March 17, 2022

Canadian Research Center Report Focuses on Biomarkers of Exposure to Mold

A research report recently highlighted by the Canadian occupational health and safety research center IRSST describes a study that examines the feasibility of using microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs) as biomarkers of occupational exposure to mold. A summary of the study explains that traditional approaches for monitoring for fungi—for example, using direct evaluation methods or quantitative polymerase chain reaction—are complex and costly both in resources and time. These traditional approaches require access to contaminated areas for “extensive periods of time” and results can take a long time to be ready, the summary notes. In addition, experienced personnel are needed to perform the sampling procedures. According to the paper, these issues also affect a new approach that involves the measurement of volatile organic compounds emitted specifically by microfungi in the workplace.

The goal of IRSST’s study was to select MVOCs with good potential to be biomarkers. In the center’s report, researchers suggest a biomonitoring approach that involves measuring MVOCs in the biological matrices of exposed workers before and after their work shifts. The report’s authors recommend that this new biomonitoring approach complement existing ones.

“After a study of their parameters, 21 [MVOCs] measurable in air and blood were selected as potential candidates for the biomonitoring of molds,” IRSST’s website states. “Complementary to existing environmental assessment methods, the suggested approach will enable a more accurate estimation of workers’ exposure to molds by taking samples (blood, urine, exhaled air) from them.”

The study is available for download in English and French.

IRSST is also known as the Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail. Information about the center’s latest research projects can be found on IRSST’s website.