Antifungal properties of essential oils for improvement of indoor air quality: a review

Whiley H, Gaskin S, Schroder T, Ross K
Reviews on Environmental Health, 2017


Concerns regarding indoor air quality, particularly the presence of fungi and moulds, are increasing. The potential for essential oils to reduce, control or remove fungi, is gaining interest as they are seen as a “natural” alternative to synthetic chemical fungicides. This review examines published research on essential oils as a method of fungal control in indoor environments. It was difficult to compare the relative performances of essential oils due to differences in research methods and reporting languages. In addition, there are limited studies that scale up laboratory results and assess the efficacy of essential oils within building environments. However, generally, there appears to be some evidence to support the essential oils clove oil, tea tree oil, oregano, thyme and lemon as potential antifungal agents. Essential oils from heartwood, marjoram, cinnamon, lemon basil, caraway, bay tree, fir, peppermint, pine, cedar leaf and manuka were identified in at least one study as having antifungal potential. Future studies should focus on comparing the effectiveness of these essential oils against a large number of fungal isolates from indoor environments. Studies will then need to focus on translating these results into realistic application methods, in actual buildings, and assess the potential for long-term antifungal persistence.


Whiley H, Gaskin S, Schroder T, et al. Antifungal properties of essential oils for improvement of indoor air quality: a review. Rev Environ Health. 2017 Oct 27. pii: /j/reveh.ahead-of-print/reveh-2017-0023/reveh-2017-0023.xml. doi: 10.1515/reveh-2017-0023. 

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