Evaluation of efficacy of borate-based fungistatic treatments on building materials and growth, pro-inflammatory and toxic products of secondary metabolism by selected micro-organisms

With the prevalence of “”leaky”” buildings in BC, there is increasing awareness of the potential health risks associated with damp building products fostering the growth of fungal organisms. These organisms grow from spores, which are naturally abundant in outdoor air. Although spores cannot grow on dry building materials, they can readily form colonies and grow on building materials that have sufficient moisture (e.g. resulting from water leaks, flooding or condensation). These fungi are thought to contribute to respiratory and inflammatory health problems in people. Dr. Karen Bartlett is studying the effects of a class of anti-fungal preservative containing borate. This preservative, used to inhibit fungal growth on wood products, is not yet approved for use in Canada. Dr. Bartlett is monitoring whether borate leaches out building materials when they are wet and becomes ineffective. She is also investigating whether the fungi produce any harmful byproducts in response to these preservatives that might create further health problems.