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When trying to categorize the different types of molds, people often look at colour. However, green, yellow, white, orange and even black is not a clear indicator of what is present. Ultimately, it is best to professionally test samples of the visible growth and the air itself for a definitive answer.
Mold can be further classified by the type of health effect it triggers. These include:
- Allergic reactions (the most common kind of mold health problem that can range from mild to severe, especially in asthmatics);
- Infections (airborne pathogens can trigger infections and disease in immune compromised individuals or through high levels of exposure);
- Toxin-induced inflammation (mycotoxins, produced by mold to kill other competing fungi, can be highly toxic and enter the body through digestion, skin or the respiratory system).
The Most Dangerous Types of Mold
Mycotoxins are the source of the most severe health effects caused by mold. Carcinogenic and neurotoxic, the number of molds that produce mycotoxins is ever growing. Four of the most dangerous types of mold that can produce these toxins are:
Also known as “stachy”, “black mold” and “toxic mold”, Stachybotrys is characterized by its slimy shiny appearance. It needs a lot of water to grow and feeds on high cellulose materials like paper, carpet, and wood. It takes 7 to 10 days to begin growing and is often found near slow leaks. Because the spores are heavy and wet they do not get airborne until the mold becomes dehydrated or dies. Stachybotrys has been linked to lung disorders and brain damage. Stachybotrys is also found in air samples when it is disturbed.
Aspergillus can be many colours including yellow, green or black. 15 of the 150 species are common in buildings. Aspergillus is easily airborne and more toxic than many industrial cancer causing substances.
Penicillium comes in many colours including white, blue/green, or green. Penicillium spores are easily airborne and are common and thrive in indoor environments.
Fusarium is a common soil fungus. It is found on a wide range of plants and often in humidifiers. It can produce toxins that target the circulatory system, alimentary system, skin and nervous system.