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