Assessment of health effects by bioaerosols in case of mould

  • Project number: F 2489
  • Institution: Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA)
  • Status: Completed Project


Mould caused by damp damage in indoor spaces is frequently linked with the occurrence of respiratory health complaints. However, the causal correlations have not been studied in sufficient depth to date.

The aim of this project was to establish a testing system based on epithelial lung cells that would allow possible health risks from common types of mould potentially present in indoor spaces (Alternaria botrytis, Aspergillus versicolor, Penicillium chrysogenum, and Stachybotrys chartarum) to be assessed more accurately.

In order to investigate the extent to which components of moulds are released into indoor air, two materials typical of indoor spaces, plasterboard and woodchip wallpaper, were seeded with several varieties of mould. Once the mould had grown, extracts were obtained from the mould-covered materials, their surfaces, and airborne mould components.

The cell-damaging and immunomodulatory effects of the extracts were investigated using the in vitro testing system. In this way, it was possible for differences between the individual varieties of mould and the two materials to be demonstrated. Taking account of data from aerosol formation experiments, it may be presumed the airborne components of the cultivated mould species Stachybotrys chartarum have an acute toxic effect. Future studies should look at whether the concentrations of toxic mould components in indoor air are enough to trigger health-damaging effects in the respiratory tracts of exposed individuals.

This project was conducted on behalf of the Federal Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt, UBA) and funded under the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz, Bau und Reaktorsicherheit, BMUB) 2018 Departmental Research Plan.

Further Information


Unit 4.II.2 "Bioaerosols"

Phone: +49 231 9071-1971
Fax: +49 231 9071-2070