Featured research (3)
Air and dust harbor a dynamic fungal biome that interacts with residential environment inhabitants usually with negative implications for human health. Fungal air and dust synthesis were investigated in houses across the Athens Metropolitan area. Active and passive culture dependent methods were employed to sample airborne and dustborne fungi for two sampling periods, one in winter and the other in summer. A core mycobiome was revealed both in air and dust constituted of the dominant Penicillium, Cladosporium, Aspergillus, Alternaria and yeasts and accompanied by several common and rare components. Penicillium and Aspergillus diversity included 22 cosmopolitan species, except the rarely found Penicillium citreonigrum, P. corylophilum, P. pagulum and Talaromyces albobiverticillius, species which are reported for the first time from Greece. Fungal concentrations were significantly higher during summer for both air and dust. Excessive levels of inhalable aerosol constituted mainly by certain Penicillium species were associated with indoor emission sources as these species are household molds related to food commodities rot. The ambient air fungal profile is a determinant factor of indoor fungal aerosol which subsequently shapes dustborne mycobiota. Indoor fungi can be useful bioindicators for indoor environment quality and at the same time provide insight to indoor fungal ecology.
Industrial activities nearby residential areas lead to poor local air quality. Therefore, short-term exposure to an aggravated environment and the subsequent health effects should be the subject of further research. The purpose of this study is to estimate the health risks resulting from such exposure in population groups living in an industrialized area. The risk estimation was performed using different approaches suggested in relative literature. Monitoring of the air quality in an industrial zone of Attica was carried out including 24-h measurements of PM2.5 and analysis of their chemical composition for Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and heavy metals (Pb, Cd, As, Ni, Hg, Cu, Zn). Samples of Volatile Organic Compounds were also collected. Health effects on different population subgroups were estimated for the targeted pollutants through different mathematical approaches provided by the literature, taking into consideration different parameters (e.g., age, gender, exposure duration). Inhalation rate and body weight were important parameters to estimate the exposure dose of people, and they can vary greatly depending on the age, gender, and daily activity of the person under consideration. The results indicated that the risk for potential carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic effects varies depending on the applied methodology. In any case, the acceptable limits for cancer risk provided by the OEHHA, EPA, and WHO were not exceeded.
House settled dust (HSD) contains various hazardous materials, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and metals. Exposure to toxicants contained in HSD is of paramount concern especially in the case of young children, due to their particular behavioral characteristics. In this context, extracts of sieved vacuum cleaner dust from 20 residences with young children were examined for the presence of PAHs and trace metals, in Athens, Greece. The results indicated that PAHs and metals were ubiquitous in the studied residences. The calculated enrichment factors (EF) of trace metals indicated that Cu, Se, Zn, Hg, Cd, and Pb were mainly of anthropogenic. According to the PCA analysis, the main sources of household dust were: smoking inside the houses, combustion processes, resuspension of soil dust, and vehicle traffic. In general, the cancer risk due to PAHs exposure was found lower than the threshold value. The ingestion of house dust was the most important route of exposure to metals. The dose of almost all elements for the children was found 1–2 orders of magnitude lower than the corresponding reference values. Both the carcinogenic and noncarcinogenic risks of exposure were within the safety limits.