following exposure to toxigenic fungi (Stachybotrys chartarum [atra]) in a
water-damaged office environment
International Archive of Occupational and Environmental Health (1996)
68:207-218 (Springer-Verlag 1996):
Eckardt Johanning M.D. (1), Ray Biagini PhD (2), DeLon Hull
PhD (2), Philip Morey PhD. (3), Bruce Jarvis, Prof.(4), Paul Landsbergis PhD
1.Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Div. Environmental and Occupational
2.National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health,
Immune Chemistry Research Section,
3.Clayton Environmental Consultants,
4.University of Maryland, Department of Chemistry
5.Cornell University Medical College
Fungal bio-aerosols, Mycotoxins (Satratoxin), Epidemiology, Immunology, Stachybotrys chartarum (atra)
Abstract: There is growing concern about adverse health effects of fungal bio-aerosols on occupants of water damaged buildings. Accidental, occupational exposure in nonagricultural setting has not been investigated using modern immunological laboratory tests.
The objective of this study was to evaluate health status of office workers
after exposure to fungal bio-aerosol, esp. Stachybotrys chartarum (S.
chartarum)- and its toxigenic metabolites (satratoxin) and to study
laboratory parameters or bio-markers related to allergic or toxic human
Exposure characterization and
quantification were performed using microscopical, culture and chemical
techniques. The study population (n=53) consisted of 39 female and 14
male employees (mean age 34.8 years) who had worked for a mean of 3.1
years at a problem office site; a control group comprise 21 persons
(mean age 37.5 years) without contact with the problem office site.
Health complaints were surveyed with a 174 item standardized
questionnaire. A comprehensive test battery was used to study the red
and white blood cell system, serum chemistry, immunology/antibodies,
lymphocyte enumeration and function.
Widespread fungal contamination
of water-damaged, primarily cellulose material with Stachybotrys chartarum
was found. S.
chartarum produced a macrocyclic trichothecene, satratoxin H-,
and spirocyclic lactones. Strong associations with exposure
indicators and significant differences between employees (n=53)
and controls (n=21) were found for lower respiratory system
symptoms, dermatological symptoms, eye symptoms, constitutional
symptoms, chronic fatigue symptoms (CFS) and
several enumeration and function laboratory tests, mainly of the
white blood cell system. The proportion of mature T-lymphocyte
cells (CD3%) was lower in employees than in controls, and the
regression analyses showed a significant association of lower
CD3% among those reporting a history of upper respiratory
infections. Specific S. chartarum antibody tests (IgE and IgG)
showed small differences (NS).
It is concluded that prolonged and intense exposure to toxigenic
Stachybotrys chartarum and other atypical fungi was associated
with reported disorders of the respiratory and central nervous
system, reported disorders of the mucous membranes and a few
parameters of the cellular and humoral immune system, suggesting
a possible immune competency dysfunction.
[return to menu]