Molds are found outside in the air, in fallen leaves, cut grass, compost piles, rotting wood, barns, mulch, and in most areas that do not see much sunlight. Indoor molds can be found thriving in dark, warm, humid areas, including bathroom walls, shower stalls, tile grout, pillows, mattresses, under carpeting, unwashed clothes, refrigerators, air conditioners, humidifiers, plant soil, concrete, garbage and damp basements.
· What is the recommended humidity level ?
Reduce the humidity level in your home to below 50% by using your air conditioner or a dehumidifier. Humidity gauges may be purchased at home improvement stores or in our allergy store. Do not use a humidifier unless your humidity is below 25%.
· How can I kill mold ?
Most surfaces can be cleaned using a 10% bleach solution that will kill mold and inhibit growth temporarily. There are some non-bleach formulas that may be purchased. There are also mold inhibitor products that may be purchased in our allergy store or from companies in our allergy information packet that we provide.
· What about carpet ?
Steam cleaning carpet is not recommended. Moisture may be trapped in the carpet padding and will create a haven for mold growth. Dry cleaning is better.
· How can I avoid outside molds ?
Wear a mask when mowing the lawn, raking leaves, gardening or working in damp basements. Do not hang clothes outdoors, as this will attract airborne mold spores.
· Are house plants ok ?
Moist soil in houseplants can grow mold. You can prevent the mold spores from becoming airborne by placing a 2-inch layer of pebbles or small stones over the top of the soil.
· What about bed pillows ?
It is recommended that you change your pillow once a year. Buy pillows that resist mold growth such as polyester filled pillows. Foam rubber pillows are not recommended.
· How are foods related to mold allergy ?
There are some foods that may cause increased symptoms in mold sensitive persons. Patients do not have to avoid these foods entirely. They just need to be familiar with these foods and avoid them when they are having increased allergy symptoms. They may be able to tolerate these foods in moderation.
Foods that may contain mold:
Cheese, including cottage cheese, sour cream, and buttermilk
Beer, wine, and cider
Mushrooms and soy sauce
Canned tomato products
Pickled and smoked meats and fish
Vinegar containing products
Breads with large quantities of yeast
Dried and canned fruits
The following is a list of prevalent airborne molds and fungi recovered widely in North America and elsewhere.
Alternaria is a parasite or saprophyte on plants and plant material. It is the second most numerous mold seen on rotorods during aeroallergen surveys. It is commonly found in outdoor air and on many kinds of plants and foodstuffs. It prefers rotting farmland manure and may be resistant to fungicides. Alternaria is considered an occasional contaminant of water damaged building materials, which contain cellulose. Although Alternaria is a notable source of fungal allergies, pathogenic infections are also reported frequently.
Aspergillus can be found in fowl, damp hay and grains, damp cloths, leather goods, spoiled foods, damp papers, decaying plants, and vegetable material. It is a widely prevalent spoilage organism. It is found in the production of soy sauce, sake, commercial enzymes and industrial chemicals. It is an indoor and outdoor mold. There are a wide variety of species of Aspergillus. Some are considered opportunistic pathogens and may cause pulmonary infections. Some members also produce mycotoxins and have been implicated in causing allergic reactions and hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Aspergillus type organisms are some of the first fungi to grow on water-damaged materials and are frequently found in water-damaged structures. Although they are commonly found in the outdoor environment, the outdoor frequency is generally a consideration.
This yeast-like fungus is commonly found on caulk or damp window frames in bathrooms. Aureobasidium may be pink or black in color. Although it seldom causes infections, it can be allergenic. This is one type of mold that is a type of mildew. It will grow in cooler climates, and along with Cladosporium, is commonly found growing on siding.
It is prominent saprophytes on composting vegetation, as well as, costly parasite of spinach, bananas, and tomatoes. It can be found in textiles, leather, rubber and cloth. It is the most numerous of all spores counted on rotorods. Cladosporium is the genera most frequently encountered in both outdoor and indoor air. It is frequently found in elevated levels in water-damaged environments. Some species may be resistant to certain types of treated lumber.
Curvularia is a fungus that is found in the soil of areas with very moist tropical climates. It is an opportunistic pathogen that is found as a parasite on tropical plants and agricultural crops, including beans, cotton, rice, barley, corn, plant matter, and birds. The spores are easily made airborne and can cause respiratory problems for many people.
Dreschslera can be found in cereal grains, plants and grasses.
Epicoccum is widespread in temperate regions, especially grasslands and agricultural areas. It colonizes in textiles and foodstuffs and can also be found in decaying vegetative material, plant leaves and uncooked fruit. A secondary invader of plant materials, Epicoccum can grow at higher temperatures than many fungi, allowing it to be a human skin pathogen. Colonies produce a wide variety of colors depending on the food source. Although it may be isolated from water damaged building materials, it is generally though of as a typical outdoor organism.
It is the F in the VFN-resistant tomato plants, and also infects wheat, oats, and other grains. The pink mold in one’s shower stall may prove to be
Fusarium. It can be found on decaying plants. It is found in soils and on plants worldwide. Fusarium can invade corn and barley and produce toxins at lower temperatures than fungi. Fusarium has affected water-damaged carpets and a variety of other building materials and can cause infection in
immunocompromised individuals. Its spores are typically slimy and may be difficult to isolate from air samples. It has been implicated in exacerbation of allergies and asthma and may produce mycotoxins.
Geotricum can be found in decaying plants, cheese, pickles, and rotting wood.
This mold can be found in decaying vegetables and animal matter, barns and barnyards. This mold is found worldwide and is frequently present in air samples. Mucor commonly grows on dung and moist hay. It is a fast growing opportunistic and may cause rare infection in immunocompromised individuals. It is considered a mild allergen.
Penicillium is in abundance in enclosed spaces. Specific penicillium species are I ingested in Camembert and clue veined cheeses (Roquefort). It is also found in fruits, breads, leathers, and fabrics, as well as, plant rot. It is a common indoor mold. Penicillin species are common contaminants on various substances. This organism causes food spoilage, colonizes leather objects and is an indicator organism for dampness indoors. Some species are known to produce mycotoxins. The health of occupants may be
adversely affected in an environment that has an amplification of Penicillium. Penicillium is one of the first fungi to grow on water-damaged materials and has been implicated in causing allergic reactions and hypersensitivity pneumonitis. It commonly produces a strong, musty odor.
Phoma is found on or in books, lead containing paints and green plants.
It is found in breads, cured meats and root vegetables. Rhizopus can be found in damp interiors. It is frequently found in house dust, soil, fruits, nuts and seeds. Rhizopus often grows in fruit and vegetable garbage or in forgotten leftover food. Exposure to large numbers of Rhizopus spores has reportedly caused respiratory complications.
Mildew is the whitish powder produced by certain molds. It will grow on anything that is a source of food to it. It thrives in a damp, warm, poorly aired and poorly lighted atmosphere. The downy mildews are parasites and may infect grasses or broad-leafed crops. They are prominent during dry, breezy weather. Items which provide a good media for mildew growth are cotton, linen, leather goods, wood, wool, silk, rayon, and even paper. As the mold grows, considerable damage and a musty odor may result.
RUST AND SMUTS
Rust and smuts infect a wide spectrum of wild and cultivated plants, most notable, the cereal grains. Visible clouds of spores may result when smutted grain is cut causing considerable problems for the unprotected allergic individual. Smuts are found on most grasses, especially Johnson grass when it is first flowering.
Yeast is a fungus that shares a unicellular growth form. In the central United States, atmospheric levels are high during rainfall and when fruit crops are grown. They gain access to specialized domestic and industrial substrates since they are tolerant of acid conditions. They are also found in console humidifiers and cold mist vaporizers. Food yeast is also a problem for the atopic individual.