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Effects on perceived air quality and symptoms of exposure to microbially produced metabolites and compounds emitted from damp building materials
National Institute for Working Life, Umeå, Sweden.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
National Institute for Working Life, Umeå, Sweden.
2009 (English)In: Indoor Air, ISSN 0905-6947, E-ISSN 1600-0668, Vol. 19, no 2, 102-112 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This work investigated perceived air quality and health effects fromexposure to low to high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emittedfrom damp building materials and a mixture of molds growing on the materials.A mixture of Wallemia sebi, Fusarium culmorum, Penicillium chrysogenum,Ulocladium botrytis, and Aspergillus versicolor was inoculated on pine wood andparticle board. In Study 1, each of 27 participants took part in two exposureconditions, one with air from molds growing on building materials (low levels ofemissions from the building materials and the mold mixture) and one with blankair, both conditions during 60 min. In Study 2, each of 24 participants wasexposed (10 min) four times in a 2 · 2 design randomly to air from moldybuilding materials (high levels) and blank, with and without nose-clip. Theparticipants rated air quality and symptoms before, during, and after eachexposure. Self-reported tear-film break-up time and attention and processingspeed (Study 1) was also measured. Exposure to high VOC levels increased thereports of perceived poor air quality, and in the condition without nose-clipenhanced skin symptoms were also noted. No such outcome was observed whenexposing the participants to low VOC levels.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
The Authors Journal compilation , 2009. Vol. 19, no 2, 102-112 p.
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-21270DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0668.2008.00566.xPubMedID: 19077173OAI: diva2:211284
Available from: 2009-04-14 Created: 2009-04-14 Last updated: 2011-06-07Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Volatile organic compounds from microorganisms: identification and health effects
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Volatile organic compounds from microorganisms: identification and health effects
2006 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Damp building materials are subjected to degradation processes due to

moisture and also microbial growth, with both of these giving rise to emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that may contribute to indoor air health problems. The overall aim of this thesis was to investigate emissions of reactive and non-reactive VOCs from damp building materials and from the microorganisms growing on them, and also to investigate the possible health impact of these compounds.

Three studies were carried out in order to study emissions of VOCs. The first investigated emissions from a mixture of five fungi (Aspergillus versicolor, Fusarium culmorum, Penicillium chrysogenum, Ulocladium botrytis and Wallemia sebi) and the second emissions from the bacterium Streptomyces albidoflavus. In both studies the microorganisms were cultivated on three different building materials (pine wood, particle board and gypsum board) and one synthetic media, MEA and TGEA respectively. The bacterium was also cultivated on sand. Air samples from the cultures were collected on six different adsorbents and chemosorbents to sample a wide range of compounds such as VOCs, aldehydes, amines and light-weight organic acids. The samples were analyzed with gas chromatography, high-pressure liquid chromatography and ion chromatography. Mass spectrometry was used for identification of the compounds. Alcohols and ketones were the predominant compound groups identified. The bacterial culture growing on TGEA emitted ammonia, methylamine, diethylamine and ethylamine. The third study dealt with secondary emissions collected from buildings with moisture and mould problems. Samples were taken when the materials were dry and also after they had been wet for a week. Most alcohols and ketones could be identified from the wet materials. Trimethylamine and triethylamine, were identified from sand contaminated by Bacillus. One study looked at the development of a method for analysis of primary and secondary amines with LC-MS/MS. A three-step process was developed, with the first step screening the samples for NIT derivatives with selected reaction monitoring, SRM. In the second step a precursor ion scan gave the [M+H]+ ion, and the last step involved fragmentation with a product ion scan. It was possible to separate and identify all the investigated amines, which showed that the method was both specific and selective and therefore well suited for the analysis of amines in complex environments. The last study comprised two exposure studies. In study 1 each participant took part in two exposure conditions, one with air from mouldy building materials and one with blank air for a 60 minute period. In study 2 each participant was exposed four times (for a period of 10 min) at random to air from mouldy building materials and blank air, with and without nose-clip. The participants rated air quality and symptoms before, during and after each exposure. Exposure to moderate VOC levels resulted in reports of perceived poor air quality, but no such results were received when exposing the participants to low VOC levels.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Folkhälsa och klinisk medicin, 2006. 53 p.
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 1052
microorganisms, building materials, VOCs, MVOCs, amines, LC-MS/MS, exposure, perceived air quality
Research subject
Occupational and Environmental Medicine
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-880 (URN)91-7264-148-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2006-10-20, Stora Föreläsningssalen, Arbetslivsinstitutet, Johan Bures väg 5, Umeå, 09:00 (English)
Available from: 2006-09-29 Created: 2006-09-29 Last updated: 2009-10-01Bibliographically approved

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