An investigation into techniques for cleaning mold-contaminated home contents

S. C. Wilson, T. L. Brasel, C. G. Carriker, G. D. Fortenberry, M. R. Fogle, J. M. Martin, C. Wu, L. A. Andriychuk, E. Karunasena, D. C. Straus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


This study examined the efficacy of the following treatments to reduce selected fungal spore and mycotoxin levels on materials commonly found in home contents: (1) gamma irradiation at a 10-13 kiloGray exposure, (2) a detergent/bleach wash, and (3) a steam cleaning technique. A minimum of six replicates were performed per treatment. Paper, cloth, wood, and carpet were inoculated with either fungal spores (Stachybotrys chartarum, Aspergillus niger, Penicillium chrysogenum, or Chaetomium globosum) at 240,000 spores/2.54 cm 2 of material or with the mycotoxins roridin A, T-2, and verrucarin A at 10 μg per 2.54 cm2 of material. Treatments were evaluated with an agar plating technique for fungal spores and a yeast toxicity culture assay for mycotoxins. Results showed that gamma irradiation inactivated fungal spores, but the treatment was not successful in inactivating mycotoxins. The washing technique completely inactivated or removed spores on all materials except for C. globosum, which was reduced on all items except paper (p < 0.05). Washing inactivated all mycotoxins on paper and cloth but not on carpet or untreated wood (p < 0.001). The steam cleaning treatment did not completely eliminate any fungal spores; however, it reduced P. chrysogenum numbers on all materials, C. globosum was reduced on wood and carpet, and S. chartarum was reduced on wood (p < 0.05). Steam cleaning was unsuccessful in inactivating any of the tested mycotoxins. These results show that the bleach/detergent washing technique was more effective overall in reducing spore and mycotoxin levels than gamma irradiation or steam cleaning. However the other examined techniques were successful in varying degrees.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)442-447
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Contents
  • Fungi
  • Mycotoxin
  • Sick building syndrome
  • Sterilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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