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Friday,  March 03, 2006

MSU  researchers say black mold toxins could affect sense of  smell

EAST  LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State University researchers in the Center
for  Integrative Toxicology have found that certain toxins produced by black 
mold, that ubiquitous fungus found everywhere from damp basements to 
thousands of buildings in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans and the U.S. Gulf 
coast, are capable of killing nerve cells, essential for the sense of  smell,
that are located in the nasal passages of mice.

The  scientific study - the first of its kind to investigate the potential 
harmful effects of inhaling mold toxins on the nasal passages - has been 
released on the prepublication Web site of the scientific journal, 
"Environmental Health Perspectives," at

It also will  be presented by MSU researchers at the Society of Toxicology
annual  meeting in San Diego in early March.

"Essentially, this toxin is  killing off the cells needed for the sense of
smell," said Jack Harkema, a  University Distinguished Professor of
pathobiology and diagnostic  investigation and one of the MSU researchers.
"This is the first animal  study to really show that a toxin derived from the
spores of black mold  may cause significant damage in the nose and the
frontal part of the brain  involved in olfaction."

According to the MSU researchers, these toxins  found in black mold, also
known as Stachybotrys chartarum, specifically  killed olfactory sensory
neurons in the nasal airways of exposed mice.  These nasal neuronal cells are
known to detect odors and send electrical  signals to the parts of the brain
that are necessary for the sense of  smell, or olfaction.

To help control the above problems, use of an air purifier would greatly reduce the amount in the air you are breathing.

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