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What is Aspergillus?

If you find mould in your home, chances are it’s from the Aspergillus genus. Aspergillus can withstand high temperatures and low moisture levels, making it one of the most common mould types in Australian homes.

What are the different types of Aspergillus? 

There are around 300 species within the Aspergillus genus with a range of sub-species categorised by their physiological characteristics and evolution history. More distinguishable types of Aspergillus include: 

Aspergillus flavus 

You can find Aspergillus flavus in soil and decaying wood, appearing as a yellow-green colour slowly turning a darker green as it matures. It can infect crops, cause the infection known as aspergillosis and release carcinogenic mycotoxins. Over-exposure may also lead to nasal sinus lesions and severe respiratory discomfort. 

While you can commonly find this species outdoors it can also grow on carpets, building materials, water-damaged areas, and foods such as milk, cheese and meat. In rare cases, it can even originate from animals being fed contaminated grains, so be sure that you buy your meat from trusted food sources. 

Aspergillus fumigatus

Aspergillus fumigatus thrives in plant material and decaying organic matter and appears as a blue, green or grey colour with cotton or woolly texture. It grows rapidly when temperatures exceed 35°C, can withstand harsh conditions, produces a range of mycotoxins and is a common cause of aspergillosis. Aspergillus fumigatus requires a good amount of humidity to spread so it can appear in dust, potted plants, bathrooms, kitchens and ventilation ducts. You can also find it in foods such as meats, bread, rice and cereals. 

Aspergillus niger

Aspergillus niger is the most common species within its genus and thrives in soil and decomposing organic matter. With a black or brown colour, it can survive in extreme conditions, including heat waves and cold temperatures. This means you can find it almost anywhere throughout the property, including bathrooms, living areas, kitchens, storage boxes and basements. It also grows in areas of the home with substantial moisture levels and foods such as fruit and cereal.  

There is an unlikely chance of getting sick from Aspergillus niger exposure, however, identification can be easily confused with another species. It is best to call a professional mould removal specialist for an inspection if you are unsure. 

What causes Aspergillus mould? 

Mould needs three fundamental variables to survive: warm temperatures, organic matter and most importantly, moisture. Here are a few examples of what easily causes mould growth 

Bathrooms and kitchens 

Because of their naturally high levels of moisture and a frequent build-up of condensation within a confined space, mould can easily spread throughout bathroom tiles, kitchens and window frames. Minimising the growth of mould is as easy as opening the window and cleaning surfaces regularly to let air escape. Always run exhaust fans when steam is releasing and always clean up water spills and leaks. 

High levels of humidity

When there is humidity, it is difficult to control the moisture in the air even if there is plenty of natural light and ventilation. Tropical and sub-tropical environments are often at risk of rapid mould growth if moisture levels are not under control with dehumidifiers or air-conditioners. If not, there is a risk of mould growth on clothing, throughout fabric, furniture and appliances. 

Water damage

Whether it’s from faulty plumbing, seasonal flooding or clogged drains, if there are large areas of water damage, mould will follow. If you notice water damage in your home, ceiling or walls, it could be a sign of a larger problem. If this is the case, you should seek out a professional mould removal specialist for assessment. 

Is Aspergillus dangerous? 

The fungal spores of Aspergillus are known to trigger allergic reactions in some people with asthma and cause asthma attacks. It can also cause spasms of the bronchioles of the lungs resulting in wheezing and breathlessness.  

In more serious cases, Aspergillus can cause lung or organ infections in those who have weakened immune systems.  

Minor exposure to Aspergillus spores is generally considered harmless, however, if you have a mould infestation growing in your home, it may result in the following symptoms:

  • Coughing 
  • Skin inflammation and rashes 
  • Wheezing 
  • Eye or throat irritations 
  • Headaches 
  • Dizziness

What is Aspergillosis?

Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillus (ABPA) is an allergic reaction that can cause the following symptoms: 

  • Wheezing 
  • Breathlessness
  • Worsening of asthma symptoms 
  • Cough paired with brown mucus or mucus plugs 
  • Coughing up blood 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • General uneasiness
  • Fever 

When ABPA is untreated symptoms can exacerbate, resulting in inflammation of the bronchiolar walls, bleeding, irritated or inflamed airways and lung tissue collapse. It can also lead to respiratory failure. 

Diagnosis of APBA can usually be detected through chest x-rays or skin, blood or sputum tests. Although there is no cure for APBA, you can manage it orally with corticosteroids or puffers.  

If you have asthma, it is recommended to stay away from mould growth to avoid inhalation of spores, especially in areas of rotting vegetation or mould infestations.  

It can be impossible to correctly identify Aspergillus from a visual inspection. If you are concerned about mould growing in your home or property, seek out a professional mould removal specialist for an inspection.

 If you are experiencing a mild or severe reaction from mould exposure, please visit your GP or healthcare professional to discuss your symptoms and treatment.

How to remove Aspergillus mould? 

Aspergillus contains allergens and spreads fast around the home, making it difficult to completely eradicate. It can also be easily confused with other mould types such as toxic black mould, and other species of green mould and brown mould. Any attempt to remove large patches of mould can aggravate the spores to travel around the home.  

For the removal of small mould patches, you can use bleach: 

 Bleach: Mix a 1:10 ratio of bleach and water and scrub the mould affected area. For laundry purposes, mix a small amount of colour safe bleach into your washing machine to thoroughly clean clothing, fabrics and curtains. 

When to Call a Mould Removal Professional? 

Aspergillus is one of the most common moulds found within the home. If you are afraid of mould becoming a problem in your home and are looking for a long-term solution, be sure to call upon a professional team to help you. The MouldMen team will inspect, treat, and provide you with a Mould Management and Prevention Plan to ensure that your home is kept safe and free from mould. Call us on 1300 60 59 60 to book your free inspection today.

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