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A study of airborne fungal allergens in sandstorm dust in Al-Zulfi, Central region of Saudi Arabia

Rajendran Vijayakumar, Mohammad Saleh Al- Aboody, Wael Alturaiki, Suliman A. Alsagaby, Tim Sandle.

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The impact of sandstorm dust events on local air quality and public health are becoming a greater concern in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Among sandstorm dust particles, airborne fungal spores cause serious respiratory ailments to those who are exposed to the dust. Although the study of dust storm material has attracted research interest, little work has been carried out in Saudi Arabia and no major study has been conducted in the Al-Zulfi, Riyadh province region. Hence, the aim of the study was to investigate airborne fungal allergen concentrations in sandstorm dust in the Al-Zulfi city, Saudi Arabia.
During the study period 12 sandstorm dust samples and 3 control samples were collected from various locations (educational campus, people gathering and recreational places) by gravitational plate exposure method using Sabouraud Dextrose Agar. Following incubation, the fungal colonies were identified by microscopic and morphological identification.
A total of 2590 fungal isolates were identified among 36 exposures of sandstorm dust samples. From the samples dematiaceous fungi and hyaline fungi were observed, divided 56.2%, 43.8 % respectively. The incidences of predominant fungal genera were Fusarium (21%), Cladosporium (15.8%), Ulocladium (11.1%), Aspergillus (10.9%), and Alternaria (8.6%).
Our observations infer that some of the most important allergenic fungal spores are predominantly observed in sandstorm dust samples and incidences of dematiaceous fungi are higher than hyaline fungi. The present study highlights the need for precautionary safety measures to protect the public against sandstorm dust exposures.

Key words: Sandstorm, dust, fungal allergens, Fusarium, Cladosporium, Alternaria, air sampling, settle plate

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Journal of Environmental and Occupational Science


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