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Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine, Department of Environmental Health Hazards, Łódź, Poland
Technical University of Lodz, Department of Fermentation Technology and Microbiology, Łódź, Poland
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Anna Kozajda   

Anna Kozajda, Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine, Department of Environmental Health Hazards, Św. Teresy 8, 91-348 Łódź, Poland.
Ann Agric Environ Med. 2008;15(1):71–78
Microbiological contamination with fungi, including moulds, can pose a significant health hazard to those working in archives or museums. The species involved include Aspergillus, Penicillium, Geotrichum, Alternaria, Cladosporium, Mucor, Rhizopus, Trichoderma, Fusarium which are associated mostly with allergic response of different types. The aim of the study was to analyse, both in quantitative and qualitative terms, workplace air samples collected in a library and archive storage facilities. Occupational exposure and the related health hazard from microbiological contamination with moulds were assessed in three archive storage buildings and one library. Air samples (total 60) were collected via impact method before work and at hourly intervals during work performance. Surface samples from the artifacts were collected by pressing a counting (RODAC) plate filled with malt extract agar against the surface of the artifacts. The air sample and surface sample analyses yielded 36 different mould species, classifi ed into 19 genera, of which Cladosporium and Penicillium were the most prevalent. Twelve species were regarded as potentially pathogenic for humans: 8 had allergic and 11 toxic properties, the latter including Aspergillus fumigatus. Quantitative analysis revealed air microbiological contamination with moulds at the level ranging from 1.8 × 102–2.3 × 103 cfu/m3. In surface samples from library and archive artifacts, 11 fungal species were distinguished; the number of species per artifact varying from 1–6 and colony count ranging from 4 × 101 to 8–101 cfu/100 cm2. Higher contamination levels were found only for Cladosporium cladosporioides (1.48 × 103 cfu/100 cm2) and Paecillomyces varioti (1.2 × 102 cfu/100 cm2). At the workposts examined, although no clearly visible signs of mould contamination could be found, the study revealed abundant micromycetes, with the predominant species of Cladosporium and Penicillium. The detected species included also potentially pathogenic microorganisms which can cause allergic and toxic effects, such as Aspergillus fumigatus, that could be hazardous to workers’ health. For some species, the concentration levels exceeded the values considered the proposed hygienic standards for total microscopical fungi in occupational settings. The findings of the study point to unsatisfactory hygienic conditions at the worksites examined, resulting in microbiological contamination with moulds, as well as the necessity for prompt remedial activities on the part of the employers