Fungal spores in the atmosphere

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Aerobiologia DOI 10.1007/s10453-009-9148-0

ORIGINAL PAPER

Analysis of environmental factors and their effects on fungal spores in the atmosphere of a tropical urban area (San Juan, Puerto Rico)
Elizabeth Quintero • Felix Rivera-Mariani ˜os-Rosero Benjamin Bolan


Received: 15 August 2008 / Accepted: 10 December 2009 Ó Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Abstract In PuertoRico, respiratory diseases affect a significant percentage of the population, and it is possible that the environmental factors unique to the island, such as easterly winds, dense vegetation, and high humidity, may increase the concentration of airborne biological particulates that could distress susceptible individuals. As most studies characterized fungal spores and pollen in temperate zones, wewanted to describe their concentrations in a tropical zone. The AllergencoÒ (MK3) spore trap was used to monitor airborne spores and pollen concentrations for 12 months starting on May 2005. During the length of the study, silicone grease-coated microscope slides captured 12 impacts daily, which were then stained with calcofluor and observed under the microscope with bright field and ultraviolet light.Atmospheric conditions were recorded with the Precision Weather StationÒ. Precipitation, dew point, and relative

humidity promote the presence of fungal spores in San Juan throughout the year, with basidiospores being the most frequent. Spore concentrations were higher during the early morning hours all the year around. Wind and gusts were dispersal factors, and humidity and the dew pointfavored the release of spores into the atmosphere. In contrast to spores, pollens were not found to be affected by any of the meteorological factors and no distinctive patterns were found. Describing how airborne spores and pollens, many of which have allergenic potential, behave in the tropics, such as in San Juan, Puerto Rico, could be used to design preventive measures for the benefit of thesensitized population. Information about the presence and abundance of aeroallergens will assist in the diagnosis of allergic rhinitis and asthma on the island. Keywords Fungal aerosols Á Spore calendar Á Tropical Aerobiology Á Environmental factors

E. Quintero School of Science and Technology, Doctoral Program in Environmental Sciences, Universidad del Turabo, Gurabo, PR, USA e-mail:gquintero2@suagm.edu ˜ F. Rivera-Mariani Á B. Bolanos-Rosero (&) Department of Microbiology and Medical Zoology, Medical Sciences Campus, University of Puerto Rico, San Juan, PR, USA e-mail: benjamin.bolanos@upr.edu F. Rivera-Mariani e-mail: felix.rivera7@upr.edu

1 Introduction In Puerto Rico, respiratory conditions constitute an important public health problem, affecting 33.3% of the children attending school,of which only 51.3% receive treatment (Perez Perdomo et al. 2003). The east-central region of the island has been identified by the Puerto Rico Department of Health as one with the highest prevalence of respiratory diseases, affecting

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mostly the population between 0 and 17 years of age (Seguinot-Medina and Rivera-Rentas 2006). LoyoBerrios et al. (2006) found a highprevalence of asthma in the northeastern area of Puerto Rico (Rio Grande and Loiza municipalities), where 46% of the children in elementary school and 24% of the young adults in secondary school were affected. According to Cohen et al. (2007), the incidence of Puerto Rican children living in Puerto Rico (41.3%) was higher than the prevalence among Puerto Rican children living in the Bronx (35.3%). If ahigh proportion of Puerto Rican individuals are genetically predisposed to asthma, then unique environmental and tropical characteristics of Puerto Rico could have an additive effect that could result in a much higher incidence (Loyo-Berrios et al. 2006). Puerto Rico is the most westerly of the Greater Antilles islands in the Caribbean Sea. It is characterized by a tropical climate with...
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