Chronic environmental exposure to Alternaria tenuis may manifest symptoms of neuropsychological illnesses: a study of 12 cases

  • EC Anyanwu
  • I Kanu
  • NC Nwachukwu
  • MA Saleh


Toxigenic mold exposures are shown to lead to illnesses most of which are just being unraveled. This paper reports the findings in cases of 12 white female office workers who presented with symptoms of neuropsychological illnesses, most likely, due to indoor environmental toxigenic mold exposures. Their major complaints were: weakness and numbness in legs, dizziness, loss of memory, light-headedness and vertigo, fatigue, getting lost in familiar territory, and confused thoughts. The subjects were evaluated by testing immunologic, basic EEG, and comprehensive neuropsychological tests. Abnormal antibodies to Alternaria tenuis, Pullularia pullulans, and Epicoccum nigrum antigens were found in all the subjects' serum, and they were quite different from the abnormal levels of Aspergillus, Stachybotrys, and Penicillium, Cladiosporium genera found in their indoor environment. EEG examination was abnormal all the subjects with 10 Hz posterior dominant activities in 6 out of 12, which were synchronous, symmetrical and attenuated on eye opening and eye-closure. There was an evidence of tremor of the extremities in 3 subjects. These particular subjects' reflex was abnormal, and they had accommodation paresis. Gross neuropsychological abnormalities including those observed in the brain-damaged population and significantly below non-brain damaged functioning was observed. These findings seem to indicate that chronic exposures to Alternaria tenuis, Pullularia pullulans, and Epicoccum nigrum might have neuropsychological effects, and that most likely, only one abnormal antibody to toxigenic mold antigen could have the most dominant adverse toxic exertion leading to the observed neuropsychological effects. It is concluded therefore, that chronic exposures to certain toxigenic molds might lead to neuropsychological manifestations and that although, it is acknowledged that the contaminations of the indoor environment by toxigenic molds are directly related to the adverse health effects on the occupants, there could be a situation where such relationship does not exist.

Journal of Applied Sciences and Environmental Management Vol. 9(3) 2005: 45-51

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eISSN: 2659-1502
print ISSN: 1119-8362