samples taken indoors were compared with those taken outdoors. Water indicator fungi were essentially absent from both air and dust samples. The air and dust data sets were also examined specifically for the proportions of colonies from ecological groupings such as leaf surface fungi and soil fungi. In the analysis of dust for culturable fungal colonies, leaf surface fungi constituted a considerable portion (>20%) of the total colonies in at least 85% of the samples. Thus, replicate dust samples with less than 20% of colonies from leaf surface fungi are unlikely to be from buildings free of moisture or mold growth problems.
The indoor microbiome is a complex system that is thought to depend on dispersal from the outdoor biome and the occupants' microbiome combined with selective pressures imposed by the occupants' behaviors and the building itself. We set out to determine the pattern of fungal diversity and composition in indoor air on a local scale and to identify processes behind that pattern. We surveyed airborne fungal assemblages within 1-month time periods at two seasons, with high replication, indoors and outdoors, within and across standardized residences at a university housing facility. Fungal assemblages indoors were diverse and strongly determined by dispersal from outdoors, and no fungal taxa were found as indicators of indoor air. There was a seasonal effect on the fungi found in both indoor and outdoor air, and quantitatively more fungal biomass was detected outdoors than indoors. A strong signal of isolation by distance existed in both outdoor and indoor airborne fungal assemblages, despite the small geographic scale in which this study was undertaken (<500 m). Moreover, room and occupant behavior had no detectable effect on the fungi found in indoor air. These results show that at the local level, outdoor air fungi dominate the patterning of indoor air. More broadly, they provide additional support for the growing evidence that dispersal limitation, even on small geographic scales, is a key process in structuring the often-observed distance–decay biogeographic pattern in microbial communities.
bioaerosol; built environment microbiome; community assembly; isolation by distance; ITS; 454 pyrosequencing
The main objective of the present study was to assess culturable airborne fungal concentrations, and types in different seasons. Two-stage viable impactor samplers were used with malt extract agar medium as the collection media. Culturable airborne fungal concentrations were collected indoors and outdoors of 43 homes in urban and rural environments from November 2008 to October 2009 in Egypt. Fungal concentrations were significantly higher in the rural environment than the urban environment. The median indoor and outdoor total fungal concentrations were 608 and 675 CFU/m3 in the urban environment and 1,932 and 1,872 CFU/m3 in the rural environment, respectively. The greatest concentrations were found in the autumn and spring season. Indoor and outdoor concentrations were significantly correlated (P < 0.001). The highest concentrations were observed in the fungal size range of <8 µm (fine fraction). The indoor/outdoor (I/O) ratios were not statistically different between seasons. Alternaria, Aspergillus, Cladosporium, Penicillium and yeasts were the predominant genera indoors and outdoors, and the abundance of genera varied by season and region. This study is of a potential interest as little reported research on the indoor fungal air quality from Egypt.
air; fungi; homes; rural; urban
Studies have repeatedly demonstrated that sensitization to fungi, such as Alternaria, is strongly associated with allergic rhinitis and asthma in children. However, the role of exposure to fungi in the development of childhood allergic rhinitis is poorly understood. In a prospective birth cohort of 405 children of asthmatic/allergic parents from metropolitan Boston, Massachusetts, we examined in-home high fungal concentrations (> 90th percentile) measured once within the first 3 months of life as predictors of doctor-diagnosed allergic rhinitis in the first 5 years of life. In multivariate Cox regression analyses, predictors of allergic rhinitis included high levels of dust-borne Aspergillus [hazard ratio (HR) = 3.27; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.50–7.14], Aureobasidium (HR = 3.04; 95% CI, 1.33–6.93), and yeasts (HR = 2.67; 95% CI, 1.26–5.66). The factors controlled for in these analyses included water damage or mild or mildew in the building during the first year of the child’s life, any lower respiratory tract infection in the first year, male sex, African-American race, fall date of birth, and maternal IgE to Alternaria > 0.35 U/mL. Dust-borne Alternaria and non-sporulating and total fungi were also predictors of allergic rhinitis in models excluding other fungi but adjusting for all of the potential confounders listed above. High measured fungal concentrations and reports of water damage, mold, or mildew in homes may predispose children with a family history of asthma or allergy to the development of allergic rhinitis.
allergic rhinitis; fungi; mold; respiratory health effects; water damage
Factor analysis was utilized to investigate correlations among airborne microorganisms collected with Andersen samplers from homes in Topeka, Kans., during the winter of 1987 to 1988. The factors derived were used to relate microbial concentrations with categorical, questionnaire-derived descriptions of housing conditions. This approach successfully identified groups of common aboveground decay fungi including Cladosporium, Alternaria, Epicoccum, and Aureobasidium spp. The common soil fungi Aspergillus and Penicillium spp. were also separated as a group. These previously known ecological groupings were confirmed with air sampling data by a quantitative evaluation technique. The aboveground decay fungi sampled indoors in winter were present at relatively high concentrations in homes with gas stoves for cooking, suggesting a possible association between these fungi and increased humidity from the combustion process. Elevated concentrations of the soil fungi were significantly (P = 0.05) associated with the dirt floor, crawl-space type of basement. Elevated concentrations of water-requiring fungi, such as Fusarium spp., were shown to be associated with water collection in domestic interiors. Also, elevated mean concentrations for the group of fungi including Cladosporium, Epicoccum, Aureobasidium, and yeast spp. were found to be associated (P = 0.03) with symptoms reported on a health questionnaire. This finding was consistent with our previous study of associations between respiratory health and airborne microorganisms by univariate logistic regression analysis.
The airborne indoor pollen in a hospital of Badajoz (Spain) was monitored over two years using a personal Burkard sampler. The air was sampled in four places indoors—one closed room and one open ward on each of the ground and the third floors—and one place outdoors at the entrance to the hospital. The results were compared with data from a continuous volumetric sampler. While 32 pollen types were identified, nearly 75% of the total counts were represented by just five of them. These were: Quercus, Cupressaceae, Poaceae, Olea, and Plantago. The average indoor concentration was 25.2 grains/m3, and the average indoor/outdoor ratio was 0.27. A strong seasonal pattern was found, with the highest levels in spring and winter, and the indoor concentrations were correlated with the outdoor one. Indoor air movement led to great homogeneity in the airborne pollen presence: the indoor results were not influenced by whether or not the room was isolated, the floor level, or the number of people in or transiting the site during sampling. The presence of ornamental vegetation in the area surrounding the building affected the indoor counts directly as sources of the pollen.
bioaerosols; airborne pollen; allergy; hospital; aerobiology
Airborne fungi were monitored at five sample sites with the Burkard portable, the RCS Plus, and the SAS Super 90 air samplers; the Andersen 2-stage impactor was used for comparison. All samplers were calibrated before being used simultaneously to collect 100-liter samples at each site. The Andersen and Burkard samplers retrieved equivalent volumes of airborne fungi; the SAS Super 90 and RCS Plus measurements did not differ from each other but were significantly lower than those obtained with the Andersen or Burkard samplers. Total fungal counts correlated linearly with Cladosporium and Penicillium counts. Alternaria species, although present at all sites, did not correlate with total count or with amounts of any other fungal genera. Sampler and location significantly influenced fungal counts, but no interactions between samplers and locations were found.
Airborne fungal spores occur widely and often in far greater concentrations than pollen grains. Immunoglobulin E-specific antigens (allergens) on airborne fungal spores induce type I hypersensitivity (allergic) respiratory reactions in sensitized atopic subjects, causing rhinitis and/or asthma. The prevalence of respiratory allergy to fungi is imprecisely known but is estimated at 20 to 30% of atopic (allergy-predisposed) individuals or up to 6% of the general population. Diagnosis and immunotherapy of allergy to fungi require well-characterized or standardized extracts that contain the relevant allergen(s) of the appropriate fungus. Production of standardized extracts is difficult since fungal extracts are complex mixtures and a variety of fungi are allergenic. Thus, the currently available extracts are largely nonstandardized, even uncharacterized, crude extracts. Recent significant progress in isolating and characterizing relevant fungal allergens is summarized in the present review. Particularly, some allergens from the genera Alternaria, Aspergillus, and Cladosporium are now thoroughly characterized, and allergens from several other genera, including some basidiomycetes, have also been purified. The availability of these extracts will facilitate definitive studies of fungal allergy prevalence and immunotherapy efficacy as well as enhance both the diagnosis and therapy of fungal allergy.
Few studies address concurrent exposures to common household allergens, specific allergen sensitization and childhood asthma morbidity.
To identify levels of allergen exposures that trigger asthma exacerbations in sensitized individuals.
We sampled homes for common indoor allergens (fungi, dust mites (Der p 1, Der f 1), cat (Fel d 1), dog (Can f 1) and cockroach (Bla g 1)) for levels associated with respiratory responses among school-aged children with asthma (N=1233) in a month-long study. Blood samples for allergy testing and samples of airborne fungi and settled dust were collected at enrollment. Symptoms and medication use were recorded on calendars. Combined effects of specific allergen sensitization and level of exposure on wheeze, persistent cough, rescue medication use and a 5-level asthma severity score were examined using ordered logistic regression.
Children sensitized and exposed to any Penicillium experienced increased risk of wheeze (odds ratio [OR] 2.12 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.12, 4.04), persistent cough (OR 2.01 95% CI 1.05, 3.85) and higher asthma severity score (OR 1.99 95% CI 1.06, 3.72) compared to those not sensitized or sensitized but unexposed. Children sensitized and exposed to pet allergen were at significantly increased risk of wheeze (by 39% and 53% for Fel d 1 > 0.12 µg/g and Can f 1>1.2 µg/g, respectively). Increased rescue medication use was significantly associated with sensitization and exposure to Der p 1 > 0.10 µg/g (by 47%) and Fel d 1>0.12 µg/g (by 32%).
Asthmatic children sensitized and exposed to low levels of common household allergens Penicillium, Der p 1, Fel d 1 and Can f 1 are at significant risk for increased morbidity.
Asthma; Mold; Dust mites; Pet allergens; Wheezing
Fungal spores are the predominant biological particulate in the atmosphere of Puerto Rico, yet their potential as allergens has not been studied in subjects with respiratory allergies. The purpose of this study was to determine the level of sensitization of subjects with respiratory allergies to these particles.
Serum samples were drawn from 33 subjects with asthma, allergic rhinitis, or nonallergic rhinitis and 2 controls with different skin prick test reactivity. An MK-3 sampler was used to collect air samples and the reactivity of the sera to fungal particles was detected with a halogen immunoassay.
All subjects reacted to at least 1 fungal particle. Thirty-one subjects reacted to ascospores, 29 to basidiospores, 19 to hyphae/fungal fragments, and 12 to mitospores. The median percentage of haloes in allergic rhinitis subjects was 4.82% while asthma or nonallergic rhinitis subjects had values of 1.09 and 0.39%, respectively. Subjects with skin prick tests positive to 3, 2, 1, or no extract had 5.24, 1.09, 1.61, and, 0.57% of haloed particles, respectively. If skin prick tests were positive to basidiomycetes, pollen, animals, or deuteromycetes, the percentages of haloes were 4.72, 4.15, 3.63, and 3.31%, respectively. Of all haloed particles, 46% were unidentified, 25% ascospores, 20% basidiospores, 7% hyphae/fungal fragments, and 2% mitospores. IgE levels and the number of positive skin prick test extracts correlated with the percentage of haloes.
In tropical environments, sensitization to airborne basidiomycetes, ascomycetes, and fungal fragments seems to be more prevalent than sensitization to mitospores in subjects with active allergies, suggesting a possible role in exacerbations of respiratory allergies.
Airborne allergens; Ascospores; Asthma; Fungi; Basidiospores; Particulates; Allergic rhinitis; Sensitization
Indoor microbial exposure has been related to adverse pulmonary health effects. Exposure assessment is not standardized, and various factors may affect the measured exposure. The aim of this study was to investigate the seasonal variation of selected microbial exposures and their associations with temperature, relative humidity, and air exchange rates in Danish homes. Airborne inhalable dust was sampled in five Danish homes throughout the four seasons of 1 year (indoors, n = 127; outdoors, n = 37). Measurements included culturable fungi and bacteria, endotoxin, N-acetyl-beta-d-glucosaminidase, total inflammatory potential, particles (0.75 to 15 μm), temperature, relative humidity, and air exchange rates. Significant seasonal variation was found for all indoor microbial exposures, excluding endotoxin. Indoor fungi peaked in summer (median, 235 CFU/m3) and were lowest in winter (median, 26 CFU/m3). Indoor bacteria peaked in spring (median, 2,165 CFU/m3) and were lowest in summer (median, 240 CFU/m3). Concentrations of fungi were predominately higher outdoors than indoors, whereas bacteria, endotoxin, and inhalable dust concentrations were highest indoors. Bacteria and endotoxin correlated with the mass of inhalable dust and number of particles. Temperature and air exchange rates were positively associated with fungi and N-acetyl-beta-d-glucosaminidase and negatively with bacteria and the total inflammatory potential. Although temperature, relative humidity, and air exchange rates were significantly associated with several indoor microbial exposures, they could not fully explain the observed seasonal variations when tested in a mixed statistical model. In conclusion, the season significantly affects indoor microbial exposures, which are influenced by temperature, relative humidity, and air exchange rates.
Exposure to airborne fungi has been associated with increased airway hyperreactivity and asthma prevalence.
To investigate the association between common indoor fungi and airway hyperreactivity measured by peak expiratory flow variability in asthmatic children.
Children 6 to 12 years of age (n = 225) with a physician diagnosis of asthma were enrolled in the study to have their peak expiratory flow recorded twice daily during a 2-week period. Genus-specific, quantitative, in-home airborne mold concentrations were measured. Logistic regression models were used to examine the relationship between a mean peak expiratory flow variability greater than 18.5% (75th percentile) and any mold in the home (total mold, Cladosporium, Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Alternaria).
Mold was detected in 93% of the homes. The most common molds were Cladosporium in 72% and Penicillium in 42% of the samples. Controlling for sex, ethnicity, age, and winter season of sampling, Penicillium measured in the home was associated with a mean peak expiratory flow variability greater than 18.5% (odds ratio, 2.4; 95% confidence interval, 1.2–4.8). Greater peak expiratory flow variability was not associated with total mold or other mold measured in the home.
Exposure to airborne Penicillium is associated with increased peak expiratory flow variability in asthmatic children.
There are few studies on associations between children’s respiratory heath and air pollution in schools in China. The industrial development and increased traffic may affect the indoor exposure to air pollutants in school environment. Moreover, there is a need to study respiratory effects of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) and emissions from new building materials in homes in China.
We studied the associations between pupils’ asthmatic symptoms and indoor and outdoor air pollution in schools, as well as selected home exposures, in a coal-burning city in north China.
A questionnaire survey was administered to pupils (11–15 years of age) in 10 schools in urban Taiyuan, collecting data on respiratory health and selected home environmental factors. Indoor and outdoor school air pollutants and climate factors were measured in winter.
A total of 1,993 pupils (90.2%) participated; 1.8% had cumulative asthma, 8.4% wheezing, 29.8% had daytime attacks of breathlessness. The indoor average concentrations of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, and formaldehyde by class were 264.8, 39.4, 10.1, and 2.3 μg/m3, respectively. Outdoor levels were two to three times higher. Controlling for possible confounders, either wheeze or daytime or nocturnal attacks of breathlessness were positively associated with SO2, NO2, or formaldehyde. In addition, ETS and new furniture at home were risk factors for wheeze, daytime breathlessness, and respiratory infections.
Indoor chemical air pollutants of mainly outdoor origin could be risk factors for pupils’ respiratory symptoms at school, and home exposure to ETS and chemical emissions from new furniture could affect pupils’ respiratory health.
air pollution; asthma; China; formaldehyde; indoor; nitrogen dioxide; ozone; outdoor; school; sulfur dioxide
Fungi are non-chlorophyllus microorganisms, which constitutes the main source of outdoor and indoor allergens. The antigens present in the spores and fragments of hyphae induce allergic responses in sensitized patients. The frequently recognized fungi associated with asthma include Alternaria, Cladosporium, Aspergillus, and Penicillium. With the advent of molecular biology techniques a number of fungal genes encoding relevant allergens have been cloned and the expressed allergens purified and characterized. In this review, we have presented the recent developments, where recombinant allergens have been used in the precise diagnosis of fungal allergy. We have also discussed the role played by these allergens and the T- and B-cell epitopes in the immune mechanism in fungal allergy.
Fungal allergy; Allergens; Epitopes; Immunoassays
Allergic rhinitis is common among children and quite often represents a stage of the atopic march. Although sensitization to food and airborne allergens may appear in infancy and early childhood, symptoms of the disease are usually present after age 3. The aim of this study was to determine the most frequent food and indoor and outdoor respiratory allergens involved in allergic rhinitis in children in the region of Piraeus. The study was performed in the outpatient clinic of otolaryngologic allergy of a general hospital. Fifty children (ranged 6–14 ) with symptoms of allergic rhinitis and positive radioallergosorbent test (RAST) for IgE antibodies or skin prick tests were included in the study. Thirty six (72%) of the subjects of the study had intermittent allergic rhinitis. The most common aeroallergens determined were grass pollens and Parietaria, whereas egg and milk were the food allergens identified. The detection of indoor and outdoor allergens in the region of Piraeus, based on skin prick tests and RAST tests, showed high incidence of grasses and food allergens, which is similar to other Mediterranean countries.
Fungi are ubiquitous in outdoor air, and their concentration, aerodynamic diameters and taxonomic composition have potentially important implications for human health. Although exposure to fungal allergens is considered a strong risk factor for asthma prevalence and severity, limitations in tracking fungal diversity in air have thus far prevented a clear understanding of their human pathogenic properties. This study used a cascade impactor for sampling, and quantitative real-time PCR plus 454 pyrosequencing for analysis to investigate seasonal, size-resolved fungal communities in outdoor air in an urban setting in the northeastern United States. From the 20 libraries produced with an average of ∼800 internal transcribed spacer (ITS) sequences (total 15 326 reads), 12 864 and 11 280 sequences were determined to the genus and species levels, respectively, and 558 different genera and 1172 different species were identified, including allergens and infectious pathogens. These analyses revealed strong relationships between fungal aerodynamic diameters and features of taxonomic compositions. The relative abundance of airborne allergenic fungi ranged from 2.8% to 10.7% of total airborne fungal taxa, peaked in the fall, and increased with increasing aerodynamic diameter. Fungi that can cause invasive fungal infections peaked in the spring, comprised 0.1–1.6% of fungal taxa and typically increased in relative abundance with decreasing aerodynamic diameter. Atmospheric fungal ecology is a strong function of aerodynamic diameter, whereby through physical processes, the size influences the diversity of airborne fungi that deposit in human airways and the efficiencies with which specific groups of fungi partition from outdoor air to indoor environments.
aerodynamic diameter; fungi; 454 pyrosequencing; allergen; bioaerosol
Asthma is frequently caused and/or exacerbated by sensitization to fungal allergens, which are ubiquitous in many indoor and outdoor environments. Severe asthma with fungal sensitization is characterized by airway hyperresponsiveness and bronchial constriction in response to an inhaled allergen that is worsened by environmental exposure to airborne fungi and which leads to a disease course that is often very difficult to treat with standard asthma therapies. As a result of complex interactions among inflammatory cells, structural cells, and the intercellular matrix of the allergic lung, patients with sensitization to fungal allergens may experience a greater degree of airway wall remodeling and progressive, accumulated pulmonary dysfunction as part of the disease sequela. From their development in the bone marrow to their recruitment to the lung via chemokine and cytokine networks, eosinophils form an important component of the inflammatory milieu that is associated with this syndrome. Eosinophils are recognized as complex multi-factorial leukocytes with diverse functions in the context of allergic fungal asthma. In this review, we will consider recent advances in our understanding of the molecular mechanisms that are associated with eosinophil development and migration to the allergic lung in response to fungal inhalation, along with the eosinophil’s function in the immune response to and the immunopathology attributed to fungus-associated allergic pulmonary disease.
allergic asthma; inflammation; eosinophils; fungus
Propylene glycol and glycol ether (PGE) in indoor air have recently been associated with asthma and allergies as well as sensitization in children. In this follow-up report, sources of the PGEs in indoor air were investigated in 390 homes of pre-school age children in Sweden. Professional building inspectors examined each home for water damages, mold odour, building’s structural characteristics, indoor temperature, absolute humidity and air exchange rate. They also collected air and dust samples. The samples were analyzed for four groups of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and semi-VOCs (SVOCs), including summed concentrations of 16 PGEs, 8 terpene hydrocarbons, 2 Texanols, and the phthalates n-butyl benzyl phthalate (BBzP), and di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP). Home cleaning with water and mop ≥ once/month, repainting ≥ one room prior to or following the child’s birth, and “newest” surface material in the child’s bedroom explained largest portion of total variability in PGE concentrations. High excess indoor humidity (g/m3) additionally contributed to a sustained PGE levels in indoor air far beyond several months following the paint application. No behavioral or building structural factors, except for water-based cleaning, predicted an elevated terpene level in air. No significant predictor of Texanols emerged from our analysis. Overall disparate sources and low correlations among the PGEs, terpenes, Texanols, and the phthalates further confirm the lack of confounding in the analysis reporting the associations of the PGE and the diagnoses of asthma, rhinitis, and eczema, respectively.
indoor; volatile organic compound; glycol ether; asthma; solvent; children
Outdoor allergens are an important part of the exposures that lead to allergic disease. Understanding the role of outdoor allergens requires a knowledge of the nature of outdoor allergen-bearing particles, the distributions of their source, and the nature of the aerosols (particle types, sizes, dynamics of concentrations). Primary sources for outdoor allergens include vascular plants (pollen, fern spores, soy dust), and fungi (spores, hyphae). Nonvascular plants, algae, and arthropods contribute small numbers of allergen-bearing particles. Particles are released from sources into the air by wind, rain, mechanical disturbance, or active discharge mechanisms. Once airborne, they follow the physical laws that apply to all airborne particles. Although some outdoor allergens penetrate indoor spaces, exposure occurs mostly outdoors. Even short-term peak outdoor exposures can be important in eliciting acute symptoms. Monitoring of airborne biological particles is usually by particle impaction and microscopic examination. Centrally located monitoring stations give regional-scale measurements for aeroallergen levels. Evidence for the role of outdoor allergens in allergic rhinitis is strong and is rapidly increasing for a role in asthma. Pollen and fungal spore exposures have both been implicated in acute exacerbations of asthma, and sensitivity to some fungal spores predicts the existence of asthma. Synergism and/or antagonism probably occurs with other outdoor air particles and gases. Control involves avoidance of exposure (staying indoors, preventing entry of outdoor aerosols) as well as immunotherapy, which is effective for pollen but of limited effect for spores. Outdoor allergens have been the subject of only limited studies with respect to the epidemiology of asthma. Much remains to be studied with respect to prevalence patterns, exposure and disease relationships, and control.
OBJECTIVE: To examine the role of fungi in the production of sick building syndrome. METHODS: A 22 month study in the United States of 48 schools (in which there had been concerns about health and indoor air quality (IAQ). Building indoor air and surface samples, as well as outdoor air samples were taken at all sites to look for the presence of fungi or their viable propagules. RESULTS: Five fungal genera were consistently found in the outdoor air and comprised over 95% of the outdoor fungi. These genera were Cladosporium (81.5%), Penicillium (5.2%), Chrysosporium (4.9%), Alternaria (2.8%), and Aspergillus (1.1%). At 20 schools, there were significantly more colony forming units per cubic metre (CFU/m3) (p < 0.0001) of propagules of Penicillium species in the air samples from complaint areas when compared with the outdoor air samples and the indoor air samples from noncomplaint areas. At five schools, there were more, although not significant (p = 0.10), Penicillium propagules in the air samples from complaint areas when compared with the outdoor air samples and the indoor air samples from noncomplaint areas. In 11 schools, the indoor air (complaint areas) fungal ratios were similar to that in the outdoor air. In these 11 schools Stachybotrys atra was isolated from swab samples of visible growth under wetted carpets, on wetted walls, or behind vinyl wall coverings. In the remaining 11 schools, the fungal ratios and CFU/m3 of air were not significantly different in different areas. Many of the schools took remedial action that resulted in an indoor air fungal profile that was similar to that outdoors. CONCLUSIONS: Propagules of Penicillium and Stachybotrys species may be associated with sick building syndrome.
The purpose of this article is to review indoor air pollution factors that can modify asthma severity, particularly in inner-city environments. While there is a large literature linking ambient air pollution and asthma morbidity, less is known about the impact of indoor air pollution on asthma. Concentrating on the indoor environments is particularly important for children, since they can spend as much as 90% of their time indoors. This review focuses on studies conducted by the Johns Hopkins Center for Childhood Asthma in the Urban Environment as well as other relevant epidemiologic studies. Analysis of exposure outcome relationships in the published literature demonstrates the importance of evaluating indoor home environmental air pollution sources as risk factors for asthma morbidity. Important indoor air pollution determinants of asthma morbidity in urban environments include particulate matter (particularly the coarse fraction), nitrogen dioxide, and airborne mouse allergen exposure. Avoidance of harmful environmental exposures is a key component of national and international guideline recommendations for management of asthma. This literature suggests that modifying the indoor environment to reduce particulate matter, NO2, and mouse allergen may be an important asthma management strategy. More research documenting effectiveness of interventions to reduce those exposures and improve asthma outcomes is needed.
particulate matter; air pollution; pediatric; urban; bronchial hyperreactivity