Fungal bioaerosols as an occupational hazard


Purpose of review:

Over the past 40 years, the circumstances where fungal bioaerosols are major issues have shifted because of changes in the industrial sector from mainly agriculture to operations, including composting, cannabis production and forestry in hot humid conditions. Changes in the design and operation of nonindustrial workplaces meant that mould and dampness became major issues that are just being reduced. This review attempts to frame that history offers a perspective on the current thinking on mechanisms and provide potentially useful sources of information for physicians and their patients.


Recent findings:

The major impact of fungal exposures is not only from their allergens but also from an array of Danger-Associated Molecular Pattern molecules, possibly the most important of which 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. Located in lung epithelia, the dectin receptor is exquisitely sensitive to this compound. Except in some agricultural workplaces, low molecular weight secondary metabolites often mischaracterized as mycotoxins play little, if any, role on population health.


Summary:

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 has led to some useful strategies for better managing these issues as well as increasing consumer awareness.

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