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Air and Climate Change Research

Microbiologicals / Mold

Indoor Air Quality

We work collaboratively with the EPA Exposure Research Laboratory to develop tools, data, and models to characterize the fate and transport of pesticides.

Objectives
The biolab runs a high impact research program primarily focused on sustainability.  During the approximately six years that the biolab has had the ability to perform “in-house” research, the program has built up an integrated research curriculum that interacts with other members of APPCD, Region 3, NHEERL, the State Department, EPA Toxic Mold Team, and NHSRC.  The research areas within the biolab all integrate with one another and form the overarching mission of the lab which is to do research that increases our knowledge of microorganisms in the indoor environment, and taking that learned knowledge and applying it to technologies that improve the quality of the indoor environment. 

Approach

BioLab research can be broadly grouped into two main areas including basic research and applied technologies.  Due to the dearth of knowledge regarding filamentous fungi (mold) fundamental research that bridges the gap between basic and applied needs to be completed while moving toward more applied science.  Once the characterization of these organisms is started, it then becomes possible for technologies to be applied which improve the indoor environment. 

Anticipated / Generated Impact and Products

High impact research within the biolab includes working with the industry to generate building products that have greater ability to withstand moisture and prevent mold growth following periodic water events.  Removal of growth substrates from building materials, or the incorporation of antimicrobial agents in the manufacturing of building products may prevent mold growth and the spread of biological contaminants.  There are several building products readily available that can reduce mold growth in the indoor environment.  However, there is no nationally accepted testing and verification program to guide consumers and building professionals on how to select or specify the best gypsum products for their needs.  Our evaluation of antimicrobial building materials is testing the following; 1) mold growth, 2) moisture absorption, and 3) Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emission.
Following the sustainability lead the biolab is actively pursuing the use of bacteriophage (microbial viruses) for the treatment of environmental microbial contamination.  Bacteriophage are excellent candidates for microbial control because they are highly specific for their target organism, they multiply as they remove their target, and they are self limiting in that they die off when there are no more host organisms to multiply within.  This is also a two pronged research idea.  The first is the use of bacteriophage to eliminate existing microbial contamination, while the second is the prophylactic use of bacteriophage to prevent contamination on various building surfaces.  The biolab is actively collaborating with the University of Florida on this exciting form of microbial control. 
The identification and characterization of fungal organisms is basic science that the biolab is performing to give building owners, building occupants, and building remediators accurate information regarding the organisms present in an indoor space.  The biolab is utilizing state of the art molecular techniques based on the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) such as genetic sequencing, multiplex PCR, mycotoxin analysis, and microbial volatile organic compound (MVOC) analysis to generate data that allows for better product development and remediation support. 

Status/Results

Projects:
Microbial Survivability Test for medical Waste incinerator Materials
Characterization of Stachybotrys chartarum MVOC emissions
Sucession Studies of Mold Growth
Testing of Antimicrobial Efficacy of Bulk Gypsum Board
Heat Antimicrobial Efficacy
Laboratory Research on the Efficacy of Chlorine Dioxide for the Remediation of Mold Contaminated Building
Prion surrogate studies
Microbial Resistant Gypsum Products (ETV-ESTE)
Characterization of Stachybotrys chartarum Mycotoxin Gene Expression
Quantitative reduction of E. coli O157:H7 on non-food contact surfaces
Molecular characterization and identification of fungal organisms (mold) - Fungal DNA Extraction and Purification
Mycotoxin Localization studies
Environmental conditions eliciting mycotoxin production
Catalyzed hydrogen peroxide efficacy against fungal growth
Mold Prevention and Decontamination of Air conveyance systems
Mold Prevention and Decontamination of Air conveyance systemsQPCR and Mycotoxin Analysis of Outdoor Air Samples Collected Using an 8-stage Anderson Impactor

Contact
John Masters, Communications
Phone: 919-541-0634
Email: masters.john@epa.gov
U.S. EPA National Risk Management Research Laboratory
Air Pollution Prevention and Control Division
Mail Code: E343-02
Research Triangle Park, NC 27711

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Air and Climate Change Research | Water Research | Ecosystems Restoration Research | Land Research | Technology: Sustainable Technologies Research, Environmental Technology Verification Program (ETV), and Technology Assessments

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