, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 253-258

The incidence of fungal spores in the ambient air and inside homes: Evidence from London

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Abstract

Little research has been carried out in London concerning fungal spore prevalence yet this information may help to elucidate geographical patterns of asthma and hay fever. Although many types of spore reach peak concentrations outdoors in late-summer, the incidences in the indoor environment may be more important through the winter because of heating and poor ventilation. Daily average concentrations of fungal spores in the ambient atmosphere were monitored with a Burkard volumetric spore trap on an exposed roof in North London from autumn 1991 until the summer of 1992. Indoor spore measurements were taken in 19 homes in the vicinity through the winter months, both by direct air sampling using a portable Burkard sampler and by dust culture. Trends in the occurrence and concentrations of fungal spores indoors and outdoors were examined. Relationships between the abundance of selected allergenic fungi and features of the houses were analysed including age of dwelling, dampness, cleanliness and presence of pets.Aspergillus andPenicillium were the most frequently occurring spore types in the homes. Overall, high spore incidence was associated with dampness and dust accumulation. The outdoor spore samples revealed generally low concentrations through the winter until March when concentrations of many types includingCladosporium, Epicoccum andAlternaria increased in abundance in response to the warmer weather. Even during the late-spring and early-summer, concentrations of most fungal spores were notably below those reported for rural sites.