Mold is nature's garbage disposal. Unfortunately it doesn't know the difference between a dead tree and wood studs or wall boards..
Because molds produce allergens and irritants, it is common for exposed individuals to experience:
- Hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing,
a runny nose and red eyes
- Irritated eyes, nose, throat and lungs
However, numerous molds -- commonly called "toxic mold" -- also produce poisonous substances, primarily associated with their spores, called mycotoxins. Disruptive to our cell structures and cell processes, these toxins have the potential to cause serious harm. Their effects to the human body have been documented using controlled,
It is important to note that mycotoxins were proven to be present indoors with victims suffering from:
- Pulmonary hemorrhage or pulmonary hemosiderosis
(primarily in infants, though it can occur in adults)
- Immune system suppression
(resulting in increasing numbers of infections)
- Hair loss
- Nose bleeds
Types of Mold
What are the most common types of mold?
There are over 100,000 types of mold; however, only a few hundred of these have been studied at length.
The following are the most likely causes of allergic and pathogenetic disease based on current research:
Aspergillus: A common indoor and outdoor mold; also associated with allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis. There are a wide variety of this species and some are considered opportunistic pathogens that cause pulmonary infections. Some members also produce mycotoxins and have been implicated in causing hypersensitivity pneumonitis.
Penicillium: A common indoor mold which causes food spoilage, colonizes leather objects and commonly produces a strong musty odor.
It grows quickly on water damaged materials and has been known to produce mycotoxins as well as causing a host of allergic reactions.
Stachybotrys Chatarum: Commonly referred to as “Black Mold” or Toxic Mold, this fungi grows well on extremely wet building materials containing cellulose that have remained soaked for more that a week.
It produces mycotoxins that can irritate skin and mucous membranes. One potent mycotoxin produced by Stachybotrys is called satratoxin, which can be toxic when inhaled. Extreme care should be taken when this organism is amplified indoors.
Cladosporium: The most common airborne outdoor mold and frequently found growing indoors. Spores are frequently found even in relatively clean, mold-growth free environments. Can thrive in cooler climates and is frequently found growing on siding.
Alternaria: A common outdoor mold; allergy to this mold can be associated with severe asthma. It may be resistant to fungicides and is a common contaminant of water damaged buildings.
Basidiospores: Frequently associated with dry rot, Basidiomycetes are primarily mushrooms, toadstools, puffballs, rusts and smuts.
High levels of these spores can contribute to allergies in indoor environments. Poria is a particularly destructive fungus that falls into this classification and has resulted in the collapse of severely
Botrytis: Most commonly associated with plants, Botrytis can cause allergic asthma after indoor exposure. High levels are likely to be found in greenhouses or other indoor areas with high humidity and large numbers of plants.
Chaetomium: Commonly found on deteriorating wood products, this fungus emits a musty odor and is frequently found on water
Helminthosporum: More commonly found in warmer climates.
This fungus produces large spores which would be expected to be deposited in the upper respiratory tract. A widespread fungus that is most frequently associated with grasses, plant material, decaying food,
Staphylococci: Opportunistic pathogen which can grow and survive in nasal secretions and on skin. Produces many toxins which contribute to its pathogenicity.
Epicoccum: Found in grassland and agricultural areas.
It can grow at higher temperatures than many fungi allowing it to be a human skin pathogen. Colonies create a wide variety of colors depending on food source.
Trichoderma: One of the most widespread soil fungi.
It grows in carpet, on unglazed ceramics and on paper in damp homes. Some species produce metabolites which can be toxic and may cause symptoms like those associated with Stachybotrys chatarum. It is also an allergin and may infect immunocompromised individuals.
Fusarium: Commonly found on rotting plants and soils.
It can invade corn and other grains and produces toxins at lower temperatures than many fungi. Fusarium frequently infects water-damaged carpets and can cause infection in immunocompromised individuals. Its spores are typically slimy and may be difficult to isolate from air samples. It has been implicated in exacerbation of allergies and asthma and can produce mycotoxins.
Aureobasidium: A common outdoor mold commonly found on paper, lumber and painted surfaces. This yeast-like fungus is also commonly found on caulk or damp window frames and may be pink or black in color. Although seldom causing infections, it can be highly allergenic. This mold often called a “mildew” it can grow in cooler climates and along with Cladosporium is commonly found growing on siding.
Phoma: Widespread in soil and a wide range of plants and plant materials. It is one of the most common plant disease causing agents. In an indoor environment, Phoma is common on wet/damp paints, wood, wall papers, window frames, and caulking especially in bathrooms. Species of Phoma are also commonly found in house dust.
Smuts: Abundantly found in areas of agriculture, Smuts affect grasses, notably including cereal crops such as corn. They initially attack the plant's reproductive system, forming galls which darken and burst, releasing fungal spores which infect other plants nearby. Smuts can cause allergic reactions.
Rhizopus: Frequently found in house dust, soil, fruits, nuts and seeds. Rhizopus loves to grow on vegetable garbage and leftover food. Rhizopus can be an allergen and pathogen for immunocompromised individuals (e.g. severe diabetics, malnutrition, HIV and severe burns.)
Yeasts: Common in moist habitats and often able to grow at reduced oxygen levels, this organism causes allergic reactions and can be an opportunistic pathogen.
Mucor: This mold is found worldwide and is frequently present in air samples. Mucor commonly grows on dung and moist hay. It is fast growing and may cause an infection in immunocompromised individuals. It is considered a mild allergen.
Wallemia: Found worldwide in house dust, dry foodstuffs and soil. Wallemia attacks materials with low water activity, is an allergen and may produce mycotoxins. It is also known to grow on materials with high salt content.
Ulocladium: This mold grows on very wet walls and particleboard. Because of its high water requirements it is considered an excellent indicator of water damage. This genara is highly allergenic especially to those also allergic to Alternaria.