The assessment of fungal exposure in most epidemiological studies has been limited to fungal spores that could not confirm such association in indoor environments. Further, quantification of spores alone may underestimate the level of fungal exposure since the composition of fungal aerosols is complex and comprises spores and fragments in various amounts, size and shapes. In fact, recent experimental studies have shown that cultures of some common indoor fungal species could release larger numbers of submicronic fragments (length < 1 µm) as compared to spores.
Enumeration of fungal fragments including submicronic ones in addition to spores is therefore necessary in order to characterize the composition of fungal aerosols in greater extent. A novel method recently developed at STAMI enables us to label fungal fragments of various sizes for detection and quantification in high resolution electron microscopy while spores can be morphologically recognized.
This project aims therefore to assess the occurrence of airborne fungal spores and fragments in indoor environments of buildings with mold growth and in personal samples from workers in sawmill industries. This project is believed to highlight the overall fungal exposure levels and the composition of fungal particles in the mentioned environments. It will further improve our understanding of possible relationships between fungal exposure and allergy or asthma problems.
Anani Komlavi J. Afanou