Why your trendy cof­fee ma­chine could make you ill

Daily Mail - - News - By Victoria Allen Sci­ence Cor­re­spon­dent

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’

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