Respiratory Effects in Mice Exposed to Airborne Emissions from Stachybotrys chartarum and Implications for Risk Assessment


Author for correspondence: Gunnar Damgaard Nielsen, National Institute of Occupational Health, Lersø Parkallé 105, DK-2100 Copenhagen Ø, Denmark (fax +45 39–165201).


Abstract: Stachybotrys chartarum, a mycotoxin producing mould found in some damp buildings, was grown in aluminum dishes in closed exposure chambers. The loading factor, 5.12 m2/m3, corresponded to 2.8 times the loading in a normal room with all surfaces covered by mould. Sensory irritation, bronchoconstriction and pulmonary irritation effects were investigated using a sensitive mouse bioassay in which the airway reactions were measured plethysmographically. Little effect was seen from the vapours in agreement with the predicted effects of the low concentrations of volatile organic compounds measured. Even under the influence of an airflow about four times that measured in normal buildings, the concentration of liberated spores and other particles was very low, corresponding to the biological effects observed, and probably reflecting the high water content of the substrate. These results demonstrate that many factors are important for the transport of biologically active mould metabolites from building material to occupants and that no direct relationship may exist between immediate biological effects and surface area covered with mould. Therefore, risk assessments should be based on estimated effects of emitted vapours, effects of liberated particles, e.g. sensitization potentials of the mould spores and effects of the generated metabolites (mycotoxins).