This glossary is provided for general information only. It’s not meant to be a tool for self-diagnosis. For diagnosis consult a physician.
Absidia - Absidia is reportedly allergenic and may cause mucorosis in immune compromised individuals. The common species indoors, Absidia corymbifera has a worldwide distribution in soil, decaying plant matter and composts. It’s found in carpet and mattress dust. It’s considered a health hazard especially to immune compromised individuals.
Acremonium - Acremonium is reportedly allergenic. One of the common indoor species, Acremonium strictum, thrives on wet drywall, wallpaper, cellulose-based ceiling tiles, wood materials, and other surfaces. Acremonium sp can produce trichothecene, a mycotoxin which is toxic if ingested.
Actinomycetes - A group of bacteria that are capable of forming filaments like molds.
Aerobic - An organism or process that requires oxygen.
Allergic - Caused by or relating to an allergy or having an allergy to (a substance).
Allergic alveolitis - Condition where the lungs are allergic to fungus and other allergens which cause inflammation of the alveolar region of the deep lung.
Allergy - A damaging immune response by the body to a substance, esp. pollen, mold spores, fur, a particular food, or dust, to which it has become hypersensitive.
Alternaria - Alternaria is a very common allergen. It is often found in carpets, textiles, and on horizontal surfaces in building interiors. Often found on window frames. Outdoors it may be isolated from samples of soil, seeds and plants. It is commonly found in outdoor samples. It may be related to baker’s asthma. It has been associated with hypersensitivity pneumonitis. The species Alternaria alternata, is capable of producing tenuazonic acid and other toxic metabolites which may be associated with disease in humans or animals. Common cause of extrinsic asthma (immeadiate-type hypersensitivity: type I). Acute symptoms include edema and bronchiospasms, chronic cases may develop pulmonary emphysema.
Aspergillus - Aspergillus spp are reported to be allergenic. Members of this genus are reported to cause ear infections (see Aspergillus niger) . Many species produce mycotoxins (see Aspergillus flavus) which may be associated with disease in humans and other animals . Toxin production is dependent on the species or a strain within a species and on the food source for the fungus. Some of these toxins have been found to be carcinogenic in animal species. Several toxins are considered potential human carcinogens. Common cause of extrinsic asthma (immediate-type hypersensitivity: type I).
Aspergillus caesiellus - This species is only occasionally pathogenic.
Aspergillus candidus - Aspergillus candidus is found in warm soils, grain and in the secondary decay of vegetation. It can produce the toxin petulin which may be associated with disease in humans and other animals.
Aspergillus carneus - This species is only occasionally pathogenic.
Aspergillus clavatus - Aspergillus clavatus is found in soils and animal manure. Can produce the toxin petulin which may be associated with disease in humans and other animals. This species is only occasionally pathogenic.
Aspergillus deflectus - This species is only occasionally pathogenic.
Aspergillus flavus - Aspergillus flavus is reportedly allergenic. It grows on mouldy corn and peanuts and grains. It can be found in warm soil, foods and dairy products. Aspergillus flavus can be found in water damaged carpets. Some strains of Aspergillus flavus are capable of producing a group of mycotoxins, the aflatoxins. Aflatoxins are known carcinogenic and are poisonous to humans by ingestion. It may also result in occupational disease via inhalation. The production of the aflatoxin is dependent on the growth conditions and on the substrate used as a food source.
Aspergillus fumigatus - Aspergillus fumigatus is considered a human pathogen. It grows well at 35 degrees C. It is commonly found outdoors in compost piles with temperatures higher than 40 degrees C, in mild to warm soils and on cereals. It is the major cause of both invasive and allergic aspergillosis to individuals who are immune compromised.
Aspergillus glaucus - Aspergillus glaucus is reportedly allergenic. It is only occasionally pathogenic. It can grow at low moisture levels on grains, sugary food products, meat and wool.
Aspergillus nidulans - Aspergillus nidulans is found in mild to warm soils and on slowly decaying plants. Can produce the mycotoxin sterigmatocystin. This toxin has been shown to produce liver and kidney damage in lab animals. Aspergillus nidulans is associated with aspergillosis of the lungs and/or disseminated aspergillosis. It is only occasionally pathogenic.
Aspergillus niger - Aspergillus niger is commonly found in the environment on textiles, in soils, grains, fruits and vegetables. It has a musty odor. It is a less common cause of aspergillosis. It has been reported to cause skin and pulmonary infections. It is a common cause of fungal related ear infections-otomycosis.
Aspergillus ochraceus - Aspergillus ochraceus is found in grains, soil and salted food products. It can produce a kidney toxin ochratoxin A which may cause ochratoxicosis in humans. The toxin is produced at optimum growth conditions at 25 degrees C and high moisture conditions. Aspergillus ochraceus can produce other toxins including penicillic acid, xanthomegnin and viomellein . These are all reported to be kidney and liver toxins.
Aspergillus oryzae - This species is only occasionally pathogenic.
Aspergillus parasiticus - Some strains of Aspergillus parasiticus are capable of producing a group of mycotoxins, the aflatoxins. The production of the fungal toxin is dependent on the growth conditions and on the substrate used as a food source.
Aspergillus penicilloides - It is found in house dust and food.
Aspergillus restrictus - This species is only occasionally pathogenic.
Aspergillus sydowii - This species is only occasionally pathogenic.
Aspergillus terreus - Aspergillus terreus is common in warmer soil and in grains, straw. cotton and decomposing vegetation. Can produce the toxin patulin and citrinin which may be associated with disease in humans and other animals. Aspergillus terreus is a rare cause of aspergillosis of the lungs and/or disseminated aspergillosis. Also a rare cause of ear infection and infection of finger or toe nails.
Aspergillus ustus - This species is only occasionally pathogenic.
Aspergillus versicolor - Aspergillus versicolor is commonly found in soil, hay, cotton and dairy products. It can produce the mycotoxins sterigmatocystin and cyclopiaxonic acid . These toxins can cause diarrhea and upset stomach. It is reported to be a kidney and liver carcinogen. This species is only occasionally pathogenic.
Asthma - Narrowing of the bronchial tubes, where the muscles go into spasm and the patient has difficulty breathing.
Aureobasidium - Aureobasidium pullulans is a black yeast-like fungus. It is often found in bathrooms, in kitchens, or on exterior building walls under shade.
Basidiospores - Fungal spores produced by a group of fungi called basidiomycetes. Mushrooms belong to this group and therefore their spores would be called basidiospores. Many basidiospores are reported to be allergenic.
Bioaerosol - Micro–organisms suspended in the air.
Bipolaris - Most of the Bipolaris spp are pathogens grasses but some are saprobes. It can produce the mycotoxin – sterigmatocystin which has been shown to produce liver and kidney damage when ingested by laboratory animals.
Blastomyces - Blastomyces spp. are human pathogen. The fungus is commonly found in soil. It is a dimorphic fungus. That means it has filamentous growth when grown at 25 degrees C and a yeast form at 37 degrees C.
Botrytis - Botrytis sp. is reportedly allergenic. It’s commonly found outdoors and not indoors. It is parasitic on wide range of plants and soft fruits. It is found in soil and vegetables.
Candida - Candida sp. is part of the normal flora of mouth and other mucous membranes in the body. Thrush and other diseases caused by Candida albicans usually occur after prolonged treatment with antibiotics or steroids. The environment is not a likely source of exposure for this fungus. Cells from the organism are usually not airborne. Reported to be allergenic.
Cephalosporium - See Acremonium sp.
Cercospora - Species of Cercospora are plant pathogens and strictly found outdoors. Presence of spores of Cercospora indoors is due to infiltration from outdoor sources.
Cladosporium - Cladosporium spp are commonly found outdoors. The outdoor numbers are reduced in the winter. The numbers are often high in the summer. Often found indoors in numbers less than outdoor numbers. It is a common allergen. Indoor Cladosporium sp. may be different than the species identified outdoors. It is commonly found on the surface of fiber-glass duct liner in the interior of supply ducts and on cold, condensing surfaces. A wide variety of plants are food sources for this fungus. It is found on dead plants, woody plants, food, straw, soil, paint and textiles. It’s allergenic.
Cladosporium fulvum - Cladosporium fulvum (Fulvia fulva) is found on the leaves of tomatoes.
Cladosporium fulvum (Fulvia fulva) - It is found on the leaves of tomatoes.
Cladosporium herbarum - Cladosporium herbarum is found on dead plants, woody plants, food, straw, soil, paint and textiles.
Cladosporium macrocarpum - Cladosporium macrocarpum is found on dead plants, woody plants, food, straw, soil, paint and textiles.
Cladosporium sphaerospermum - It is found as a secondary invader of plants, food, soil, paint and textiles.
Conidobolus - Can cause a chronic inflammatory disease of the nasal mucosa (entomophthoromycosis).
Cryptostroma corticale - Found on the bark of maple and sycamore trees and on stored logs.
Cunninghamella - Can cause disseminated and pulmonary infections in immune compromised hosts.
Curvularia - Curvularia sp. is reportedly allergenic. Species of Curvularia are pathogens and saprophytes on a wide range of plants. Curvularia may cause corneal infections, mycetoma and infections in immune compromised hosts.
Dermatomycosis - Skin infections caused by a fungus.
Dreschlera - Dreschlera sp. is found mainly outdoors on grasses, grains and decaying food . It can occasionally cause a corneal infection of the eye.
Dreschlera sp. - Dreschlera sp. is found mainly outdoors on grasses, grains and decaying food . It can occasionally cause a corneal infection of the eye.
Epicoccum - Epicoccum sp. is common allergen. It is found in plants, soil, grains, textiles and paper products. Epicoccum nigrum is a common indoor fungus, often found on water-damaged drywall and wall paper products.
Epidermophyton - Epidermophyton sp. can cause infections of skin and nails.
Fusarium - Fusarium sp. are found on a wide range of plants and in humidifiers. Several species in this genus can produce potent trichothecene toxins. Some species also produce vomitoxin on grains during unusually damp growing conditions. Poisoning by these toxins occur primarily through ingestion of contaminated grains or possibly inhalation of spores. The genus can produce hemorrhagic syndrome in humans (alimentary toxic aleukia). This is characterized by nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, dermatitis, and extensive internal bleeding. Fusarium is reportedly allergenic and some species are frequently involved in eye, skin and nail infections.
Fusarium solani - Fusarium solani is found in plants and soils. It can produce trichothecene toxins which may be associated with disease in humans and animals.
Geotrichum - Geotrichum sp. is a common contaminant of grains, fruits, dairy products, paper, textiles, soil and water, and often present as part of the normal human flora. The species Geotrichum candidum can cause a secondary infection (geotrichosis) in association with tuberculosis. This rare disease can cause lesions of the skin, bronchi, mouth, lung and intestine.
Gliocladium - Gliocladium sp. is a fungus which is structurally similar to Penicillium sp. It is reported to be allergenic.
Helminthosporium - Helminthosporium sp. is reportedly allergenic.
Histoplasma - Histoplasma sp. has filamentous growth at 25 degrees C and yeast growth at 37 degrees C. It is reported to be a human pathogen. It may be associated with birds.
Humicola - Grow on products with a high cellulose content. These fungi are also found in soil and on plant debris.
Hyaline Mycelia - Hyaline sterile mycelia refer to a fungus that grow vegetatively without producing any form of spores or fruiting structures. Visual identification of these organism is not possible. These mycelia may be allergenic.
Microsporum - Microsporum sp. causes ringworm in humans.
Monilia - Monilia sp. is reportedly allergenic. This fungus produces soft rot of tree fruits. Other members produce a red bread mould. It is infrequently involved in corneal eye infections.
Mucor - Mucor sp. is often found in soil, dead plant material, horse dung, fruits and fruit juice. It is also found in leather, meat, dairy products, animal hair and jute. Mucor sp. may be allergenic (skin and bronchial tests) and may also cause mucorosis in immune compromised individuals. The sites of infection are the lung, nasal sinus, brain, eye and skin. Infection may have multiple sites.
Mycotoxins - Toxic substances produced by fungi.
Nigrospora - Nigrospora sp. is reportedly allergenic.
Paecilomyces - Paecilomyces sp. is commonly found in soil and dust, less frequently in air. Paecilomyces variotii can cause paecilomycosis. It is linked to wood-trimmers disease and humidifier associated illnesses. Species of Paecilomyces are reportedly allergenic. Some members of this genus are reported to cause pneumonia. It may produce arsine gas if growing on arsenic substrate. This can occur on wallpapers covered with paris green.
Papulospora - Papulospora sp. is found in soil, textiles, decaying plants, manure, and paper.
Penicillium - A large number of organisms have have been placed in this genus. Identification to species is difficult. Often found in aerosol samples. Penicillium is commonly found in soil, food, cellulose and grains. It is also found in paint and compost piles. It may cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis, allergic alveolitis in susceptible individuals. It is reported to be allergenic. It is commonly found in carpet, wall paper, and in interior fiberglass duct insulation. Some species can produce mycotoxins. Common cause of extrinsic asthma (immediate-type hypersensitivity: type I). Acute symptoms include edema and bronchiospasms, chronic cases may develop pulmonary emphysema.
Periconia - No information available, more to come.
Phoma - Phoma sp. is a common indoor air allergen. The species are isolated from soil and associated plants (particularly potatoes). It will grow on butter, painted cement and rubber. Phoma sp. may cause phaeohyphomycosis, a systematic or subcutaneous disease.
Pithomyces - Pithomyces sp. can grow on dead grass in pastures. Causes facial eczema in ruminants.
Pneumonitis - Inflammation of the lungs.
Rhinitis - Inflammation of the mucous membrane of the nose.
Rhizomucor - Rhizomucor sp. is reportedly allergenic. It may cause mucorosis in immune compromised individuals. It is often linked to occupational allergy. The sites of infection are the lung, nasal sinus, brain, eye and skin.
Rhizopus - Rhizopus sp. is reportedly allergenic. It may cause mucorosis in immune compromised individuals. It is often linked to occupational allergy. May cause mucorosis in immune compromised individuals . The sites of infection are the lung, nasal sinus, brain, eye and skin.
Rhodotorula - Rhodotorula sp. is a reddish yeast typically found in moist environments such as carpeting, cooling coils and drain pans. In some countries it is the most common yeast genus identified in indoor air. This yeast has been reported to be allergenic. Positive skin tests have been reported. It has colonized terminally ill patients.
Saccharomyces - Saccharomyces sp (baker’s yeast) is reportedly allergenic.
Scopulariopsis - Scopulariopsis sp. may produce arsine gas if growing on arsenic substrate. This can occur on wallpapers covered with paris green. It has been found growing on a wide variety of materials including house dust. Scopulariopsis sp. is associated with type III allergy.
Serpula lacrymans - Serpula lacrymans is a common cause of extrinsic asthma (immediate-type hypersensitivity: type I).
Sinusitis - Inflammation of the mucous membrane in the sinuses.
Sporobolomyces - Sporobolomyces sp. is reportedly allergenic.
Sporothrix - Sporothrix sp. can cause sporotrichosis. Usually only in populations which are immune compromised.
Sporotrichum - Sporotrichum sp. is reportedly allergenic. See also Sporothrix sp. there is some taxonomic confusion between these two genera. This genus does not cause sporotrichosis.
Stachybotrys - Stachybotrys sp. may produce a trichothecene mycotoxin- Satratoxin H – which is a poisonous by inhalation. The toxins are present on the fungal spores. Stachybotrys sp. grows on building material with high cellulose content and low nitrogen content. Stachybotrys sp. is rarely found in outdoor samples. It is usually difficult to find in indoor air samples unless it is physically disturbed or if it dries out and become airborne. There is controversy about toxigenic effects through inhalation of spores or mycelia.
Stemphylium - Stemphylium sp. is reportedly to be allergenic. Isolated from dead plants and cellulose materials.
Syncephalastrum - Syncephalastrum sp. can cause a respiratory infection characterized by a solid intracaitary fungal ball.
Thermophilic - The process or organism that occurs at temperatures above 45C
Thermotolerant - Able to tolerate, but not thriving in, high temperatures.
Torula - Torula sp. is reportedly allergenic.
Trichoderma - Trichoderma sp. is commonly found in soil, dead trees, pine needles, paper, unglazed ceramics. It readily degrades cellulose and often will grow on other fungi. It produces antibiotics which are toxic to humans. Trichoderma sp. is reportedly allergenic.
Trichophyton - Trichophyton sp. can cause ring worm, athlete’s foot, skin, nail, beard and scalp. Reported to be allergenic. Found on soil and skin.
Trichothecium - Trichothecium sp. is found in decomposing vegetation, soil, corn seeds and in flour. The species Trichothecium roseum can produce a trichothecene toxin which may be associated with disease in humans and other animals. Trichothecium sp. is reportedly allergenic.
Tritirachium - Tritirachium sp. is reportedly allergenic.
Ulocladium - Ulocladium sp. is isolated from dead plants and cellulose materials. It’s also found on textiles.
Verticillium - Verticillium sp. is found in decaying vegetation, on straw, soil and arthropods. It’s a rare cause of corneal infections.
Wallemia - Wallemia sp. is found in sugary foods, salted meats, dairy products, textiles, soil, hay and fruits.
Yeast - Various yeasts are commonly identified on air samples. Some yeasts are reported to be allergenic. They may cause problems if a person has had previous exposure and developed hypersensitivity’s. Yeasts may be allergenic to susceptible individuals when present in sufficient concentrations.