WKYT Investigates: How clean is the air you breathe?

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - You might have noticed your allergies peaking around this time of year. Coughs and colds are also common, but the symptoms aren't coming from germs alone.

WKYT tested the air and found a lot of fungus in Central Kentucky.

"The weather being unseasonably warm a lot, means a lot more fungi can grow," explained biologist Dr. Marcia Pierce with Eastern Kentucky University.

WKYT sent petri dish samples throughout Central Kentucky to test the air, 18 of them in all. Seven were placed in Lexington, inside public buildings and private studios. All of them incubated at room temperature for a few weeks, and grew hundreds upon hundreds of microscopic spores.

"They're not fond of the temperature of the human body. Most fungi don't really like our temperature which is why a vast majority of fungi do not cause human disease, although there are a large number of allergens," said Dr. Pierce.

The trays we placed outside across a dozen different counties, Dr. Pierce told us, look normal for being in the elements.

"Anywhere outside should have higher concentration than some place inside. That's the idea behind HEPA filters and filtration systems is that you are filtering out a lot of the fungal spores."

The Kentucky Horse Park and Keeneland win for most variety of mold.

"You're in a farm. You're talking a lot of animals, talking a lot of dirt," explained Dr. Pierce, "someone with allergies should be aware that they might see more symptoms if they go there. I wouldn't avoid anything.

Our inside samples showed a lot less growth. We did not find any black mold. The dark fungi, is the type Dr. Pierce says you have to be very wary of.

"You have mold in your refrigerator. You have mold, mildew in your bathroom. That is fairly standard, but if you have constant water exposure is when you're looking for the bad mold and that's when you're looking for something like stachybotrys which would not want to be getting close to."

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