Skip to main content

Allergenic fungi and actinomycetes in smoking materials and their health implications


Street marijuana, commercial cigarettes and pipe tobaccos were studied for the presence of fungi and actinomycetes associated with hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Aspergillus species and thermophilic actinomycetes were isolated from the smoking materials. In addition, Aspergillus fumigatus spores were isolated from marijuana smoke, indicating the potential hazard involved in developing serious disease. Precipitin antibodies against fungi, particularly Aspergillus, showed a higher prevalence in marijuana smokers, whereas only very few cigarette smokers and nonsmokers demonstrated antibodies to fungi. Cigarette smokers and nonsmokers showed more or less similar prevelance of antibodies against thermophilic actinomycetes.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. 1.

    Andersen, A. A., 1968. New sampler for the collection, sizing and enumeration of viable airborne particles. J. Bacteriol. 76: 471–484.

    Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Chusid, M. J., Gelfand, J. A., Nutter, C. & Fauci, A. S., 1975. Pulmonary aspergillosis, inhalation of contaminated marijuana smoke, chronic granulomatous disease. Ann. Intern. Med. 82: 682–683.

    Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Fink, J. N., Banaszak, E. J., Barboriak, J. J., Hensley, G. T. Kurup, V. P., Scanlon, G. T., Schlueter, D. P., Sosman, A. J., Thiede, W. H. & Unger, G. F., 1976. Interstitial lung disease due to contamination of forced air system. Ann. Intern. med. 84: 406–413.

    Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Hocking, W. G. & Golde, D. W., 1979. The pulmonary alveolar macrophage. N. Engl. J. Med. 301: 580–587.

    Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Kagan, S. L., Sohnle, P. G., Kurup, V. P. & Fink, J. N., 1981. Aspergillus: An inhalable contaminant of marijuana. N. Engl. J. Med. 304: 483–484.

    Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Kurup, V. P. & Fink, J. N., 1975. A scheme for the identification of thermophilic actinomycetes associated with hypersensitivity pneumonitis. J. Clin. Microbiol. 2: 55–61.

    Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Kurup, V. P. & Fink, J. N., 1979. Antigens of Micropolyspora faeni strains. Int. Arch. Allergy Immunol. 60: 140–147.

    Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Kurup, V. P., Fink, J. N. & Bauman, D. M., 1976. Thermophilic actinomycetes from the environment. Mycologia 68: 662–666.

    Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Kurup, V. P., Barboriak, J.J., Fink, J. N. & Scribner, G. H., 1976. Immunologic cross-reactions among thermophilic actinomycetes associated with hypersensitivity pneumonitis. J. Allergy Clin. Immunol. 57: 417–421.

    Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Kurup, V. P., Fink, J. N., Scribner, G. H. & Falk. M. J., 1978. Antigenic variability of Aspergillus fumigatus strains. Microbios 19: 191–204.

    Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Llamas, R., Hart, D. R. & Schneider, N. S., 1978. Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis associated with smoking moldy marijuana. Chest 73: 871–872.

    Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Ogundero, V. M., 1980. Thermophilic mycoflora of cigarettes and cured tobacco leaves. Mycopathologia 71: 9–11.

    Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Papavassilion, J. G., Piperakis, G. & Marcelon-Kinti, U., 1971. Mycological flora of cigarettes. Mycopathol. Mycol. Appl. 44: 117–120.

    Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Pepys, J., 1969. Hypersensitivity disease of the lung due to fungi and other organisms. pp. 69–111. In: Monograph in Allergy, No. 4. Edited by P. Kallos, M. Hasek, T. M. Inderleitzin, P. A. Miescher & B. H. Waksman. S. Karger, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Tansey, M. R., 1975. Isolation of thermophilic fungi from snuff. Appl. Microbiol. 29: 128–129.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Kurup, V.P., Resnick, A., Kagen, S.L. et al. Allergenic fungi and actinomycetes in smoking materials and their health implications. Mycopathologia 82, 61–64 (1983).

Download citation


  • Smoke
  • Cigarette Smoker
  • Aspergillus
  • Potential Hazard
  • Aspergillus Fumigatus