Stachybotrys atra, commonly known as Black Mold, can be an especially lethal mold. It’s part of a family of molds (others are Memnoniella and Aspergillus versicolor) that produce airborne toxins, called mycotoxins, that can cause serious breathing difficulties, memory and hearing loss, dizziness, flu-like symptoms and bleeding in the lungs. In 1996 and 1999, studies by Eckardt Johanning, M.D., of the Eastern New York Occupational and Environmental Health Center, studied people with prolonged exposure to mycotoxins from Stachybotrys and other fungi. They experienced chronic fatigue, loss of balance, irritability, memory loss and difficulty speaking.
Fortunately, Stachybotrys isn’t found in homes as often as molds such as Cladosporium, Penicillium and Alternaria. Those are common, especially in damp states such as Texas, Louisiana, Florida and Oregon. Yet even they can cause health problems, including chronic sinus and respiratory infections and asthma. A 1999 Mayo Clinic study fingered nearly all the chronic sinus infections afflicting 37 million Americans to molds. Recent studies also have linked molds to the tripling of the asthma rate over the past 20 years.
The CDC has linked stachybotrys atra to cases of lung disorder in infants and adults. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible for home and business owners to distinguish between toxic and benign molds. They all can look so similar.
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