Question: My question regards elevated levels of airborne fungal spores. We live in a new home (completed Aug2006). Our house has been tested for mold and the tests have found wet plywood sheathing(>17%) and elevated levels of airborne fungal spores – in particular, the Aspergillus/Penicillium. My husband and I have both had coughs since December/2007. Should I be asking my doctor to do any specific tests? Our house was drywalled and insulated 2 months BEFORE the tarpaper and siding were installed, thus the drywall and insulation was saturated several times during the June/2006 rains. Do you have any other advice for us?
Answer: Elevated airborne fungal spores of Aspergillus/Penicillium have the capacity to cause health problems. These spores could trigger allergy symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, coughing and the like. However, I am not sure if your cough is related to Aspergillus/Penicillium airborne fungal spores. I would suggest you consult your doctor. Also, since the tests have indicated elevated levels of Aspergillus/Penicillium, you may want to hire a professional to assess the extent of mold contamination and recommend appropriate level of remediation. Below is some additional information about Aspergillus and Penicillium.
Aspergillus and Penicillium are very common fungi indoors. Their spores are carried in the air as well as being found in cellars, household plant pots, compost, and garbage cans. One species of Aspergillus, Aspergillus fumigatus, can cause invasive Aspergillosis which occurs mainly in the lungs. Allergy to Aspergillus can be manifested by a positive skin test reaction to Aspergillus antigen.
Aspergillus and Penicillium can also worsen asthma, particularly in adults who have had asthma for many years, and cause allergic sinusitis in patients with allergic tendencies. Constant exposure to spores of these fungi could be problematic.