Fungal bioaerosols have been a major concern in many industries and non-industrial workplaces due to their potential to cause respiratory problems. However, the circumstances where fungal bioaerosols are major issues have shifted over the past 40 years, especially with changes in the industrial sector and the design and operation of nonindustrial workplaces. To better understand the current thinking and mechanisms of fungal exposures, this review attempts to frame the history and provide potentially useful sources of information for physicians and their patients.
The review highlights that the major impact of fungal exposures is not only from their allergens but also from an array of Danger-Associated Molecular Pattern molecules. A significant molecule is the type of glucan found in moulds that grow in damp buildings, wood chips, and crops that is beta 1, 3 D glucan in triple helical form. This compound is exquisitely sensitive to the dectin receptor, located in lung epithelia. Although low molecular weight secondary metabolites often mischaracterized as mycotoxins play little, if any, role on population health except in some agricultural workplaces.
Apart from the change in the circumstances where fungal bioaerosols pose a health risk, there has been a convergence in thinking between the allergy and industrial hygiene communities as well as government agencies on mould and occupational health. This means that there are now useful strategies for better managing these issues as well as increasing consumer awareness. By offering such information, physicians and their patients can make informed decisions on how to prevent and manage respiratory issues that result from fungal bioaerosols.
Furthermore, the review highlights that the design and operation of nonindustrial workplaces have contributed significantly to the increase in fungal bioaerosols. Mould and dampness have become significant issues in many workplaces, but are currently being reduced. By understanding the factors and regulations that cause these issues, it is possible to take preventive measures and reduce the health risks posed by fungal bioaerosols.
The purpose of review on fungal bioaerosols and occupational health is to offer an informed perspective that is useful to physicians and their patients. The review highlights the shift in circumstances where fungal bioaerosols are a major health concern, the change in thinking and strategies, and the role of workplace design and regulations in reducing respiratory problems caused by fungal bioaerosols. By being informed, physicians and their patients can take preventive measures and efficiently manage these issues.
Miller JD. Fungal bioaerosols as an occupational hazard. Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2023 Apr 1;23(2):92-97. doi: 10.1097/ACI.0000000000000886. Epub 2023 Jan 19. PMID: 36752376.