Term Paper: Air Pollution Pertains to Substances

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[. . .] All we have on other mycotoxins are information on their toxicity or their laboratory effects;

3. The effects of multiple exposures to mycotoxins in the air and those of other breathed indoor air pollutants are still unknown;

4. effects of other biologically active molecules that produce allergic reactions, such as irritation and acting with mycotoxins are similarly unknown. The measurement of spores and their fragments also varies, and comparison of results is still not possible with current equipment and machines;

5. many mycotoxins may be measurable as environment samples, but not in human or animal tissues. This leads us to rely on circumstantial evidence for exposure measurements, such as the presence of the contamination in the person's environment, discovery of spores in the air, symptoms and experimental lesions caused by mycotoxins, just to be able to establish an association with an illness;

6. The responses of those exposed indoors to complex aerosols are variable, accordint to age, gender, health conditions, genetic make-up and degree of exposure;

7. contaminations in buildings also varies greatly and depends on the location of the organisms and the route of exposure. Mere presence in a building does not always constitute exposure; and 8. investigations of environments usually happen after the afflicted persons have gotten ill and do not always reflect the conditions when the development of the illness occurred.

Unlike exposures to chemicals, those with active microbial growth cannot be recreated (Amman). Indoor environments are dynamic ecosystems (Amman), which are altered by changes in moisture, temperature, food sources and the presence of other growing microorganisms in it. The production of toxins also changes with the age of cultures, the stage of spore development, the availability of nutrients, moisture, and the presence of organisms that compete. Measurements of the environment after the contamination can only and always yield only an estimate of the conditions during the exposure when the illness started. It is only when the invading organisms and their products are present - along with a knowledge of lesions and the effects of these toxins - can there be a clear link between the contaminants and the illness.

Methods for analyzing indoor air VOCs require certain criteria in order to increase the reliability of indoor measurements. These criteria are:

a) capability to detect pollutants at ppt and ppb levels;

b) easy-to-use collection devices c) samples of pollutants that can be accurately analyzed and reproduced;

d) a minimum of contamination possibilities e) sampling periods must be compatible with monitoring requirements

IV. Growth and Metabolism. Moisture of the common ventilation system can allow fungi, especially molds, and bacteria to breed and multiply. When they do, they can cause respiratory irritation, skin problems, the onset or worsening of allergies, fatigue, headaches and asthma in those who breathe the air from such ventilation system. The American Lung Association noted that asthmatics have increased by 59% since 1970. Asthma has been observed to result from overexposure to molds; dampness in carpets or within walls; water, pipe or roof leaks, which can all produce mold spores, long after the leaks have been repaired.

Molds consist of a chain of cells called hyphae, which branch out and intertwine to form the body of the fungus (mycelium) (McNeel and Kreutzer). All the fungal cell walls have the beta-D- glucan, which is a glucose polymer with immunosuppressive mitogenic and inflammatory qualities. This element seems to cooperate with bacterial toxins to cause the airway to get inflamed after inhalation.

Many poisonous molds have been discovered during investigations of indoor air quality in many countries, and the most frequently found genera or species of molds are the aspergillus, penicillium, and the stachybortys.

The penicillium species abounds indoors, even in clean places, although they flourish mostly in problem or "sick" buildings. Its spores have the highest concentrations of mycotoxins, so that these remain viable even when the spores are dead. Among the important poisons or toxins produced by this species are nephrotoxic citrinin and nephrotoxic ochratoxin.

The aspergillus species are also commonly found in problem buildings. It produces many likewise poisonous species, the most important being A.. parasiticus, A. flavius, and A. fumigatus. The first two produce aflatoxins, which are fatal to the liver, brain, kidneys and the hert. Repeated exposures can lead to cancer of the liver. Symptoms of aflatoxicosis are fever, vomiting, coma and convulsions (Amman). The species A. flavus is found indoors in tropic areas, sometimes in flowerpots. A. fumigatus also abounds in many indoors. Another species, the A. versicolor, was also found in wallpaper, wooden floors, fiberboard and other suchlike building materials

Species stachybotrys chartarum (atra) has sticky molds when wet and is not cultured in standard media (Amman). Unlike other species, it is unable to compete with other spores and may be killed by these, but it is no less poisonous when inhaled. It requires a high moisture level and grows fast in the presence of moisture in roof or wall leaks, especially in plumbing leaks, which are always damp or wet. The point is that is often concealed in walls and other hidden spaces, where it often grows abundantly. And because it requires very little nitrogen, it can grow on wet hay and straw, paper, wallpaper, ceiling tiles, carpets, (cellulose-based) insulation materials and filter paper. It causes lesions on the skin and the gastrointestinal tract and obstructs blood cell formation. A person who handles any of these contaminated materials will often show symptoms like cough, rhinitis, burning sensations of the mouth and the nose, skin irritation, especially in parts that sweat. The toxins of this species, called macrocyclic trichothecenes, have been described as killing thousands of horses in Russia and the Ukraine and as infecting an entire family, living in a house with a leaky room. The symptoms ranged from diarrhea, fatigue, dermatitis, general malaise, and psychological depression. Other reports describe the fatal and near fatal results of exposure to the species.

Consider, too, that schools have their own conditions that open them to sources of contaminants, including fungi, in addition to vapors and fumes from laboratories, wood-working shops and art classrooms. Children also have the characteristic habit of encouraging the spread of infection, such as coughing and sneezing without protection. They are also less likely to wash their hands and likelier to share infected or contaminated pencils and other school things.

Compounding the problem is the fact that outdoor air contamination can aggravate indoor air pollution problems. Outdoor environmental pollutants can and do become part of indoor - and these include pesticides, vehicular exhaust, such as diesel exhaust from trucks at commercial building docks, and tobacco smoke from smokers standing at building entrances and exits.

V. Cnclusion: What Can Be Done

Authorities and experts do not see the problem of poor indoor quality and its harmful effects on people if no massive, effective and consistent is action is taken at present. Various approaches can be applied. Employees who suspect that their building is making them sick should take note of their reactions and observe of these disappear when the leave the building and re-appear when they re-enter it. They can also examine the buildings for things they can control, like opening windows or doors to improve air circulation. They can also limit temperature changes, limit the use of colognes, perfumes, soaps, shampoos, deodorants, detergents and air fresheners. And if these employees are convinced that the building is sick, they can collect evidence from other occupants and meet with a health care worker or the building owner and the local health officer regarding the problem.

It may take time and other conditions to effectively eliminate moisture sources, but in the meantime, air conditioners and dehumidifiers can help control humidity (McNeel and Kreutzer) and water collection traps should be cleaned as a routine to discourage microbial growth. A chlorine bleach solution can remove visible molds, as well.

Moisture control is clearly the answer to the control of molds indoors. Dry any leaks or spills quickly within 24 to 48 hours to discourage the growth of molds. Roof gutters should be regularly cleaned and repaired. The ground should slope away from the building foundation so that water will not enter or remain in the foundation. There should be no obstructions to the air-conditioning drain lines so as to flow properly. Indoor humidity should remain low. Dry the wet surface of windows, walls or pipes with moisture.

When you smell something musty or moldy, investigate. Many molds are hidden behind dry wall, wallpaper or panel, carpet underside, pipes and furniture. Caution should be taken if the investigation requires removing a wallpaper which will release spores on the paper's underside. Use biocides to kill molds sparingly or with expert advice. If the moisture problem is solved, there will be no need to sterilize the area. But if the use of disinfectants or biocides is the choice or decision, the area should always be ventilated and the air exhausted outdoor. Chlorine bleach… [END OF PREVIEW]

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