Microbial contamination of indoor air due to leakages from crawl space: a field study

Indoor Air. 2004 Feb;14(1):55-64. doi: 10.1046/j.1600-0668.2003.00210.x.


Mechanical exhaust ventilation system is typical in apartment buildings in Finland. In most buildings the base floor between the first floor apartments and crawl space is not air tight. As the apartments have lower pressure than the crawl space due to ventilation, contaminated air may flow from the crawl space to the apartments. The object of this study was to find out whether a potential air flow from crawl space has an influence on the indoor air quality. The results show that in most cases the concentration of fungal spores was clearly higher in the crawl space than inside the building. The size distribution of fungal spores depended on the fungal species. Correlation between the fungal spores in the crawl space and indoors varied with microbial species. Some species have sources inside the building, which confounds the possible relation between crawl pace and indoor concentrations. Some species, such as Acremonium, do not normally have a source indoors, but its concentration in the crawl space was elevated; our measurements showed also elevated concentrations of Acremonium in the air of the apartments. This consistent finding shows a clear linkage between fungal spores in the indoor air and crawl space. We conclude that a building with a crawl space and pressure difference over the base floor could be a potential risk for indoor air quality in the first floor apartments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Microbiology*
  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / adverse effects*
  • Architecture*
  • Finland
  • Humans
  • Mitosporic Fungi / isolation & purification*
  • Sick Building Syndrome / microbiology*
  • Ventilation*


  • Air Pollutants