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Int J Occup Environ Health. 2017 Jul;23(3):181-186. doi: 10.1080/10773525.2018.1447320. Epub 2018 Mar 8.

Antifungal activity of essential oils against fungi isolated from air.

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a Environmental Health, Science and Engineering , Flinders University , Adelaide , Australia.
b Occupational & Environmental Health, School of Public Health , The University of Adelaide , Adelaide , Australia.


Fungal contamination of indoor air is an issue of increasing public health concern. Essential oils have been demonstrated to have antifungal capabilities, but there are limited studies investigating the efficacy of essential oils against fungi relevant to air quality. This study provides a preliminary screening of the antifungal properties of clove, lavender and eucalyptus essential oils against a range of fungal species isolated from environmental air samples. The ability of the essential oils to inhibit fungal growth was examined using the disk diffusion assay on malt extract agar and was compared with vinegar, bleach and limonene, with phenol as a positive control. Results identified essential oils which demonstrated antifungal potential against species of environmental origin. Clove oil was found to be most efficacious, with eucalyptus and lavender oils showing some antifungal potential albeit less broad spectrum and with less persistence over time in this assay. All essentials oils performed better than traditional cleaning compounds such as vinegar. Clove oil would be a suitable candidate for further research to validate its use in improving indoor air quality. Further research should next take into consideration the practical application method, concentration and long-term persistence of antifungal properties.


Plant extract; air quality; environmental fungi; fungicide; indoor air

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