In Microbiology, News & Views, The Built Environment

It has long been recognised that fungi are common contaminants of the indoor environment and that certain species can give rise to disease in humans occupying an at-risk environment. Disease is caused not by the fungi themselves, but by the production and release of their potent mycotoxins and it is believed that the mycotoxins are aerosolised by the movement of air across the fungal growth; although the mechanism distributing mycotoxins into the air is poorly understood. The risk of disease increases as the conditions for fungal growth become more favourable- notably an increase in humidity and temperature levels. Equally well known is the fact that fungi can thrive on a wide range of building materials, with wallpaper being a classic example.

A recent study published in the reputable microbiology journal, Applied and Environmental Microbiology(1) sought to shed new light on this important aspect of public health. Toxin-producing fungi, Penicillium brevicompactum, Aspergillus versicolor and Stachybotrys chartarum, were grown on wallpaper and the aeroionisation of their mycotoxins from this contaminated building material were monitored.

The study demonstrated that three types of mycotoxins were released into the air from contaminated wallpaper, with amounts ranging from 1.8 to 112.1mg/m2. Only gentle air movement was required to create airborne toxins- the type of air movement that is typical of human-containing indoor environments. The study also determined that most mycotoxin was associated with larger sized particles- usually fungal spores- but some airborne mycotoxins were adhered to very small particles of less 3μm. Importantly, it is these particles that are known to penetrate most deeply into the lungs during inhalation.

BioCote® offers a range of antimicrobial additives for wallpaper that can be easily applied either during manufacture or by a post-treatment coating, providing permanent protection from fungi and other illness-causing microbes. We already boast a global network of established brand partners whose products are benefitting from our market-leading technology, including Akzo Nobel, ABB, Formica, Rehau and HMG Paints. If you are a manufacturer of wallpaper, paints, coatings, wall-cladding, flooring or any other products which are utilised in regularly frequented indoor environments, contact the team today to find out how BioCote® antimicrobial technology could differentiate your offering.

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