Airborne particles are a major cause of respiratory ailments humans, causing allergies, asthma, and pathogenic infections of the respiratory tract. Airborne fungal spores are also important agents of plant disease, and the means for dissemination of many common saprotrophic (saprophytic) fungi. Here we consider:

(i) Some important respiratory diseases of humans

(ii) The roles of airborne spores in crop diseases

(iii) The methods used to monitor spore populations in the air.


They are the diseases that are generally transmitted by nasopharyngeal discharges and by respiratory secretions, through coughing and sneezing, though they may also be conveyed through close contact. Respiratory diseases include the common childhood infections, measles, whooping cough, chickenpox, mumps, diphtheria and acute sore throat, as well as diseases of the respiratory tract, influenza and other acute viral infections, the pneumonias, and pulmonary tuberculosis. Airborne diseases are spread when droplets of pathogens are expelled into the air due to coughing, sneezing or talking. Airborne diseases of concern to emergency responders include:

1. Meningitis

2. Chicken pox

3. Tuberculosis (TB)


4. Infuenza

Many of these diseases require prolonged exposure for infection to occur, posing only minimal threat to emergency responders. However, there are preventive measures, such as wearing masks or maximizing ventilation, that help reduce these risks. Some important diseases of humans transmitted from person to person by inhaled airborne particles:

Aspergillosis and Histoplasmosis are examples of serious fungal infections of humans, initiated by spores deposited in the alveoli. They can be life-threatening diseases of immunocompromised people, when the fungi disseminate from the lungs to major organs of the body. However, in all cases the infection of humans is incidental to the fungus, playing no part in its normal biology. These are fungi that grow naturally as decomposer organisms in soil, bird faces or other organic substrates.

Airborne allergies (wind-blown pollen generated by trees, grass, plants and weeds) are a major cause of illness and disability. Because pollen grains are small and buoyant, they can remain airborne for hundreds of miles. Common airborne allergies include: Pollen allergies, Seasonal allergies, Weed allergies, Hay fever allergies, Oak tree pollen allergy Ragweed allergy, Lantana plant allergy, Poison Oak and poison Ivy allergy, Mold spores allergy, Chrysanthemum allergy, etc..


Typical allergic symptoms caused by airborne allergens include sneezing, runny nose and nasal congestion (allergic rhinitis or hay fever). When an allergy victim’s eyes are affected, they may experience itchy, watery and red eyes, inhaling airborne allergens may cause reduced lung capacity and difficulty breathing. Contact allergies form touching plants, grassy, leaves and even substances such as latex, can trigger hives r a skin rash. The same airborne pollens can also cause contact allergies or skin allergies when pollen comes into contact with the skin. Symptoms of allergies to airborne substances include:

(i) Sneezing often accompanied by a runny or clogged nose

(ii) Coughing and postnasal drip

(iii) Allergic shiners (dark circles under the eyes caused by increased blood flow near the sinuses)


(iv) The “allergic salute” (in a child, persistent upward rubbing of the nose that causes a crease mark on the nose)

(v) Conjunctivitis (an inflammation of the membrane that lines the eyelids, causing red-rimmed, swollen eyes, and crusting of the eyelids).