What Type Of Mold Is Affecting You?
More often than not, the question is not if, but what type of mold is affecting you. The humid Southwest Florida temps are perfect for mold to grow. Households and commercial structures are easily affected in our area. The most common question is, “how dangerous is the mold in my building?”. Most people hear the word mold and assume the worst: The infamous “toxic black mold.” However, there are thousands of species of molds, including some black molds that are non-toxic. Toxic molds are those that produce deadly mycotoxins intended to kill other organisms in defense to ensure its survival. There are generally three types of mold groups: Allergenic, Pathogenic, and Toxic.
Allergenic molds are one of the most common mold types discovered in areas where allergy and asthma sufferers begin experiencing symptoms that cause them to investigate for the source. Allergenic molds release mold spore allergens that spark allergy and asthma responses in those affected. Around 20%-30% of the population is susceptible to mold and other common allergens, leaving behind hay fever-like symptoms. For the people that do not suffer from allergies or asthma, the small number of allergens produced by common allergenic molds does not affect their health. When a person is allergic to mold, the allergens released create an inflammatory response in the respiratory system, causing flare-ups of wheezing or coughing.
Common Allergenic Mold: Penicillium is a common allergenic mold that is easily identified by its musty odor. This fungus, found on spoiled food, fabrics, and building materials, can cause allergenic reactions in a typical household. Penicillium tends to be shades of blue, green, and white and has been known to grow on cooling coils in air conditioning units as well as interior fiberglass liners, leaving you with allergens spread through your ventilation system.
Pathogenic molds are known as opportunistic molds that cause certain diseases and infections in the body. While a person with a regular healthy immune system may be able to fight off the pathogens released by these molds, infants, the elderly, and those with suppressed immune systems become compromised. When this reaction occurs, the opportunity for the pathogen to take hold and cause serious illness rises, thus the name “opportunistic molds.”
Common Pathogenic Mold: Aspergillus is a fungus whose spores are commonly found in the air but do not typically cause illness to healthy individuals. However, those with compromised immune systems can experience asthma and respiratory disease flare-ups, as well as aspergillosis. Aspergillosis is an infection, most commonly in the lungs, caused by Aspergillus. This illness forms a ball of blood clots, white blood cells, and fungus fibers that block areas of the lungs or sinuses.
Toxic molds spread mycotoxins, a poisonous (toxic) chemical that is dangerous to humans and animals alike. Allergenic and pathogenic molds do not deliberately release harmful chemicals to hurt other organisms; the harm their category causes is simply a side effect of its species. Toxic molds intentionally cause damage as a defense mechanism to survive in most environments. Mycotoxins are known to be one of the deadliest chemicals on Earth, causing temporary illness or irritation, or long-term or permanent illnesses depending on the individual and level of exposure. The most common forms of exposure are inhalation, skin contact, and ingestion. Simply breathing the air in your home can cause severe illnesses if toxicity in the air is present.
Common Toxigenic Mold: Stachybotrys, the nefarious “black mold” everyone fears, is one of the most harmful toxic molds found in a home. The mycotoxins released by this species are known to cause fatal effects such as bleeding lungs. This type of black mold is usually tricky to detect and hides behind walls and under ceilings and can be resistant to regular air sampling.
If you believe you are being affected by mold in your home, reach out to Mold Inspectors Of Florida to schedule an inspection.