Can Mold be Transferred Through the Air?

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Updated on Jul 19, 2013

The purpose is to study the capability of common bread mold to be transferred through the air and contaminate other foods.

Have you ever opened the refrigerator to find an old, leftover food that had mold growing on it? Have you ever opened a loaf of bread that has been in the bread box for a long time and seen green mold spreading over it?

Mold growth is quite common, but many people are very allergic to mold. It may aggravate allergies or respiratory problems.

Can bread mold become airborne and, therefore, become a health hazard?

Hypothesize that common bread mold can be transferred by air to contaminate other foods. (You may also choose to hypothesize that mold does not become airborne.)

  • Fresh bakery bread
  • Orange
  • Banana
  • Sealable plastic food bags
  • Eyedropper
  • Water

Grow bread mold on three slices of bread. You will need bread that does not contain "mold inhibitors," which are ingredients in most store-bought bread. Try bread from a local bakery and ask if it contains mold inhibitors, or try a piece of rye bread, which molds more easily.

Using an eyedropper, place 15 drops of water on each slice of bread. Place the bread in sealable plastic-food wrap bags.

Let the bags sit for several days until a large amount of mold grows on them. Once a large amount of mold has grown on the three slices of bread, proceed. If you are sensitive to mold or have allergies, wear a mask when you do the next step. Paper filter masks are available at the hardware store or your local pharmacy.

Take two other slices of fresh bread. Add 15 drops of water to each slice. Place one in a sealable plastic bag. This will be the control slice.

Remove one of the slices of moldy bread from its bag. Hold it over the other slice of fresh bread and shake it vigorously. Place the fresh bread in a sealable plastic bag as a control. Put the mold-covered bread back into the bag, seal it, and discard it in the trash.

Cut an orange in half. Place one-half in a sealable plastic bag as a control. Shake a piece of moldy bread over the other half of the orange. Place the moldy bread back in its bag and discard it in the trash. Place the orange half in a plastic bag.

Peel a banana, and cut it in half lengthwise. Place one half in a sealable plastic bag as a control. Shake a piece of moldy bread over the other half. Place the moldy bread back in its bag and discard it in the trash.

Monitor the slices of bread, orange, and banana for several days. Does mold form on them? If so, does it form faster or in more abundance on the food over which the moldy slices of bread were shaken?

Write down the results of your experiment. Document all observations and data collected.

Come to a conclusion as to whether or not your hypothesis was correct.

Something More: Try shaking a piece of moldy bread over other food substances, such as flour and corn starch. Add moisture and place in sealable containers. Does mold grow?