opinion | Fungus thrives in storm-filled homes


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Doctoral student Lorraine Velez Torres is a co-author of this column.

Five years after Hurricane Maria passed Puerto Rico, history repeats itself with the passing of Hurricane Fiona, with the difference that the latter, although only Category 1, was characterized by unprecedented torrential rains that have caused loss of life. . And economically very important. Puerto Rico. Our experience with a collaborative work with colleagues from Larkin University in Miami, the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Puerto Rico (the School of Architecture of the Rio Piedras Campus and Medical Sciences Campus) in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria brings important lessons to us in this new phenomenon. Can apply which we are currently experiencing.

Many lessons have been learned from the study of fungal growth inside flooded homes after Hurricane Maria, write Benjamin Bolaos and Lorraine Velez Torres, which we can apply to floods caused by Fiona. (Javier Araujo)

The widespread flooding caused by Hurricane Maria led to the growth of the fungus inside homes. This increase is related a higher prevalence of asthma and other inflammatory lung conditions on its residents.

Our study compared fungi isolated from the air in dry homes, homes facing water ingress, or flooded homes, according to residents’ reports, after the passage of Hurricane Maria. 50 homes in a community of San Juan were sampled 12 and 24 months after Hurricane Maria. was studied Concentration, composition and diversity of recovered fungi in two culture media (malt extract for isolating all types of fungi and xerophilic fungi for glycerol).

In our results we found no difference between the concentrations of the fungus (colony forming units/m3 of air) in these different conditions in the first year of study. Due to the continuum between outside and inside air due to the natural ventilation that prevails in Puerto Rico, the levels and types of fungi enter from the outside. There was evidence of the effect of fungus from outside on indoor air quality, These results advise against accumulating water-affected debris and material around the community, as they would serve to support the growth of the fungus. The spores growing on this debris will enter the neighborhood homes through the air, through doors and windows.

During the second sampling in the same households in this community, levels of the fungus were nearly three times higher in homes that were flooded than in homes affected by drought or water. it’s confirmed role of moisture or flood In the development of fungi inside habitats.

Fungi composition showed high levels of fungal species aspergillus In flooded homes compared to outside air during the first sampling. This genus is an allergenic and opportunistic fungus that May cause a disease called aspergillosis in compromised patients, In contrast, 22 months after Hurricane Maria, the fungi found were non-sporulating, probably basidiomycetes, which are most abundant in the outdoor air of Puerto Rico according to our report from the San Juan and Caguas Aeroallergen Stations for the American Academy of Sciences. are in. Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI, for its acronym in English) and which are broadcast daily through our TOTAAL app.

In summary, the data we report in this study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NHI) highlights Fungal spread was higher in homes that had water damage, Even then, Fungus populations change over time Which happened after the storm passed. Two years after the storm, both indoor and outdoor fungal populations resemble each other in this sample of naturally ventilated homes in this San Juan community. again shown that Our homes are not a barrier to the entry of fungi from abroad And that we should be aware of our reports from AAAAI stations in San Juan and Caguas.

For more information about this study, you may consult the reference below: Velez-Torres LN, Bolaos-Rocero B, Godoy-Vittorino F, Rivera-Mariani FE, Mestre JP, Kinney K, Cavallin H. 2022. Indoor propagation of filamentous fungi in Hurricane Maria Drive-increased San Juan, Puerto Rico: a two-year culture-based approach. Pir J10:e12730 https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.12730

Lorraine Velez Torres is a co-author of this column.
Lorraine Velez Torres is a co-author of this column. (supplied)

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