Cladosporium: The Enemy Within And Without

Cladosporium is one of the most common mold species, occurring both indoors and outside world-wide. A mitosporic fungal genus, this black, dark grey or dark green mold might be found any where there is moisture, in dead or decaying plants as well as live ones, on mattresses and carpet, behind wallpaper, in tile and grout in bathrooms, fabrics, and even in some foods like meats.

Bathrooms are a favorite spot of this fungi, though the kitchen is also at risk with steam from cooking.  A hardy species, Cladosporium can thrive in any temperature, though it prefers the warm, humid summer months.  This species of mold has even been found in refrigerated food. While there are a lot of species in this mold genus, the most common ones are Cladosporium elatum, herbarum, sphaerospermum, and macrocarpum.


Cladosporium Overview

Cladosporium is believed to have a low pathogenic toxicity, but it can cause allergic reactions such as sinus problems,  watery eyes, skin irritation, fatigue, sore throat with hoarseness and cough, and recurrent sinus infections. 

Also reported have been open skin allergies, nail fungus and, with prolonged exposure, ear infections, joint discomfort, fatigue, nose bleeds and pulmonary disorders.  The asthmatic should be especially wary of elevated levels of this mold within the home.  High levels of this mold can compromise the immune system as well, and especially at risk are the immunocompromised such as chemotherapy patients.  The elderly, the very young, and pregnant women are also at a higher risk for adverse reactions from this mold.  There are no universally acceptable guideline levels for Cladosporium levels and it can affect each member in the same household differently.

A mold with its highest concentration outdoors, cladosporium is known for being in rotting vegetation; it is also a cause of some types of crop blight and affects spinach, tomatoes, and wheat to name just a few making it an economic factor as well as a health risk.  It feeds on dead plants and other molds, and can live in straw and soil as well.  The indoor species of this mold is not as quite as air-borne as its outdoor species.

Cladosporium Is Part Of The Black Mold Family

One of the family of molds known as “black molds,” elevated levels of this mold usually indicate dangerous levels of othermolds, too.  Cleaning duct works, bleaching surfaces or even professional mold removal services might be required if it is found in great concentration within the home to eradicate both this mold and the other, more dangerous molds that accompany it.  Especially vulnerable to this mold are any areas that are water damaged, such as a flooded basement or window sills that collect moisture.  Since it is the most common genus of mold both indoors and out, eliminating it completely from the home is nearly impossible with its air-borne outdoor cousins in such high concentrations.  Outdoors, it feeds from various surprising medium, including kerosene such as creosote treated lumber used for fencing.

When dealing with existing mold, avoid touching it or inhaling it to lessen exposures to skin and lungs.  Cleaning moldy objects with bleach or replacing water soaked materials are some ways to lessen the colony, but in extreme cases, professional  mold remediation companies may be needed.  Other fighters involve keeping damp areas dry with a dehumidfier, good ventilation in all areas, and water proofing certain flood or leak prone areas of the home.

Cladosporium presents as a powdery, slow growing mold that ranges from dark green, grey, brown or black in color.  It differs from other more toxic black molds because it is dry in texture, as opposed to having the wet or slimy appearance of some of the more toxic molds such as Stachybotrys and Memnoniella.  It has been named as one of the “basement molds” due to its desire for a moist environment and its propensity to grow on porous surfaces such as drywall; it is one of the most common molds to grow from basement flooding or on moist, sweating pipes. 

Cladosporium is one of the infamous “musty odor” molds

Normally allergenic, it is the most prolific of all mold species, and only rarely causes adverse reactions in humans.  Care must be taken when it appears, though, as it is usually an indicator of other, more hazardous mold formations.