Temperature versus Relative Humidity: Which Is More Important for Indoor Mold Prevention?

Haoxiang Wu*, Jonathan Woon Chung Wong*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Temperature is known as one of the abiotic factors that can affect mold growth. Many mold growth prediction models consider temperature as one of the parameters that can significantly impact mold growth indoors, and hence temperature has been targeted by different indoor mold prevention strategies on different premises. For example, European guidelines for libraries suggest a temperature of 19C to preserve books. However, running low temperature air-conditioning (AC) costs substantially more energy, and thus a higher temperature (e.g., 25.5C) has been regularly proposed as the recommended indoor temperature for general indoor environments in Hong Kong. It is, therefore, needed to understand whether or not the reduction of indoor temperature would lead to better effectiveness of mold prevention. Using Cladosporium cladosporioides (C. cladosporioides) as the model, its germinating spores were challenged in C. cladosporioides to wet-dry cycles with different combinations of relative humidity (RH, 40%, 60% and 80%) and temperature (19C and 28C) levels. The survival, lipid peroxidation and catalase (CAT) activity of the treated spores were monitored and compared. C. cladosporioides spores showed similar levels of viability, lipid peroxidation and CAT activity when they were exposed to 19C and 28C at the same RH, but substantially lower survival and higher oxidative stress were observed under the wet-dry cycles with 40% RH dry periods compared with 60% and 80% RH at both temperatures, suggesting that indoor temperature does not tend to affect the resistance of C. cladosporioides to wet-dry cycles as significantly as the RH level of the dry period. Collectively, this study suggests a more important role for moisture over temperature in indoor mold prevention. The outcome of this study may facilitate the sustainable management of indoor mold problems in buildings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number696
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Fungi
Volume8
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Plant Science
  • Microbiology (medical)

User-Defined Keywords

  • indoor mold prevention
  • relative humidity
  • temperature
  • wet-dry cycles

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