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Severe fungal contamination of a hotel resulting from an EFIS system failure: environmental characterization and clinical outcomes.

Martinez K; Wallingford K; Trout D
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 20-25, 2000, Orlando, Florida. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2000 May; :42
In the fall of 1998, NIOSH responded to a request for technical assistance from a municipal health department to evaluate a hotel following identification of significant fungal contamination on interior surfaces of outdoor-facing walls of the structure. The fungi were suspected to have proliferated following extensive water incursion at the seams of the external building insulating and protective facing panels. Specifically, NIOSH was asked to assess the fungal contamination, including testing hypotheses for the existence of fungal reservoirs, consultation regarding the ongoing remediation work, and the evaluation of the potential for occupational exposures to hotel employees and to the remediation workers, including environmental and medical components. Surveys were conducted to collect microbiological bulk and air samples (using culturable and nonculturable methods) and to collect bulk samples from contaminated wallboard to be analyzed for mycotoxin content. The results of the NIOSH investigation clearly documented the presence of active fungal reservoirs behind vinyl wall-covering of exterior hotel walls; bulk sample results ranged from 8.8 X 104 to 5.2 X 107 colony forming units per gram of material (CFU/gm). Mycotoxins specific to Stachybotrys chartarum (i.e., complex trichothecenes, satratoxin and roridin, and atranones) and Memmoniella echinata (i.e., griseofulvins) were identified on 8 of 18 bulk wallboard samples. In addition, air sampling indicated the dissemination of fungal spores and hyphae into the rooms of the hotel, with geometric mean concentrations indoors ranging from 294 CFU/m3 to 2690 CFU/m3. The identified fungal genera included Acremonium, Alternaria, Aspergillus, Cladosporium, Penicillium, Phoma, Stachybotrys, and Ulocladium. The results indicate that inhalation exposures to various fungal structures, and consequently their mycotoxins, were possible at the time of the NIOSH investigation. It is not clear what impact these exposures may have had on the workers in the hotel. Two of the hotel employees who might have been the most highly exposed are being clinically evaluated for health conditions potentially related to their exposures.
Exposure-assessment; Employee-exposure; Employee-health; Fungi; Microorganisms; Environmental-contamination; Environmental-exposure; Air-sampling; Microbial-test-systems; Mycotoxins; Sampling; Sampling-methods; Housekeeping-personnel; Service-industries; Indoor-environmental-quality; Infection-control; Disease-prevention
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American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 20-25, 2000, Orlando, Florida
Page last reviewed: March 25, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division