Health hazards: Invisible poisons from household mushrooms get into the lungs

Experts are investigating three different household mushrooms and their effects
Mushrooms in the household can lead to serious health problems. Researchers have now found that toxins from so-called household mushrooms can easily get into the air and thus endanger the health of those affected.

The scientists at the National Veterinary School of Toulouse found that toxins from fungi in the household easily get into the air and cause health problems. The experts published the results of their study in the journal "Applied and Environmental Microbiology".

Mycotoxins are a source of indoor air pollution
Experts say that three types of mushrooms that grow on ordinary household wallpaper can spread through the air. The airborne toxins from these fungi damage human health. So-called mycotoxins should be seen as a source of indoor air pollution, the researchers explain.

Mycotoxins should be examined as parameters of indoor air quality
Mycotoxins can be transmitted through the air and thus lead to pollution of the breathing air inside buildings, explains author Professor Jean-Denis Bailly. The mycotoxins can then be inhaled through the air and should therefore be examined as parameters of indoor air quality, especially in houses with visible fungal contamination, the expert adds.

Which household mushrooms have been examined?
There are far fewer studies on the dangers of airborne fungal toxins than on fungal toxins in food. In their current study, the experts particularly focused on three types of fungi commonly found in contaminated foods: Penicillium brevicompactum, Aspergillus versicolor and Stachybotrys chartarum.

How was the experiment set up?
In their investigation, the team created a flowing stream of air over a wallpaper that was contaminated with the three types of fungi. The scientists later analyzed the air samples. The doctors were able to determine that some toxins were present on tiny dust particles, which can then be easily inhaled by humans and animals. The different types of mushrooms release different amounts of fungal toxins, the researchers add.

Air pollution in households should be investigated
So far, little research has been done on the effects of such toxins. The doctors explain in particular how these toxins work once they have been inhaled. Experts had previously highlighted the dangers of indoor air pollution. In the past, much attention was paid to air pollutants from car emissions, factories and power plants, but the pollution of the air in households should also be investigated, the researchers warn.

Increasing house insulation can exacerbate the problem
Efforts to increase energy efficiency can exacerbate the problems, doctors say. The increasing insulation of houses increases the risk of fungal contamination in the air, the experts explain. The presence of mycotoxins indoors should be considered as an important parameter of air quality, adds author Professor Bailly. (as)

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