The Alternaria mold is widely known as one of the most allergenic mold in the world. This type of fungus is extremely common and easily widespread to other areas with over than 250 species researched.
Often, the mold affects plant and considered as a stubborn pathogen, infecting more than 4000 host plant species. It’s the culprit behind significant damage to agricultural yields.
Apart from its notorious effects on plants, Alternaria mold health effects are also considered detrimental particularly for people with a sensitive immune system or autoimmune disease. The mold can trigger an allergic reaction and must be removed immediately to prevent further infestation.
Table of Contents
1. The Most Common Types of Alternaria Mold
The many species of Alternaria can cause damage both to the plants and humans. Among the 250 types, the most common Alternaria mold are Alternaria alternata and Alternaria tenuissima.
Alternatia alternata is a saprophyte mostly found in soil and plants and considered as an opportunist pathogen and damaging host plants. This species is responsible for causing disease in plants including leaf spots, rots, and blights. The latter kind is also considered as an outdoor allergen with the very high number found in the environment particularly during the summer.
Unfortunately, Alternaria mold can also invest in your indoor environment such as bed, sofa, carpet, and considered as the main risk factor for asthma-related symptoms. Research shows that the mold is not only fungi associated with asthma presence, but also causing the persistence and severity of respiratory problems due to exposure to Alternaria mold.
The other common types of Alternaria mold is the Alternaria Infectoria, Alternaria Chartarum, Alternaria Stemphyloides, Alternaria Geophilia, and Alternaria dianthicola.
2. Alternaria mold Characteristics and Places to Grow
Known to be damaging for plants, Alternaria mold is mostly spotted on the grass, leaf plants, trees, and soil. Indoors, the fungus is carried by the wind outdoor and often occupy sporous surface like the wallpaper, carpet, and window frames.
The colony triumphs in a high humidity environment so it can also found in the air conditioning system and can travel easily through the air and grow in tiles, bricks, canvas, and iron.
Alternaria mold has velvety texture on the surface and appears in dark green or brown hairs. Apart from occupying the sporous surface or furniture, the fungus sometimes appears as a result of water damage in your building.
The mold is extremely airborne particularly during dry and windy conditions. The colony loves high concentration of humidity of approximately 2.5 to 20 pH level and in areas with ambient temperatures of approximately 1 to 35 degrees Celsius.
However, the mold growth rate reaches its best between the temperature of 20 to 25 degree Celsius, which result in a fivefold increase in growth rate.
The exposure to the mold spores can cause allergies to people and quickly colonize the suitably moist area. During the process, Alternaria mold can develop into mycelia that is observable with the naked eyes. In addition to the humidity and temperature level, the mold requires an environment with water activity values above 0.85 to reach maturity within just 5 days.
3. Alternaria mold health effects and Symptoms
When Alternaria mold enters your house, the symptoms may not be visible from Day 1, but it develops into serious manifestation first before causing some health problems. If you have respiratory disease, pulmonary illness or allergies, you’ll get a higher risk of infected by the mold.
People with asthma, for example, are more vulnerable to catch a more serious disease as the result of Alternaria mold allergy. In China, a higher level of Alternaria infection in food (cereal grain) is highly associated with oesophageal cancer.
The highest possibility of catching Alternaria mold health effects happens in elderly, babies, children, and people with immune-associated issues, particularly when the symptoms are left untreated or unaware.
Alternaria species are known to cause illness in humans because they produce mycotoxins, a substance that infected respiratory system, nails, and human skin. The allergens mostly cause asthma and hay fever, but the risk to develop into dangerous illness is low in healthy adults.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), babies and infants are to be more cautious to Alternaria mold symptoms and health effects, since they are at the higher risk of exposure to crib death and SIDS.
People, particularly with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) or emphysema can also develop more severe symptoms of Alternaria mold allergy, in which among the illness includes contagious respiratory infection and sore throat. Signs of mold exposure can be detected when the people inside start to experience unusual symptoms including constant sneezing, runny nose, cough, sore throat, itchy and teary eyes, and irritated skin.
The most common Alternaria mold symptoms are similar to those of cold disease. It’s only susceptible when you do nothing that can trigger common cold but still catching the signs. Other common symptoms of Alternaria mold infection include difficulty to breathe, wheezing, sore throat, fatigue, dizziness, and shortness of breath. When the mold infests in your skin, hives and skin rashes are unavoidable.
The easiest way to determine whether you catch a common cold or fungal infection is by seeing the doctor. Upon examination, the doctor will be able to tell if the disease is cold, respiratory illness, or mold exposure.
Read also: How Do You Know You Have Mold exposure
4. How to Treat Alternaria mold health effects
Upon catching the symptoms, it is advised to see the doctor and get your body examined. Depending on the exposure, the doctor will suggest you see the ENT specialist or other.
When you suspect any Alternaria mold infestation, you can identify their presence using the professional air testing for mold by taking up the surface sampling to do further test and analysis.
Prolonged exposure may cause serious health consequences because Alternaria grows in time, and spread quickly to build the colony throughout the house. When growing on a non-porous surface, you can easily remove mold with the home treatment using the antimicrobial solution.
However, the mold can be very persistent and difficult to remove unless you’re hiring the professional help.
To prevent Alternaria mold from heavily colonizing your house, it is paramount to keep the humidity level moderate. During the dry and summer days, you may want to conduct a mold inspection just in case it’s hiding behind the door wall.