Mould and fungus are a key part of nature’s eco-system – and our lives. Without them we wouldn’t have bread, beer – or even penicillin. But there are fungi that can cause potential issues to indoor air quality.
This is a greenish-black fungus found worldwide. It grows very successfully in high cellulose material, such as hay, straw, paper and some building materials. It is capable of producing several toxins (tricothesene mycotoxin and Satratoxin H), one of which is poisonous by inhalation. Individuals with chronic exposure to the toxin produced by this fungus report flu symptoms, tiredness, sore throats, diarrhoea, fatigue, intermittent hair loss, dermatitis and headaches.
Stachybotrys is a slow growing fungus and does not compete well with other rapidly growing fungi. It requires specific growing conditions and is very rarely found in outdoor air samples. It is usually difficult to find in indoor air samples unless it has been physically disturbed. Once disturbed the spores, which are in a gelatinous mass, quickly die. The dead spores though, are still allergenic and toxigenic and absorption through the skin can cause mild symptoms.
Visual clues are the best way to discern the presence of this fungus. Evidence of water damage and symptoms consistent with an allergic or toxic response to Stachybotrys are also pointers to its existence. It is important to remember that there are millions of different fungi and that it is only in rare cases that Stachybotrys is present.
Treatment generally involves total isolation of the infected areas, a negative pressure procedure and minimising the production and spread of dust (which may contain spores). Only qualified experts should treat this fungus. At Airlab, we can investigate and solve any issues you feel you have with a fungi related problem in your building.