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Indoor Air Quality: Fungal Spore Identification (1630V) Online

This course will be conducted live via Zoom. For more details email

“This was a great opportunity, especially as an international student. I appreciated the adaption to virtual training.” — B. J.

“I really enjoyed the course, and [Dr.] Payam Fallah was a wonderful instructor. “ — A. D.


Course schedule: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Monday – Friday (Central Time, U.S. and Canada). There will be a one-hour break for lunch and several short breaks throughout the day.

Students will learn to identify fungal spores, place visible particles into meaningful categories, and relate those particles to problems in buildings and to human health. Emphasis is on “slit” samples like those from the “Air-O-Cell” and “Burkard” and also on “tape pull” samples, and viable sampling will be discussed.

This process begins with a brief introduction to non-fungal particles and proceeds through naturally occurring outdoor fungus spores to the indicator spores from problem buildings. The most common spores from both indoor and outdoor environments will be emphasized throughout the week until they become familiar. The less common spores will be treated by introducing references from mycological literature.

The first step in this process is the recognition of three major groups within the fungus kingdom by their spores, basidiospores, ascospores and mitospores (molds). There will be detailed explanations of the effect of climate, season, and weather conditions on spores in air, and a discussion of health effects and background information of how the mold scare got into public awareness. Exercises include taking and reading air samples, conducting a building investigation, reading tape samples from actual cases, and taking a short field trip to investigate natural sources of fungi.

Instructor’s equipment in the lab includes professional microscopes with oil immersion and phase contrast and a video projection system for group examination of samples. Student access to microscopes is suggested but not required for this course. At the conclusion of the course, the attendees should be able to take, count, write a report, interpret and evaluate the health consequences of an air sample. It will also cover topics included in certification examinations.

4.5 CM credits

There is no prerequisite for this course.

Day 1
• The mold scare: 1999 to present
• Microscope basics
• Lecture and lab on non-fungal particles
• Basic fungus morphology and growth

Day 2
• Lecture and lab on basidiospores, ascospores and mitospores
• Lecture and lab on zygomycetes, rusts, smuts and myxomycetes
• Lab on most common outdoor spores

Day 3
• Fungus ecology
• Lab on “wet” and “dry” spores
• Discussion of sampling methods
• Field trip outside
• Lab of tape samples from buildings

Day 4
• Examination of samples brought by participants, take air samples
• Lecture on mold on construction materials
• Lab on air samples from buildings
• Investigation and discussion of building
• Exercise on making and interpreting reports
• Brief introduction to Cladosporium, Aspergillus and Penicillium species

Day 5
• Health effects of fungus spores
• Group viewing of air sample slides to review all topics