Dustborne fungi in large office buildings

Hsing Jasmine Chao, Donald K Milton, Joel Schwartz, Harriet A Burge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Fungi are ubiquitous in our daily environments. However, their effects on office workers' health are of great interest to many environmental health researchers. Dust has been considered an important reservoir of indoor fungi from which aerosolization and exposure could occur. We have examined the characteristics of dustborne fungal populations recovered from floors and chairs in office buildings. We investigated twenty-one offices in four office buildings in Boston, MA over a year beginning May 1997. We conducted intensive environmental sampling every six weeks to measure culturable dustborne fungi from floors and chairs, surface dust levels and water activity in carpeting. Carbon dioxide, temperature, and relative humidity were monitored continuously. Concentrations of total dustborne fungi recovered from floors were positively related to carbon dioxide (beta = 0.00064; p-value = 0.0002) and temperatures between 20 and 22.5 degrees C (p-value = 0.0026). Also, total fungal concentrations in floors gradually increased over the year (p-value = 0.0028). Total fungi recovered from chairs varied significantly by season (p-value < 0.0001), highest in September and lowest in March, and were positively correlated with dust loads in floors (beta = 0.25; p-value < 0.0001). We used principal component analysis (PCA) to reduce various observed fungal species to fewer factors. Six groups (PCA factors) were obtained for dustborne fungi recovered from both floors and chairs. The models of the first PCA factors for both floors and chairs were similar to those for total fungal concentrations. The results of this study provide essential information to further evaluate the effects of dustborne fungi on office workers' health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-106
Number of pages14
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Air Microbiology
  • Air Pollutants
  • Air Pollution, Indoor
  • Dust
  • Floors and Floorcoverings
  • Fungi/growth & development
  • Humans
  • Humidity
  • Seasons
  • Sick Building Syndrome/microbiology
  • Spores, Fungal
  • Ventilation


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