What is black mould and what health problems can it cause?

Mould is very common in homes. It can grow on tiles, fabrics, carpets, wood and other materials when moisture is present. Key spots are around window frames, in bathrooms, anywhere condensation forms, and where leaks and rising damp lead to moist patches on ceilings and walls. Two black moulds commonly found in homes are Cladosporium and Alternaria fungi. Another black mould is Stachybotrys chartarum, which can release specific toxins that are harmful to humans.

What health problems does black mould cause?

Damp and mouldy environments in general can cause a host of medical problems, particularly in people who are sensitive to the allergens that moulds produce. Common ailments are sneezing, a runny nose, red eyes and skin rashes, but moulds can also affect the immune system and trigger more serious problems such as asthma attacks. Cladosporium and Alternaria can provoke severe, and even fatal, asthma attacks, and long-term exposure exacerbates the risk. Stachybotrys chartarum causes sick building syndrome, where toxins released by the fungus cause people to feel unwell. The fungus has also been associated with a potentially lethal condition called acute idiopathic pulmonary haemorrhage in infants, but a firm link has not been established.

Who is most vulnerable?

Babies and young children are at particular risk of health effects from mould, not least because of their small airways. Those with respiratory conditions, such as asthma and certain allergies, tend to be worse affected, as are people with skin conditions, such as atopic eczema, and those with weakened immune systems. A weaker immune system leaves people more vulnerable to fungal infections from spores breathed into the lungs.

How should mould be treated?

Buildings should be routinely inspected for water damage and mould. Any source of moisture needs to be dealt with by fixing leaks and dampness, controlling humidity, cleaning and drying up any flooded areas and ensuring good ventilation. Keeping homes warm and well-ventilated helps because mould thrives in cooler, damp conditions. Small amounts of mould can be dealt with relatively easily, but when mould is growing in carpets, ceiling tiles and on walls, professional services are often needed to remove the contaminated material. Painting over mould is not likely to be effective.

Mold can be an absolute nightmare for families, but the reality is that every home has some degree of mold. It’s As expert mold remediation specialist Rob Hopkins told The Washington Post recently:

“There’s never been a mold test that we’ve done that didn’t have any mold. Every house, every environment has mold spores.”

We know: Yuck. It’s important to understand, though, that you’re never going to fully remove you or your family from mold exposure, but 99 percent of your interaction with the stuff is far from dangerous. We’ll get into all that in a minute, but first, let’s review what you’re up against.

What Is Mold?

When we say mold, we’re actually referring to the fungal growth that appears on damp and decaying organic  There are tons of different types of mold, and they’re found both indoors and out during all seasons of the year. So “mold” is an umbrella term for various different types of fungi you’ll find growing literally everywhere.

The Good News About Mold

While it can be a headache to deal with when it’s inside your home, mold actually serves a really important function in natural life cycles. Outdoor mold breaks down materials. Without it, we’d be up to our necks in fallen trees, leaves, and other organic debris. Thanks, mold!

FYI: Mold has been around much longer than plants. The first land fungi evolved about 1 billion years ago, with plants showing up around 700 million years

With that in mind, in order to grow, mold needs three conditions: a suitable temperature, “food” to “eat,” and a source of moisture. Eliminating one of the three will eliminate your mold.

The Bad News About Mold

Now here’s the bad news. Mold feeds on organic matter. That means dirt, dust, dead skin cells, pet hair – you know, all the stuff that’s virtually impossible to eliminate from your house — especially if you have little ones running around. Heck, even the building materials your house was constructed from are the favorite meals of molds.

The temperatures at which molds thrive also just so happen to be the temperatures at which humans feel the most comfortable, so that’s no good either if you’re looking to mitigate a mold problem. That just leaves the final factor: moisture.

Expert Tip:: We recommend investing in a good dehumidifier and setting it below 50 for mold-prone parts of your house.

So now that you understand what mold is, let’s take a closer look at the types of mold that might show up in your home.

Understanding the Three Different Types of Mold

Mold can be classified into three categories of ascending threat: allergenic, pathogenic, and toxic. Let’s take a look at each.

Allergenic Mold

Depending on your sensitivity to mold spores, some of the most common types of household mold — the allergenic ones — might cause watery eyes, sneezing, and coughing. They might also cause rashes or other minor symptoms. They might also do absolutely nothing; it all depends on your individual   An example of an allergenic mold is Penicillium, the green stuff you find growing on the garlic bread you left in the takeout box for too long.

Allergenic Mold Breakdown:

  • Threat Level: Low to moderate
  • Prevalence: Very common in most homes
  • Symptoms: Mild allergies, sore throat, watery eyes, skin irritation
  • Examples: Alternaria, Aspergillus, Cladosporium

Pathogenic Mold

More severe reactions occur when pathogenic molds are present and in large quantities, especially if a person is immunocompromised. The line is kind of blurry between pathogenic and allergenic molds, as reactions have everything to do with quantity and sensitivity.

Complicating matters further, some types of molds that are considered allergenic have certain strains that are considered pathogenic. What does that mean? It means that whenever you see mold, you should be cautious, especially if you’re living with eldery relatives or have small children.

Pathogenic Mold Breakdown:

  • Threat Level: Moderate to high
  • Prevalence: Common in certain types of homes and climates, but nowhere near as common as allergenic molds
  • Symptoms: Moderate to severe allergic reactions, shortness of breath, heavy coughing
  • Examples: Cryptococcus neoformans, Aspergillus species (A. fumigatus and A. flavus), Histoplasma capsulatum

An example of pathogenic mold is Cryptococcus neoformans. This mold can be found growing on damp building materials and in rare cases can cause cryptococcal meningitis.

Toxigenic Mold

The final category — toxigenic mold — is harmful to all humans and animals that encounter it. These are obviously the ones you really want to protect your family from, and the ones that will require professionals to mitigate and remove from your home. The notorious black mold, for instance, is a toxigenic mold that can cause respiratory failure, especially among those who are high-risk.

Toxigenic Mold Breakdown

  • Threat Level: High to extreme
  • Prevalence: Fairly rare, typically appearing only when mold outbreaks have gotten out of control
  • Symptoms: Can cause severe reactions, including respiratory distress and failure
  • Examples: Aspergillus species (A. versicolor, A. niger, and A. flavus), Stachybotrys chartarum, more commonly known as “black mold”

The Most Common Types of Household Mold

According to the CDC, the three most common types of indoor molds are Cladosporium, Penicillium, and Aspergillus. None of these are really threatening to otherwise healthy people in small quantities, and it’s likely that you’re breathing in these spores as you’re reading this article. We know, we know: Yuck.

With that in mind, though, there are actually 11 common molds that you need to be aware Note, though, that mold’s color and presentation depend almost entirely on the materials it’s growing on, so if it’s really important for you to identify the type of mold you’re seeing — like if your child is exhibiting unexplained respiratory problems — you’re likely going to have to call in an expert. Now let’s take a look at them.

Editor’s Note: You’ll notice the “appearance” field goes away on some of the pathogenic and toxigenic molds in this list. That’s because those specific molds have to be identified under a microscope, not with the naked eye.

The 11 Common Types of Household Mold

Name: Alternaria
Categorization: Allergenic
Appearance: May present as dark gray spots
Found on: If the materials are damp, Alternaria can be found growing on wood, iron, tiles, brick, plaster, wallpaper, paper, and canvas.
Danger: Hardly any

Name: Aspergillus
Categorization: Allergenic
Appearance: Black on the surface and white or yellow-ish underneath
Found on: Dead leaves, soil, grain; think houseplants and crawl spaces
Danger: Barely any

Name: Cladosporium
Categorization: Allergenic
Appearance: Brown, green, or black spots
Found On: Mostly occurs on damp building materials like gypsum board, acrylic painted walls, wood, wallpaper, carpet, insulation, and cooling units
Danger: Barely any

Name: Penicillium
Categorization: Allergenic
Appearance: Blue-green, fluffy outcroppings
Found On: Mostly food
Danger: Barely any

FYI: Penicillium is a genus that includes hundreds of species, some of which can be used to make the popular antibiotic

Name: Aspergillus species (A. fumigatus and A. flavus)
Categorization: Pathogenic
Found On: Damp building materials
Danger: Moderate; might cause chronic pulmonary infections in at-risk individuals

Name: Cryptococcus neoformans
Categorization: Pathogenic
Found On: Damp building materials
Danger: Moderate; might further weaken the immune system of immunocompromised people or, in rare cases, cause cryptococcal meningitis

Cryptococcus neoformans mold

Name: Histoplasma capsulatum
Categorization: Pathogenic
Found On: Soil, especially soil mixed with bird and bat droppings
Danger: Moderate; dangerous levels of spores can be released during construction projects and may cause pulmonary histoplasmosis

Pulmonary histoplasmosis in chest

Name: Fusarium, species (F. solani, F. oxysporum, and F. moniliforme)
Categorization: Toxigenic
Found On: Damp drywall, carpets, wood, and flooring, as well as soil
Danger: Moderate; even in healthy people, specific Fusarium molds like the ones listed above can cause skin, nail, and eye infections

Name: Penicillium species (P. brevicompactum, P. chrysogenum, P. citrinum, P. corylophilum, P. cyclopium, P. expansum. P. fellutanum, P. spinulosum, and P. viridicatum)
Categorization: Toxigenic
Found On: Foods
Danger: Very high; the toxic varieties of Penicillium molds are most dangerous when ingested; they can also cause acute symptoms when inhaled; while the science is still unconfirmed, it’s strongly suspected toxic Penicillium can cause convulsions, paralysis, cardiovascular damage, and respiratory

Penicillium mold on bread

Name: Aspergillus species (A. versicolor, A. niger, and A. flavus)
Categorization: Toxigenic
Found On: Damp areas and building materials
Danger: Very high; diarrhea, upset stomach, and respiratory distress, including aspergillosis, where the mold can form a hyphal ball (fungus ball) in the lungs and extrude allergens and toxins into the

Name: Stachybotrys chartarum, more commonly known as “black mold”
Categorization: Toxigenic
Appearance: Circular-shaped spots that are black, dark green, or dark brown and furry in appearance; might have flecks of white or orange
Found On: Damp areas with lots of cellulose, like cardboard or paper items
Danger: High; can cause respiratory distress, mycotoxins are harmful if consumed

Black mold on ceiling

While few household molds are toxigenic, any significant mold outbreak can cause health problems for you, your family, and your children, and it can cause serious damage to your home. Simply stated, if you see mold, get rid of it.

How to Remove Mold

Just like every household is different, every mold outbreak is different. But here’s what to do if you find mold in your home.

First, you’re going to want to get rid of the mold itself. Sometimes this is as simple as wiping your shower tiles with a mild cleaner, but sometimes it’ll be more involved. For major outbreaks, you’re always going to want to call in the experts. It’s very difficult to tell if a mold is dangerous just by looking at it, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

If you are going to tackle the project on your own, make sure you wear nose and mouth protection. An N95 mask or particulate respirator is recommended. Make sure you wear clothing that covers your arms and legs, and wear gloves to protect yourself from contact with the mold itself.

Ventilate the area as best you can, and — if possible — use an air purifier while you work to remove spores from the environment. Remove and discard any moldy material you find, and clean it off surfaces using a commercial mold remover or a diluted bleach mixture. Diluted ammonia can also work.

Pro Tip: Be careful working with chemical cleaners, as their fumes can become overwhelming. And never, ever mix ammonia and bleach. The mixture can literally kill you.

Once that’s done, do your best to make sure the mold doesn’t return. Fix any sources of moisture, like leaky fixtures or spillover fans, or, as mentioned above, invest in a dehumidifier. Remember, moisture is your No. 1 enemy when it comes to preventing mold.

Final Thoughts on Household Mold

Like we said at the top of this guide, there’s no way you’re ever going to isolate yourself or your family from mold completely; it’s just too pervasive in our environments. However, that doesn’t mean that you should be lackadaisical when it comes to mold in your home. If you notice it, remove it, or else it can snowball out of control.

While most molds are kinda gross, they’re relatively harmless. You don’t need to freak out if you see dark spots under your sink or in your crawlspace. Simple mitigation techniques like the ones listed above will likely take care of the problem. That said, for bigger outbreaks or if you’re noticing inexplicable allergies or respiratory issues, you should test your home for mold.

And finally, if dangerous mold is found in your home, or if you discover an area that has a large mold colony growing on it, you’ll need to call in the professionals.

Household Mold FAQs

Is mold dangerous?

The vast majority of household molds are perfectly safe in small quantities. That said, some forms of common molds can become pathogenic or toxic in larger amounts.

What does black mold look like?

The infamous black mold grows in damp areas with lots of cellulose. Think wallpaper, cardboard, and paper products. It presents as black, dark brown, or dark green fuzzy circles of varying sizes that sometimes have white or orange flakes.

Can I clean mold myself?

Most molds can be easily mitigated with simple household products, but for larger outbreaks, you’ll need to take precautions for removal or call in professionals.

How do I know if my house has mold?

The most obvious way of figuring out if you have mold is to go looking for it. Check in moist, warm areas, like under sinks, behind toilets, and near your air condition unit. A musty smell is also a good indicator mold might be lurking somewhere.

How much is mold cleaning?

Each situation is unique, of course, but expect to pay between $13.33 and $28.33 per square foot. Small projects have an average cost of $458 while larger jobs cost around $6,333.

Mold is a common danger that can easily affect anyone in their home or workplace. Most people are familiar with black mold but fewer are aware of white mold and the threats it presents. Just like black mold, though, white mold is a toxic fungus that needs to be addressed as soon as possible if you find it in your vicinity.

So What is White Mold?

Despite its name, white mold can appear as a white, grey, or green powdery fungus depending on the surface it’s growing on. It includes multiple fungal species like penicillium and aspergillus.

Regardless of the species of white mold, you’ll commonly find it in high moisture areas of a building. That means basements, bathrooms and showers, attics, and crawl spaces are all strong contenders for an outbreak. Within those spaces, the mold will typically grow on wood or drywall. It lives on the cellulose in those surfaces.

Unfortunately, white mold can be hard to detect when it is first developing. It’s not until colonies form that the mold can be seen with the naked eye. The mold spreads in cool weather when the white mold fungus releases spores. The wind then carries the spores until they reach a surface where they can grow, like the ones in your home.

What Does White Mold Look Like?

White mold can have a variety of appearances and textures, all depending on the type of fungus present, its environment, and the material it is growing on. Generally speaking, white mold is typically white to light grey in color with a fuzzy or powdery texture. It may also be slimy or look like cobweb-like filaments when growing in high humidity areas such as bathrooms or basements.

In certain cases it may even appear yellow or greenish due to other materials it has come into contact with. If you suspect you have white mold in your home, you should take proper precautionary measures to protect your family’s health and get rid of the mold as soon as possible.

Is White Mold Dangerous?

Make no mistake, white mold has its health risks, but it’s just as dangerous as any other color of mold. Continued exposure to any kind of mold can pose a serious threat to your health with symptoms including headaches, nausea, dizziness, allergies, and respiratory infections. Anyone with asthma is at additional risk for white mold symptoms.

In more serious cases, mold exposure can cause long-term issues like memory loss and depression. The more time you spend around mold, the greater the risk that you will suffer negative health effects. So, it’s important to take care of any white mold as soon as you see it.

White mold also presents a more indirect threat: compromising the structural integrity of your building. It is common to find white mold on wood in homes. The mold survives by eating away at the surfaces it’s on such as support beams or other essential components of a property.

Left alone for enough time, and the entire structure may become unstable and unsafe. Yet another reason to deal with white mold quickly.

How to Get Rid of White Mold in your Basement

Once you’ve found white fluffy mold in your basement, you should begin taking steps to eliminate it immediately to protect yourself, the other residents, and your property.

Depending on the size of the white mold colony, you may be able to handle the treatment yourself but it’s always advisable to call a professional mold removal company like Jenkins Environmental Services.

A professional team will be able to assess the extent of the damage and possibly even find mold that you didn’t see. After that, they’ll use the appropriate equipment and techniques to get rid of all of the mold quickly and keeping it from returning so you don’t have to deal with a similar problem in the future.

White Mold Removal Steps

To avoid any unnecessary contact with the mold, you should put on rubber gloves, protective goggles, and a face mask that goes over your nose and mouth. This should help cut down the risk that you inhale or ingest the mold in any way while cleaning.


If possible, take surfaces affected by mold outside before cleaning them. In many cases this won’t be possible, though, so your other option is to open a window or use a dehumidifier to keep the air moving and help the surface dry faster.

Vacuum Any Visible Mold

To start tackling the mold, you should vacuum the area using a vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter. After doing so, take the vacuum outside and seal the vacuum bag to secure all the mold trapped inside.

Clean Off the Mold

Once you’re done with the preliminary steps, it’s time to eliminate the mold. Depending on the extent of the spread, you should be able to kill all the mold yourself.

So, what kills white mold? To start, you can try just mixing dishwasher detergent and warm water then scrubbing with a scrub brush. If that doesn’t work, another option is to use vinegar. Just spray some undistilled white vinegar on the mold and let it sit for at least an hour.

When you come back, wipe the area down with a clean rag and the mold should be gone. For an even stronger solution, you can use diluted bleach. Make a solution that’s 20 parts water, 10 parts bleach, and 1 part detergent and use a brush to apply the solution to the affected surface and scrub.

Sand Down the Wood (if necessary)

In short, if you’re asking yourself, “how do you get rid of white mold?” the easy answer is to call a professional. For those who decide to deal with it themselves, it’s important to remember to take precautions such as wearing protective gear and ventilating the area.

White Mold Symptoms

White mold is a type of fungus that can cause health issues for individuals, with symptoms ranging from skin irritation, coughing fits, and limited breathing. The severity of the symptoms depends on the amount of mold spores people are exposed to and their own sensitivity levels. Common signs include respiratory problems such as sneezing, watery eyes, dizziness, asthma attacks and even fever.

Persons who come into direct contact with white mold may also experience dry patches on their skin accompanied by itchiness or burning sensations. It is wise to take measures to limit exposure if you notice these symptoms in yourself or another person. Identifying the source of the problem is essential in controlling white mold growth and preventing further damage to health and wellbeing.

Frequently Asked Questions About White Mold

Many people confuse white mold with mildew or efflorescence, both of which are less dangerous. If you want to be sure you’re dealing with white mold, you just have to ask yourself a couple of questions.

First, does the substance dissolve in water? If you drop some water on the white substance you suspect is mold and it dissolves, it isn’t mold. It’s probably efflorescence, a salt deposit.

Second, where is the substance growing? As mentioned previously, white mold will typically grow on wood or other building materials.

Mildew, on the other hand, will generally grow on plants and not much else. You’ll usually find efflorescence on hard surfaces like brick and concrete. So, just by looking at the location of the white substance, you should be able to tell what you’re dealing with.

How is white mold different from black mold?

Much like white mold, black mold thrives in high moisture areas and is typically found on porous materials like wood and drywall. The most obvious difference between white and black mold is the color. While white mold ranges in color from white to light green, black mold shows up as a dark green or black color. Black mold is more difficult to remove than white, too.

Beyond that, black mold is known for being particularly dangerous. Toxic black mold is neurotoxic, meaning it’s capable of killing brain cells and causing permanent damage. Some of the symptoms of black mold exposure are the same as white mold exposure like anxiety and memory loss but it can also cause other symptoms including seizures, pulmonary edema, and aggression.

Is White Mold on Wood Dangerous?

The white mold on a wooden table or floor is potentially dangerous because it will eventually eat away at the wood and cause severe damage. To prevent this from occurring, you can wet an clean cloth in vinegar for up to three days before placing over affected area- if needed longer then just replace constantly!

How can you tell if mold is toxic?

Any kind of mold, including white mold and black mold, can be toxic and dangerous to your health. If you find mold in your house or workplace, you should do something about it as quickly as possible to protect yourself. And if you’re already experiencing symptoms consistent with toxic mold exposure (coughing, fatigue, rashes, and more), you should call a doctor and a professional mold removal company.

The longer you’re exposed to the mold, the greater the chance that you will suffer long-term health effects. That’s not a risk worth taking.

Mold Remediation Professionals

White mold is a household threat you might not have been aware of previously. It grows on wood and drywall and can present serious health risks to those exposed to it. Don’t mess around with mold. Consider contacting a professional like Jenkins Environmental Services for help.

Get Professional Mold Removal and Remediation help today!

White mold is a term that applies to many species of mold which can grow in homes. And, like any other mold, it may compromise your property and health if you don’t deal with it. Read on to learn what white mold is and how it can affect your health.

White mold is not a specific type of mold – many species of mold may appear white. The species commonly found in homes are aspergillus, Cladosporium, and penicillium. All these molds may also appear gray, green, black, or other tints. Moreover, all molds thrive in moist areas where a food source like wood is present.

Generally, it’s not necessary to determine the type of mold you have in your home – all molds have the same negative effects.

Some molds may appear white in their early stages of development. Later, these molds may change color after producing spores. Yet, many molds appear white regardless of age because their spores are not pigmented. The type of material causes the lack of spore pigmentation it’s growing on.

Also, white mold appears powdery and may blend in with the materials it’s growing on, making it hard to tell that it’s actually mold.

White Mold vs Mildew and Efflorescence

Sometimes, people confuse white mold with mildew, which may also have a white appearance. However, mildew rarely grows on surfaces other than plants and doesn’t destroy materials. On the other hand, white mold penetrates the surface of porous materials like wood or drywall and can ruin them.

It’s also common for people to confuse white mold with a substance called efflorescence. It’s a salt deposit caused by salty water that seeps through concrete, brick, or stone. When the water evaporates, it leaves behind a white crystalline substance similar to this type of mold.

However, unlike white mold, efflorescence does not pose health risks and won’t grow or spread.

To tell whether a substance is a white mold or efflorescence, look at the affected surface. If it’s masonry, it’s efflorescence. Also, put some of it into a drop of water, and if it dissolves, it’s not mold. Lastly, squeeze some of the substance between your fingers, and if it breaks into a fine powder, it’s efflorescence.

All types of mold, including white mold, can cause health problems. You should remove it as soon as possible to avoid health risks and structural damage. Even milder forms can endanger your health.

Since some people don’t realize that white mold is mold, it may put them at risk for extended periods. The symptoms induced by white mold include allergic reactions, respiratory infections, eye irritations, dizziness, nausea, headaches, and even depression.

If you suspect you or a family member has been affected by mold exposure, consult a doctor and have the mold removed immediately.

White mold is just one type of mold that can invade your home. Check out information about black mold and how to remove mold from your home. For mold removal and water damage repair services, contact your local PuroClean office.

Last edited on 22nd of February 2023

  • moldhyphaemyceliumvegetative myceliumaerial mycelium.
  • mold
  • hyphae
  • mycelium
  • vegetative mycelium
  • aerial mycelium.
  • Define dermatophyte, list 2 genera of dermatophytes, and name three dermatophytic infections.
  • Describe what is meant by the term “dimorphic fungus”, name two systemic infections caused by dimorphic fungi, and state how they are initially contracted.

Reproduction of Molds

The dermatophytes are a group of molds that cause superficial mycoses of the hair, skin, and nails and utilize the protein keratin, that is found in hair, skin, and nails, as a nitrogen and energy source. Infections are commonly referred to as ringworm or tinea infections and include:

  • tinea capitis (infection of the skin of the scalp, eyebrows, and eyelashes)
  • tinea barbae (infection of the bearded areas of the face and neck)
  • tinea faciei (infection of the skin of the face)
  • tinea corporis (infection of the skin regions other than the scalp, groin, palms, and soles)
  • tinea cruris (infection of the groin; jock itch)
  • tinea unguium (onchomycosis; infection of the fingernails and toenails)
  • tinea pedis (athlete’s foot; infection of the soles of the feet and between the toes).

Another tinea infection of the skin is tinea versicolor caused by the yeast Malassezia globosa. appears as a hypopigmentation of the infected skin. M. globosa is also the most common cause of dandruff.

Dimorphic fungi may exhibit two different growth forms. Outside the body they grow as a mold, producing hyphae and asexual reproductive spores, but in the body they grow in a non-mycelial yeast form. These infections appear as systemic mycoses and usually begin by inhaling spores from the mold form. After germination in the lungs, the fungus grows as a yeast. Factors such as body temperature, osmotic stress, oxidative stress, and certain human hormones activate a dimorphism-regulating histidine kinase enzyme in dimorphic molds, causing them to switch from their avirulent mold form to their more virulent yeast form.

c. Blastomycosis, caused by Blastomyces dermatitidis, is common around the Great Lakes region and the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys.Infection can range from an asymptomatic, self-healing pulmonary infection to widely disseminated and potentially fatal disease. Pulmonary infection may be asymptomatic in nearly 50% of patients. Blastomyces dermatitidis can also sometimes infect the skin.

These infections usually remains localized in the lungs, but in rare cases may spread throughout the body.

As mentioned earlier, the yeast Candida albicans can also exhibit dimorphism.

Mucormycoses are infections caused by fungi belonging to the order of Mucorales. Rhizopus species are the most common causative organisms. The most common infection is a severe infection of the facial sinuses, which may extend into the brain. Other mycoses include pulmonary, cutaneous, and gastrointestinal.

  • A patient infected with HIV and living in the southwestern US frequently takes walks in a dry, arid area that was once a ranch. On a particular windy and dusty day, he hikes near an area where bulldozers are excavating the area for a housing development. A couple of weeks later he develops severe respiratory symptoms. A microscopic examination of lung tissue in the lab shows spherical bodies filled with yeast like particles. What infection does he most likely have?How specifically did he contract this infection?
  • What infection does he most likely have?
  • How specifically did he contract this infection?
  • A woman notices an intense itching between her toes. The skin appears red and inflamed with some cracking of the skin. A scraping of the skin is viewed under a microscope and fungal hyphae and large leaf-shaped spores are evident.

What infection does this person most likely have and how can you tell from this information?

Medscape article on infections associated with organisms mentioned in this Learning Object. Registration to access this website is free.

Molds are microscopic fungi that live on plant or animal matter. They can be found indoors and outdoors and are part of our natural environment. They play an important role in the environment by breaking down and digesting organic material. Also called fungi or mildew, molds are neither plants nor animals; they are part of the kingdom Fungi.

Molds can multiply by producing microscopic spores similar to the seeds produced by plants. Many spores are so small they easily float through the air and can be carried for great distances by even the gentlest breezes.

Molds come in many colors including white. “Black mold” is not a species or specific kind of mold, and neither is “toxic mold.” Sometimes the news media use the terms “toxic mold” and “black mold” to refer to molds that may produce mycotoxins or for a specific mold, Stachybotrys chartarum. Molds that produce mycotoxins are often referred to as toxigenic fungi.

Mold is not usually a problem indoors — unless mold spores land on a wet or damp spot and begin growing. As molds grow they digest whatever they are growing on. Unchecked mold growth can damage buildings and furnishings; molds can rot wood, damage drywall, and eventually cause structural damage to buildings. Mold can cause cosmetic damage, such as stains, to furnishings. The potential human health effects of mold are also a concern. It is important, therefore, to prevent mold from growing indoors.

The Health Effects of Mold

People who are sensitive to mold may experience stuffy nose, irritated eyes, wheezing, or skin irritation. People allergic to mold may have difficulty in breathing and shortness of breath. People with weakened immune systems and with chronic lung diseases, such as obstructive lung disease, may develop mold infections in their lungs. If you or your family members have health problems after exposure to mold, contact your doctor or other health care provider.

Preventing Mold

If there is mold growth in your home, you should clean up the mold and fix any water problem, such as leaks in roofs, walls, or plumbing. Controlling moisture in your home is the most critical factor for preventing mold growth.

To remove mold growth from hard surfaces use commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water. Use a stiff brush on rough surface materials such as concrete.

If you choose to use bleach to remove mold:

Mold Resources

Connecticut Department of Public Health Fact Sheet

Environmental Protection Agency’s Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture and Your Home

Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Reentering Your Flooded Home

Health Canada: Condominium Owner’s Guide to Mold.pdf

Health Canada:  Fighting Mold-The Homeowners’ Guide.pdf


Connecticut School Indoor Environment Resource Team

New York City Health Dept’s Guidelines on Assessment and Remediation of Fungi in Indoor Environments

EPA’s Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings

American Industrial Hygiene Association’s Paid List of Consultants (Search on Mold)

Indoor Air Quality – CT DPH

CT DPH Occupational Airways Publications (IEQ&Teachers)

OSHA’s Brief Guide to Mold in the Workplace

For more information on mold issues, contact the Connecticut Department of Public Health at 860-509-7742.

The North Central District Health Department is a full-time Public Health Department with a full-time staff funded by its member towns and an annual per capita grant from the Connecticut State Department of Public Health

Our Mission is to prevent disease, injury, and disability by promoting and protecting the health and well-being of the public and our environment.

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Phone: 860-745-0383
Fax: 860-745-3188

Both are unwelcome, but one is typically harder to kick than the other.

No matter how much you clean, it’s basically inevitable: There’s always something growing in the bathroom. Mildew and mold are incredibly common, popping their unwanted selves into bathrooms, crawl spaces, and basements. But what is the difference between mold and mildew?

According to the EPA the difference between mildew and mold isn’t all that much. Both are types of fungi that thrive in moist environments and can be found in damp areas of homes, particularly dwellings that have been subjected to water damage.

If it has been a while since your lessons in sixth grade science class, mold includes “all species of microscopic fungi that grow in the form of multicellular filaments,” and molds can thrive on any organic matter, including clothing, leather, and paper, per the EPA. (If you have ever picked up a book at a vintage shop and noticed brown staining on the pages, you might be surprised to learn it’s actually a type of mold that is sometimes called “foxing.”) Mold can grow on ceilings, walls, and floors of homes that were flooded or have other moisture problems. As anyone who has walked into a musty house knows, molds can emit a strong odor, too.

Mildew, on the other hand, “refers to certain kinds of mold or fungus” and the word “is often used generically to refer to mold growth,” according to the EPA. In other words, mildew is another name for mold, specifically the kind of mold that lives on shower walls, windowsills, and other spots in your house that are high in moisture. Mildew can also give off a scent, but it’s usually milder than mold.

So how do you know which one you’re dealing with? According to BobVila.com, mold generally looks slimy or fuzzy, tends to have a raised texture, and can come in a rainbow of colors, including deep green and black. Mildew is powdery, looks white or gray, always appears flat, and grows on surfaces.

The good news is that mildew is pretty easy to clean with your favorite household cleaner, a scrub brush, and some elbow grease. Mold is not very common in well-maintained houses, but if it does show up, it requires a bit more work to eliminate and may require getting rid of carpets or ceiling panels where the fungi is growing. It’s worth the effort, though, because mold can be dangerous to your health, spurring unsavory side effects like allergies, asthma, headaches, and breathing issues.

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