American Scientific & Environmental Consulting
Common Mold Species Found in Colorado
ASEC’s in house laboratory incubates all samples long enough to give good qualitative identification, guaranteed. Never enter buildings with water damage and mold without respiratory protection; magenta/carbon filter masks only, paper masks do not protect you. Never remove mold without respiratory, hand and skin protection. Some types of mold can grow in and on your body!
The Aspergillus species colored blue in Table I are species of Aspergillus that ASEC finds here in Colorado most commonly. They are mostly black mold species. Some can reproduce sexually. Most species only produce asexually with spores. Some varieties of black mold are toxic to humans. Common symptoms: itchy eyes, skin irritation, nasal drip, headaches, asthma flare-ups, respiratory infections, ear infections, flu like symptoms, tiredness, immune system deficiencies, and Aspergilloma, (lung disease). Some Aspergillus produce mycotoxins. A. fumigatus and A. flavus give off a mycotoxin called aflatoxin which is both a toxin and carcinogen. Some forms of Serpola, Stachybotrys, and Penecillium also give off mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are generally released when multiple species are competing for the same food source. The heavier the mold, the more likely mycotoxins are released. Any mold that can release mycotoxins is considered “toxic mold” by the true definition. Less educated “mold experts” call only Stachrybotrys chartarium “toxic mold” Aspergillosis is a group of diseases caused by Aspergillus. These exposures do not cause asthma, cystic fibrosis, or sinusitis; but will make it worse. Never enter buildings with water damage and black mold without respiratory protection; magenta/carbon filter masks only, paper masks do not protect you. Never remove black mold without respiratory, hand and skin protection. Black mold can grow in and on your body! Not all Aspergillus is bad. Aspergillus niger is used to produce 90% of the citric acid produced in the world.
Cladosporium is a Genus of mold commonly found in Colorado indoor air. It is not toxic but can cause allergies. Colorado air is full of Cladosporium because it affects plants and crops like wheat. Some species are plant pathogens. Colonies can be olive-green, white, brown, and even gray in color.
Serpula lacrymans is a mold that is predominately golden-yellow. It is a major cause of “dry rot” and is found in areas where water damage has occurred. The longer a plumbing leaks or some other source of water keep things wet, the higher the risk of structural damage due to Serpula. ASEC finds the presence of Serpula lacrymans in situations where wood is kept wet for months and years. Serpula lacrymans does produce mycotoxins. These same conditions support Sachrybotrys chartarium and they are commonly found growing together. Never ignore water leaks in roves, plumbing, windows, etc. Water damage is the number one cause of extreme mold conditions in Colorado. Never enter buildings with water damage and black mold without respiratory protection; magenta/carbon filter masks only, paper masks do not protect you. Never remove black mold without respiratory, hand and skin protection. Mold can grow in and on you!
Penecillium chrysogenum is the mold that provides us with Penicillin. It can grow on many surfaces in a home. It can also cause allergies. Some species of Penecillium can produce mycotoxins. Pehecillium feeds on organic matter. Bread mold is a good example. It is typically blue-green in color.
Monascus purpurius is a true red mold commonly found in Colorado. Not to be confused with “red yeast”, Nuerospora crassa that grows in showers too. This yeast is commonly used in oriental foods. Monascus purpurius is used also in Oriental cuisine such as red rice and red flower. It does not have serious affects on human health. Do not assume that a red mold is Monascus. Other molds can grow red depending on the food source and environment.
Stachrybotrys chartarium is a black mold that can produce mycotoxins. Stachrybotrys is usually associated with “sick building syndrome”. Types of the mold give off two types of mycotoxins, Satratoxins and Atranones. Two cats found in a water damaged, mold infested home in Florida were reported killed by toxins from Sachybotrys chartarium. In extreme cases, mold can be deadly. Keep in mind that mycotoxins are a defense mechanism for mold. They usually only release them when there is competition for food. They do not release them to kill humans and animals, although they can become collateral damage. Do not fall victim to scare tactics about toxic mold. However, do take all molds seriously. Mold can make you very ill and do permanent damage to your health. Sachrybotrys and some species of Aspergillus can feed off human tissue, including growth in lungs.
Sclerotinia scleroiorum, white mold, is the most common species ASEC finds in Colorado homes, gardens, and plants. It is a serious problem for farmers/gardeners in Colorado because it is a plant pathogen. Adding one Tablespoon of Epson salt to a gallon of water and spraying plants will kill or retard mold growth. Sclerotinia does not produce mycotoxins. ASEC finds it on 95% of the mold test cultures taken in homes here in Colorado. It does not bother the majority of people except in extreme cases. Sometimes it is confused with efflorescence, mineral salts that grow on concrete, brick, and masonry surfaces. Primary efflorescence is the salting that occurs during the curing process. It is usually not a problem unless it identifies structural problems. Moisture that travels through porous materials like concrete can pull out minerals that turn into mineral salts when they reach the air. In some instances, we find Sclerotinia growing in the efflorescence if there is a constant source of moisture. Like any mold, it should not be ignored. If a person is allergic to it specifically; it can make their lives miserable. Many molds including: Aspergillus, Penecillium, Clodosporum, and others start growing in early stages as “white” mold. When they develop spore casings, they assume different colors and characteristics. ASEC’s in house laboratory incubates all samples long enough to give good qualitative identification.
There are many other types of mold. ASEC has given you information on the ones that show up on lab reports most often in Colorado.