Assessment of the aerosolization potential for fungal spores in moldy homes


Sivasubramani SK
Indoor Air 2004; 14: 405-412


The airborne fungal concentration measured with air samplers during specific time intervals may not adequately represent the indoor air quality because of the sporadic nature of spore release from sources. The conventional source evaluation (e.g. swab and tape sampling) characterizes the mold source but does not relate to the fraction of spores that can be aerosolized from a contaminated material. As an alternative to these methods, we have recently developed and laboratory-tested a novel Fungal Spore Source Strength Tester (FSSST). It allows assessing the potential of aerosolization of fungal spores from contaminated surfaces under the most favorable release conditions. In this study, the FSSST was used to characterize the release of spores from four building materials in mold-problem homes. The spores of different species were efficiently aerosolized by the FSSST, exhibiting a total spore release rate ranging approximately from 102 to 103 cm2/min. For all tested materials, <2% of the spores on the contaminated surface were released during the tests. The airborne spore concentration estimated from the release rate data was found in most cases to be significantly greater than the concentration actually measured in these environments with simultaneous air sampling. The results suggest that the FSSST can be used for the assessment of maximum potential exposure to airborne spores released from identified sources in homes.