Spring is associated with increased total and allergenic fungal concentrations in house dust from a pediatric asthma cohort in New York City

Build Environ. 2022 Dec;226:10.1016/j.buildenv.2022.109711. doi: 10.1016/j.buildenv.2022.109711.


Introduction: Asthma and allergy symptoms vary seasonally due to exposure to environmental sources of allergen, including fungi. However, we need an improved understanding of seasonal influence on fungal exposures in the indoor environment. We hypothesized that concentrations of total fungi and allergenic species in vacuumed dust vary significantly by season.

Objective: Assess seasonal variation of indoor fungi with greater implications related to seasonal asthma control.

Methods: We combined next-generation sequencing with quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) to measure concentrations of fungal DNA in indoor floor dust samples (n = 298) collected from homes participating in the New York City Neighborhood Asthma and Allergy Study (NAAS).

Results: Total fungal concentration in spring was significantly higher than the other three seasons (p ≤ 0.005). Mean concentrations for 78% of fungal species were elevated in the spring (26% were significantly highest in spring, p < 0.05). Concentrations of 8 allergenic fungal species were significantly (p < 0.5) higher in spring compared to at least two other seasons. Indoor relative humidity and temperature were significantly highest in spring (p < 0.05) and were associated with total fungal concentration (R2 = 0.049, R2 = 0.11, respectively).

Conclusion: There is significant seasonal variation in total fungal concentration and concentration of select allergenic species. Indoor relative humidity and temperature may underlie these associations.

Keywords: Asthma; Dust; Fungi; Indoor; Spring; qPCR.