Populations and determinants of airborne fungi in large office buildings

H. Jasmine Chao, Joel Schwartz, Donald K. Milton, Harriet A. Burge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Citations (Scopus)


Bioaerosol concentrations in office environments and their roles in causing building-related symptoms have drawn much attention in recent years. Most bioaerosol studies have been cross-sectional. We conducted a longitudinal study to examine the characteristics of airborne fungal populations and correlations with other environmental parameters in office environments. We investigated four office buildings in Boston, Massachusetts, during 1 year beginning May 1997, recruiting 21 offices with open workstations. We conducted intensive bioaerosol sampling every 6 weeks resulting in 10 sets of measurement events at each workstation, and recorded relative humidity, temperature, and CO2 concentrations continuously. We used principal component analysis (PCA) to identify groups of culturable fungal taxa that covaried in air. Four major groupings (PCA factors) were derived where the fungal taxa in the same groupings shared similar ecological requirements. Total airborne fungal concentrations varied significantly by season (highest in summer, lowest in winter) and were positively correlated with relative humidity and negatively related to CO2 concentrations. The first and second PCA factors had similar correlations with environmental variables compared with total fungi. The results of this study provide essential information on the variability within airborne fungal populations in office environments over time. These data also provide background against which cross-sectional data can be compared to facilitate interpretation. More studies are needed to correlate airborne fungi and occupants' health, controlling for seasonal effects and other important environmental factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)777-782
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Air-borne culturable fungi
  • Indoor air equality
  • Longitudinal exposure assessment
  • Office environments
  • Principal Component Analysis (PCA)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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