If all mold were deadly, penicillin would not have pioneered antibiotics. There are three different types of mold: allergenic, pathogenic and toxic. These are categorized by their effects on our health. If you can believe it, according to scientists, there are over 100,000 species of mold. While some are harmless, some are so dangerous that their mycotoxins are used in biochemical warfare. Yes, mold!
BLACK– usually found in warm/moist environments like kitchens, basements, showers, toilets/baths, and releases mycotoxins (aspergillus).
WHITE- grows in water damaged areas and lacks spore pigmentation, difficult to identify as it blends in with the material it grows on.
YELLOW- bright and slimy mold, mainly breeds/grows on wood, food, walls & tiles.
GREEN- thousands of different species with significant health risks (cladosporium).
ORANGE- not life threatening, but will spoil stored food and damage house structures, likes to grow on cheese, yogurt and bread.
BROWN-looks like dark patches on surface tile/wood, spores can affect asthmatic or allergic people.
PINK-thrives in a humid environment (bathrooms/kitchens), produces spores in the winter/spring when humidity is greatest.
Allergenic molds activate an inflammatory response in the respiratory system which affects about 25% of the population. This mold is relatively harmless compared to pathogenic mold which can cause certain infections or diseases, especially if you have a weak, compromised, or suppressed immune system. Toxic mold however, produces what we affectionately call mycotoxins: the poisonous, gas-like chemicals dangerous to humans. So dangerous in fact, exposure can lead to long term illness depending on the individual. There are hundreds of thousands of mold species out there, but here are some common toxic mold varieties that may sound familiar:
Mycotoxins from this mold can cause the lungs to bleed.
Fatal to infants and animals.
Hard to detect/resistant to air sampling.
Develops behind walls/ceilings.
Powdery in appearance, spreads fast.
Associated with tuberculosis and pulmonary infections.
Allergen that causes itchy eyes, fatigue and chronic headaches.
Most species are non-pathogenic: subspecies however, are associated with liver and pulmonary infections.
Contains lethal enzyme that can destroy wood, textiles and paper products leading to rot or even building crumbling.
Difficult to differentiate infections from aspergillus.
Opportunistic infections can cause brain abscess, liver infection, necrotizing stomatitis, skin infections.
Known to produce a variety of volatile and bioactive metabolites which creates the strong smell of must and dust.
Several species are allergenic and pathogenic.
Often the cause of nail and skin infections, pulmonary mycosis, cerebral infections.
Produces two different mycotoxins but their effects on humans is unknown.
Mostly found in plant debris–considered a mold parasite.
Have caused huge agricultural losses in India, USA and UK.
Some spores from this genus can attach themselves to the upper lining of the respiratory tract, this creates a persistent allergic reaction that will damage the sinuses permanently.
Grows closely with Stachybotrys.
Known to cause eye and skin infections.
Results from flooding by water contaminated with sewage.
Mostly grows on food products, water damaged material, carpets, wallpaper and compost.
Causes plant diseases in small grain crops, nuts, wheat, maize, soybeans and legumes.
Its toxins damage humans nervous system and create internal bleeding.
Extended exposure can lead to bone infections and brain abscesses.
Grows in wet/water damaged areas like carpets and wood.
May appear growing alongside cladosporium.
Has morphological characteristics due to genetic instability so it can thrive in rainforests, indoors, fruit, fresh water or even freezing salt water.
Can survive freezing temps and thrives in warm climates.
Infants are especially sensitive.
Symptoms are rough skin, postnasal drip, fungal sinusitis, sinus headache, chest pain, pulmonary infections, nose-eyes-throat itch.