Do Household Moulds Release Mycotoxins?

Tuesday 20th February 2024

Ellen Warren

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A close-up of mycotoxins under a microscope

CONTENTS

Understanding the relationship between household moulds and mycotoxins is crucial for maintaining a healthy living environment. Moulds can pose significant health risks when they produce mycotoxins.

At ICE Cleaning, our mould remediation services are leading the way for mould prevention in the UK. Our technicians use advanced technology and solutions to discover the root cause of mould on your property, effectively removing it and preventing its return.

Read on to learn what mycotoxins are, including their varieties and effects on health.

What types of mould can grow in your home?

Moulds are not just an unsightly stain; they can pose serious health risks. Understanding the different species that might infiltrate your home is vital for ensuring a healthy and safe environment.

Definition of household moulds

Household moulds belong to the fungi kingdom, thriving on moisture and reproducing by releasing tiny spores into the air. These organisms colonise indoor and outdoor environments, but their growth indoors poses significant concerns due to potential health implications.

The common culprits include Aspergillus, Cladosporium, Penicillium, and Stachybotrys chartarum (black mould), each preferring different conditions ranging from damp surfaces to water-damaged materials.

Explanation of mycotoxins

Mycotoxins are harmful chemicals produced by certain moulds under the right circumstances. When people or animals inhale, ingest, or touch these substances, they might experience a range of harmful health impacts.

An example is Aflatoxin B1, notorious for its cancerous properties and commonly associated with Aspergillus flavus growing on poorly stored food products.

Importance of understanding the potential health risks

Mould in residential properties damages structures and poses a threat to our lungs - triggering asthma attacks and allergies in those particularly vulnerable.

The production of mycotoxins adds another layer of risk, requiring vigilance in detecting and eradicating these harmful organisms promptly.

What are mycotoxins?

Mycotoxins are chemicals that can contaminate food and the air we breathe, leading to various health issues. Some more notorious types of mycotoxins include:

  • Aflatoxin
  • Citrinin
  • Fumonisins
  • Ochratoxin A
  • Patulin
  • Trichothecenes
  • Zearalenone

Aflatoxin, known for its potent cancerous properties, primarily affects grain and nut crops. Ochratoxin A is frequently found in improperly stored foods, like cereals and coffee beans, affecting kidney function upon exposure.

However, trichothecenes occur in buildings harmed by water, triggering intense responses from the immune system.

What types of household moulds produce mycotoxins?

These harmful substances can seriously endanger human and animal health, so understanding which household moulds release these substances is crucial for maintaining a safe indoor environment.

A variety of common household moulds have been identified as producers of mycotoxins. Among them, Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Stachybotrys chartarum (also known as black mould) stand out.

This is due to their prevalence in damp or water-damaged buildings and their ability to produce potent mycotoxins.

Recognising these moulds is crucial because they are everywhere and due to the health issues their toxins can cause. Research indicates that extended contact may cause breathing difficulties, weaken the immune system, and potentially trigger brain-related complications.

Factors influencing mycotoxin production

The conditions under which these moulds grow significantly influence their potential for producing mycotoxins. Humidity, temperature, and the type of surface they are on are integral in deciding how much mycotoxins they produce.

Higher humidity levels particularly favour the growth and toxin production capabilities of Aspergillus species. This knowledge highlights the importance of controlling indoor moisture through adequate ventilation and regular maintenance checks — strategies for minimising exposure risk.

What are the health risks of mycotoxins?

Certain mould varieties secrete mycotoxins, hazardous substances that severely endanger human health. Humans can encounter these harmful substances by ingesting, inhaling, or touching surfaces or foods tainted with them.

Symptoms of mycotoxin poisoning vary widely but commonly include respiratory issues, allergic reactions, and immune system suppression. In extreme instances, contact might damage the nervous system and cause tumours. 

The World Health Organization highlights the dangers posed by aflatoxins, a type of mycotoxin known for its cancerous properties. Vulnerable populations such as infants, elderly people, and those with compromised immune systems face risks when exposed to these toxins.

How to prevent mould in your home

It is essential to manage moisture by ensuring spaces are well-aired and not overly damp to keep mould at bay. A straightforward strategy involves monitoring humidity levels, ideally keeping them below 60%. Equipment such as dehumidifiers are key, effectively lowering the moisture in indoor air.

Proper ventilation is also integral when it comes to preventing mould. Ensuring that areas prone to dampness, such as bathrooms and kitchens, are well-ventilated helps minimise the risk of mould growth.

Opening a window or installing an exhaust fan could reduce the likelihood of mould settling in your home. Cleaning is another factor in combating mould.

Regular cleaning of surfaces with mild detergent reduces the likelihood of mould growing. You should contact a professional mould cleaning company for help with more persistent issues.

Frequently asked questions

Does all mould release mycotoxins?

No, not every mould produces mycotoxins. It's specific types that do this when they feel threatened.

Do mycotoxins reproduce in the house?

Mycotoxins don't breed or multiply. They're toxins produced by certain moulds under the right conditions, not living organisms themselves.

How do I get mycotoxins out of my house?

Clean thoroughly and control humidity. For stubborn cases, call in expert cleaners to help.

Which moulds produce which mycotoxins?

Different moulds produce different mycotoxins: Aspergillus makes aflatoxin, while Stachybotrys creates trichothecenes.

Get in touch

For effective mould cleaning services, rely on our Dewpoint-accredited team at ICE Cleaning. We utilise industry-leading technology and solutions to remove all traces of mould from your property and prevent its return in the future with our guidance.

To learn more about our mould removal services, get in touch with our team today at 0208 066 0360 or enquiries@icecleaning.co.uk. We operate nationwide and offer our services 24/7, all year round, so you can rely on us whenever or wherever you are.

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