Photo by Good Health and Safety Consulting
During the past few decades we have witnessed a rise in illnesses due to poor indoor air quality. This rise has prompted studies to determine the causes of these illnesses. Fungal growth in water-damaged buildings is known to cause serious and adverse health issues in humans and animals, and adverse conditions for buildings. The World Health Organization actually began to define this category as Sick Building Syndrome back in the 1980’s. This turned out to be quite a daunting task for health professionals and scientists and not all results have been exactly the same. Despite this, there is a dominant hypothesis that fungal fragments are the root cause of symptoms in humans and animals. This is known as mycotoxicosis.
One particular fungi, Stachybotrys chartarum, has been the subject of scrutiny as a possible leading contributor to mycotoxicosis. This fungus is common in plant debris and soil. It can enter homes through flood waters, dust, air, and dirt particles. It has the ability to grow on any moist or damp area in home. Stachybotrys chartarum is commonly found in wallpaper, cellulose based ceiling tiles, paper products, in corners, behind baseboard, under sinks, on bathroom ceilings, etc.
Tiny structures known as conidia are produced by the fungus, forming a layer on its host that is typically black and shiny when fresh and powdery when dry. The American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology describe Stachybotrys chartarum as a greenish-black mold growing in products that contain cellulose, or plant material. Mycotoxins from this fungus are the causes of mycotoxicoses in humans and animals.
Stachybotrys chartarum is responsible for several pulmonary and respiratory symptoms such as:
- Runny nose
- Nasal and throat irritation
Sometimes, more severe symptoms present themselves, such as bleeding in the lungs and serious infections. It is important to seek medical aid if mycotoxicosis is suspected, and ensure removal of harmful mycotoxins within the home or building.
American Phytopathological Society
American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology