Sick building syndrome. III. Stachybotrys chartarum

Massoud Mahmoudi, M. Eric Gershwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Increasingly, physicians are being asked to evaluate patients with putative environmentally associated illnesses. These can include a variety of problems, including infectious illnesses (Legionnaire's disease), chemical exposure in the workplace, and sick building syndromes. The latter has been an issue particularly in asthma because of the association of mold and increased bronchial responsiveness. Recently, attention has been focused on the mold Stachybotrys in human disease. Stachybotrys was first identified more than 60 years ago following an epidemic of stomatitis, rhinitis, conjunctivitis, pancytopenia, neurologic disorders, and death in horses. Since then, Stachybotrys has been identified in several outbreaks of disease in animals. It has also attracted attention as a possible agent in idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage in infants. Stachybotrys is a relatively uncommon fungus but has been isolated from a variety of sources, including contaminated grains, tobacco, indoor air, insulator foams, and water-damaged buildings with high humidity. This fungus is particularly important because it is one of a series of fungi that produces trichothecenes mycotoxins; these mycotoxins are biologically active and can produce a variety of physiological and pathologic changes in humans and animals, including modulation of inflammation and altered alveolar surfactant phospholipid concentrations. The presence of Stachybotrys in a building does not necessarily imply a cause- and-effect relationship with illness, but should alert physicians and healthcare professionals to do more vigorous environmental testing. Guidelines are presented herein for intervention measures in the maintenance of heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-198
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Asthma
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2000


  • Sick building syndrome
  • Stachybotrus
  • Trichothecenes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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