Fungal spore exposure in the school classrooms of suburban eastern india with reference to respiratory allergy

Pampa Chakraborty

A questionnaire survey was conducted among a student population of a suburban school of West Bengal, India, on the basis of frequency and familial history of respiratory allergy, awareness level and absenteeism due to allergic symptoms. In addition, airborne fungal spores were monitored in the classrooms for a year (January-December, 2013) using rotorod sampler (overall spores) and petriplate exposure (viable/culturable fungal spores) with nutrient media.
More than 11.82% of students (n =482, age range 12-14 years) reported respiratory allergic symptoms and 47.36% were aware about their allergic sensitivity before the survey. Due to respiratory allergic symptoms, 78.95% of the allergic group became absent in school. In the air of classrooms, 14 fungal spore types were identified with maximum contribution of Aspergillus-Penicillium group (11.7%). Seventeen viable fungal species were recorded by petriplate exposure in nutrient media. Among them, Aspergillus niger (12.8%) was recorded as highest contributor, followed by Aspergillus fumigatus (9.95%), Cladosporium cladosporioides (9.87%), etc. The flare-up of respiratory allergy in school-children may lead to impaired daily function and absence from school. Hence, attention must be given to control the fungal growth and multiplication inside the classrooms to safeguard the health of school students.

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