Correlation Between Mold Sensitization and Proximity to Mushroom Farms

Mary K. Paul, Christopher Chang, Gang Ye



Mold spores are a known trigger for allergic rhinitis and asthma. Environmental exposures may correlate with symptoms in sensitized patients. We propose the question: does proximity to large mold sources outside the home increase sensitization to mold? Investigating the role of mushroom farm exposure as a potential trigger for mold sensitization may provide useful information when counseling patients and their families regarding environmental avoidance measures. We speculate that closer proximity to mushroom farms in Kennett Square, PA increases the likelihood of mold sensitization in pediatric patients.


We conducted a retrospective case-control study of 130 atopic patients (defined by at least one positive skin test) aged 2-17 seen at the AIDHC and TJU Allergy clinics between 1/1/07 and 8/12/12, of which 65 were mold positive and 65 were mold negative. A generalized linear model was then used to determine if there was a relationship between mold sensitization and distance from 4 mushroom farms in Kennett Square, PA.


Overall across both genders, there was no significant correlation between incidence of mold sensitization and distance to mushroom farms (p=0.35). A stratified analysis by gender showed a significant inverse correlation between mold sensitization and distance from mushroom farms for males, (p=0.049), but not females.


While mushrooms may not be in the sporulating phase, mushroom farms may possess environmental conditions conducive to mold growth and sporulation. The species found in mushroom farms may not be ubiquitous airborne fungal species. Our sample group was small, and there is no clear reason for the gender discrepancy

Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Vol. 131, Issue 2, AB81

abstract No: 

    • AAAAI 2013 (69th)