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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:Ohio State University
  • Karen C Dannemiller
  • (614) 292-4031
Award Date:12/02/2019
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 500,000
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 400,000
  • FY 2020=$400,000
Start Date:08/01/2020
End Date:07/31/2025
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.041
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:CAREER: Microbial indicators Of Latent Dampness (MOLD)
Federal Award ID Number:1942501
DUNS ID:832127323
Parent DUNS ID:001964634
Program:EnvE-Environmental Engineering
Program Officer:
  • Karl Rockne
  • (703) 292-5356

Awardee Location

Street:Office of Sponsored Programs
Awardee Cong. District:03

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Ohio State University
Cong. District:03

Abstract at Time of Award

Exposure to mold in homes costs billions of dollars every year. Exposure is particularly harmful to the 8% of the United States population that suffers from asthma; a leading cause of disability in children. Currently, odor, visible mold growth, and dampness are the best indicators of mold indoors. However, these measures are subjective. Existing quantitative methods focus on identifying specific fungal species that grow in moldy buildings, but species vary region-to-region and home-to-home. The goal of this project is to develop and validate a new quantitative measurement tool to assess growth of any species of fungi and potential adverse health outcomes. Successful completion of this research will protect human health through improved understanding of fundamental microbial processes that occur in damp buildings. Ultimately, a new measurement tool would fulfill a critical need to evaluate the effectiveness of remediation efforts for homes impacted by flooding. Environmental practitioners and other stakeholders will be engaged throughout the project to learn and provide feedback. Undergraduate researchers will also participate in the research to enhance the graduate student pipeline while also improving communication and teaching skills by working with K-8 students. Together, these efforts increase the Nation’s STEM pipeline while increasing the scientific literacy of the Nation. The overall goal of this project is to establish an evidence-based measurement target for evaluation of mold growth in homes based on species-independent metabolic processes. We will identify and validate novel targets to indicate microbial growth. The overall hypothesis is that products from secondary metabolic pathways of fungi are species-independent and will be a more effective indicator of mold growth than measurement of any specific species. The first objective is to identify fundamental metabolic processes and potential microbial indicators consistently associated with microbial growth in damp homes driven by the hypotheses that secondary metabolic processes are more prevalent and gene expression of secondary metabolic products will be more strongly and consistently associated with damp conditions. This objective will be achieved by collecting dust from 50 non-moisture-damaged homes to measure gene expression through metatranscriptomic analysis and identify the processes most strongly associated with damp conditions. This will be validated by studies of three or more of potential indicators in 25 damp and 25 non-moisture-damaged control homes to determine if the indicator is associated with other dampness measures. Results will be evaluated by a stakeholder advisory board, and environmental practitioners will learn about indoor microbial growth at a workshop. Successful completion of this research will provide new insights into fundamental microbial processes occurring in damp buildings, including metabolic processes occurring in fungi. Ultimately, this work will both advance our fundamental understanding of indoor microbial dynamics and human exposure as well as pave the way for a new suite of tools to measure mold indoors to protect human health. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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