Airborne Concentrations of Trichoderma and Stachybotrys linked to Mycotoxicosis

Larry D. Robertson, M.S., B.S. Mycotech Biological, Inc., Jewett, TX

The affected individual developed symptoms approximately 55 days after exposure to a working environment containing significant fungal contamination. Initial symptoms included bronchitis, swelling, spastic colon, severe headaches, and fatigue. Later, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, and loose teeth were reported. Three physicians having specialties in internal medicine, toxicology, and neurology independently diagnosed exposure to an "unknown" environmental toxin; however, the physicians were not provided with environmental results from the work place. The work environment indicated airborne concentrations of Trichoderma viride and Stachybotrys chartarum at 494 CFU/m3 and 212 CFU/m3, respectively. Active Trichoderma viride and Stachybotrys chartarum growth sites were documented at levels of 3.3 x 104 CFU/g and 2.0 x 107 CFU/g; respectively. Although these contaminants were exclusive to the individuals work area, the CIH/CSP represented the data as "typical" for indoor environments. As a result, no exposure data was provided to the attending physicians. After 5 months of exposure the individual became too ill to return to work. Within 1 month of removal the symptoms begin to subside. Complete symptom cessation resulted after 12 months. The absence of specific human dose-exposure data relative to the various mycotoxins produced by Trichoderma viride and Stachybotrys chartarum does not support a valid medical claim relative to an aerosol-induced mycotoxicosis. However, anecdotal, circumstantial, and environmental information strongly supports the potential for this event to have occurred. This study demonstrates the current void that exists relative to both the knowledge and availability of mycotoxin diagnostic methods in the medical field and suggests the immediate need for education, training, and research relative to aerosol generated mycotoxicoses.