Molds can produce toxic substances called mycotoxins, though the presence of mold in a building does not necessarily mean that mycotoxins are present or that they are present in large quantities. More than 200 mycotoxins have been identified from common molds, and many more remain to be identified. Some of the molds that are known to produce mycotoxins are commonly found in moisture-damaged buildings. Although some mycotoxins are well known to affect humans and have been shown to be responsible for adverse health effects, for many mycotoxins, little information is available.
Schools and Mold
Mold toxicity is a chronic problem in many schools. Public awareness of the dangers of molds has been increasing. Of particular concern is Stachybotrys atra, a greenishblack fungus that can grow on materials with a high cellulose and low nitrogen content (such as fiberboard, gypsum board, dust and lint). National reports on adverse health effects range from the flu to pulmonary hemorrhage.
Dangers of Mycotoxins
Aflatoxin B1 is perhaps the most well known and studied mycotoxin. It can be produced by the molds Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus, and is one of the most potent carcinogens known. Ingestion of Aflatoxin B1 can cause liver cancer. There is also some evidence that inhalation of Aflatoxin B1 can cause lung cancer. Aflatoxin B1 has been found on contaminated grains, peanuts, and other human and animal foodstuffs. However, Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus are not commonly found on building materials or in indoor environments. Many symptoms and human health effects attributed to inhalation of mycotoxins have been reported, including: mucous membrane irritation, skin rash, nausea, immune system suppression, acute or chronic liver damage, acute or chronic central nervous system damage, endocrine effects, and cancer. More studies are needed to get a clear picture of the health effects related to most mycotoxins. It is clearly prudent to avoid exposure to molds and mycotoxins. Some molds can produce several toxins, and some molds produce mycotoxins only under certain environmental conditions.
Source: The Environmental Protection Agency