Information about mould and mould disease
Moulds are ubiquitous to the environment and gain energy from decomposing nonliving organic material. Many of these moulds can colonise water-damaged building materials such as plasterboard, wallpaper or wooded finishes. During the material decomposition process moulds secrete enzymes into the material to help them to digest it. The digested nutrients are classified into two categories, primary and secondary metabolites?. The first group consist of harmless chemical compounds such as cellulose and others which are primarily used for sustaining growth and reproducing. The second group consist of potentially harmful chemical compounds called mycotoxins?. The term mycotoxins can be a slightly misleading because many of these substances are beneficial to us such as antibiotics for instance. Toxins are produced by moulds to give them a competitive edge against other microorganisms, including other moulds. There number of identified toxins is ever growing and to this date well over 400 have been discovered.
Many mould mycotoxins are harmful to humans and animals when inhaled, ingested or brought into contact with human skin. Mycotoxins can cause a variety of short term as well as long-term health effects. The toxic symptoms range from instantaneous toxic response to potential long-term teratogenic? and carcinogenic? effects. The most common symptoms of mycotoxins exposure include diarrhoea, headaches, skin irritation and fatigue and in worst cases also impaired or altered immune function. Compromised immunity is very dangerous because it open routes for other opportunistic infections.
Current research into the indoor air quality has implicated many toxin-producing moulds, such as Stachybotrys (toxic black mould), Fusarium, Aspergillus and Penicillium species as significant indoor air contaminants causing building related illnesses. Inhalation of mycotoxins producing fungi in contaminated buildings is the most significant exposure route.
Mycotoxins produced by toxic moulds are non-volatile chemical compounds usually contained and spread in spores and mould bodies or secreted into the attacked material. Mycotoxins have very potent effect on the living cells because they interfere with normal cell processes, disrupting normal cell communication channels which consequently results in variety of teratogenic?, neurotoxic? or carcinogenic? effect.
Moulds can produce different toxins and varying amounts of toxins depending on which material they are growing on, humidity, temperature, and light, among other variables. Many mould produces toxins, such as Mycotoxin T2 can be lethal to animals or humans. Others, for example mycotoxin caled Psilocybin, are entheogenic?, which means they cause effects resulting in altered states of mind. Others, for instance ergot derivatives can be used for post-partum haemorrhage and migraine tretments. Still others, such as penicillin, Fusaric acid, and Wortmannin have antibiotic effects, and Zearalenone with anabolic effects.