Are all Black Molds Toxic?

Coloration and toxicity are two separate trends in mold. The coloration of mold is governed by pigmentation, physiological activity and genetics of the organism. The production of toxins is highly influenced by the nature of metabolites produced by the mold and others factors including environmental conditions. Hence, the toxicity of the mold should not compare directly with the color of the microorganism.

Tampa 6/30/2011 02:30 AM GMT (TransWorldNews)

Tampa, FL -- Mold has become an issue of increasing concern to the general population as lawsuits, media attention and misinformation fuel fires of hysteria.  To further complicate matters, a lack of education and scientific knowledge leads the layperson to correlate the presence of “black mold” with various ailments attributed to “toxic molds”.  In order to dispel mold myths and provide professional assistance to the average person concerned about mold contamination, it is critical to understand the complex nature of mold.

Mold Defined:

Scientifically, mold is visual growth produced on substratum and/or on host by a group of filamentous fungi (fungi with true mycelium). Taxonomically, Fungi are a group of Eukaryotic organisms placed under the lower group of the plant kingdom. These organisms are devoid of chlorophyll and their cell wall is made up of chitin and glucans. They are heterotropts. It may be saprophytic, parasitic or both or may be living symbiotically with other living organisms. Their role in the ecological system is very vital and important as decomposers.

Mold Coloration:

Coloration and toxicity are two separate trends in mold. The coloration of mold is governed by pigmentation, physiological activity and genetics of the organism. The production of toxins is highly influenced by the nature of metabolites produced by the mold and others factors including environmental conditions. Hence, the toxicity of the mold should not compare directly with the color of the microorganism. 

Mold Toxicity:

Naturally occurring molds may also be toxic in nature. Toxic molds are capable of secreting a number of toxic chemicals that are harmful to living entities.  Mycotoxins, glucans and microbiological volatile organic compounds (MVOC) are amongst the most prominent toxic substances produced by mold and other fungi. The strength of these toxins, however, greatly varies depending upon the species/strain of the microorganism.  There is no proven or documented record that the toxicity of these chemical compounds is related to the color of the organism. In general, “black mold” refers to all molds that are black in color, but not all the black molds are toxic.  Nigrospora, for example, is a black mold but there is no sufficient evidence that it is toxic to humans or other living organisms.

It is also important to note that a number of molds not black in color are capable of releasing mycotoxins that initiate diseases or allergenic responses in susceptible individuals. Blastomyces, Candida, Emmonsia, Ganoderma, Microsporum, Mucor, Rhizopous, Trichophyton, etc. are some common molds that cause a number of health and hygiene problems, but are not black in color.  The entire Penicillium group is associated with a number of indoor air problems, but are not black in color. Aspergillus is a major group of toxic molds but many species of Aspergillus are not black (i.e. A. candidus) however, some species of Aspergillus is black in appearance morphologically (example: Aspergillus niger).

Conclusion: 

It is not appropriate to refer to all “black mold” as a “toxic mold”.  As we have discussed, not all black molds are toxic molds nor are all black in color.  Misinformation on toxic mold is rampant.  It is impossible to observe a mold and determine its toxicity by its pigmentation.  The best way to identify the type of mold present in an environment is to take a direct surface or air sample and send it to a qualified laboratory for further analysis and evaluation. The laboratory report helps in the determination of presence of mold and its toxic nature.
The Environmental Diagnostics Laboratory (EDLab) at Pure Air Control Services performs a wide array of mold assays (fungal identification).  EDLab can identify molds by using various techniques.  Some common analyses performed by EDLab to identify fungi and mold include, but not limited to, the Bio-Scan and Spore Trap Analysis and mycological culturable analysis of air/bulk/surface/swab/liquid environmental samples. The type of sampling and analysis performed is determined by project specifications project requirements or individual needs.

Environmental Diagnostics laboratory (EDLab):

 

Alan Wozniak founded Pure Air Control Services, Inc. in 1984 as a small mechanical contracting firm and has since set the industry standard for indoor environmental quality

diagnosis, environmental laboratory and remediation. Pure Air Control Services has serviced more than 600 million square feet of indoor environments in over 10,000 facilities.

 

The Environmental Diagnostics Laboratory (EDLab) (established in 1992) at Pure Air Control Services (PACS) is an AIHA accredited environmental lab offering complete and comprehensive indoor environmental microbiology laboratory services. They include: microbiology, aerobiology, chemistry, allergen assays and microscopy designed to meet all your indoor air needs. EDLab supports IAQ investigations by assisting with strategic sampling plan development and supplying media collection equipment while performing a wide range of environmental analyses.

  

The company’s expanding client roster includes the General Services Administration (GSA); US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Allstate Insurance; Carrier Air Conditioning; US Naval Air Warfare Center, Orlando; and Naval Air Station - King's Bay, Georgia, and many other Fortune 500 companies, school boards, and city, state, and county governments, making Pure Air Control Services/EDLab the reliable industry leader in IAQ.

 

For more information on EDLab at Pure Air Services, Inc. please contact Alan Wozniak, at (800) 422-7873 x 802, Cy Garner, (800) 422-7873 x 804, or visit www.pureaircontrols.com.  

Dr. Rajiv Sahay

Director, EDL

Pure Air Control Services

4911 Creekside Drive

Clearwater, FL 33760

www.pureaircontrols.com

iaq@pureaircontrols.com
www.EDLab.org

 

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