Mold Illness: Know the Facts About Toxic Mold

If there is a mold problem in your home, school, or work place, it can cause serious illness. Children, the elderly, and those with allergies and asthma are most at risk, but anyone can suffer from toxic mold syndrome (TMS). But did you know there are different types of mold illness? In this post we’ll break down the different types of mold and what kinds of mold illness they can cause.

Cosmetic Mold

Molds in the Ophistomacae class are considered cosmetic. This means that they are unlikely to cause a health hazard or to damage the structure of a building. These molds are sometimes called black mold, but should not be confused with the toxic “black mold” that we will discuss below. These molds can be cleaned up for cosmetic reasons, but are unlikely to be dangerous.

Allergenic Mold

Several types of mold are known to be allergenic, meaning they can cause allergic reactions. These types of mold are considered to be fairly low risk, although they may still cause structural damage. The general population will not experience adverse effects from them. However, people with asthma and allergies can have serious reactions. Some allergenic molds include:

Alternaria: This common mold can cause allergic reactions. It has also been associated with severe asthma attacks.

Aspergillus: This mold, common in warm and humid climates, can cause an allergic reaction known as allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA). ABPA is most likely to affect people with asthma or cystic fibrosis and can cause damage to airways and possibly permanent lung damage.

Cladosporium: This common indoor and outdoor mold can cause allergies or asthma attacks in sensitive individuals.

Penicillium: This common mold is used to make penicillin antibiotics and even some cheeses. Just as penicillin medication can cause a serious allergic reaction in those that are sensitive to it, so can penicillium mold. It is not clear whether someone who has an allergy to one of these will necessarily react to the other, but it’s best to be on the safe side if you or someone you know has one of these allergies.

Pathogenic Mold

Pathogenic molds can cause infection and present more of a health hazard than allergenic molds. While most people in the general population will not be harmed by these molds, they can present a serious threat to those with compromised immune systems.

Aspergillus: There are multiple species of aspergillus molds. Some are only allergenic, as mentioned above, but some are pathogenic as well. Aspergillus flavus is the most dangerous pathogenic species. This type of mold produces aflatoxin, which is a carcinogen.

Candida: Certain species of this very common type of mold can cause infections in those with compromised or deficient immune systems. Candida-type molds also cause very common infections such as oral thrush and yeast infections.

Cladosporium: According to the CDC, cladosporium is a rare cause of infection, with allergic reactions being much more common. However, it has been associated with several different infections, including skin, eye, sinus, and brain infections.

Toxigenic Mold

Toxigenic mold is the most dangerous type of mold. These molds produce mycotoxins, which can be absorbed into the body by breathing, ingesting, or even touching them. Mycotoxin simply refers to a toxin that is produced by a fungus. These toxins have been linked to many negative health effects, including immunosuppression and cancer.

Stachybotrys chartarum: This mold is known as “black mold” or “toxic black mold,” and it is the most common toxigenic mold that will be found in an indoor environment. This is the most dangerous type of mold you are likely to encounter in homes or other buildings. Stachybotrys grows on material with a high cellulose content such as paper, carpets, and drywall, to name a few. It requires constant moisture to grow and is likely to be found in extremely humid climates or in areas with water damage or leaks.

The symptoms of toxic mold exposure are many and varied. They include respiratory symptoms, fever, fatigue, muscle weakness, numbness and tingling, skin rashes, and many other symptoms. If you experience any new symptoms that cannot be explained by an existing illness or diagnosed by your doctor, you should consider the possibility of mold-related illness.

If you suspect that you or a loved one may have any type of mold-related illness, you should see a doctor immediately. If you believe your illness may have been caused by someone else’s negligence, contact an attorney to discuss your case.