Success Story

A DNA-Based Innovation to Identify Molds and Bacteria in Homes

Shower Mold

A DNA-Based Innovation to Identify Molds and Bacteria in Homes

Numerous health problems in the United States are associated with mold (i.e., fungal) exposures in indoor environments.  With a technology developed by US EPA researchers, mold problems can be identified quickly and accurately, allowing illnesses to be diagnosed and treated more effectively.  Perhaps most importantly, use of this technology may prevent disease occurrence.

EPA’s DNA-based technology can identify and quantify more than 130 species of molds that can be allergenic, toxic or potentially pathogenic.  Molds cause or contribute to many health problems, including infections, asthma, allergies, and rhinosinusitis but also many other areas of economic impacts.  Therefore, this invention has found many applications, including:

  • Determining whether an environment is abnormally mold contaminated.
  • Testing for potentially pathogenic molds in the water and/or air of hospitals and nursing homes to prevent nosocomial mold infections.
  • Diagnosing mold infections so that treatment can begin earlier.
  • Monitoring food and drugs for mold contamination.
  • Measuring the risk for molds associated with allergies and asthma.
  • Diagnosing chronic rhinosinusitis.
  • Monitoring crops for mold pathogens in an integrated pest management program, thus reducing the use of pesticides.

Application of this technology provides extremely accurate, real-time results in as little as two hours.  The EPA’s FTT Department licensed commercial laboratories in the US.  This technology was licensed by 15 companies, 11 of which are small US businesses.  The first license was issued in 2000, and word spread quickly about the technology, leading to many more non-exclusive licenses within a few short years.  The patent didn’t issue until 2002, after there were already several licenses in place.  Commercial laboratories are using this invention to provide testing services for their clients.  Applications continue to increase in the US and around the world.

Inventors:  Richard Haugland, Stephen Vesper