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Associating Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds (MVOCs) with the species producing them may open the path to more rapid and reliable chemical methods to detect mold problems, especially for mold hidden in wall cavities or small enclosed spaces. This study associated the dominant MVOCs in a convenience sample of 23 homes with the mold species present. Three semi-quantitative predictors of mold growth ("MOW scores") were assessed in the homes through a comparison of basement to main floor areas. MVOC samples were collected and analyzed by GC/MS. Aerotek N-6 samplers were co-located with the MVOC samplers to collect bioaerosols. Concentration and prevalence data for 19 definitive MVOCs were compared with the bioaerosol data. Mold predictor scores were elevated in basement locations as compared with main floor areas. Of the 23 mold genera identified, the predominant genera (ranked occurrences) were Cladosporium, Penicillium, Basidiomycetes, and Aspergilli. The MVOCs 2-octen-1-ol, 3-octenone, 2-heptanone, 1-octen-3-ol, and 1-butanol showed the highest average concentrations (11-37 μg m(-3)), but no single MVOC was significantly elevated in basement locations as compared with main floor living areas in these non-problematic homes. Using a less conservative one-tail test of significance, average 2-octen-1-ol concentrations in basements were higher (p<0.040), and both 3-octenone and 1-octen-3-ol were elevated (p<0.095). Differences in MVOC occurrence were greatest between homes, with MVOCs found in basement locations typically detected in living areas at similar concentrations and frequencies. Based on these findings, the C(8) MVOCs show promise as gross indicators of fungal growth related to the most frequently found mold genera. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Timothy J Ryan, Catherine Beaucham. Dominant microbial volatile organic compounds in 23 US homes. Chemosphere. 2013 Jan;90(3):977-85

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PMID: 22892356

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