There are many thousands of mold species in existence around the world – with many of them being not only toxic to your health but also destructive to your home. In this article we will focus on the 11 most common types of household mold
The slow growing and foul smelling Acremonium mold consists of around 100 species. It’s natural habitat is outdoors on soil and dead plants but can easily grow indoors if the humidity levels are high enough. Some species of Acremonium merely act as an allergen while others produce a highly toxic mycotoxin known as Trichothecene. Interestingly, it’s also used in biological warfare weapons.
Acremonium mold comes in various colors and can be either a bright orange, white, gray or even pink. One can also tell how long its been there by looking at its texture; if it appears slimy or wet then its relatively new, however if it has a powdery texture it means its been there for a while. Common indoor places where it grows includes basements, wallpaper, carpets, mattresses, inside air conditioning systems and drywall.
The majority of acremonium species are mostly harmless to humans but there are three species who are responsible for human infections. Symptoms from these infections may include hay fever, skin rashes, asthma, immune system damage, brain damage, internal organ damage, bone marrow damage, pneumonia and urinary tract infection.
Alternaria is a mold that is found both indoors and outdoors. There are believed to be over 50 species and it’s spores are spread easily by wind which is how it effortlessly finds its way into so many homes, especially in the US. It mostly affects crops and small animals while human infections are rare. The mold grows without much water on surfaces like wallpaper and drywall. The type of toxin it produces depends on the species; some examples include alternariol, alternariol monomethylether, tenuazonic acid, and altertoxins. It can appear in green, black or gray colors.
Asthma, hay fever, skin disease, chronic rhinosinusitis and woodworkers lung.
Aspergillus is another common mold type which consists of several hundred different species; with 16 of them being highly toxic to humans. It thrives in cold wintery conditions but can withstand heat too. In general, most species don’t really pose a threat to healthy individuals. It can create serious problems though if you have an impaired immune system, are an infant or are elderly.
The most toxic species are found both indoors and outdoors, and produce a mycotoxin called aflatoxins. When these spores are breathed in it can cause serious health effects. Outdoor birds and insects sometimes fall victim to these toxins. Aspergillus can be found on damp walls, leather, various plastics, soil, wallpaper, carpets, inside ventilation systems and even dust among many others.
There exists many hundreds of species but there are only 16 you should be really worried about. Symptoms from toxic aspergillus species may include hay fever, asthma, bleeding of the lungs, infection / destruction of facial bones, cystic fibrosis, cancer and aspergillosis.
Bipolaris mold is very common and is mostly found outdoors on soil, grass and plants. There are 20 species and they produce a mycotoxin known as sterigmatocystin which has adverse health effects on humans and animals.
Hay fever, asthma, permanent sinus damage, liver damage, kidney damage and DNA damage.
Cladosporium mold grows in winter and summer conditions and can be found indoors as well as outdoors. It’s one the least toxic molds and causes no serious health issues. There are around 30 cladosporium species which comes in either a brown, green or black (not toxic black mold) color.
It’s often found growing on wood, plants, soil, window sills, sheetrock and bathrooms. The two types of toxins Cladosporium produces are cladosporin and emodin (neither are highly toxic).
Sinus, sneezing, tight chest, difficulty breathing, eye irritation and aspergillosis.
Memnoniella mold, along with Stachybotrys mold are the two dreaded toxic black molds on the list. This fungi, just like Stachybotrys is highly toxic and not a species you want growing in your home. The memnoniella species is almost identical to Stachybotrys and the only real difference between the two is that former has smaller spores. The problem with smaller mold spores is that its easier to breathe in and penetrate the linings of the lungs. It’s most often found in places where there has been water damage. Surfaces memnoniella can be found growing on includes drywall and wallpaper. Short term memnoniella exposure is not too serious but the longer you breathe in the spores the more serious your symptoms will become.
Throat irritation,asthma, headaches, skin rashes, itchy throat, erosion of the autoimmune system, itchy and burning eyes.
Mucor mold is a fast growing mold that can be identified by a white and sometimes grey color. It can be found outdoors and indoors. Outdoors it grows on plants, hay and soil while indoors in HVAC systems, wood surfaces and dirty carpets. Mucor also grows on rotting fruit and stale bread. The majority of the 50 Mucor mold species only grows in low temperatures therefore stale food items kept in refrigerators are susceptible.
Most mucor mold species are unable to infect humans and other mammals thanks to its inability to grow in warm conditions. The Mucor indicus species is the exception and can withstand warmer temperatures thus is most likely to affect humans. The mold itself is not toxic but in severe cases of long term exposure symptoms can include septic arthiritis, eye infections, skin infections, brain infections and nasal passage infections. Consuming stale bread with mucor growth can and usually does create problems with the digestive system.
Certain species of penicillium mold can be disastrous to your health, yet at the same time it has saved millions of lives thanks to its use as the penicillin antibiotic. There are about 200 species in existence, some of which produces the highly toxic mycotoxins. It’s a mold that can be found worldwide but has been known to be especially problematic in the South East Asia region. It can be recognized by its blue, yellow or green colors. Penicillium mold can be commonly found growing on fruits, vegetables, soil, leather surfaces, wood surfaces and wallpaper.
Penicillium, once airborne can be a potential threat to humans but serious infections are very rare. Most species would flare up your allergies and the longer you are exposed to it the worse your symptoms will become. Certain species who produce mycotoxins pose a much bigger threat. Some of these include verrucosum, patulin, citrinin, citreoviridin, penitrem and verrucosidin.
The effects of these toxic penicillium mold species have never been confirmed in humans but in animals they cause symptoms such as cancer, kidney damage, haemorrhage and in some cases even paralysis.
Stachybotrys mold, epecially the Stachybotrys chartarum species is the single most toxic black mold you can have in your home. In total there are 50 Stachybotrys species in existence and although it’s not as common as other types its not all that rare either. Stachybotrys has a greenish-black appearance and commonly grows on dust, wood, wallpaper and many other surfaces. It thrives in hot humid conditions, especially after flooding has taken place.
Health symptoms caused by Stachybotrys include skin infections, burning of the eyes and throat, watering eyes and coughing. In more severe cases it causes the supression of the immune system, damage to internal organs, memory loss, various neurological disorders, concentration problems and even vommiting.
If this mold has been detected in your home it’s best to evacuate all people and animals from the building and let a proffessional deal with the mold removal process.
Trichoderma mold grows fast and thrives in warm temperatures. Most species are commonly found outdoors on vegetation and soil but the toxic Trichoderma longibrachiatum species are usually found inside homes. When inside homes it usually grows on carpets, wood surfaces, stored foods, wallpaper and air conditioning units.
Every Trichodermamold species has adverse effects on people. The health effects include coughing, pneumonia, sneezing, asthma and sore throats.
There is not a lot known about ulocladium mold and neither is it known wether or not it produces toxins. It’s spores are often mistaken for Alternaria spores when a mold test is done. Ulocladium needs a lot of water before it forms and grows on straw materials, tapestries, wallpaper, gypsum board and painted surfaces. It’s also known to be more destructive to your home than other molds.
Some ulocladium species merely trigger allergies while others has much more serious effects. Typical symptoms include fever, itchy and burning eyes, eye infections and skin infections.