Fungi on Fuel Wood Chips in a Home


  • J. David Miller
  • Marc H. Schneider
  • Norman J. Whitney


Wood chips, chip storage, fuel chips, pathogens, allergenic fungi


Softwood tops and branch fuel chips with high moisture contents were subject to biological heating in storage. This was due primarily to infestations of mesophilic (ca. 5 × 104 propagules/g dry weight wood) and thermophilic (ca. 1.6 × 106 propagules/g dry weight wood) fungi. Loading chips into a home fuel-chip furnace resulted in the distribution of fungal propagules throughout the basement and upper floors. Many of the species isolated are human allergens and pathogens.

The results suggest that dry storage of chips (that is, environmental conditions which do not allow fungal growth) is important to avoid propagation of allergenic and pathogenic fungi. They also suggest that chips which have been subject to biological heating should not be transported into a home without precautions. Individuals handling chips should wear dust masks, and take other measures to avoid prolonged contact and contamination of living quarters.


Beijom, L., and N. Nilson. 1979. Chip heating on farms and single family homes. Silvconsult Ltd. 230 50 Bjarred, Sweden. (Swedish, edited English translation by Joakim Hermelin and M. H Schneider, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, N.B. E3B 5A3.)nBooth, C. 1971. Fungal culture media. In C. Booth, ed. Methods in microbiology, v. 4. Academic Press, New York.nCooney, D. G., and R. Emerson. 1964. Thermophilic fungi. W. H. Freeman, San Francisco.nEmmons, C. W., C. H. Binford, and J. P. Utz. 1970. Medical mycology, 2nd ed. Lea and Febiger, Philadelphia.nIzlar, B. 1981. Factors affecting the occurrence of fungi in fuel chips for domestic consumption. American Pulpwood Association, Technical Paper 81-P-9.nPark, D. 1973. A modified medium for isolation and enumeration of cellulose-decomposing fungi. Trans. Br. Mycol. Soc.60:148.nScheffer, T. C. 1969. Protecting stored logs and pulpwood in North America. Mater. Org.4(3):169-199.nSchneider, M. H., and C. A. Short. 1981. Small-scale wood-chip heating project in New Brunswick. Wood Fiber (in press).nShields, J. K., and H. H. Unligil. 1968. Deterioration of softwood chips owing to outside storage in New Brunswick. Pulp Pap. Mag. Can. Nov.:62-67.nThornqvist, T., and H. Lundstrom. 1980. Factors affecting the occurrence of fungi in fuel chips for domestic consumption. Skogsenergi Project Report No. 18. Garpenberg, Sweden. (Swedish, English summary. English translation available from Institute of Man and Resources, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.)n






Research Contributions