Molds can grow in many different areas of a building. Any location that is damp for a long time can experience mold issues. Because mold reproduces quickly, the growth can quickly take over large spaces, even entire rooms. Some molds can also cause health issues for anyone who spends long periods breathing in airborne spores. Though you should take steps to avoid any type of mold, it is important to know which specific molds are dangerous to your health.
The three main types of molds are allergenic, pathogenic, and toxigenic. Allergenic molds are the least severe, rarely causing illnesses. Allergenic molds can exacerbate allergies, however. People can inhale the airborne spores and experience allergic reactions. The most common allergenic molds are alternaria, aspergillus, Cladosporium, and penicillium.
Alternaria molds most frequently grow outdoors but can also appear indoors on moist areas. They usually look like dark spots. Alternaria molds outdoors are less likely to exacerbate allergies but it is important to keep an eye out for them in enclosed areas. When damp, surfaces such as iron, tile, brick, wallpaper, and a variety of others can grow alternaria molds.
Aspergillus molds generally only affect people with weak immune systems. However, as the most common areas for them to appear are in hospitals, they often cause issues. Without a strong immune system to fight the airborne spores, people who breathe in aspergillus molds may experience severe allergic reactions.
Cladosporium molds are some of the most common molds around the world. They grow in indoor damp areas such as painted walls, wallpaper, carpet, HVAC fans, wet insulation, and wood.
Penicillium, another common allergenic mold genus, is blue-green in color. Certain types of penicillium molds are used to create the antibiotic penicillin.
Pathogenic molds are more dangerous than allergenic molds, but do not automatically cause serious health issues. The most common pathogenic molds are certain species of aspergillus allergenic molds, cryptococcus neoformans, and histoplasma capsulatum.
Most species of aspergillus molds are mild allergenics; however, A. fumigatus and A. flavus are pathogenic. A. fumigatus can cause aspergillosis and chronic pulmonary infections. There is much less information about A. flavus, but it is most frequently present in hospitals.
Cryptococcus neoformans can usually cause health issues in people who already have weak immune systems. If inhaled by someone with a poor immune system, it can cause an infection.
Histoplasma capsulatum can cause histoplasmosis and pneumonia when inhaled. If the person exposed has a weak immune system, histoplasma capsulatum can cause a potentially fatal infection that can spread throughout the body. Because it usually comes from the soil, large construction projects can cause spores to enter the air.
Toxigenic molds are the most threatening of the three types. They can create mycotoxins, which can be inhaled and lead to serious health issues in both humans and animals. The most common types of toxigenic molds come from species such as: fusarium, penicillium, aspergillus, and stachybotrys chartarum or “black mold.” Though a serious issue, not all toxic molds cause mycotoxin outbreaks.
Not all molds pose severe health threats to you and your family. However, it is important to take care of any mold growth that you see, as it could be a toxic species. To take preventive measures against mold outbreaks and feel confident that you are protecting your family from airborne mold, freshen your air with AirBox air purifiers.