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Molds, Bacteria and other Hazards

What is Mold
  -  How does it affect your health  -  How are you exposed to it      Stachybotrys chartum  -  PenicilliumCladosporium
Aspergillus terreus  -  Alternaria sp  - Dust Mites

What is mold and where is it found?
Molds (fungi) are present EVERYWHERE -indoors and outdoors. They serve an important, positive role, by helping to break down organic matter. There are more than 100,000 species of mold. At least 1,000 species of molds are common in the U.S.

Some of the most common molds found are species of Cladosporium, Penicillium, and Aspergillus.  Mold is most likely to grow where there is water or dampness -- such as in bathrooms and basements.

How can molds affect your health?
The most common types of mold are generally not hazardous to healthy individuals.  However, people who have asthma, hay fever, or other allergies or have weakened immune systems are more likely to react to mold.  The most common symptoms are running nose, eye irritation, cough, congestion, and aggravation of asthma.  A small percentage of the population can develop more serious effects -- such as fevers and breathing difficulties -- but these effects are uncommon.  Some types of mold can cause more serious health problems, but this is much more rare.

How can you be exposed to mold?
When moldy material becomes damaged or disturbed, spores (reproductive bodies similar to seeds) can be released into the air.  Exposure can occur if people inhale the spores or directly handle mold-containing material and accidentally ingest it.  Some molds can produce chemicals called mycotoxins.  Mycotoxins may cause illness in persons who are sensitive to them (for example, persons who are prone to allergies) or when persons are exposed to large amounts in the air (typically associated with certain occupations).

Stachybotrys chartum atra (pronounced Stack-ee-BOOT-ris) is an especially lethal mold that produces airborne toxins or mycotoxins that can cause serious breathing difficulties, memory and hearing loss, dizziness, flu like symptoms and bleeding in the lungs.  It is black mold which grows in damp areas of buildings and homes in the presence of cellulose fibers, is increasingly being identified as a problem in the investigation of sick building syndrome (SBS) nationwide.  Symptoms associated with this mold include increased prevalence of eye, skin, respiratory organ problems and neurological impairments.

Penicillium Commonly found in soil, food, cellulose and grains.  It is also found in paint and compost piles.  It may cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis, allergic alveolitis in susceptible individuals.  It is reported to be allergenic (skin)   It is commonly found in carpet, wall paper, and in interior fiberglass duct insulation (NC). Some species can produce mycotoxins.  Common cause of extrinsic asthma (immediate-type hypersensitivity: type I).  Acute symptoms include edema and bronchi spasms, chronic cases may develop pulmonary emphysema

Cladosporium Most commonly identified outdoor fungus.  The outdoor numbers are reduced in the winter. The numbers are often high in the summer.  Often found indoors in numbers less than outdoor numbers.  It is a common allergen. Indoor Cladosporium sp. may be different than the species identified outdoors.  It is commonly found on the surface of fiberglass duct liner in the interior of supply ducts.  A wide variety of plants are food sources for this fungus.  It is found on dead plants, woody plants, food, straw, soil, paint and textiles.  It can cause mycosis. Produces greater than 10 antigens.  Antigens in commercial extracts are of variable quality and may degrade within weeks of preparation. Common cause of extrinsic asthma (immediate-type hypersensitivity: type I).  Acute symptoms include edema and bronchi spasms, chronic cases may develop pulmonary emphysema.

Aspergillus terreus  Found in warmer soil and in grains, straw.  cotton and decomposing vegetation.  Can produce the toxin patulin and citrinin which may be associated with disease in humans and other animals. This fungus is associated with aspergillosis of the lungs and or disseminated aspergillosis.  Found as an isolate from otomycosis - ear infection and onychomycosis - infection of finger or toe nails.

Alternaria sp. -  A very common allergen.  It is often found in carpets, textiles, and on horizontal surfaces in building interiors.  Often found on window frames.  Outdoors it may be isolated from samples of soil, seeds and plants. It is commonly found in outdoor samples.  The large spore size 20 - 200 microns in length and 7 - 18 microns in sizes,  suggests that the spores from this fungi will deposited in the nose, mouth and upper respiratory tract. It may be related to bakers asthma. It has been associated with hypersensitivity pneumonitis.  The species Alternaria alternata is capable of producing tenuazonic acid and other toxic metabolites which may be associated with disease in humans or animals.  Common cause of extrinsic asthma (immediate-type hypersensitivity: type I). Acute symptoms include edema and bronchi spasms, chronic cases may develop pulmonary emphysema.

Dust Mites thrive in conditions of low light and high humidity.   Your pillows, mattresses and box springs provide this perfect habitat.  If you are allergic to dust mites you may experience sneezing, a runny or itchy nose, itchy eyes, night-time cough and or wheezing.  Every piece of upholstered furniture is a special haven for dust mites.  Human and pet dander are their favorite delicacies.  As they multiply and die, their excrement becomes an unwelcome part of your household dust.



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Monday, May 06, 2013