Fungi Found Indoors

By Sandy Shadley, June 19, 2014

Alternaria is found in plants, soil, food and indoor environments.  Alternaria is an opportunistic pathogen in immunosuppressed persons, especially bone marrow transplant patients.  Alternaria can colonize nasal passages, causing sinusitis, and contributes to the onset of childhood asthma.  Alternaria may cause Type I (“hay fever”) and Type III (hypersensitive) allergic reactions in susceptible individuals.

Ascospores are reproductive spores formed by Ascomycetes fungi.  Ascomycetes consist of approximately 15,000 species of fungi, including morels, truffles, cap fungi and micro fungi.

Aspergillus is found in plant debris and soil.  Aspergillus may cause allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis in individuals suffering from asthma and cystic fibrosis, and may cause sinusitis in some individuals.

Basidiospores are reproductive spores produced by Basidiomycete fungi.  Basidiomycete is found on forest floors, lawns and plants, and includes mushrooms, puffballs, stinkhorns, shelf fungi, jelly fungi, chanterelles, rusts and smuts.  Basidiomycete includes some edible mushrooms.    Basidiospores can cause Type I allergic reactions (“hay fever”) and Type III (hypersensitivity pneumonitis) in susceptible individuals.

Bipolaris is found in plant debris and soil.  Bipolaris causes leaf rot, crown rot and root rot on warm season turf grasses.  Bipolaris can cause allergic and chronic invasive infections in both immunocompetent and immunocompromised persons, and may be pathogenic to dogs and cattle.

Cladosporium is the most commonly occurring fungi and is the primary decomposer of organic matter such as leaves and grass.  Cladosporium may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.

Epicoccum is a widely distributed fungus found in air, soil and foodstuff.  It is a common causative agent of leaf spot on plants.  There are no documented cases of Epicoccum infection in humans or animals.  Epicoccum may cause Type I allergic reactions (“hay fever”) in susceptible individuals.

Myxomycetes is commonly found on decaying wood and vegetation.  Myxomycetes is a Type I allergen which may cause reactions (“hay fever”) in sensitive individuals. 

Penicillium is a widespread fungus found in soil, decaying vegetation and air.  Penicillium may cause infections in immunocompromised individuals, and can cause Type I (“hay fever”) and Type III (hypersensitive) allergic reactions in susceptible individuals. 

Pithomyces is typically found on leaf litter and in soil, although one species is associated with facial eczema in sheep.  The allergic potential of Pithomyces is not well documented.

Ms. Shadley is President of Alliance Environmental Group, a Woman-Owned Business. Ms. Shadley has project management expertise in asbestos, lead and indoor air quality. She is also well versed in groundwater sampling and data collection. Ms. Shadley is licensed asbestos inspector, management planner, project designer and asbestos abatement supervisor. Additionally, she is a licensed lead inspector and risk assessor. Ms. Shadley has completed over 50 projects related to asbestos and lead paint, as well as multiple projects related to indoor air quality.

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