Colbaugh is studying the relationship between landscaping choices and practices, seasonal weather and potential exposure to allergenic mold spores. While his research will eventually include flowering plants, woody ornamentals, trees and herbs, Colbaugh is currently focusing on turfgrasses. His research results are being prepared for peer review, but have not yet been published.
The research began with a goal of determining whether different turfgrasses support different levels of allergenic mold spores. Emily Williams, research associate in plant pathology, said the initial study involved clippings from residential lawns in Richardson and Plano.
High school students participating in Colbaugh's annual Summer Environmental Research Internship program spent eight weeks collecting turfgrass clippings from St. Augustine and Bermudagrass lawns in these two North Texas communities. Then they counted allergenic mold spores washed from the plant materials.
Sunny Bermudagrass locations had the highest total mold spore counts, Williams said, and both sunny and shady Bermudagrass samples contained more spores than did the St. Augustine samples.
The results also showed a large difference in lawns with full sun versus lawns with full shade. Both the sunny Bermudagrass lawns and the sunny St. Augustine lawns had three times more allergenic mold spores than shady lawns.
"Texas is a really bad area for asthma and allergy sufferers," Colbaugh said. "The potential for exposure to allergens is high, and the exposure to mold spores is just one component in a complicated picture."
The Asthma and Allergy F
Contact: Janet Gregg
Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications