Molds thrive in wet areas or have a food source such as drywall, carpet and insulation. Molds chomp away at these materials, creating musty smells and light stains.
Some of these molds release VOCs or toxins that can affect the health of sensitive people. Lengthier exposure heightens the risk associated with mold. It’s advised to especially check in on older folks who may not realize that this dangerous growth exists inside their home. The following are some of the most well known molds, but is hardly the most complete list.
Acremonium is a large and diverse genus with more than 100 species, most of which are saprophytes. It grows on various substrates and has been found in lichenicolous associations.
It often appears as a white, grey, orange or pink colored mold and has a velvety texture. This mold is particularly common in areas of a home or business with constant moisture, such as air conditioning vents, humidifiers and around window seals.
Like most other molds, this one thrives in damp or wet conditions and can spread quickly if left untreated. It is a common cause of respiratory problems and has been known to lead to serious illness in those with compromised immune systems. If you suspect a problem with this mold, contact a professional for inspection and mold mitigation. This type of mold can also damage furniture, carpets and drywall. It can also irritate the skin and eyes. It is a common allergen known to cause severe skin allergies in some individuals.
Mucor is a mold that can affect a person’s health, depending on the type and extent of exposure. It is generally not toxic to healthy people but can cause serious infections in those with compromised immune systems.
Mucor can be found worldwide in organic soil, decaying fruits and vegetables and other foods. It is a saprophyte, meaning it lives in organic material’s decomposition. Mucor forms a thick-walled, globose sporangium containing uninucleate haploid sporangiospores. In sexual reproduction, compatible strains fuse and develop short specialized hyphal filaments called gametangia that produce a spherical zygosporangium with a column-shaped extension called the columella.
Mucor grows rapidly in nutrient-rich environments. It can utilize various carbon sources and ferments: pentoses, hexoses, disaccharides, trisaccharides, polysaccharides, alcohols and organic acids. Mucor can also grow at high temperatures and in the presence of saline, ammonium, sodium bicarbonate and nitrogen fertilizer. Its sporangiospores are airborne and can invade the nose, sinuses, brain, gastrointestinal tract, skin, and lungs, causing opportunistic infections known as mucormycosis.
Stachybotrys chartarum, also known as black mold, can be found in many homes and buildings. It is a toxigenic fungus that produces mycotoxins, including satratoxins and atranones. This fungus can cause several health symptoms, including irritation of the eyes, skin, nose and throat; respiratory distress such as coughing, sneezing and wheezing; headaches; chronic fatigue; a drop in leukocyte counts; and nausea and vomiting.
Unlike common molds, which typically require 35% and 70% humidity, Stachybotrys prefers a general humidity of 90% or higher. This is why it stays in water-damaged buildings longer than other molds. When this fungus is disturbed, it will release its spores into the air. Despite this, these spores are more difficult to become airborne than other mycotoxins because they are “sticky.” It takes much more force to disrupt the colony, such as slamming a door or opening a window. It’s easy to identify if this is the case by streaking conidia on wet Whatman filter paper.
Many different species of Aspergillus grow in soil, hay, vegetation, grains and other foods. Some produce secondary metabolites known as mycotoxins, which can cause disease in people. Large doses of aflatoxins (produced by Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus) can cause acute poisoning (aflatoxicosis).
Fungi can also contaminate water supplies and food production. Aspergillus can grow from 68 degrees up to over 100 degrees and is highly tolerant of moist conditions.
Inhaling Aspergillus spores can lead to asthma symptoms such as watery eyes, runny nose, itching, cough and wheezing. In addition, Aspergillus spores have a physical structure that allows them to bypass mucociliary clearance in the respiratory tract and reach deeper into the lung. Those with certain lung diseases, such as cystic fibrosis or asthma, are more susceptible to Aspergillus infections. For this reason, it’s important to maintain proper humidity levels and keep your home clean of mold.