immunology study 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):
M.D. (1), Ray Biagini PhD (2), DeLon Hull PhD (2), Philip Morey PhD. (3),
Bruce Jarvis, Prof.(4), Paul Landsbergis PhD (5).
Fungal bio-aerosols, Mycotoxins (Satratoxin), Epidemiology, Immunology, Stachybotrys chartarum (atra)
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
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 health effects.
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.
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.