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Microbiological evaluation of ten French archives and link to occupational symptoms

Authors

  • S. Roussel,

    1. Department of Parasitology-Mycology, University Hospital of Besançon, Besancon, France
    2. UMR/CNRS Chrono-Environnement, University of Franche-Comté, France
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  • G. Reboux,

    1. Department of Parasitology-Mycology, University Hospital of Besançon, Besancon, France
    2. UMR/CNRS Chrono-Environnement, University of Franche-Comté, France
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  • L. Millon,

    1. Department of Parasitology-Mycology, University Hospital of Besançon, Besancon, France
    2. UMR/CNRS Chrono-Environnement, University of Franche-Comté, France
    3. Clinical Investigation Center (CIC Inserm), Besançon University Hospital, Besançon, France
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  • M-D. Parchas,

    1. Service Interministériel des Archives de France, Paris Cedex, France
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  • S. Boudih,

    1. Centre de recherche sur la Conservation des collections (CRCC), USR3224, Muséum national d’histoire naturelle, Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication, Paris, France
    2. CEA saclay, iBiTec-S, SB2SM, and URA 2096 CNRS, Gif sur Yvette Cedex, France
    3. UMR BIPAR, UPEC, UPVM, ENVA, AFSSA, Créteil, France
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  • F. Skana,

    1. Department of Parasitology-Mycology, University Hospital of Besançon, Besancon, France
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  • M. Delaforge,

    1. CEA saclay, iBiTec-S, SB2SM, and URA 2096 CNRS, Gif sur Yvette Cedex, France
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  • M. S. Rakotonirainy

    1. Centre de recherche sur la Conservation des collections (CRCC), USR3224, Muséum national d’histoire naturelle, Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication, Paris, France
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S. Roussel
Department of Parasitology-Mycology
University Hospital, 3 boulevard Fleming
25030 Besançon Cedex
France
Tel.: 333 63 082 536
Fax: 333 81 668 914
e-mail: sroussel@univ-fcomte.fr

Abstract

Abstract  Fungi that damage documents in archives may harm workers’ health, depending on which mold species are inhaled, the concentrations of fungal species inhaled, and individual factors. Our aim was to identify and quantify fungi in archives and to investigate possible links with the symptoms experienced by workers. Ten French archives were sampled using an air impactor and electrostatic dust collectors. Allergies and general symptoms felt by 144 workers were reported using a self-report questionnaire. Utilizing culture-based analysis methods along with qPCR, Penicillium chrysogenum, Cladosporium sphaerospermum, and Aspergillus versicolor were the three main fungi in air and dust in terms of quantity and frequency. Median fungal concentrations in storage areas, ranged from 30 to 465 CFU/m3. People working in the most contaminated archives did not report more symptoms of allergy than others. However, workers in contact with moldy documents reported more headaches (odds ratio, 2.4; 95% confidence interval, 1.1–5.3), fatigue (OR, 2.9; 95% CI, 1.2–6.7), eye irritation (OR, 5.4; 95% CI, 1.9–14.9), throat irritation (OR, 2.4; 95% CI, 1.0–5.7), coughing (OR, 3.2; 95% CI, 1.2–8.4), and rhinorrhea (OR, 2.6; 95% CI, 1.0–6.4) than others. Other parameters such as dust levels and concentrations of metabolites and chemical substances should be considered as confounding factors in further investigations to isolate the role of molds.

Practical Implications

Most studies about fungi and archives deal with the conservation of manuscripts and documents, and few discuss workers’ health problems. Our study shows that archives do not represent a highly contaminated environment. Symptoms felt by workers were more often linked to direct contact with moldy documents than to high concentrations of mold in the air of archive storage areas. This study provides data on concentration levels in archives that could be used to interpret microbiological investigations in this type of environment in the future.

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