IRSST - Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail

Use of Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds (MVOCs) as Exposure Biomarkers for Mould in the Workplace – Knowledge Summary


Exposure to mould is a concern in both public health and workplace health, since it is known to cause numerous diseases and symptoms including rhinitis, cephalalgia, irritation (skin, eyes, etc.) and inflammation. For this reason, it is important for exposure to mould inside buildings to be measured accurately and rapidly.

The existing method for assessing airborne mould, which consists in measuring spore concentrations, is expensive and slow. Moreover, it is difficult to obtain significant air samples that would take into account the variations in concentrations over space and time, since that would require access to the workplace and a very large number of samples.

Recent studies show that the presence of mould is accompanied by microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs), some of which seem to present characteristics that could make them interesting for the development of exposure biomarkers.

The aim of this research is to produce a synthesis of scientific information on MVOCs released by mould, in order to determine whether they can be measured and correlated with mould spore exposure.

An analysis will be conducted to determine whether MVOC biomonitoring could offer an alternative or complement to airborne spore measurement in the workplace.