Airborne Fungus Diversity and Concentrations in Inner City Elementary Schools

S. N. Baxi, W. J. Sheehan, P. Permaul, J. M. Gaf64257;n, D. Rao, C. Fu, C. Rogers, M. Muilenberg, E. B. Hoffman, D. R. Gold, W. Phipatanakul

Author address: 

Children’s Hospital Boston, Boston, MA, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, Channing Laboratory, Boston, MA,University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA.


RATIONALE: Fungal sensitization is a risk factor for increased asthma morbidity. Students spend a large portion of their day at school and school classrooms may be a source of fungal exposure. There are few studies that describe fungus concentrations and species diversity in inner-city school classrooms. METHODS: Airborne fungal spore samples were collected from 12 inner-city elementary schools twice during the school year over two days using a Burkard sampler. A total of 180 classroom samples were evaluated. Slides were microscopically analyzed at 1000X magnification and results were reported as spores per cubic meter of air (spores/m 3 ) for the 8-hour school day. Two 8-hour collection days were averaged for each classroom. A ’’total fungus’’ category was calculated as the sum of the geometric means of all species. RESULTS: The ’’total fungus’’ per classroom was 270.54 6 3.62 spores/ m 3 (geometric mean 6 standard deviation) and ranged from 15 to 15,845 spores/m 3 . The species with the highest concentrations included Cladosporium (33.13 63.65, range 0-1459), Penicillium/Aspergillus (26.5164.62, range 0-8585), Basidiospores (25.7668.23, range 0-11135), Smuts (18.7662.91, range 0-394), and Ascospores (13.6364.48, range 0-956). The species found most commonly in classrooms included: Cladosporium (found in 96% of rooms), Smuts (89%), Penicillium/Aspergillus (87%), Basidiospores (67%), Rusts (33%) and Alternaria (27%). CONCLUSIONS: There is variability in the concentrations and types of fungal spores found in schools.

abstract No: 


Full conference title: 

American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology
    • AAAAI 2012 (68th)