Science Inventory

Microbial Volatile Organic Compound Emissions from Stachybotrys chartarum growing on Gypsum Wallboard and Ceiling tile


Betancourt, D., Ken Krebs, S. Moore, AND S. Martin. Microbial Volatile Organic Compound Emissions from Stachybotrys chartarum growing on Gypsum Wallboard and Ceiling tile. BMC Microbiology. BioMed Central Ltd, London, Uk, 13:283, (2013).


Stachybotrys chartarum and other toxigenic molds are usually identified in water-damaged dwellings and in indoor environments with improper moisture management . It has been speculated that the presence of mold may trigger sick building syndrome (SBS) symptoms such as allergic reactions (e.g., irritated eyes, nose and throat) . Severe illnesses including pulmonary, immunologic, neurologic, and oncogenic disorders have been reported after indoor exposure to Stachybotrys chartarum . Toxicity has been associated with the production of spores, mycotoxins and emissions of volatile by-products. Microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOC) are secondary metabolites that may linked to some of the adverse respiratory conditions generated by indoor mold . Recent MVOC studies suggest that their emissions patterns could be used as a tracer of mold contamination because they vary from fungi to fungi, and they easily diffuse through weak barriers like wallpaper and small crevices. In buildings were occupants complaint of poor indoor air quality and SBS, MVOCs are detected prior to visual mold growth. The purpose of this research was to determine, under laboratory conditions, the identity of MVOCs emitted by mold previously identified in sick buildings in an effort to generate an MVOC fingerprinting system


This study compared seven toxigenic strains of S. chartarum found in water-damaged buildings to characterize the microbial volatile organic compound (MVOC) emissions profile while growing on gypsum wallboard (W) and ceiling tile (C) coupons. The inoculated coupons with their subsequent fungal growth were incubated and monitored in a closed glass environmental growth chamber maintained for 21-28 days at a constant room temperature. Atmospheric gas samples were collected from the headspace for three to four consecutive weeks using Tenax TA tubes. MVOC profiles were generated for each strain. Most of the MVOCs identified were alcohols, ketones, ethers and esters. The data showed that anisole (methoxybenzene) was emitted from all of the S. chartarum strains tested on both types of substrates. Anisole concentration peaked after seven days of incubation. The highest concentration of anisole detected on wallboard was 105 ± 38 µg/m3 and on ceiling tile 46 ± 1 µg/m3. After two weeks of incubation, the concentration decreased and remained constant throughout the incubation period. These studies are expected to provide useful data for the identification of unique MVOCs and the construction of a robust MVOC library for this mold.

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Record Details:

Product Published Date: 12/28/2013
Record Last Revised: 04/29/2015
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 307655