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ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS - INSPECT, TEST, REMEDY
MOLD: A COMPLETE GUIDE to TEST CLEAN PREVENT
ACTIVITY of MOLD in BUILDINGS
AGE of MOLD, HOW OLD
AIR CLEANER PURIFIER TYPES
AIR FILTERS for HVAC SYSTEMS
AIR TEST SAMPLING CASSETTE STUDY
AIRBORNE MOLD COUNT NUMBER GUIDE
AIRBORNE PARTICLE ANALYSIS METHODS
ALLERGEN TESTS for BUILDINGS
BROWN HAIRY BATHROOM MOLD
BIBLIOGAPHY for ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH, MOLD, IAQ
BLACK MOLD, HARMLESS COSMETIC
BLACK MOLD, TOXIC & ALLERGENIC
BLEACHING MOLD, Advice about
BOOK MOLD, CLEANING
BOOKSTORE - ENVIRONMENTAL
CACTUS FUNGI / MOLD
CAR MOLD CONTAMINATION
CARPET DUST IDENTIFICATION
CARPET PADDING ASBESTOS, MOLD, ODORS
CARPET FUNGICIDAL SPRAY
CARPET STAIN DIAGNOSIS
CARPET & other STAIN TESTS
CARPET TEST PROCEDURE
CARPETING & INDOOR AIR QUALITY
CHAIN OF CUSTODY - TEST SAMPLE
CLEARANCE INSPECTIONS - MOLD CLEANUP
DIRECTORY of MOLD / ENVIRONMENTAL EXPERTS
DIRT FLOOR MOLD CONTAMINATION
DISINFECTANTS & SANITIZERS, SOURCES
DISINFECTING BUILDINGS with BLEACH
DO-IT-YOURSELF MOLD CLEANUP WARNINGS
DUST ANALYSIS for FIBERGLASS
DUST, HVAC CONTAMINATION STUDY
EFFLORESCENCE SALTS & WHITE DEPOSITS
FEAR of MOLD - MYCOPHOBIA
FIBERBOARD INSULATION SHEATHING MOLD
FIBERGLASS INSULATION MOLD
FIND MOLD, ESSENTIAL STEPS
MOLD in BUILDINGS
FIRE DAMAGE vs MOLD DAMAGE
FLOODS in BUILDINGS, MOLD PREVENTION
FOXING STAINS on books & papers
FUNGICIDAL SPRAY & SEALANT USE GUIDE
GAS DETECTION INSTRUMENTS
GAS EXPOSURE EFFECTS, TOXIC
GAS EXPOSURE LIMITS & STANDARDS
GAS TEST PROCEDURES
HOUSE DUST ANALYSIS
HOUSE DUST COMPONENTS
HUMIDITY CONTROL & TARGETS INDOORS
LAB PROCEDURES MICROSCOPE TECHNIQUES
LIGHT, GUIDE to FORENSIC USE
MEDIA BLASTING for MOLD REMOVAL
METHANE GAS SOURCES
MICROSCOPE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
MEDIA BLASTING for MOLD REMOVAL
METHANE GAS SOURCES
MICROSCOPE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
MILDEW ERRORS, IT's MOLD
MILDEW REMOVAL & PREVENTION
MOISTURE CONTROL in BUILDINGS
MOLD: A COMPLETE GUIDE TO MOLD
MOLD EXPERT, WHEN TO HIRE
MVOCs & MOLDY MUSTY ODORS
MYCOPHOBIA, STAINS MISTAKEN for MOLD
MYCOTOXIN EFFECTS of MOLD EXPOSURE
ODORS GASES SMELLS, DIAGNOSIS & CURE
RENTERS GUIDE TO MOLD & IAQ
ROBIGUS & Wheat Rust Fungus
SMELL PATCH TEST to FIND ODOR SOURCE
STAINS on & in BUILDINGS, CAUSES & CURES
THERMAL IMAGING MOLD SCANS
TRAPPED MOLD BETWEEN WOOD SURFACES
UV LIGHT BLACK LIGHT USES
VAPOR BARRIERS & CONDENSATION
VENTILATION in BUILDINGS
VOCs VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS
WATER ENTRY in BUILDINGS
Mold-related illness: aflatoxins & food mold hazards: here we list major outbreaks of disease, illness, deaths caused in humans and other animals due to eating moldy foods. Our page top photograph shows green and white Penicillium sp. mold growing on an orange.
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Human & Animal Diseases Caused by Mold - A Summary of Risks, History of Mold Related Illnesses, Resources
Recent near-panic media reports of dangerous mold in pancake mix and cake batters need to be understood with an accurate perspective on the hazards to humans or other animals from eating moldy foods. Here we provide a brief history of major mold-related-illness outbreaks and additional detail on mold toxicity associated with food products.\
[Click to enlarge any image]
People who do not have a mold allergy eat moldy food without issue - such as blue cheese; people in developing countries survive eating moldy food and fruit thrown into waste bins.
Harmless or Helpful Molds
There are plenty of molds that grow on and in foods that are harmless, and many many foods whose preparation deliberately involves the action of mold- Camembert and Roquefort cheese, Quorn microprotein, Rhizopus oligosporous used to make tempeh, Aspergillus oryzae used in the production of Miso and other soy products.
Our photo (above left) is of Rhizopus sp. -DJF
Cosmetic "black mold" has been a cause of unnecessary building "mold remediation" expense in some cases - See Recognize Cosmetic Mold and Recognize Harmless Black Mold, and BASKETBALL MOLD SYNDROME - BBMS for examples of this problem.
Molds are also used to produce important drugs used to treat illness in humans, animals (antibiotics such as penicillin), and other molds are used in pest control applications.
A Concise History of Mold Related Illness in People & Animals
Use Common Sense in Avoiding Moldy Food Products
A general panic about possible mold in foods would be undue, misplaced, and an exaggeration.
Mold is everywhere, all the time. We do not live and should not try to live in a "mold free" environment - mycophobia contains its own risks. It is interesting to note that the incidence of asthma was found lowest among children of farmers whose environment contained very high levels of exposure to mold and other airborne allergens. Seeking to protect our children by placing them in a "too-clean" environment in many instances actually increases the ultimate risk to their health from subsequent exposure to common mold and bacteria against which they will have developed no resistance.
Mold Growth on Lemon Slices in Water
That mold will grow in water is no surprise, there are plenty of water-molds. But when our lab frog reported that there were greenish-gray colonies floating on water in a pitcher of un-sweetened water with a dash of lemon we took a quick look and thought - gee it's a bit slimy but it sure looks like little Aspergillus colonies.
As Bob Tomasulo used to say with a grin, Wrong! Try again! As you can see below the fungus growing here was a species of Cladosporium - The King of Molds.
Mold Growth on Fresh Strawberries
Photographs above: typical mold growth on fresh strawberries. At above right is the dominant fungal material, hyaline fungal hyphae.
What Are the Potential Hazards from Eating Moldy Foods? - Mold Allergies, Mycotoxins, Aflatoxins, Ochratoxins & Bacterial Hazards in Food
But we certainly agree that there are potential hazards from ingesting mold in some specific cases:
The hazards from eating moldy food are
In general, moldy feed - grains - is particularly risky (more than say fruit) due to possible presence of mycotoxins or bacterial contamination.
But it's not simply the age of a product or throwing it away based on an expiration date that describe the risk. Even a new off the shelf product, particularly grain-based, that has been improperly stored under damp conditions, could be a risk. There could be a risk from buying a new grain product that itself was made from moldy raw product - say grain stored under damp conditions - but that seems to be less likely in countries where manufacturers are well aware of the hazard.
To err on the side of caution, If your cake mix, bread mix, or pancake mix or any other food product looks or smells funny or moldy, or has been stored wet or damp just throw it away.
Putting Mold Related Illness Hazards in Perspective
Risk management: there are risks associated with mold exposure; certainly any large mold reservoir in a building (more than 30 sq.ft.. contiguous non-cosmetic mold) should be removed and its cause corrected -see ACTION GUIDE - WHAT TO DO ABOUT INDOOR MOLD.
And where people are at extra risk, extra care is needed to protect them from mold exposure - see MOLD EXPERT, WHEN TO HIRE for help in deciding when conditions justify bringing in a mold expert.
But don't forget these sources of immediate life-safety risk: lack of exercise, smoking, failure to install smoke and CO alarms in your home, failure fasten your seatbelt in the car, driving while texting, and falling down the stairs.
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Technical Reviewers & References
Allergies, Allergens, Allergy Testing in Buildings - References & Products
Mold Contamination Testing, Cleanup, Prevention: references & products
OTHER IAQ ISSUES: How To Find and Address Other Indoor Air or Indoor Environment Contaminants Besides Mold
Mold or allergens may not be the only or even the main indoor environmental contaminant. Don't let media attention to mold cause so much enviro-scare fear that other, possibly more urgent hazards go un-addressed.