Information about mould and mould disease
Mould and other fungi have been long known to cause range of mould diseases in humans and animals. The scientific evidence shows that mould are associated with health issues ranging from coughs to asthma to allergic rhinitis. However, because each human react to moulds, mould spores and mould toxins in slightly different ways it is extremely difficult to pinpoint with confidence the relationship between inhaled moulds and adverse human health effects.
Exposure to excessive amount to mould and other indoor air contaminants can lead to a so called “Sick Building Syndrome”. Effects on humans include headache, fatigue, and irritation of skin, eyes, or throat, among others. It is possible for mould to be an indoor air contaminant, for example in heating ducts or other areas where moisture can accumulate and stagnate. Any number of other contaminants may be responsible for symptoms, though; a lengthy list ranges from bacteria, to body odours, plumbing exhaust, copy machine fumes, cleaning agents, pesticides, bird droppings, carpeting, and furniture. Moulds and other fungi may adversely affect human health through three processes.
Allergic asthma or allergic rhinitis are the most common allergic responses experiences by the sufferers. Usually significant exposure to mould spores and also pollen are the triggering factors. The symptoms are commonly known as hay fever.
Immediate hypersensitivity: The most common form of hypersensitivity to moulds when exposed individuals react to the components of fungal bodies. Immediate hypersensitivity can quickly lead to allergic rhinitis or asthma. Individuals with this type of mould allergy are "atopic" individuals, i.e., have allergic asthma, allergic rhinitis, or atopic dermatitis and manifest allergic (IgE) antibodies to a wide range of environmental proteins among which moulds are only one participant. Most important indoor allergenic moulds are Penicillium and Aspergillus species. Living in damp and water damaged buildings have been long associated with respiratory ilnesses such as phlegm, cough, asthma, wheezing and others.
Hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP): HP results from exaggeration of the normal immune response against inhaled fungal proteins. This disease is mainly known from the agricultural industry where workers get very often exposed to high concentrations of allergens, however several cases have also been associated with heating and ventilating systems, the use of humidifiers or pet animals.
Unusual allergic illnesses: allergic fungal sinusitis (AFS) and allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA). These serious conditions are unusual types of allergic reactions. In these cases the attacking moulds can actually grow inside a person's airway and lungs.
Mould and other fungi can cause a range of human infection. Mould and fungal infections are not typically a result of exposure to indoor moulds. There are four basic groups of fungal human infections.
Superficial Mycoses – Cause by fungi (moulds) growing on the surface of the human body in particular in areas such as hair or lipids. These surface infections do not trigger the immune response of the body. Superficial fungal infection are very common.
Medical conditions associated with these fungi are Ringworm, Favus, Onychomycosis, Hyperkeratosis, Intertrigo, Mucocutaneous candidiasis, Keratitis, Chromoblastomycosis.
Subcutaneous Mycoses- Caused by fungi (moulds) invading internal areas of the body. They cause local, chronic, traumatic infection which are usually non- life-threatening and which, provoke immune response of the human body.
Deep Organ Mycoses- Deep mycoses in immunocompromised individuals are acquired either through infection via wounds, inhalation, or catheter-related infection or needles. The mycosis includes Systemic Mycosis or Disseminated Mycosis or Secondary Cutaneous Mycosis, mostly in immune-compromised population).
Candidiasis, caused by Candida albicans, or lesser by C. tropicalis and C. glabrata. The species is commonly present in human mucosa, which becomes invasive when immunity weakens.
Some species of moulds produce chemical compounds called mycotoxins?. Serious veterinary and human mycotoxicoses have been documented following ingestion of foods heavily over-grown with moulds. The amount and type of mycotoxin produced is many factors that include nutrition, growth substrate, moisture, temperature, maturity of the fungal colony, and competition from other microorganisms.
When produced, mycotoxins are found in all parts of the fungal colony, including the hyphae, mycelia, spores, and the substrate on which the colony grows. Mycotoxins are relatively large molecules that are not significantly volatile, they do not evaporate or "off-gas" into the environment, nor do they migrate through walls or floors independent of a particle. To become exposed to mycotoxins inhalation exposure is required. The only way for mycotoxins to be inhaled into the body is if they are contained within mould spores, fungal mycelium or fragments. Mould spores and fragments of fungal hyphae can not pass through the skin but if they contain toxins localised irritations can occur.
Most descriptions of human and veterinary poisonings from moulds involve eating mouldy foods. Toxic moulds can cause the following mould diseases: