ChaetomiumChaetomium are a common mold species that has a ubiquitous distribution. There are over 80 species currently known. In previous literature the medical effects of Chaetomium has been downplayed. A vast amount of medical news has been downplayed regarding Chaetomium in past literature.
Chaetomium is commonly found worldwide in soil, dung, decaying plants, and deteriorating wood. It frequently emits a musty odor and is frequently found on water-damaged drywall and other lower cost construction products often used in the United States. Its health effects have not been well studied, however some rare compounds have on occasion been identified as mutagenic.
Chaetomium colonies are rapidly growing, cottony and white in color initially. When the colony matures they can become grey to olive in color. They can appear to go from tan to red, or brown to black. Fruiting structures grow often on compost. Although its heat tolerant spores survive 140 F for 6 hours, the mold appears only in compost improperly managed during Phase II, especially where Phase II ventilation is inadequate. Lack of oxygen when compost temperatures are greater than 142 F permits formation of compounds produced in anaerobic conditions. These compounds are toxic to spawn growth but are utilized by the olive green mold. It is highly cellulolytic.
Chaetomium is one among the many molds that cause infections. It is normally referred to as phaeohyphomycosis. It has been documented evidence of fatal cases. Brain abscess, peritonitis, cutaneous lesions, and onychomycosis may also develop due to Chaetomium exposure.
Chaetomium species are. Most species are prolific producers of the enzyme cellulase that breaks down cellulose. Destruction of paper and other materials containing cellulose (including foods, feeds, paper, textile, bird feathers, seeds and military equipment) by species of this mold is well documented. Due to their strong ability to destroy material, Chaetomium species are often used in testing materials for resistance to mold growth.
Chaetomium is perhaps the third most common indoor fungal contaminant of moldy damp buildings. It may be found on wet drywall, wall-paper, carpets, window frames, baseboards and plywood. The most widespread and common species is Chaetomium globosum. This species causes many problems of biodeterioration of paper and other cellulose containing material. It is considered a “weed” of mushroom beds, where it inhibits the growth of cultivated mushrooms.
Generally the concentration of airborne Chaetomium spores is very low. This is because the spores (= ascospores) are produced within flask-shaped bodies (= perithecia) and not exposed to air like those of molds such as Penicillium and Aspergillus. When the spores mature, they are released inside the perithecium and then squeezed out in a column like toothpaste through an opening at the top of the perithecium. The coiled hairs trap the spores such that they are not easily dispersed into the air by wind. Chaetomium globosum spores
The other reason why the concentration of airborne Chaetomium spores is usually low is because the spores are relatively large and hence have relatively high settling rates and therefore do not remain airborne for long. As a result, airborne spore concentration of Chaetomium is usually low even in contaminated buildings. Due to low air concentration, exposure to airborne Chaetomium is insignificant except in situations where the mold has dried out and disturbed.
Chaetomium is one of those molds that require chronic moisture conditions for it to grow. Its presence is therefore an indication of existing or previous serious moisture problem. A few spores in pre-remediation air samples is an indication of a mold problem in the building. Because of the low airborne concentration, rarely is Chaetomium detected in outdoor samples. Hence any spores detected indoors are highly likely to have a source indoors and not outdoors. One can also sample house dust to determine whether Chaetomium is present or not.
Although Chaetomium species are rarely associated with human infections, there are reports of infections involving individuals with weak immune system. Chaetomium globosum is known to produce 2 toxins in moisture damaged buildings, chaetoglobosins A and C. These toxins have the potential to cause illness to building occupants.


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