Mold health information
You might be asking yourself what kind of mold is growing in my space or more importantly how does this type of mold affect my health?
Common mold types
For your convenience, below we’ve provided a list of common indoor mold types and the varying levels of threat they can pose to your health.
Stachybotrys: More commonly known as black mold, a fungus naturally found on decaying plant and tree material. In the indoor environment, it grows on building material with high cellulose and water content and low nitrogen content (e.g. wet drywall). There are over 20 documented species of Stachybotrys, and at least two are reported to be toxigenic; if not speciated, the genus Stachybotrys should be assumed to be toxigenic. Specifically, it can produce the mycotoxin trichothecene (Satratoxin H), which is poisonous upon inhalation.
Individuals with chronic exposure to the toxin produced by this fungus reported cold and flu symptoms, sore throats, diarrhea, headaches, fatigue, dermatitis, intermittent local hair loss, and general malaise. The toxin may suppress the immune system, affecting the lymphoid tissue and the bone marrow. It is also reported to be a liver and kidney carcinogen. Effects by absorption of the toxin in the human lung are known as pneumomycosis. Areas with relative humidity above 55% are subject to temperature fluctuations and are ideal for toxin production. It is usually difficult to find in indoor air samples unless it is physically disturbed.
Pen/Asp group: The spores of the genera Penicillium, Aspergillus, Gliocladium, and Trichoderma are quite similar when viewed under a microscope and are grouped together under the heading Pen/Asp. Penicillium species are among the most common fungi found in indoor environments, particularly basements. Certain species may cause infections of the eye, external ear, respiratory system, and urinary tract. Some species of Aspergillus are parasitic on insects, plants, and animals including humans. All Aspergillus species are allergenic. Various species can cause extrinsic asthma, pulmonary emphysema, opportunistic infections of the ears and eyes, and severe pulmonary infections. Many species of Penicillium and Aspergillus produce mycotoxins, which may be associated with diseases in humans and animals. Several toxins are considered potential human carcinogens. The genus Gliocladium has not been reported to cause disease in man or animals. The genus Trichoderma has been reported to cause infections in immunocompromised individuals, patients undergoing dialysis, and individuals with chronic kidney failure or chronic lung disease
Mitospores: A large group of morphologically-similar fungi, which includes Alternaria, Stemphylium, Pithomyces, and Ulocladium. Because mitospores are large spores, they are more easily deposited in the nose, mouth, and upper respiratory tract, allowing them to be potentially allergenic. Alternaria, Stemphylium, Pithomyces, and Ulocladium are all commonly found on plants, textiles, paper, and in soil. In building interiors, they are commonly isolated from horizontal surfaces (e.g. window sills, attic rafters). Alternaria is both a plant and human pathogen and is associated with asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, sinusitis, deratomycosis, onychomycosis, subcutaneous phaeohyphomycosis, and invasive infection. Stemphylium and Pithomyces are not known human pathogens. Ulocladium is generally not pathogenic, but has been known to cause cutaneous infections in the immunocompromised.
Pollen: Pollen is coarse to fine particles/grains produced by various trees, weeds, and grasses. For individuals with seasonal allergies, pollen is often the causative agent.
Rust: A plant pathogen that is commonly found on leaves, stems, fruits, and seeds of various plants. Not a known human pathogen.
Smuts/Periconia/Myxomycetes: A group of plant pathogens with similar morphology. They are commonly found in the outdoor environment in soil and on wood, grasses, cereal crops, and flowering plants. Myxomycete spores are considered to cause Type 1 allergies (hay fever and asthma).
Zygomycete spore: Includes spores from the following genera: Mucor, Rhizomucor, Rhizopus, Syncephalastrum, and Absidia. These fungi are mainly found outside in soil and on decaying organic matter. Some species may cause zygomycosis in humans, which includes mucocutaneous, rhinocerebral, genitourinary, gastrointestinal, pulmonary, and disseminated infections.
Erysiphe/Oidium: A group of two closely-related species of plant pathogens commonly found on leaves, stems, flowers, and fruits. They are sometimes referred to as “powdery mildew”.
Helicomyces group: This group includes genera Helicoma, Helicomyces, and Helicosporium, all of which are closely related helical-spored fungi. They are common on dead and decaying wood and bark lying on the ground. Fungi in the helicomyces group are not known human pathogens.