About Aspergillus Mold
Aspergillus is a common fungus found in indoor and outdoor environments globally. It’s one of three common types of mold found in homes, along with black mold and pink mold. Aspergillus can easily develop in homes or buildings because the spores become airborne and cling to nearby surfaces.
Aspergillus mold spores can enter your home and typically come from one of three places:
- Outdoor air that travels through open doors and windows
- On people, pets, or other objects
- Moisture-related fungi that grow in your home
Aspergillus mold spores are easily airborne, making their way throughout the home via the heating, air conditioning, and ventilation system. This portability can make it challenging to identify where aspergillus is growing in your home.
While most spores are harmless, some Aspergillus species can cause aspergillosis—a group of lung infections. People with pre-existing lung diseases, such as asthmatics or people with compromised immune systems are more likely to develop aspergillosis.
However, most healthy people are exposed to aspergillus spores without developing lung infections.
Common Types of Aspergillus Species
There are over 200 types of aspergillus species, and approximately 40 can be harmful. The most common types of aspergillus mold include Aspergillus Niger, Aspergillus Flavus, and Aspergillus Fumigatus.
Aspergillus Niger mold is the most common Aspergillus species found in nature since it can grow just about anywhere. A. Niger mold is often found growing behind damp walls. The mold is black on the surface and white or yellow underneath.
Aspergillus Flavus produces carcinogenic (cancer-causing) mycotoxins, which can contaminate food during harvest, transit, or storage. The surface of a. Flavus mold is yellow-green and has a red-brown tint underneath.
Aspergillus Fumigatus is the most toxic of the aspergillus family and can be found growing on decomposing organic material. It tolerates colder temperatures better than most aspergillus species, thriving in temperatures as low as 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
People exposed to Aspergillus Fumigatus can develop severe infections or allergic reactions, including chronic pulmonary aspergillosis—a long-term respiratory illness caused by ongoing exposure to aspergillus.
Where Does Aspergillus Mold Grow?
Aspergillus is most likely to grow in damp, oxygen-rich environments located around your home. These may be naturally occurring environments, such as compost piles or dead leaves. Aspergillus can grow in damp, human-made environments, like window-mounted air conditioning units and water-damaged buildings.
Aspergillus mold often grows on:
- Compost piles
- Dead leaves
- Grains, spices, and other stored food
- Window air conditioners
- Water damaged property
Aspergillus thrives in temperatures from 54 to 149 degrees Fahrenheit and can endure extreme temperatures of up to 158 degrees Fahrenheit. Aspergillus goes dormant in colder areas but can survive and grow again when the weather warms up.
Because the human respiratory system is a damp environment within the optimal temperature range for aspergillus, fungal spores can infect the lungs and begin to grow. This growth can lead to serious infections if the immune system cannot stop it.
To prevent aspergillus from growing around your home, locate and eliminate damp indoor environments where the mold can flourish.
Dangers of Aspergillus Mold
Aspergillus health effects can range from mild to life-threatening, depending on the strain and the infected person’s health status. Health issues caused by aspergillus are grouped into a medical condition known as aspergillosis.
Aspergillosis is caused when aspergillus spores grow within the body faster than the immune system can fight back. People with weak immune systems or pre-existing lung diseases, like cystic fibrosis, have the highest risk factors for aspergillosis.
There are several types of aspergillosis, which may take the form of inflammation, fungus growth or infection.
The different types of aspergillosis infections include:
- Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA)—inflammation in the lungs that causes coughing, wheezing or other allergy symptoms
- Allergic Aspergillus sinusitis—sinus inflammation with similar symptoms as a sinus infection
- Aspergilloma—a fungal ball that grows in the lungs or sinuses
- Aspergillus nodule—a small mass of tissue infected with aspergillus
- Chronic cavity pulmonary aspergillosis—an aspergillus infection that causes lung cavities to form and widen
- Azole-resistant Aspergillus Fumigatus—an aspergillus mold infection that is resistant to aspergillosis treatment by antifungal medications
- Invasive aspergillosis—a severe and life-threatening fungal infection that may infect the lungs or other parts of the body
- Cutaneous aspergillosis—a skin infection developing from aspergillosis skin lesions or wounds
Because there are many types of aspergillosis, aspergillus mold symptoms vary significantly. The symptoms may be similar to those of other respiratory illnesses and can include signs like coughing up blood, wheezing, shortness of breath, or chest pain.
Aspergillus Mold Removal
Aspergillus mold removal can be performed by a homeowner or a professional. In either scenario, necessary health and safety precautions must be taken. Here are the steps to follow if you plan to remove aspergillus.
Cordon off the Area
If you attempt to remove aspergillus on your own, you must cordon off the affected area to prevent further spreading. Install negative air pressure barriers around the site. These barriers ensure spores remain contained within your working area.
Wear Protective Equipment
Wear the proper PPE, including a full-face respirator mask and a full-body disposal suit that covers your feet and head. Every inch of your body should be covered in a protective layer to prevent accidental infection when the spores are disturbed.
Remove and Dispose of the Mold
Once you and the area are prepared for work, mold removal can begin. You can kill aspergillus with fungal mold cleaners or bleach solutions. To destroy the mold, wipe down the affected area until all visible signs of the mold are gone.
Alternatively, you may need to remove contaminated materials or objects entirely. In this case, you should place the aspergillus-contaminated materials directly into a secure bag. You’ll then need to coordinate with local disposal companies to determine where and how to dispose of them.
Know When to Call of Professional
If the mold covers more than ten square feet, you have pre-existing health conditions, or you are not confident in your ability to carry out mold removal safely, you’re advised to hire a professional.
Professionals are trained in the optimal techniques for aspergillus mold removal and already have the right tools and products on hand. Mold removal experts can take the planning and stress out of mold removal and free up your time for other activities.
Additionally, professionals have the diagnostic expertise to correctly identify the type of mold, as it’s easy to mistake the different common mold types.
Preventing Aspergillus Mold
The best way to prevent aspergillus from growing in your home is to manage moisture properly. Mold requires damp, often humid, environments to flourish. If you can avoid these environments in your home, you can prevent aspergillus growth and preserve your home’s indoor air quality.
Proper ventilation, humidity control, and crack-sealing are good ways to prevent moisture from accumulating in your home. If your home’s humidity is higher than 50%, invest in a dehumidifier or air conditioner to help control the moisture levels.
Likewise, you should immediately address any water-related issues, such as flooding, broken pipes, or leaking roofs, and thoroughly dry wet areas as quickly as possible.
Hiring Aspergillus Mold Removal Services
Aspergillus can lead to serious health problems and even cause infectious diseases. In severe cases, an aspergillus infection can result in life-threatening aspergillosis for those vulnerable to spores.
If you have aspergillus in your home, you must remove it immediately. Hire mold removal professionals when the mold covers a large area or is difficult to remove. You may also need to hire a professional if you’ve tried to remove the mold yourself, but it comes back.
The cost of hiring a professional will depend on the extent of the damage and average prices in your local area.