Glossary

Alternaria

Ubiquitous in the outdoor environment. Indoors, it is often found in carpets, textiles, and on horizontal surfaces in building interiors, and on window frames. It has been associated with hypersensitivity pneumonitis, sinusitis, deratomycosis, onychomycosis, subcutaneous phaeohyphomycosis, and other invasive infections.  

Ascospores

Ubiquitous in the natural environment. All ascospores belong to members of the Phylum Ascomycota, which encompasses a plethora of genera worldwide. Ascospores are associated the plants and plant materials. 

Aspergillus/ Penicillium

Ubiquitous in nature and grows dramatically on materials such as sheetrock and wood. The species can be recovered in large numbers from a variety of dried foods, house dust, spices, and cereals. This fungus should be considered highly allergenic. It has also been reported as an opportunistic pathogen. 

Bipolaris

A naturally prevalent fungus that is most frequently associated with grasses, plant material, decaying food, and soil. It is common to both indoor and outdoor environments. Various species of this fungus can produce the mycotoxins, sterigmatocystin, which has been shown to produce liver and kidney damage when ingested by laboratory animals. 

Chaetomium

This genus of fungus producing a large amount of spore bodies. It is found on a variety of substrates containing cellulose including paper and plant compost. It can be readily found on the damp or water damaged paper in sheetrock. 

Cladosporium

Often found in higher concentrations indoors, as compared to outdoor concentrations. It is a common allergen. A wide variety of plants are food sources for this fungus. It is found on dead plants, woody plants, food, straw, soil, paint and textiles. It can cause deep mycosis in immune compromised patients. Acute symptoms include edema and bronchiospasms, chronic cases may develop pulmonary emphysema. 

Epicoccum

A very commonly found allergen. It is found in plants, soil, grains, textiles, and paper products. Generally in higher concentrations in outdoor environments as compared to indoor environments. 

Fusarium

This fungus is found on a wide range of plants. Symptoms may occur either through ingestion of contaminated grains or possibly inhalation of spores. The genera can produce hemorrhagic syndrome in humans (alimentary toxic aleukia). This is characterized by nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dermatitis, and extensive internal bleeding. Reported to be allergenic. Frequently involved in eye, skin and nail infections, generally as an opportunistic infection. 

Ganoderma

Specifically found in outdoor environments. Grows on conifers and hardwoods worldwide, causing white rot, root rot, and stem rot. Ganoderma species are known to cause allergies in people on a worldwide scale, when exposed in the natural environment. 

Myxomycetes

Specifically found in outdoor environments. Grows on decaying logs, dead leaves, dung, lawns, mulched flower beds and compost piles. May be allergenic to sensitive individuals. 

Pithomyces

Specifically found in outdoor environments. Grows on dead grass in pastures. Causes facial eczema in ruminant exposure. 

Rust

Rusts or blights are parasitic to many types of plants. There are at least 5000 known species of rusts belonging to at least 150 different genera. Rusts are the cause of great economic losses on many cultivated plants. 

Scopulariopsis

A very unusual and potentially dangerous genus of fungi. It may produce arsine gas if growing on arsenic substrate. This can occur on wallpapers covered with ‘paris’ green. It has been found growing on a wide variety of materials including house dust. It is associated with type III allergic reactions. 

Stachybotrys

A highly ubiquitous and dark colored fungi that grows on building materials, containing high cellulose content and a low nitrogen content. Individuals with chronic exposure to the toxin produced by this fungus reported cold and flu symptoms, sore throats, diarrhea, headaches, fatigue, dermatitis, intermittent local hair loss, and generalized malaise. The toxins produced by this fungus will suppress the immune system affecting the lymphoid tissue and the bone marrow and can be devastating in AIDS patients. 

Torula

Commonly occuring outdoor fungus which grows on leaves, plant roots, plant litter, soil, wood. Some species cause stains in hardwoods and lumber. 

Ulocladium

This commonly found mold requires a great deal of moisture to survive indoors. Isolated from dead plants and cellulose materials. Found on textiles and other organically bound substrates. 

Zygomycetes

Commonly found in the outdoor environment. Will easily grow on decaying plant matter and decaying animal matter, on fruits and on vegetables. Many are extremely fast growing and can inhibit other fungi when competing for food or its’ environmental niche.