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Med Mycol. 2005 May;43 Suppl 1:S67-70.

Measuring environmental fungal exposure.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia.


Airborne fungi are ubiquitous in the environment and human exposure is inevitable. Such fungi differ greatly in their taxonomic, physical, ecological, behavioral, and pathogenic characteristics. Many strategies have evolved to sample, identify and interpret fungal exposure and their choice is determined by the hypotheses involved. While fungi can be sampled directly from surfaces, results do not generally reflect human exposure. For this reason, airborne spores are commonly sampled, by either filtration or impaction, using volumetric air samplers. Identification is commonly performed by either culture on nutrient medium or light microscopy using morphological criteria, although new techniques using DNA probes or characteristic antigens or toxins continue to be developed. Interpretation of such exposure data is both complex and contentious, but while there are numerous recommendations there is no consensus on exposure thresholds. A better understanding of the complex pathogenic roles of fungi and susceptibilities of their hosts will enable refinement of techniques for sampling and interpretation.

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