What are Mycotoxins?

Mycotoxin refers to something that is poisonous or “toxic” and is produced by fungus and molds.

There are many different kinds of toxins that appear in organisms of the fungus kingdom and these toxins (or mycotoxins) are not in uniformity in these species.

One species may have a kind of mycotoxin found in many other organisms, however, one species may also have many kinds of mycotoxins present in them.

Are they Dangerous?

Absolutely, mycotoxins are poisonous enough to cause severe illness or even death depending on their type and the amount of exposure.

Mycotoxins in molds can usually cause a weakened immune system that leaves a human body prone to many more diseases which is not a healthy route at all.

Furthermore, some very alarming health effects of mycotoxins also include lung diseases, blood diseases, and even genetic problems.

Which Molds have Mycotoxins?

Fungus and molds can grow in small quantities almost anywhere on the plant where the conditions are ideal for growth i.e., humidity and temperature.

When these molds proliferate into colonies, the mycotoxin concentration becomes high and dangerous.

Molds feed on organic matter and the inside of buildings and homes is usually a soft target for their growth. For indoor molds, it is usually very hard to determine the presence of mycotoxins.

Indoor fungus/molds can be segregated into three different types, i.e., Primary, Secondary and Tertiary colonizers.

These types depend on the kind of nutrition and humidity needed for the mold to grow.

Each mold type can colonize to grow, and mycotoxin concentration can go higher and higher.

Most common molds include the Stachybotrys chartarum, which is usually found indoors and is a very common domestic sight.

the Stachybotrys chartarum can contain a very high amount of mycotoxin and is very prone to grow on hard boards, ceiling tiles and all other places exposed to moisture.

Common household diseases including respiratory inflammation are large because of exposure to mycotoxins in molds.

Where else are these molds found?

Mycotoxins can even appear in our food because of fungal infections of crops and plants. These foods may either directly be consumed by human beings or indirectly by livestock (since they feed on crops).

Vegetables and fruits that have not fully matured are more susceptible to mycotoxins by molds and it can be fatal if these crops are not treated by pesticides in time.

In general, molds that contain mycotoxins can be found in food, plants and even medicinal plants that impart even more dangerous effects on consumers.

Precautions and Testing:

Although molds can be killed, mycotoxins are a kind of bacterial organisms that need special treatment. Most kinds can be killed with the mold, but a precautionary measure is necessary to make sure.

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Heat treatment is usually an effective and home-based method for objects that can be intensely heated, however, this may not always be the case.

Other treatments include washing, physical separation, milling and treatment with radiation. Irradiation is a combined treatment to effectively control mold growth and clear the mycotoxins.

Related Topics: Mold & Mycotoxin

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