Mold is a Type of Fungi. Many fungi (e.g., species of Aspergillus, Penicillium, Fusarium, Trichoderma, and Memnoniella) in addition to SC can produce potent mycotoxins, some of which are identical to compounds produced by SC. Mycotoxins are fungal metabolites that have been identified as toxic agents. For this reason, SC cannot be treated as uniquely toxic in indoor environments.
People performing renovations/cleaning of widespread fungal contamination may be at risk for developing Organic Dust Toxic Syndrome (ODTS) or Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis (HP). ODTS may occur after a single heavy exposure to dust contaminated with fungi and produces flu-like symptoms. It differs from HP in that it is not an immune-mediated disease and does not require repeated exposures to the same causative agent. A variety of biological agents may cause ODTS including common species of fungi. HP may occur after repeated exposures to an allergen and can result in permanent lung damage.
There have been reports linking health effects in office workers to offices contaminated with moldy surfaces and in residents of homes contaminated with fungal growth. Symptoms, such as fatigue, respiratory ailments, and eye irritation were typically observed in these cases. Some studies have suggested an association between SC and pulmonary hemorrhage/hemosiderosis in infants, generally those less than six months old. Pulmonary hemosiderosis is an uncommon condition that results from bleeding in the lungs. The cause of this condition is unknown, but may result from a combination of environmental contaminants and conditions (e.g., smoking, fungal contaminants and other bioaerosols, and water-damaged homes), and currently its association with SC is unproven.
Fungi in buildings may cause or exacerbate symptoms of allergies (such as wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, nasal congestion, and eye irritation), especially in persons who have a history of allergic diseases (such as asthma and rhinitis). Individuals with persistent health problems that appear to be related to fungi or other bioaerosol exposure should see their physicians for a referral to practitioners who are trained in occupational/environmental medicine or related specialties and are knowledgeable about these types of exposures. Decisions about removing individuals from an affected area must be based on the results of such medical evaluation, and be made on a case-by-case basis. Except in cases of widespread fungal contamination that are linked to illnesses throughout a building, building-wide evacuation is not indicated.