Most Common types of Molds
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the most common molds found inside homes and buildings are Cladosporium, Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Alternaria. Below is a brief discussion of each.
Cladosporium commonly exists in the outdoor and indoor environment. Illness through exposure to Cladosporium is very rare, but has been known to cause infections, including skin, eye, and sinus infections. Fungal Meningitis is a more severe illness from exposure to Cladosporium. There has been an outbreak of fungal meningitis in several states recently, but this was associated with contaminated medical steroid injections, not from common exposure in homes and buildings.
Penicillium is one of the most common types of mold in indoor environments. It thrives on organic material such as food and soil particles (think of moldy bread or fruit). Unless you eat it, exposure to Penicillium carries the same health hazards as most molds, including skin, eye, or respiratory irritation. Ingesting it, however, can cause serious illness. Those with hypersensitivity or a compromised immune system may also experience more severe reactions just by exposure to airborne Penicillium.
Aspergillus is also a very common type of mold and exists in any oxygen-rich environments, and can typically be seen growing on starchy foods and outdoors on trees and plants. To healthy humans, moderate exposure typically does not have serious consequences, other than maybe some allergic reactions or irritations. Those with compromised immune systems, especially those with chronic lung diseases, can experience severe health problems from exposure to Apergillus.
Alternaria is a common allergen, and usually produces mild symptoms such as skin or eye irritation, or ” hay fever”. It can cause asthma, and like other mold types, can cause more serious problems in those with compromised immune systems. Alternaria is usually green, black, or gray in color. It is known to cause spoilage in plants used for food and, like other mold types, is very common in the outdoor environment and typically does not cause problems to humans in the outdoors.
*It may be dangerous and hazardous to your health to attempt
household removal on your own. The content of this website is provided for
general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be
considered a substitute for, professional mold removal advice.
Facts about Fungus Infections and Mold Exposures
Aspergillosis is an infection caused by Aspergillus, a common mold (a type of fungus) that lives indoors and outdoors. Most people breathe in Aspergillus spores every day without getting sick. However, people with weakened immune systems or lung diseases are at a higher risk of developing health problems due to Aspergillus. The types of health problems caused by Aspergillus include allergic reactions, lung infections, and infections in other organs.
Blastomycosis is an infection caused by a fungus called Blastomyces. The fungus lives in the environment, particularly in moist soil and in decomposing matter such as wood and leaves. Blastomyces mainly lives in areas of the United States and Canada surrounding the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys and the Great Lakes. People can get blastomycosis after breathing in the microscopic fungal spores from the air. Although most people who breathe in the spores don’t get sick, some of those who do may have flu-like symptoms, and the infection can sometimes become serious if it is not treated.
Valley fever, also called coccidioidomycosis, is an infection caused by the fungus Coccidioides. The fungus is known to live in the soil in the southwestern United States and parts of Mexico and Central and South America. The fungus was also recently found in south-central Washington. People can get Valley fever by breathing in the microscopic fungal spores from the air, although most people who breathe in the spores don’t get sick. Usually, people who get sick with Valley fever will get better on their own within weeks to months, but some people will need antifungal medication. Certain groups of people are at higher risk for becoming severely ill. It’s difficult to prevent exposure to Coccidioides in areas where it’s common in the environment, but people who are at higher risk for severe Valley fever should try to avoid breathing in large amounts of dust if they’re in these areas.
Histoplasmosis is an infection caused by a fungus called Histoplasma. The fungus lives in the environment, particularly in soil that contains large amounts of bird or bat droppings. In the United States, Histoplasma mainly lives in the central and eastern states, especially areas around the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys. The fungus also lives in parts of Central and South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia.
People can get histoplasmosis after breathing in the microscopic fungal spores from the air. Although most people who breathe in the spores don’t get sick, those who do may have a fever, cough, and fatigue. Many people who get histoplasmosis will get better on their own without medication, but in some people, such as those who have weakened immune systems, the infection can become severe.
Sporotrichosis (also known as “rose gardener’s disease”) is a rare infection caused by a fungus called Sporothrix. This fungus lives throughout the world in soil and on plant matter such as sphagnum moss, rose bushes, and hay.1,2 People get sporotrichosis by coming in contact with the fungal spores in the environment. Cutaneous (skin) infection is the most common form of the infection. It occurs when the fungus enters the skin through a small cut or scrape, usually after handling contaminated plant matter. Some cases of sporotrichosis have been associated with scratches or bites from animals, particularly cats.
Types of sporotrichosis
Cutaneous (skin) sporotrichosis is the most common form of the infection. It usually occurs on a person’s hand or the arm after they have been handling contaminated plant matter.
Pulmonary (lung) sporotrichosis is very rare but can happen after someone breathes in fungal spores from the environment.
Disseminated sporotrichosis occurs when the infection spreads to another part of the body, such as the bones, joints, or the central nervous system. This form of sporotrichosis usually affects people who have weakened immune systems, such as people with HIV infection (see Risk & Prevention).
Stachybotrys chartarum (also known by its synonym Stachybotrys atra) is a greenish-black mold. It can grow on material with a high cellulose and low nitrogen content, such as fiberboard, gypsum board, paper, dust, and lint. Growth occurs when there is moisture from water damage, excessive humidity, water leaks, condensation, water infiltration, or flooding. Constant moisture is required for its growth. It is not necessary, however, to determine what type of mold you may have. All molds should be treated the same with respect to potential health risks and removal.
and other mold exposures: