Azara Blog: Fungi found in pillows

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Date published: 2005/10/16

The BBC says:

A small thought to help you sleep when you next get your head down - a study shows the average pillow is home to a host of potentially-harmful fungi.

A University of Manchester team found up to 16 types of fungi in pillows they analysed, the Allergy journal reported.

Researchers said feather pillows had fewer species than synthetic versions, particularly in the case of a fungus which exacerbates asthma.

Experts advise disinfecting pillows but say fungi occur in most environments.

The researchers took samples from 10 pillows - five feather and five synthetic - which had been used for between 18 months and 20 years.

The fungal spores found in the pillows fed off human skins scales and dust mite faeces.

Fungal contamination of bedding was first uncovered by studies carried out in the 1930s, but few studies have been done since then.

Researchers found that all 10 pillows had a "substantial fungal load" with between four to 16 different species being identified on each, Allergy reported on its website.

The microscopic fungus Aspergillus fumigatus was particularly evident in synthetic pillows.

This fungus commonly invades the lungs and sinuses and can worsen asthma. It is also known to cause infection in leukaemia and bone marrow transplant patients.

Nothing new here. Of course it doesn't even bear thinking the kind of things living in pillows. But is anybody supposed to be surprised? Humans are part of the world's ecosystem, and no doubt humans have been co-existing with these fungi as long as humans have existed. Sure, asthma cases (or similar) might want to be careful (no doubt they already are) but isn't it ridiculous that the first reaction to discovering that there is something else in our ecosystem is to try and eliminate it.

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