When wood, processed for building materials in properties, is sourced, sugars and a multitude of other nutrients are exposed for an optimized site for fungi to colonize. Often, in a property, especially in areas such as crawlspaces or attics, inspectors will come across this fungi; known as 'lumberyard mold'. Lumberyard mold is generally found on new construction materials, and the term 'Lumberyard mold' can refer to a group of molds which are known to be present on these materials.
It is during these instances that it is ideal to perform a swab test on the growth to determine whether it is lumberyard mold or not; since lumberyard mold would be considered 'benign'. From this diagnosis, it could be extrapolated whether or not remediation may be needed in the property, depending on the square footage of the growth in the first place.
Such examples of these types of fungi include both Ceratocystis and Ophiostoma. These types of mold are not generally associated with any particular moisture problems in a property, and are, in fact, usually present on the building materials prior to construction.
Furthermore, when it comes to the byproducts of these molds, no mycotoxins (the metabolic production from molds which cause allergy-type symptoms), have been documented or reported.
It is worth being mindful of another type of somewhat common mold documented on building materials, and is considered a "lumberyard mold", which is Basidiomycetes. Basidiomycetes are generally white in color and can penetrate through the wood tissue, compromising the wood and structural integrity of an area.
Another thing to be mindful of when it comes to Lumberyard mold are secondary colonizers i.e. other molds, such as Aspergillus, which can compromise the air quality, which can colonize the area alongside the Lumberyard mold.
Ultimately, due to the plethora of genera potentially present in an area, it is advised to have the surface growth tested to determine the correct course of action if the area affected is great enough.
Thadigiri, F. (2009) Lumberyard Mold and Sap Stain. The Environmental Reporter. Volume 7, Issue 5. https://www.emlab.com/s/sampling/env-report-05-2009.html
In terms of ubiquitous molds which are registered in our environments, both indoors and outdoors, the Cladosporium genus of mold is certainly one of the most prevalent ones. When air tests are conducted, the Cladosporium genus of mold will often be present due to the prevalence outdoors. Regardless of the ubiquity of such a mold, there can still be indoor mold issues which arise and produce elevated levels of Cladosporium indoors-whether it be an indoor air quality issue due to the reproduction and sporulation of the respective mold, or visible growth in more furtive types of areas, such as HVAC air ducts.
A continual great source of indoor air quality matters is the American Industrial Hygiene Association. In one of their publications regarding mold growth within indoor environments, it is noted that,
"The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Institute of Medicine of the US National Academy of Sciences, the World Health Organization, and Health Canada all agree that living or working in a building with mold damage results in increased risk of respiratory disease"
Due to the consensus on the effects of mold via the mycotoxins they produce, which can be detrimental to human health, it is worth analyzing each genus of mold to further understand how it may alter the way we interact with our environments. Therefore, the following list outlines various facts about the Cladosporium genus of mold:
1. WHERE IS CLADOSPORIUM FOUND? In the outdoor environment, Cladosporium is commonly found on plants and on decaying organic matter, whereas indoors, Cladosporium is generally found on moist wallpaper and carpet, as well as HVAC ventilation covers.
2. DOES CLADOSPORIUM CAUSE HEALTH EFFECTS? According to the Center for Disease Control (& Prevention), Cladosporium seldom causes actual human illness, however, myriad infections can be caused by Cladosporium, such as: skin infections, eye infections, sinus issues and even brain infections. Furthermore, typical allergy symptoms have been associated with Cladosporium, as well as asthma triggers (CDC, 2015).
3. WHAT DOES CLADOSPORIUM LOOK LIKE? The Cladosporium genus has a wide range of color in terms of the appearance-ranging from dark green to black. If there is concern in your property and you would like it identified, mold testing companies can perform surface swab testing or tape lifting sampling on the mold to identify it through an accredited lab.
CDC (2015) Cladosporium (On-line) Center for Disease Control & Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/other/cladosporium.html
According to a peer reviewed research paper featured in the American Society for Microbiology publication, the most common type of mold infection worldwide is invasive Aspergillosis (Latge, 1999). Invasive Aspergillosis is usually more prevalent in those with compromised immune systems. This type of infection generally attacks the lungs (molds are lipid soluble, meaning that they attach to the lungs).
Mold is prevalent throughout our environments (both indoor and outdoor), so we are exposed to mold spores on a daily basis. A world without mold would be a dangerous one, especially due to the way in which mold naturally degrades and feeds upon dead organisms; decomposing areas and keeping our environment clean. The Aspergillus genus mold(s), which is central to the cause of invasive Aspergillosis, is also a ubiquitous mold; it can be found throughout the outdoor environment, as well as the indoor. Areas become of concern once the indoor levels are considerably higher than outdoor levels, which would suggest a water related incident in the property and heavy exposure to a particular species of the Aspergillus genus.
Some common symptoms of this particular type of infection include:
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and feel that you may have a type of Aspergillus infection, consult with your healthcare professional. If you feel that the source may be coming from inside your property, consider having a mold inspection conducted.
More information on Aspergillosis can be found on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website, including how to get diagnosed by your healthcare provider, as well as treatment options.
Latgé, J. (1999) Aspergillus fumigatus and Aspergillosis. Clin. Microbiol. Rev. April 1999 ; 12(2): 310-350
*All of the information included in this article is solely meant for educational purposes and is an amalgamation of content from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website and Aspergillus Fumigatus and Aspergillosis research paper featured in the American Society for Microbiology publication. None of the information in this article should supercede medical advise from a healthcare professional.
Stachybotrys is easily the mold of greatest concern when it comes to our clients. This is what people usually refer to as 'black mold' or 'toxic mold'. Stachybotrys Chartarum is considered one of the more detrimental indoor molds and is most prosaic in bathrooms.
Stachybotrys is currently being studied rather extensively to better understand the mycotoxins* that are produced from the mold-which potentially impact human health neurologically, physically and oncologically (i.e. cancer).
In a relatively recent research paper conducted by Platt et al. (333), the authors extrapolated that there were more reports of subjective complaints from tenants in buildings which were damp and moldy. Stachybotrys tends to be one of the more common culprits in these types of complaints. I always cover the contingencies that exist with mold and what facilitates the growth and spread of mold (temperature, moisture, humidity etc.) with my clients.
Stachybotrys is more common in bathrooms since this type of mold tends to develop within a relative humidity range of 93% (we recommend keeping humidity below 60% within a structure, generally) and a temperature of 77 degrees fahrenheit (Kuhn et Ghannoum, 2003).
Further into the profile of Stachybotrys, this genus is known to be in existence worldwide, which reinforces the ubiquitous nature of it; Stachybotrys was identified in the US during the 1940s and then initiated a media craze later on, which is where the terms 'black mold' and 'toxic mold' derived. Stachybotrys is found in soils and is also known to be found in various strata that are rich in cellulose (a la straw, hemp, plants and plant debris, wood, paper etc.).
Stachybotrys is a borderline extremophile, only to die once a temperature exceeds 140 degrees fahrenheit; also being persistent during winter months and living from years to decades. This gives the reader an idea of the amount of resilience involved in this mold and why it is of concern.
The potential health effects of Stachybotrys have a multitude of determinations and are variable from person to person based on the concentrated levels, the person's own immune system, their levels of exposure, etc. As far as preventative measures go, we always stress upon maintenance such as routine maintenance of HVAC systems, humidity regulation within a structure, immediate repairs of any active leaks-whilst still in their infancy, constant general cleaning of dust/dirt/stains in the house, carpet cleaning and general mindfulness in extremely susceptible areas, such as bathrooms and kitchens.
*As quoted from the academic journal by (Kuhn et Ghannoum, 2003),
"Mycotoxins are diverse secondary metabolites produced by fungi growing on a variety of foodstuffs consumed by both animals and humans. Clinical toxicological syndromes caused by ingestion of large amounts of mycotoxins have been well characterized in animals and range from acute mortality to slow growth and reduced reproductive efficiency. The effects on humans are much less well characterized."
Read further into various pieces of academic research into Stachybotrys (black and toxic mold).
MOLD HEALTH EFFECTS BLOG AND RESEARCH