Fungal Spores: Hazardous to Health?

W.G. Sorenson

Division of Respiratory Disease Studies, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Morgantown, West Virginia USA


Fungi have long been known to affect human well being in various ways, including disease of essential crop plants, decay of stored foods with possible concomitant production of mycotoxins, superficial and systemic infection of human tissues, and disease associated with immune stimulation such as hypersensitivity pneumonitis and toxic pneumonitis. The spores of a large number of important fungi are less than 5 Ám aerodynamic diameter, and therefore are able to enter the lungs. They also may contain significant amounts of mycotoxins. Diseases associated with inhalation of fungal spores include toxic pneumonitis, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, tremors, chronic fatigue syndrome, kidney failure, and cancer. Key words: mold, fungi, mycotoxin, lung disease, toxic pneumonitis. -- Environ Health Perspect 107(suppl 3):469-472 (1999).


This article is based on a presentation at the International Conference on Indoor Mold and Children held 21 to 24 April 1998 in Alexandria, Virginia.

Address correspondence to W.G. Sorenson, Immunology Section, NIOSH, 1095 Willowdale Road, MS 215, Morgantown, WVA 26505. Telephone: (304) 285-5797. Fax: (304) 285-5861. E-mail:

Received 3 September 1998; accepted 8 January 1999.


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