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Characteristics Of Stachybotrys Fungi

 

Appearance of Stachybotrys

Stachybotrys Fungi cannot be identified by visual appearance, it requires examination of the fungal spores under a microscope.

Many other common indoor molds can look similar to stachybotrys (including cladosporium, aspergillus, alternaria, and drechslera), so testing is critical to conclusively identify stachybotrys in a building.

As a guideline only:

Stachybotrys chartarum [SC] is a greenish-black wet and slimy mold. It can look also appear sooty, or grayish white strands depending on the amount of moisture available and the length of time it has been growing

Stachybotrys mycelial mats are generally dark olive-gray slimy masses, with smooth margins and either a smooth or ridged surface. The spores are more brownish in color. When the growth sporulates, the colony may appear to have a powdery surface.

 

Conditions For Growth Of Stachybotrys

Stachybotrys mold needs the proper conditions in order to grow:

  • Moisture - accumulated from roof or wall leaks, or chronic plumbing leaks. Areas with relative humidity above 55% and subject to temperature fluctuations are ideal for toxin production.
  • Nutrient source - building material with a high cellulose content and a low nitrogen content.
  • Temperature – mostly in temperatures that humans consider warm to moderately hot.
  • Time - one to two weeks after moisture intrusion compared to one to two days for molds like aspergillus, penicillium, or cladosporium.

Once the stachybotrys begins to grow it can continue to propagate even if the surface water source dries up.

Stachybotrys usually develops into the dominant mold, crowding out other mold types.

 

Mold Dispersion

Stachybotrys spores grow in clusters at the end of stem-like structures known as hyphae. Stachybotrys can spread both through the generation of these spores and the growth of root-like structures called mycelia.

The spores do not easily disperse into the air if the colonized material is wet, as the spores are held together by a sticky/slimy coating. Distribution through the air is only possible when the mold dries out or is disturbed.

It is usually difficult to see in indoor samples, but just one spore in a sample indicates a mass release. The spores die shortly after release but remain allergenic and especially toxigenic. Disturbing the sports sets off mycotoxins which can be even more toxic.

Most commonly found in homes and buildings in USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand where there is both water damage and high humidity.

 

Causes Of High Humidity

Causes and Contributors of high humidity may include:

  • Leaking pipes
  • Water damaged dry walls and ceiling tile (due to leaking pipes, leaking roof or flooding)
  • Faulty or obstructed dryer vent connections
  • Use of steaming hot water in washing machines or many showers
  • Faulty or obstructed bathroom/kitchen ventilation fans
  • Boiling water for long periods of time
  • Drying washing inside over drying racks
  • Using portable gas heaters
  • Use of humidifiers
  • Excessive sealing of the home - inadequate air exchange

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