Why your trendy coffee machine could make you ill
THEY are the fashionable gadgets advertised by celebrities as the must-have kitchen appliance.
But while a coffee machine may give you a welcome caffeine hit in the morning, it could also make you ill.
The steam from these machines, when combined with insulated modern homes, may be exposing us to fungal toxins, researchers have warned.
Making a cup of coffee in the morning adds to household damp, creating fungus that grows often unseen on our walls.
Just walking into a room creates enough of a draught for toxic particles to escape into the air, which we then breathe in.
One such toxin has been linked to young children suffering bleeding on their lungs in the US.
These toxins may also play a role in ‘sick building syndrome’, where those living or working in a building suffer symptoms such as asthma attacks, coughs, itchy skin and headaches.
A study, published in the journal Applied and Environmental Micro- biology, said coffee machines ‘could lead to favourable conditions for fungal growth’.
Co-author Dr Jean-Denis Bailly, from the National Veterinary School of Toulouse, said: ‘Coffee makers are just an example of a machine that may release steam indoors and increase the water and humidity that may help fungi to grow. Everything that may increase humidity may help fungi to grow since temperature and building materials are in most cases favourable.’
The study looked at toxins produced by different species of fungus that grow inside homes, and which can cause a range of adverse health effects, including suppressing a person’s immune system .
One of these, Penicillium brevicompactum, produced toxic air- borne particles in an air flow of just 0.3 metres per second, which can be produced by people moving in a room.
Stachybotrys chartarum, linked to children suffering lung bleeds, released particles at six metres per second – the equivalent of the draught from a window being opened or door slamming.
And Aspergillus versicolor needed just a third of that air current to produce particles, which tend to be dust or tiny fragments of wallpaper to which toxins attach.
Dr Bailly believes the trend for increasingly energy- efficient homes may aggravate the problem, as such buildings ‘are strongly isolated from the outside’.
Responding to the research, David Denning, professor of infectious diseases at the University of Manchester, said: ‘Fungal toxins can be an irritant to the eyes, throat, sinuses and lungs, and be absorbed and cause headaches.
‘This study shows that these toxins can be found in the air ... and can be expected to be absorbed. Mould-infected wallpaper is problematic and should be removed.’
‘Steam increases humidity indoors’