Studies Report Airborne Fungal Toxins in Wallpaper Can Create Indoor Health Risk

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A new study has found toxins from fungi in wallpaper can become airborne and cause health problems.

The study published in the journal Applied Environmental Microbiology on Friday found that three types of fungus can grow on household wallpaper and spread into the air.

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The researchers said that the effects of fungal toxins, also called mycotoxins, on human health are understudied and should be taken seriously as a source of indoor air pollution, according to Yahoo! Finance.

“We demonstrated that mycotoxins could be transferred from a moldy material to air, under conditions that may be encountered in buildings,” Jean-Denis Bailly, co-author of the study said. “Thus, mycotoxins can be inhaled and should be investigated as parameters of indoor air quality, especially in homes with visible fungal contamination.”

The researchers used a stream of air flowing over a piece of wallpaper contaminated with three fungi — Penicillium brevicompactum, Aspergillus versicolor and Stachybotrys chartarum, all commonly found in food — and analyzed samples of the air. They found that toxins were present on tiny particles of dust and that people or animals could easily inhale those particles.

The researchers also found that the different fungi sent different amounts of toxins into the air.

Bailly, who is also a professor of food hygiene at the National Veterinary School of Toulouse in France, said that energy efficiency efforts may be making the airborne toxin threat worse due to increasing insulation in homes and offices worsening the development of fungus in moist areas, including coffee makers.

“The presence of mycotoxins in indoors should be taken into consideration as an important parameter of air quality,” Bailly said.

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