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 Mold Facts







Ten Mold Myths

Myth:

 

You can tell toxic mold by looking at it.

Fact:

 

Toxic mold can look different depending on the environment it is growing in and what it is growing on. Mold growths have a variety of appearances and colors (i.e. white, orange, green, gray, brown or black). The only way to know for sure whether a particular mold is toxic is to have it examined by a microbiologist.

Myth:

 

Mold can be completely removed and should not be found inside a building.

Fact:

 

There is always a little mold everywhere, in the air and on many surfaces. Microscopic spores or the reproductive cells of mold are always floating in the air. Since mold spores can be found almost anywhere, there is no practical way to eliminate all and mold spores in the indoor environment. Mold spores may be found lying dormant on almost every surface in a building. Unless large numbers of spores become airborne, there is usually little problem. However, when mold spores are on a surface with an appropriate moisture content (e.g. leaky roofs, pipes), nutrients (e.g. wood, paper, paint) and temperature (i.e. between 40 and 100 degrees), the spores will germinate and mold will grow.

Myth:

 

All mold is toxic.

Fact:

 

Most molds are not toxic. However, certain molds, in large quantities may cause serious health problems. Some types of mold, under certain conditions, can produce toxins, called mycotoxins, which are usually concentrated in the spores or reproductive cells of mold. The presence of mold in a building does not necessarily mean thatmycotoxins are present or that they are present in large quantities and the presence of does not mean that everyone in the building will be affected.

Myth:

 

All people are sensitive to mold.

Fact:

 

Not everyone is sensitive to mold; however, any visible mold inside buildings and homes should be removed quickly before possible health problems have time to develop. Mold affects individuals differently and to different degrees. Molds produce allergens, irritants and, at times, toxins that may cause severe reactions in humans. The symptoms and their severity depend on the types of mold present, as well as the individual's exposure, age and existing sensitivities or allergies.

According to the California Department of Health Services, the following individuals are at higher risk for adverse health effects of molds:

  • Infants and children
  • elderly
  • immune compromised patients (people with HIV infection, cancer chemotherapy, liver disease, etc.)
  • pregnant women
  • individuals with existing respiratory conditions, such as allergies, multiple chemical sensitivity, and asthma

People who are sensitive to mold may experience symptoms, such as nasal stuffiness, eye irritation or wheezing, when exposed to molds. Some people may have more severe reactions to molds. For example, certain individuals with chronic respiratory disease (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, asthma) may experience difficulty breathing. Individuals with immune suppression may be at increased risk for infection from molds. If you have any of these conditions, you should consult a qualified medical clinician for diagnosis and treatment.

Myth:

 

Does bleach kill mold and eliminate the mold problem.

Fact:

 

A bleach solution can only kill mold on a hard non-porous surface, such as a bathroom tub area or wall tiles. It will not penetrate and kill mold into porous materials like wood, sheet-rock, ceiling tiles etc; that you would find contaminated with basement mold or mold on the attic ceiling. Mold removal to porous surfaces would require professional mold remediation. Then, to eliminate the mold problem from re-occuring the source of the mold (e.g. water intrution from a leaky pipe or foundation ) also must be eliminated. In cases where there are widely spread areas of mold growth (i.e. over 10 square feet) or areas where mold has reappeared after repeated cleaning, you should contact a mold remediation company.

Myth:

 

Mold only grows in damp and warm climates.

Fact:

 

Although many fungi grow well at temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees, some molds can grow at temperatures much lower or higher than that. It's important to keep in mind that even if a building or home has the appropriate amount of air conditioning to keep most molds from growing, temperature gradients often produce the moisture needed for mold growth. This is often created when cooling systems are oversized, undersized or poorly maintained or unplanned air flow exists in buildings. There can also be mold growth during the winter in heated buildings or homes. Under these conditions, mold often grows in cold, un-insulated exterior windows and walls of buildings or homes, including un-insulated closets along exterior walls where building surfaces are generally cold relative to the indoor air temperature. Also, mold can grow on and inside walls of homes during the winter when a humidifier is overused.

Myth:

 

Black mold is the worst.

Fact:

 

You can't judge whether a particular mold is toxic or non toxic simply by its color. Toxic mold comes in different colors based on the environment it is growing in and the substance it is growing on. The only way to know for sure whether a particular mold is toxic is to have it examined by a microbiologist.

Myth:

 

Mold in a building means it is an unhealthy place to be.

Fact:

 

Mold growth in a building does not necessarily mean that it is an unhealthy place to be. The presence of mold in a building does not necessarily mean that mycotoxins are present or that they are present in large quantities. The only way to know for sure whether a particular mold is toxic is to have it examined by a microbiologist. In order to make sure that a building doesn't become unhealthy, all visible signs of black mold and other colored molds growing on surfaces should be removed and moisture sources should be eliminated.

Myth:

 

If you can't smell mold, it's not there.

Fact:

 

You may not always be able to smell mold in house or a building. A visual mold inspection is the most important step in identifying possible mold contamination. The inspection should include any areas damaged by water, such as behind cabinets, under carpets or any area with porous material or soft goods that have been exposed to high humidity or water. The following is a list of symptoms of toxic mold, that can be caused by mold exposure to mold spores and mold mycotoxins:

  • skin rashes
  • fatigue
  • depression
  • unexplained irritability
  • flu-like symptoms
  • trouble breathing
  • coughing
  • sinus congestion
  • nausea
  • sneezing
  • runny nose
  • loss of memory
  • loss of hearing
  • loss of eyesight
  • bloody noses
  • arthritic-like aches
  • chronic headaches
  • "crawly" feeling skin
  • epileptic-like seizures
  • upper respiratory distress
  • irritation of the eyes, nose or throat
  • restlessness
  • equilibrium or balance loss
  • dizziness or stuffiness

If you or someone you know has experienced any of the above adverse health effects, it is possible that mold is present in that person's environment, and they should consider having their home tested. Testing a home or building is the only way to know for sure if there are mold problems.

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Top Seven Toxic Molds

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Dangers of Mold – Personal Cases

While mold is prevalent in our area year-round due to high humidity levels, it is at its highest levels outdoors in the fall. It collects and grows in gutters, soil= , vegetation, rotting wood and fallen leaves.

Inside, any moisture problem can potentially lead to mold problems. It has emerged as a major culprit in recent real estate dealings, as the fast-growing fungus can cause thousands of dollars in damage.

It's a vicious cycle, Dr. George Graham, because mold sickens a home or building, which, in turn, can sicken the people in it.

Graham tells the story of a young Denver area girl who was sent home to die after the 30th doctor who attempted to diagnose her ailment was unable to do so.She was too weak to sit up at school, and no one could figure out why. A neighbor affiliated with Graham asked if the girls home could be tested for mold, and "it was off the charts," he recalls. "there was a leak behind her shower, so we took the wall out,fogged it, cleaned it and replaced it. She was also treated with custom medicines.

Within three months, that girl was an 'A - B' student and hanging onto a jungle gym by her knees. "We deal with this kind of thing all the time," he continued. "It's great to go and find a problem like that and be able to help."

It is not an isolated incident. Graham, who receives referrals from allergists, general practitioners and even marriage counselors, has seen the effects of mold on individuals, families and relationships during three decades of fungus study. "There was this long-distance truck driver who lived in Petros," he recalls. "He was gone Monday through Friday, and was fine all week until he came home. When he was home, he had headaches and was just miserable. "He and his wife ended up in counseling, and he said that he knew what was wrong (he watched Oprah) - he hated his wife. " Well, the marriage counselor referred them to us, and we found mold in their crawl space. We removed the mold, and his headaches went away."

He says mold was not really a problem indoors until the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo. "It was an energy crisis, and to save energy, we tightened up our houses so they couldn't 'breathe.' TVA gave us incentives to tighten up our houses, but it has caused more air pollutants inside than you would find in downtown L.A." "Tighter building construction does not by itself promote mold growth," says Dr. Nathan Yost of Building Sciences Corp. "But tight construction combined with some poor choices in design, building materials or operations can increase the probability of mold growth. "The tighter the building construction, the less air exchange there is between the inside air and outside air. Whatever gets into the inside air from activities such as cooking, bathing and even breathing will remain in a tight house longer than it would in a loose house."

These factors have contributed to an onslaught of illnesses, Graham says, from ADD to fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. " You never even heard of those illnesses before the energy crisis," Graham says. The primary factor contributing to these problems is mold, he notes. "Not all molds are bad,: he says. "And mold is really one of God's great creations. It is a great recycler, and gets rid of lots of old dead leaves. The problem is that mold doesn't know the difference between a twig and an antique carpet."

According to the Household Mold Resource Center, a web site of the National Association of Home Builders, homeowners might have a mold problem if the home has experienced any of the following: a flood, a sewer back-up, an overflowing toilet, leaking pipes, a leaking roof or leaking windows, or if it has a humidifier or any other serious water-related problems.  Bleach, long believed to be mold's nemesis, is not the best solution, "It only kills mold on the surface". Furthermore, a report provided by the Knoxville Area Association of Realtors indicates that bleach kills and decolorizes mold, but will not remove it.  That same report says that the CDC, the EPA and the New York City Health Department all agree that bleach should not be used solely to clean up mold.

 It is estimated by several government and private health agencies that 2-18% of the general population is adversely affected by airborne mold spores. It is also estimated that 80% of all asthmatics are adversely affected by airborne fungal spores.



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Most Common Mycotoxins

Toxin

Found in these Molds

Problems caused

Trichothecenes:

 

 

 

 

 

T2

Penicillium,Stachybotrys,Aspergillus, and Fusarium

DNA,RNA inhibitors

 

 

Liver,kidney dysfunction

 

 

Respiratory inflammation

 

 

Immune suppression

 

 

 

Diacetoxyscrpenol

Penicillium,Stachybotrys,Aspergillus, and Fusarium

DNA,RNA inhibitors

 

 

Liver,kidney dysfunction

 

 

Respiratory inflammation

 

 

Immune suppression

 

 

 

Deoxynivalenol

Penicillium,Stachybotrys, Aspergillus, and Fusarium

DNA, RNA inhibitors

 

 

Liver, kidney dysfunction

 

 

Respiratory inflammation

 

 

Immune suppression

 

 

 

Nivalenol

Penicillium, Stachybotrys, Aspergillus, and Fusarium

DNA,RNA inhibitors

 

 

Liver,kidney dysfunction

 

 

Respiratory inflammation

 

 

Immune suppression

 

 

 

Zearalenone (F2)

Penicillium, Stachybotrys, Aspergillus, and Fusarium

Infertility

 

 

 

Zearalenol

Penicillium, Stachybotrys, Aspergillus, and Fusarium

DNA,RNA inhibitors

 

 

Liver,kidney dysfunction

 

 

Respiratory inflammation

 

 

Immune suppression

 

 

 

Fusarenon

Penicillium, Stachybotrys, Aspergillus, and Fusarium

DNA,RNA inhibitors

 

 

Liver,kidney dysfunction

 

 

Respiratory inflammation

 

 

Immune suppression

 

 

 

Aflatoxins:

 

 

 

 

 

B1

Penicillium and Aspergillus

Liver dysfunction

 

 

Carcinogenic

 

 

Respiratory inflammation

 

 

 

B2

Penicillium and Aspergillus

Liver dysfunction

 

 

Carcinogenic

 

 

Respiratory inflammation

 

 

 

G1

Penicillium and Aspergillus

Liver dysfunction

 

 

Carcinogenic

 

 

Respiratory inflammation

 

 

 

G2

Penicillium and Aspergillus

Liver dysfunction

 

 

Carcinogenic

 

 

Respiratory inflammation

 

 

 

Q1

Penicillium and Aspergillus

Liver dysfunction

 

 

Carcinogenic

 

 

Respiratory inflammation

 

 

 

Ochratoxins:

 

 

(fat soluble)

 

 

 

 

 

A

Penicillium and Aspergillus

Kidney dysfunction

 

 

Carcinogenic

 

 

 

B

Penicillium and Aspergillus

Kidney dysfunction

 

 

Carcinogenic



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MOLD GLOSSARY

Absidia sp.
A zygomycete fungus. Reported to be allergenic. May cause mucorosis in immune compromised individuals. The sites of infection are the lung, nasal sinus, brain, eye and skin. Infection may have multiple sites.

Acremonium sp. (Cephalosporium sp.)
Reported to be allergenic. Can produce a trichothecene toxin that is toxic if ingested. It was the primary fungus identified in at least two houses where the occupant complaints were nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Asexual state of Emericellopsis sp., Chaetomium sp., and Nectripsis sp. It can produce mycetomas, infections of the cornea and nails

Alternaria sp. 
Aw - 0.89. Conidia dimensions: 18-83 x 7-18 microns. A very common allergen with an   IgE mediated response. It is often found in carpets, textiles and on horizontal surfaces in building interiors. Often found on window frames. Outdoors it may be isolated from samples of soil, seeds and plants. It is commonly found in outdoor samples. The large spore size, 20 - 200 microns in length and 7 - 18 microns in sizes, suggests that the spores from these fungi will be deposited in the nose, mouth and upper respiratory tract. It may be related to bakers' asthma. It has been associated with hypersensitivity pneumonitis. The species Alternaria alternata is capable of producing tenuazonic acid and other toxic metabolites that may be associated with disease in humans or animals. Common cause of extrinsic asthma (immediate-type hypersensitivity: type I). Acute symptoms include edema and bronchiospasms; chronic cases may develop pulmonary emphysema.

Amerospore
A spherical or oval single-celled fungal spore that is practically unidentifiable by itself. Genera with this type of spore include, but are not limited to, Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Trichoderma.

For example, Penicillium is easily identifiable when sampling using culturing techniques. However, when sampling with non-culturing techniques, such as spore traps or tape-lifts, the free spores with no remnants of the fungal structure are indistinguishable from Aspergillus and various other genera that also produce small round and oval spores with little or no pigmentation. Due to this fact, Penicillium will often be categorized on laboratory reports in an "amerospore" and/or "Aspergillus/Penicillium" group.

Arthrinium sp.
Widespread saprophyte found on decomposing plant material, particularly grasses, and on soil. It is a white, fuzzy mold. It should be considered to be an allergen. This fungus has also been documented in various subcutaneous infections. No diseases related to toxic effects have been recorded to date.

Ascospore
A spore borne in a special cell called an ascus. Spores of this type are reported to be allergenic.

All ascomycetes, members of a group of fungi called Ascomycotina, have this type of spore. The minute black dots on rotting wood and leaves or the little cups on lichens are examples of ascomycetes; another is the "truffle" mushroom.

Aspergillus caesiellus
This species is only occasionally pathogenic.

Aspergillus candidus
Aw 0.75. Conidia dimensions: 2.5-4 microns. Found in warm soils, grain and in the secondary decay of vegetation. Associated with respiratory complaints in a recent house investigation. Can produce the toxin petulin that may be associated with disease in humans and other animals.

Aspergillus carneus
This species is only occasionally pathogenic.

Aspergillus clavatus
Conidia dimensions: 3-4.5 x 2.5-4.5 microns. Found in soils and animal manure.
Can produce the toxin petulin that may be associated with disease in humans and other animals. This species is only occasionally pathogenic.

Aspergillus deflectus
This species is only occasionally pathogenic.

Aspergillus flavus
Aw 0.78. Conidia dimensions: 3-6 microns or 3-5 microns. It grows on moldy corn and peanuts. It can be found in warm soil, foods and dairy products. Some strains are capable of producing a group of mycotoxins- in the aflatoxin group. Aflatoxins are known animal carcinogens. There is limited evidence to suggest that this toxin is a human carcinogen. The toxin is poisonous to humans by ingestion. It may also result in occupational disease via inhalation. Experiments have indicated that it is teratogenic and mutagenic. It is toxic to the liver. It is reported to be allergenic. Its presence is associated with reports of asthma. It can be found in water-damaged carpets. The production of the fungal toxin is dependent on the growth conditions and on the substrate used as a food source. This fungus is associated with aspergillosis of the lungs and/or disseminated aspergillosis. This fungus is occasionally identified as the cause of corneal, otomycotic and nasoorbital infections.

Aspergillus fumigatus
Aw 0.82; Optimum> 0.97. Conidia dimensions: 2-3.5 microns. Major cause of aspergillosis. This organism causes both invasive and allergic aspergillosis. Aspergillosis affects individuals who are immune compromised. It is considered a human pathogen. It grows well at 35 degrees C. It is commonly found outdoors in compost piles with temperatures higher than 40 degrees C, in mild to warm soils and on cereals.

Aspergillus glaucus
Conidia dimensions: 5-6.5 microns. Common outdoor fungus in the winter. It is reported to be allergenic. This species is only occasionally pathogenic. It can grow on leather. This fungus can grow at low moisture levels on grains, sugary food products, meat and wool. The ascomycetous state is Eurotium sp.

Aspergillus nidulans
Aw 0.78. Conidia dimensions: 2-4 microns. Found in mild to warm soils and on slowly decaying plants. Can produce the mycotoxin sterigmatocystin. This toxin has been shown to produce liver and kidney damage in lab animals. This fungus is associated with aspergillosis of the lungs and/or disseminated aspergillosis. This species is only occasionally pathogenic.

Asperillus niger Aw 0.77; Optimum> 0.97. Conidia dimensions: 3.5 - 5 microns or 4 to 5 microns. Less common cause of aspergillosis. It has a musty odor. It is commonly found in the environment on textiles, in soils, grains, fruits and vegetables. It has been reported to cause skin and pulmonary infections. It is a common cause of fungal related ear infections-otomycosis.

Aspergillus ochraceus
Aw 0.77. Conidia dimensions: 2.5 - 3 microns. Found in grains, soil and salted food products. It is not usually associated with decaying vegetation. Can produce a kidney toxin ochratoxin A that may produce ochratoxicosis in humans. This is also known as Balkan nephropathy. The toxin is produced at optimum growth conditions at 25 degrees C and high moisture conditions. The ochratoxin may also be produced by other Aspergillus sp. and Penicillium sp. Other toxins that can be produced by this fungus include penicillic acid, xanthomegnin and viomellein. These are all reported to be kidney and liver toxins.

Aspergillus oryzae
This species is only occasionally pathogenic.

Aspergillus parasiticus
Some strains are capable of producing a group of mycotoxins- in the aflatoxin group. Aflatoxins are known animal carcinogens. There is limited evidence to suggest that this toxin is a human carcinogen. The toxin is a poisonous to humans by ingestion. Experiments have indicated that it is teratogenic and mutagenic. It is toxic to the liver. The production of the fungal toxin is dependent on the growth conditions and on the substrate used as a food source.

Aspergillus/Penicillium
These are two of the most commonly found allergenic fungi in problem buildings.
Aspergillus comes in many varieties (species). Many of the varieties produce toxic substances. It may be associated with symptoms such as sinusitis, allergic bronchiopulmonary aspergillosis, and other allergic symptoms.

Penicillium is a variety of mold that is very common indoors and is found in increased numbers in problem buildings. It also has many varieties, some of which produce toxic substances. The symptoms are allergic reactions, mucous membrane irritation, headaches, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Because the spores of Aspergillus and Penicillium are very similar, they are not differentiated by microscopic analysis and are reported together.

Aspergillus penicilloides
Conidia dimensions: 3-3.5 x 4-5 microns. Can grow in areas with low water activity. It is found in house dust and food.

Aspergillus restrictus
This species is only occasionally pathogenic.

Aspergillus sp.
Aw 0.75 - 0.82. Reported to be allergenic. Members of this genus are reported to cause ear infections. Many species produce mycotoxins that may be associated with disease in humans and other animals. Toxin production is dependent on the species or a strain within a species and on the food source for the fungus. Some of these toxins have been found to be carcinogenic in animal species. Several toxins are considered potential human carcinogens. Common cause of extrinsic asthma (immediate-type hypersensitivity: type I). Acute symptoms include edema and bronchiospasms; chronic cases may develop pulmonary emphysema; may also be associated with sinusitis, allergic bronchiopulmonary aspergillosis, and other allergic symptoms.

Aspergillus sydowi
This species is only occasionally pathogenic.

Aspergillus terreus
Aw 0.78. Conidia dimensions: 1.8-2.4 microns or 2 - 2.5 microns. Aleurospores 6 - 7 microns in diameter are also produced. Found in warmer soil and in grains, straw, cotton and decomposing vegetation. Can produce the toxin patulin and citrinin that may be associated with disease in humans and other animals. This fungus is associated with aspergillosis of the lungs and or disseminated aspergillosis. Found as an isolate from otomycosis - ear infection, and onychomycosis - infection of finger or toenails.

Aspergillus ustus
This species is only occasionally pathogenic.

Aspergillus versicolor
Aw 0.78. Conidia dimensions: 2-3.5 microns. It is commonly found in soil, hay, cotton and dairy products. It can produce a mycotoxin sterigmatocystin and cyclopiaxonic acid. These toxins can cause diarrhea and upset stomach. It is reported to be a kidney and liver carcinogen. This species is only occasionally pathogenic.

Aureobasidium sp.
Found in soil, forest soils, fresh water, aerial portion of plants, fruit, marine estuary sediments, wood. Allergen, Type I allergies (hay fever, asthma). Type III hypersensitivity pneumonitis: "humidifier fever", "sauna taker's lung". Growth indoors is widespread  where moisture accumulates- especially bathrooms and kitchens- on shower curtains, tile grout, windowsills, textiles, liquid waste materials. Potential toxic production is not known. Rare reports of: isolates from skin lesions, keratitis, spleen abscess in a lymphoma patient, blood isolate from a leukemic patient.

Basidiomycetes
Members of a group of fungi called Basidiomycotina, which includes mushrooms and puffballs. They produce spores that are formed on the outside of a special cell called the basidium.

Basidiospore
Spore from basidiomycetes. Many varieties are reported to be allergenic.

Bipolaris sp.
A fungus with large spores that could be expected to be deposited in the upper respiratory tract. This fungus can produce the mycotoxin - sterigmatocystin, which has been shown to produce liver and kidney damage when ingested by laboratory animals.

Blastomyces sp.
Human pathogen. The fungus is commonly found in soil. It is a dimorphic fungus that has filamentous fungus when grown at 25 degrees C. and a yeast form at 37 degrees C.

Botrytis sp. Aw 0.93. Conidia dimensions: 7-14 x 5-9 microns. It is parasitic on plants and soft  fruits. Found in soil and on house plants and vegetables, it is also known as "gray mold".  It causes leaf rot on grapes, strawberries, lettuce, etc. It is a well-known allergen,  producing asthma type symptoms in greenhouse workers and "wine grower's lung".

Candida sp.
Part of the normal flora of mouth and other mucous membranes in the body. Thrush and other diseases caused by Candida albicans usually occur after prolonged treatment with antibiotics or steroids. The environment is not a likely source of exposure for this fungus. Cells from the organism are usually not airborne. Reported to be allergenic.

Cephalosporium sp.
See Acremonium sp.

Chaetomium sp.
Large ascomycetous fungus producing perithecia. It is found on a variety of substrates containing cellulose, including paper and plant compost. It has been found on paper in sheetrock. It can produce an Acremonium-like state on fungal media. Varieties are considered allergenic and have been associated with peritonitis, cutaneous lesions, and system mycosis.

Cladosporium fulvum (Fulvia fulva)
Conidia dimensions: 12-47 x 4-10 microns. It is found on the leaves of tomatoes.

Cladosporium herbarum
Aw 0.88. Conidia dimensions: 5-23 x 3-8 microns. It is found on dead plants, woody plants, food, straw, soil, paint and textiles.

Cladosporium macrocarpum
Conidia dimensions: 9-29 x 5-13 microns. It is found on dead plants, woody plants, food, straw, soil, paint, and textiles.

Cladosporium sp. (Hormodendrum sp.)
Aw 0.88; Aw 0.84. Most commonly identified outdoor fungus. The outdoor numbers are reduced in the winter. The numbers are often high in the summer. Often found indoors in numbers less than outdoor numbers. It is a common allergen. Indoor Cladosporium sp. may be different than the species identified outdoors. It is commonly found on the surface of fiberglass duct liners in the interior of supply ducts. A wide variety of plants are food sources for this fungus. It is found on dead plants, woody plants, food, straw, soil, paint, and textiles. Produces greater than 10 antigens. Antigens in commercial extracts are of variable quality and may degrade within weeks of preparation. Common cause of extrinsic asthma (immediate-type hypersensitivity: type I). Acute symptoms include skin lesions, eye ulceration, mycosis (including onychomycosis, an infection of the nails of the feet or hands) edema and bronchiospasms; chronic cases may develop pulmonary emphysema.

Cladosporium sphaerospermum
Conidia dimensions: 3-4.5 microns. It is found as a secondary invader of plants, food, soil, paint and textiles.

Conidium
A thin-walled, asexual spore that is borne exogenously on a conidiophore and is deciduous at maturity. (plural form: conidia.)

Conidia, unidentified
These are mold spores that do not show morphological characteristics that allow identification. Because there are tens of thousands of types of fungi, many fall into the "other" or "unknown" category. If they are present in significant numbers, additional measures can be taken to identify them. When spore counts are listed in the category: "Unidentified Conidia" their numbers are considered "normal".

Conidobolus sp.
Can cause a chronic inflammatory disease of the nasal mucosa (entomophthoromycosis).

Cryptococcus neoformans
A basidiomycetous encapsulated fungal organism found worldwide, mainly around pigeon roosts and soil contaminated with decaying pigeon or chicken droppings. It is generally accepted that the organism enters the host by the respiratory route in the form of a dehydrated haploid yeast or as basidiospores. Hematogenously spreading to extrapulmonary tissues, its predilection for the brain means infected persons usually contract meningoencephalitis, which can be fatal.

Cryptostroma corticale
Conidia dimensions: 4-6.5 x 3.5-4 microns. Found on the bark of maple and sycamore trees and on stored logs.

Cunninghamella sp.
Can cause disseminated and pulmonary infections in immune compromised hosts.

Curvularia sp.
Reported to be allergenic and has been associated with allergic fungal sinusitis. It may cause corneal infections, mycetoma, and infections in immune compromised hosts.

Dreschlera sp.
Conidia dimensions: 40-120 x 17-28 microns. Found on grasses, grains and decaying food. It can occasionally cause a corneal infection of the eye.

Epicoccum sp.
Conidia dimensions: 15-25 microns. A common allergen. It is found in plants, soil,  grains, textiles and paper products.

Epidermophyton sp.
Can cause infections of skin and nails.

Fungus
Neither animals nor plants, these saprophytic and parasitic spore-producing organisms rate a taxonomic kingdom of their own. Fungi include molds, rusts, mildews, smuts, mushrooms, puffballs, and yeasts. It is estimated that more than 1.5 million species of fungi exist.

Fusarium solani
Aw 0.90. Macroconidia dimensions: 27-52 x 4.4-6.8; Microcondia dimensions: 8-16 x 2-4 microns. Found in plants and soils. Can produce trichothecene toxins that may be associated with disease in humans and animals.

Fusarium sp.
Aw 0.90. A common soil fungus. It is found on a wide range of plants. It is often found  in humidifiers. Several species in this genus can produce potent trichothecene toxins. The trichothecene (scirpene) toxin targets the following systems: circulatory, alimentary, skin, and nervous. Produces vomitoxin on grains during unusually damp growing conditions. Symptoms may occur either through ingestion of contaminated grains or possibly inhalation of spores. The genera can produce hemorrhagic syndrome in humans (alimentary toxic aleukia). This is characterized by nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dermatitis, and extensive internal bleeding. Reported to be allergenic. Frequently involved in eye, skin, and nail infections.

Geotrichum sp.
Aw 0.90. Conidia dimensions: 6-12 x 3-6 microns. Aw 0.90. A common contaminant  of grains, fruits, dairy products, paper, textiles, soil, and water; often present as part of  the normal human flora. The species Geotrichum candidum can cause a secondary  infection (geotrichosis) in association with tuberculosis. This rare disease can  cause   lesions of the skin, bronchi, mouth, lung, and intestine.

Gliocladium sp.
A fungus that is structurally similar to Penicillium sp. It is reported to be allergenic.

Helminthosporium sp.
Reported to be allergenic.

Histoplasma sp.
A fungus that has filamentous growth at 25 degrees C. and yeast growth at 37 degrees C. It is reported to be a human pathogen. It may be associated with birds.

Humicula sp.
Grows on products with a high cellulose
content. These fungi are also found in soil and on plant debris.

Hyaline Mycelia
Sterile mycelia that is white or transparent. No fruiting structures are produced by the mycelia. Visual identification of these organisms is not possible. Often associated with allergic symptoms.

Memnoniella sp.
A cellulolytic fungus that is very closely related to Stachybotrys sp. Both fungi have a worldwide distribution and are often found together and are commonly found in soil. Recent studies on mycotoxins revealed that Memnoniella echinata can have a toxicity similar to that of some isolates of Stachybotrys chartarum. Both produce varying amounts of simple trichothecenes. Thus, it is suggested that Memnoniella sp. should also be considered potentially dangerous in indoor air. The major difference between the two fungi is that the conidia of Memnoniella sp. are in long persistent chains while those of Stachybotrys are aggregated in slimy heads. Also the aerodynamic diameter of Memnoniella sp. conidia is smaller and it would be expected to have an even greater potential to penetrate deep into lungs than the conidia of Stachybotrys sp.

Microsporum sp.
Causes ringworm in humans.

Mold
Molds are a group of organisms that belong to the taxonomic kingdom of Fungi. There are over 20,000 species of mold. Molds reproduce by making spores. Mold spores waft through the indoor and outdoor air continually. When mold spores land on a damp spot indoors, they may begin growing and digesting whatever they are growing on. Molds can grow on virtually any organic substance, as long as moisture and oxygen are present.

Monilia sp.
Reported to be allergenic. This fungus produces soft rot of tree fruits. Other members produce a red bread mold. It is infrequently involved in corneal eye infections.

Mucor sp.
Often found in soil, dead plant material, horse dung, fruits and fruit juice. It is also found  in leather, meat, dairy products, animal hair, and jute. A Zygomycetes fungus that may  be allergenic (skin and bronchial tests). This organism and other Zygomycetes will grow rapidly on most fungal media. May cause mucorosis in immune compromised individuals. The sites of infection are the lung, nasal sinus, brain, eye, and skin. Infection may have multiple sites.

Myxomycetes
Members of a group of fungi that are included in the category of "slime molds". They're occasionally found indoors, but mainly reside in forested regions on decaying logs, stumps, and dead leaves. Myxomycetes display characteristics of fungi and protozoans. In favorable (wet) conditions they exhibit motile, amoeba-like cells, usually bounded only by a plasma membrane, that are variable in size and form. During dry spells, they form a resting body (sclerotium) with dry, airborne spores. These fungi are not known to produce toxins, but can cause hay fever and asthma.

Nigrospora sp.
Commonly found in warm climates, this mold may be responsible for allergic reactions  such as hay fever and asthma. It is found on decaying plant material and in the soil. It is  not often found indoors.

Oidium sp.
The asexual phase of Erysiphe sp. It is a plant pathogen causing powdery mildews. It is very common on the leaves stems, and flowers of plants. The health effects and allergenicity have not been studied. It does not grow on non-living surfaces such as wood or drywall.

Paecilomyces sp.
Commonly found in soil and dust, less frequently in air. P. variotii can cause paecilomycosis. Linked to wood-trimmers disease and humidifier associated illnesses.  They are reported to allergenic. Some members of this genus are reported to cause  pneumonia. It may produce arsine gas if growing on arsenic substrate. This can occur on wallpapers covered with Paris green.

Papulospora sp.
These fungi are found in soil, textiles, decaying plants, manure, and paper.

Penicillium sp.
Aw 0.78 - 0.88. A wide number of organisms have been placed in this genus.  Identification to species is difficult. Often found in aerosol samples. Commonly found in  soil, food, cellulose and grains. It is also found in paint and compost piles. It may cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis, allergic alveolitis in susceptible individuals. It is reported to be allergenic (skin). It is commonly found in carpet, wallpaper, and in interior fiberglass duct insulation. Some species can produce mycotoxins. Common cause of extrinsic asthma (immediate-type hypersensitivity: type I). Acute symptoms include edema and bronchiospasms; chronic cases may develop pulmonary emphysema. It may also cause headaches, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Periconia sp.
Found in soil, blackened and dead herbaceous stems, leaf spots, grasses, rushes, and sedges. Almost always associated with other fungi. Rarely found growing indoors. Reportedly associated with a rare case of mycotic keratitis.

Perithecium
A fruiting body of a fungus in which some types of spores (including ascospores) are produced. (plural form: perithecia)

Peronospora sp.
These species are plant pathogens and the genus is one that causes downy mildews. Peronospora is very common and is an obligate parasite (obligate parasites cannot grow on non living environmental surfaces) found on leaves, stems, flowers, and fruits of living higher plants. Peronospora sp. may be identified in air on spore trap samples since spores have a distinctive morphology. The spores may also be seen in dust as part of the normal influx of outdoor microbial particles. As of this writing, allergenicity has not been studied and no information is available regarding health effects or toxicity.

Phoma sp.
A common indoor air allergen. It is similar to the early stages of growth of Chaetomium sp. The species are isolated from soil and associated plants (particularly potatoes). Produces pink and purple spots on painted walls. It may have antigens that cross-react with those of Alternaria sp. It will grow on butter, paint, cement, and rubber. It may cause phaeohyphomycosis a systematic or subcutaneous disease.

Pithomyces sp.
A common mold found on dead leaves, plants, soil and especially grasses. Causes facial eczema in ruminants. It exhibits distinctive multi-celled brown conidia. It is not know to be a human allergen or pathogen. It is rarely found indoors, although it can grow on paper.

Rhizomucor sp.
The Zygomycetous fungus is reported to be allergenic. It may cause mucorosis in immune compromised individuals. It occupies a biological niche similar to Mucor sp. It is often linked to occupational allergy. May cause mucorosis in immune compromised individuals. The sites of infection are the lung, nasal sinus, brain, eye, and skin. Infection may have multiple sites.

Rhizopus sp.
The Zygomycetous fungus is reported to be allergenic. It may cause mucorosis in immune compromised individuals. It occupies a biological niche similar to Mucor sp. It is often linked to occupational allergy. May cause mucorosis in immune compromised individuals. The sites of infection are the lung, nasal sinus, brain, eye, and skin. Infection may have multiple sites.

Rhodotorula sp.
A reddish yeast typically found in moist environments such as carpeting, cooling coils, and drain pans. In some countries it is the most common yeast genus identified in indoor air. This yeast has been reported to be allergenic. Positive skin tests have been reported. It has colonized terminally ill patients.

Rusts (and Smuts)
These fungi are associated with plant diseases. In the classification scheme of the fungi, the smuts have much in common with the rusts, and they are frequently discussed together. Both groups produce wind-borne, resistant teliospores that serve as the basis for their classification and their means of spread. Rusts usually attack vegetative regions (i.e., leaves and stems) of plants; smuts usually are associated with the reproductive structures (seeds). They can cause hay fever and asthma.

Saccharomyces sp.
Reported to be allergenic. Baker's yeast.

Scopulariopsis sp.
It may produce arsine gas if growing on arsenic substrate. This can occur on wallpapers covered with Paris green. It has been found growing on a wide variety of materials including house dust. It is associated with type III allergy.

Sepedonium
Most easily recognized by the spores, which are colorless to yellow, spiny, round, 1-celled, and produced singly at the ends of short filaments. Sometimes phialides of the Acremonium or Gabarnaudia type may also occur. A few species of Mortierella, as well as the human pathogen Histoplasma capsulatum, produce spores resembling those of Sepedonium. Isolated from soil, but most commonly parasitized mushrooms.

Serpula lacrymans
Common cause of extrinsic asthma (immediate-type hypersensitivity: type I). Acute symptoms include edema and bronchiospasms; chronic cases may develop pulmonary emphysema.

Smuts
See Rusts.

Spore
The means by which molds reproduce. Spores are microscopic (2-100 micrometers) and various shapes. Distribution can be accomplished by a breeze, water droplet, or a person or animal passing by. They can even be discharged by the mold (usually under moist conditions or high humidity).

Sporobolomyces sp.
Reported to be allergenic.

Sporothrix sp.
Can cause sporotrichosis, but usually only in populations that are immune compromised.

Sporotrichum sp.
Reported to be allergenic. See also Sporothrix sp. for there is some taxonomic  confusion between these two genera. This genus does not cause sporotrichosis

Stachybotrys sp.
Aw - 0.94 , optimum Aw ->0.98. Several strains of this fungus (S. atra, S. chartarum  and S. alternans are synonymous) may produce a trichothecene mycotoxin- Satratoxin  H - which is poisonous by inhalation. The toxins are present on the fungal spores. This is  a slow growing fungus on media. It does not compete well with other rapidly growing fungi. The dark colored fungus grows on building material with a high cellulose content and a low nitrogen content. Areas with a relative humidity above 55%, and are subject to temperature fluctuations, are ideal for toxin production.
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 generalized malaise. Other symptoms include coughs, rhinitis, nosebleed, a burning sensation in the nasal passages, throat, and lungs, and fever. The toxins produced by this fungus will suppress the immune system affecting the lymphoid tissue and the bone marrow. Animals injected with the toxin from this fungus exhibited the following symptoms: necrosis and hemorrhage within the brain, thymus, spleen, intestine, lung, heart, lymph node, liver, and kidney. Affects by absorption of the toxin in the human lung are known as pneumomycosis.

This organism is rarely found in outdoor samples. It is usually difficult to find in indoor air samples unless it is physically disturbed (or possibly -this is speculation- a drop in the relative humidity). The spores are in a gelatinous mass. Appropriate media for the growth of this organism will have a high cellulose content and a low nitrogen content. The spores will die readily after release. The dead spores are still allergenic and toxigenic. Percutaneous absorption has caused mild symptoms.

Stemphylium sp.
Reported to be allergenic. Isolated from dead plants and cellulose materials.

Syncephalastrum sp.
Can cause a respiratory infection characterized by a solid intracaitary fungal ball.

Torula sp.
Found outdoors in air, soil, on dead vegetation, wood, and grasses. Also found indoors on cellulosic materials. Reported to be allergenic and may cause hay fever and asthma.

Trichoderma sp.
It is commonly found in soil, dead trees, pine needles, paper, and unglazed ceramics. It often will grow on other fungi. It produces antibiotics that are toxic to humans. It has been reported to be allergenic. It readily degrades cellulose.

Trichophyton sp.
Can cause ringworm; athlete's: foot, skin, nail, beard and scalp. Reported to be allergenic. Found on soil and skin.

Trichothecium sp.
Aw 0.90. Conidia dimensions: 12-23 x 8-10 microns. Found in decomposing vegetation, soil, corn seeds, and in flour. The species Trichothecium roseum can produce a trichothecene toxin that may be associated with disease in humans and other animals. Reported to be allergenic.

Tritirachium sp.
Reported to be allergenic.

Ulocladium sp.
Aw 0.89. Isolated from dead plants and cellulose materials. Found on textiles.

Verticillium sp.
Conidia dimensions: 2.3-10 x 1-2.6 microns. Found in decaying vegetation, on straw, soil and arthropods. A rare cause of corneal infections.

Wallemia sp.
Aw 0.75. Conidia dimensions: 2.5-3.5 microns. Found in sugary foods, salted meats, dairy products, textiles, soil, hay and fruits.

Yeast
Various yeasts are commonly identified on air samples. Some yeasts are reported to be allergenic. They may cause problems if a person has had previous exposure and developed a hypersensitivity. Yeasts may be allergenic to susceptible individuals when present in sufficient concentrations.

 



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