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Indoor Air. 2009 Apr;19(2):153-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0668.2008.00574.x. Epub 2009 Jan 28.

Molds and mycotoxins in dust from water-damaged homes in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina.

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1
Laboratory Medicine, Division of Medical Microbiology, Lund University, Sölvegatan 23, Lund, Sweden.

Abstract

Dust collected in New Orleans homes mold-contaminated because of the flooding after hurricane Katrina was analyzed for molds and mycotoxins. The mycoflora was studied by cultivation and quantitative PCR for selected molds. The most commonly found mold taxa were Aspergillus, Cladosporium, and Penicillium. Verrucarol, a hydrolysis product of macrocyclic trichothecenes predominately produced by Stachybotrys spp. was identified in three dust samples by gas chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry, and sterigmatocystin (produced by various Aspergillus spp.) was found in two samples by high pressure liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. This is the first demonstration of mycotoxins in Katrina-associated dust samples. The analytical methods used represent valuable tools in further studies on bioaerosol exposure and health risks.

PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS:

In the aftermath of natural disasters like hurricane Katrina water-damages on infrastructure and public and private property are often associated with health risks for remediation workers and returning residents. In the case of New Orleans evaluations of health hazards, health studies, and assessments of bioaerosol have been conducted previously. However, until now mycotoxins have not been addressed. Our study shows, for the first time, the presence of mycotoxins in dust collected in houses in New Orleans mold-contaminated because of the hurricane Katrina. The results may highlight the potential health threats posed by mold aerosols in post-disaster inhabited areas.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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