Top Five Types of Mold

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Top Five Types of Mold

There are many types of mold. Some are not toxic but many are. Although each of us is exposed to them daily, some have a higher sensitivity to them, such as immune-comprised people, small children and the elderly. The molds that are the most toxic are what are typically classified as “black mold” or “toxic black mold”. The four most common toxic molds are: Penicillium, Aspergillus, Cladosporium, Stachybotrys & Chaetomium.  We tend to see these frequently in homes with severe moisture and mold issues.  Neither mold nor mold spores actually are the cause of illness/allergies. Rather, it is the mycotoxins that are released into the air.

A 1999 Mayo Clinic Study cites molds as the cause of most of the chronic sinus infections that inflict 37 million Americans each year. Recent studies also link molds to the soaring asthma rate. Molds have been an under recognized health problem, but that is changing. Health-care professionals now know that molds can cause allergies, trigger asthma attacks and increase susceptibility to colds and flu. Anyone with a genetic predisposition can become allergic if exposed repeatedly to high enough levels. Last year Dr. David Sherris at the Mayo Clinic performed a study of 210 patients with chronic sinus infections and found that most had allergic fungal sinusitis. The prevailing medical opinion has been that mold accounted for 6 to 7 percent of all chronic sinusitis. The Mayo Clinic study found that it was 93 percent - the exact reverse. Source: Newsweek, 12/4/00

The Five Most Commonly Found Molds & Their Health Effects:

Penicillium: One of the most common molds found on water-damaged building materials, such as; wallpaper, carpet, plywood, drywall & composite board. Also common in decaying food products like cereal, fruit, cheeses, meat & spices. May also be found in AC systems, water intrusion areas, and flood areas with extended elevated humidity, on shoes, clothes and furniture, cardboard boxes in a damp basement, etc.
Did you know? Penicillium mold is used to make penicillin. It was accidentally discovered that it could be used as an anti-fungal drug, although many have allergic reactions to this drug, although typically rare.
Health Effects: Hay fever, asthma, lung inflammation.

Aspergillus: This can be found anywhere. The spores are microscopically small and light weight, causing them to float effortlessly through the air. This is why Aspergillus spreads so easily. Some species carry mycotoxins & VOC gases.
Health Effects: Anyone with a weakened immune system is more prone to this mold, causing an infection known as Aspergillosis. These mold spores can grow in your lungs or an open wound, which, if not treated in those with weakened immune systems, can be fatal. Other symptoms of exposure include: headaches, trouble sleeping, itching, rashes, fatigue and other neurological complaints, and respiratory and asthmatic symptoms.  In general, most people’s bodies treat Aspergillus as a foreign object, thus destroying it. Aspergillus was recognized as one of the pathogens in the outbreak of fungal Aspergillus Meningitis and other fungal infections linked with contaminated steroid needles.
Another disease associated with Aspergillus is “Farmer’s Lung” due to working around moldy hay, straw or grain. Affects include flu-like symptoms, scarred lung tissue, coughing, wheezing, sneezing, sudden feeling of illness, cold, asthma, flu, or even pneumonia. If treated in the early stages and limited exposure is instituted, the effects can be lessened.

Cladosporium:  It can be found mostly in moist areas, on organic matter (wallpaper, carpet, fans, walls with acrylic-based paint, wallpaper, mattress dust, HVAC fans & cooling units) & are common in the environment. This is not associated as a “toxic black mold”. It is also known as one of the top allergenic molds and is renowned for triggering asthma attacks.
Health Effects: Cladosporium can cause various types of infections such as: skin, eye, sinus & brain. May also be associated with chronic allergies and asthma.

Stachybotrys Chartarum (Aka: The Toxic Indoor Mold):  A genus of molds which derives from the Greek words “stachy” & “botrys”. “Stachy” (progeny/descendants), “Botrys” (cluster or bunch of grapes). Most famous species of this mold include: S. Chartarum and Chlorochalonata which are also known as “black mold” or “toxic black mold”. These are linked with poor indoor air quality that arises after fungal growth on water-damaged building materials (plywood, wallpaper, drywall & carpet). Stachybotrys has also been associated with “Sick Building Syndrome”.
Health Effects: Mild-Nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing & skin irritation. Severe-Fever, shortness of breath, fungal ling infections. Extreme-Can and do occur to those with immune-mediated conditions.

Chaetomium:  Allergenic mold found in wet or leaking areas. Chaetomium grows on wood, window frames, baseboards, wallpaper, carpets and wet drywall. Found frequently on wood beams in attics and basements. May have velvety, mounded appearance. Can emit a musty odor.  Begins as at first white, becoming gray to a grayish olive to dark olive green with olive brown to black converse color. Is typically a sign of severe water damage.
Health Effects:  Very rare for most. Tend to only occur in those with immune-compromised systems & may affect their central nervous system.

For more great, in-depth information on mold types, check out Mold & Bacterial Consulting Laboratories’ website:

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