As molds grow under some conditions, some (but not all) of them may produce potentially toxic by-products called mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are fungal metabolites that have been identified as toxic agents. Some of these mycotoxin-producing molds are commonly found in moisture-damaged buildings. Exposure to mycotoxins can occur from inhalation, ingestion and/or skin contact. More than 200 mycotoxins from common molds have been identified, and many more remain to be identified. The amount and types of mycotoxins produced by a particular mold depends on many environmental and genetic factors.
No one can tell whether a mold is producing mycotoxins just by looking at it.
Many fungi, including species of Aspergillus, Penicillium, Fusarium, Trichoderma, Memnoniellaand Stachybotrys chartarum, can produce potent mycotoxins, some of which are identical to the compounds produced by Stachybotrys chartarum.
There are studies that suggest there is an association between Stachybotrys chartarumand pulmonary hemorrhage/hemosiderosis in infants, generally those under 6 months old.
Toxic substances (mycotoxins) can enter a human body through inhalation, ingestion or skin absorption. The effects of the toxic substance depend on the chemical or the material, the concentration, the route of entry, and the duration of exposure.
Smoking, alcohol, medication, gender, and existing health problems are all potential factors that can influence the effects of a toxic substance entering a body.
Some mycotoxins are known to affect people, but, for many mycotoxins, little health information is available. Research on mycotoxins is ongoing.