Culturability and toxicity of sick building syndrome-related fungi over time

Stephen C. Wilson, Curtis G. Carriker, Trevor L. Brasel, Enusha Karunasena, David R. Douglas, Chunfa Wu, Larysa A. Andriychuk, Matthew R. Fogle, Jared M. Martin, David C. Straus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Two experiments were conducted regarding the culturability and toxicity of fungi located on building materials over time and the efficacy of seven laboratory techniques in recovering culturable fungi from sample swabs. In the first experiment, eight sections of drywall were inoculated with Stachybotrys chartarum and stored at 25 ± 5°C and 20-60% relative humidity (RH) for up to two years. Another eight sections of ceiling tile were stored at 100% RH for 1 year. Six sections of ceiling tile and 15 swabs were also inoculated with Penicillium chrysogenum and S. chartarum respectively and stored under the same conditions for 8 months and 3.3 years. All materials were tested for culturability at the end of the storage period. S. chartarum-inoculated samples were also tested for toxicity. In the second experiment (replicated twice), S. chartarum and Chaetomium globosum were inoculated onto 84 swabs each. Storage was up to 266 days at 25 ± 5°C and 20-60% RH. Seven techniques were compared regarding the recovery of culturable fungi from the swabs over different time points. Results for Experiment 1 showed that all samples were culturable after the storage period and that the S. chartarum-inoculated drywall samples were toxic. In Experiment 2, all techniques showed high rates of recovery. These data show that despite being without a water source, these organisms can be culturable and toxic after long periods of time under conditions similar to human-occupied dwellings and that a number of preparation techniques are suitable for the recovery of these fungi from inoculated swabs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)500-504
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Chaetomium
  • Culturability
  • Penicillium
  • Stachybotrys
  • Time
  • Toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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