Wallpaper may be breeding ground for dangerous toxins

Henrietta Strickland
June 27, 2017

These effects of transmission of the airborne fungi and their toxins on human health have not been studied or considered with importance till date say researchers.

This is usually caused by the body's immune system becoming sensitive to compounds in the spores and hyphae or to waste products called microbial volatile organic compounds, and not specifically the mycotoxins.

The study was published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

Fungal toxins, also called mycotoxins, can lead to indoor air pollution - a medical condition called sick building syndrome where people in a building suffer from symptoms of illness or feel unwell for no apparent reason. The three fungi have always been studied as food contaminants and are also frequently associated with indoor air contamination.

In the study, the investigators built an experimental bench that can simulate an airflow over a piece of contaminated wall paper, controlling speed and direction of the air.

"Thus, mycotoxins can be inhaled and should be investigated".

"We demonstrated that mycotoxins could be transferred from a moldy material to air, under conditions that may be encountered in buildings", Bailly said in a statement.

According to a report from NBC News, the team of French researchers led by the University of Toulouse's Jean-Denis Bailly tested three common fungi types -Penicillium brevicompactum, Aspergillus versicolor, and Stachybotrys chartarum - known to grow inside buildings and discovered that the fungi could and would release toxins into the air in everyday situations.

They said there has been extensive study of fungal contamination of food, but very little research has been done on the effect of such toxins once they have been inhaled. The study also pointed out that colonization by toxic fungi is easily accomplished in the presence of moisture, such as is seen in building and homes where mold is found.

Second, the different fungal species put different quantities of mycotoxins in the air, "probably related to mycelium organization", but also possibly related to the mechanisms by which mycotoxins from different fungi become airborne - for example via droplets of exudate versus accumulation in spores.

It's estimated that up to 40 percent of buildings in North America and Europe display visible signs of fungal growth. After evaluation, the researchers found out that their mycotoxins dispersed into the air until normal conditions.

Air pollution has focused on chemical emissions more than these toxins said researchers. While much attention is focused on airborne pollutants from auto emissions, factories and power plants, others such as household mold, chemical fumes and smoke can pose dangers within the home.

Bailly noted that the push for increasingly energy efficient homes may aggravate the problem of mycotoxins indoors.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER