Molds, Mycotoxins and Your Health
Mycotoxins are toxins produced by molds or fungi. The mycotoxins discussed here are the Trichothecenes, Aflatoxins, Ochratoxins, Gliotoxin, Chaetoglobosins and Sterigmatocystin. Where conditions are right, fungi proliferate into colonies and mycotoxin levels become high. Toxins vary greatly in their severity. Some fungi produce severe toxins only at specific levels of moisture, temperature or oxygen in the air. Some toxins are lethal, some cause identifiable diseases or health problems, some weaken the immune system without producing symptoms specific to that toxin, some act as allergens or irritants, and some have no known effect on humans. Some mycotoxins generally have more negative impacts on farm animal populations than on humans. Some mycotoxins are harmful to other micro-organisms such as other fungi or even bacteria (penicillin is one example).
A. fumigatus is frequently found in homes and buildings. It is considered to be an opportunistic pathogen, meaning it rarely infects healthy individuals, but is the leading cause of invasive aspergillosis (IA) in immunocompromised individuals such as cancer, HIV or transplant patients. A. fumigatus produces Gliotoxin, an immunosuppressive mycotoxin.
C. globosum is a common indoor fungal contaminant of water damaged homes or buildings. It is found on wet drywall, wall-paper, carpets, window frames and baseboards. Like Stachybotrys, C. globosum spores are relatively large and due to their mode of release are not as easily airborne as other molds. Mycotoxins produced by C. globosum include chaetoglobosin A & C.
A. versicolor is one of the most frequently found molds in water damaged buildings. Spores of A. Versicolor are detected and quantified in the ERMI (Environmental Relative Moldiness Index) test by Real Time PCR. A. versicolor is known to produce a mycotoxin called sterigmatocystin.