Fungal Populations in Air and Materials in a Flood Simulation Study


  • Frederick (Trey) Skrobot
  • Heshmat A. Aglan
  • Shane Kitchens
  • Adriane Ludwick
  • Terry Amburgey
  • Hamid Borazjani
  • Susan V. Diehl


Mold, floods, indoor air quality, remediation


Air quality was measured in a building subjected to flooding conditions analogous to that which occurred during Hurricane Katrina. This building was flooded to a depth of 0.61 m above the floor with pond water and maintained at that level for 3 wk. After the floodwater was drained, the building remained closed for an additional 3 wk. Immediately on opening, air samples were obtained and analyzed for fungal spores. Dry and wet material components of the building wall were analyzed for the presence of mold fungi by both culture and molecular techniques. Additional air samples were taken after a 30-da drying period and then after remediation of the building. The air measurements demonstrated the presence of high concentrations of indoor mold spores when the building was initially entered. Aspergillus/Penicillium were the dominate air molds. Fiberglass batt insulation supported the greatest concentration of culturable fungi, compared with other wall materials, followed by the paper facings of gypsum board and plywood sheathing. The solid wood stud, vinyl siding, and house wrap all supported low concentrations of culturable mold. After drying, the spore air contamination diminished more than 10-fold and the species of fungi on the materials drastically changed. After remediation, the spores inside the structure nearly matched those outside with respect to type and concentration.


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