Airborne mold and endotoxin concentrations in New Orleans, Louisiana, after flooding, October through November 2005.
- Author(s): Solomon, Gina
- Hjelmroos-Koski, Mervi
- Rotkin-Ellman, Miriam
- HAMMOND, S. Katharine
- et al.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1289/ehp.9198
BACKGROUND: The hurricanes and flooding in New Orleans, Louisiana, in October and November 2005 resulted in damp conditions favorable to the dispersion of bioaerosols such as mold spores and endotoxin. OBJECTIVE: Our objective in this study was to assess potential human exposure to bioaerosols in New Orleans after the flooding of the city. METHODS: A team of investigators performed continuous airborne sampling for mold spores and endotoxin outdoors in flooded and nonflooded areas, and inside homes that had undergone various levels of remediation, for periods of 5-24 hr during the 2 months after the flooding. RESULTS: The estimated 24-hr mold concentrations ranged from 21,000 to 102,000 spores/m3 in outdoor air and from 11,000 to 645,000 spores/m3 in indoor air. The mean outdoor spore concentration in flooded areas was roughly double the concentration in nonflooded areas (66,167 vs. 33,179 spores/m3 ; p < 0.05) . The highest concentrations were inside homes. The most common mold species were from the genera of Cladosporium and Aspergillus/Penicillium ; Stachybotrys was detected in some indoor samples. The airborne endotoxin concentrations ranged from 0.6 to 8.3 EU (endotoxin units) /m3 but did not vary with flooded status or between indoor and outdoor environments. CONCLUSIONS: The high concentration of mold measured indoors and outdoors in the New Orleans area is likely to be a significant respiratory hazard that should be monitored over time. Workers and returning residents should use appropriate personal protective equipment and exposure mitigation techniques to prevent respiratory morbidity and long-term health effects.