Aerosolization Behaviour of Fungi and Its Potential Health Effects during the Composting of Animal Manure
Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 May 6;19(9):5644. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19095644.
Compost is an important source of airborne fungi that can adversely affect occupational health. However, the aerosol behavior of fungi and their underlying factors in composting facilities are poorly understood. We collected samples from compost piles and the surrounding air during the composting of animal manure and analyzed the aerosolization behavior of fungi and its potential health effects based on the fungal composition and abundance in two media using high-throughput sequencing and ddPCR. There were differences in fungal diversity and richness between the air and composting piles. Ascomycota and Basidiomycota were the two primary fungal phyla in both media. The dominant fungal genera in composting piles were Aspergillus, Thermomyces, and Alternaria, while the dominant airborne fungal genes were Alternaria, Cladosporium, and Sporobolomyces. Although the communities of total fungal genera and pathogenic/allergenic genera were different in the two media, fungal abundance in composting piles was significantly correlated with abundance in air. According to the analysis on fungal composition, a total of 69.10% of the fungal genera and 91.30% of pathogenic/allergenic genera might escape from composting pile into the air. A total of 77 (26.64%) of the fungal genera and six (20%) of pathogenic/allergenic genera were likely to aerosolize. The influence of physicochemical parameters and heavy metals on the aerosol behavior of fungal genera, including pathogenic/allergenic genera, varied among the fungal genera. These results increase our understanding of fungal escape during composting and highlight the importance of aerosolization behavior for predicting the airborne fungal composition and corresponding human health risks in compost facilities.