Anatomy of a Fungal Problem

Neil Carlson1, M.S., C.I.H., Arif Quraishi2, B.S.M.E., M.B.A.

University of Minnesota, 410 Church Street S.E., Minneapolis

Sampling was performed in a school with extensive visible fungal growth to evaluate exposure potential to building occupants. Musty odors and allergy-type symptoms were reported by building occupants. Initial testing using fungal sampling was not successful in identifying risks to building occupants. Additional sampling was conducted using total spore trap sampling, tape sampling and microbial volatile organic compound (MVOC) sampling. Analysis of the samples using total spore trap and tape sampling methods identified exposure potential to Acremonium spp., Alternaria spp., Paecilomyces spp., Aspergillus niger and others. Measurement of MVOCs showed that the indoor MVOCs were almost double the outside level. While sampling performed by traditional viable methods suggested no exposure potential, tape, spore trap and MVOC sampling data revealed greater exposure potential. Based on the results of this study, viable fungal sampling should not be the only method for conducting risk assessments relating to exposure to fungal spores and their bioeffluents.