sick building syndrome building-related illness

Mycotoxin Testing

Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites produced by microfungi that are capable of causing diseases in humans and other animals. Because of their pharmacological activity, some mycotoxins or mycotoxin derivatives have found use as antibiotics, growth promotants, and other kinds of drugs; still others have been implicated as chemical warfare agents. Some important mycotoxins that are associated with human and veterinary diseases, include aflatoxin, citrinin, ergot alkaloids, fumonisins, ochratoxin A, patulin, trichothecenes, and zearalenone.

Mycotoxin testing may be performed for the fungi listed below:


Aspergillus is one of the most prevalent mold groups in the environment. It has caused billions of dollars of in damage to crops and livestock. Mycotoxin testing can be performed for aflatoxins and ochratoxins; two of the most common Aspergillus mycotoxins. The main target of these toxins is the liver. Diseases caused by Aspergillus are called aspergillosis. The most common route of infection is through the respiratory system. Aspergillus can cause severe asthma when the mold colonizes the lung, forming a granulomatous disease.


There are over 200 species of Penicillium that have been discovered. Penicillium chrysogenum is one of the most common of these species. It is often found in indoor environments and is responsible for many allergic reactions. In the home, Penicillium can be found in wallpaper, carpet, furniture, and fiberglass insulation. Mycotoxin testing is available for ochratoxin (OTA), the most common mycotoxin produced by Penicillium. Ochratoxin is nephrotoxic, which means that it damages the kidneys. It is also carcinogenic.


Stachybotrys is a greenish-black mold. This mold can grow on materials with high cellulose and low nitrogen content such as gypsum board, paper, fiberboard, and ceiling tiles. Stachybotrys is known for its production of the highly toxic macrocyclic trichothecene mycotoxins. Two of the more common mycotoxins produced by Stachybotrys are roridin E and verrucarin. In addition to these mycotoxins, the fungus produces nine phenylspirodrimanes, as well as cyclosporine, which are potent immunosuppressors. These immunosupressors along with the mycotoxin trichothecenes may be responsible for the high toxicity of Stachybotrys.


Fusarium’s major mycotoxins are zearalenone (ZEN) and fumonisin. Fusarium fungi grow best in temperate climate conditions. They require lower temperatures for growth than Aspergillus. Exposure to mycotoxins from Fusarium can lead to both acute and chronic effects. These symptoms can include abdominal distress, malaise, diarrhea, emesis, and death. ZEN possesses estrogenic effects and has been implicated in reproductive disorders.

Inhalation Exposure Pathway to Mycotoxins

mycotoxin testing exposure

Clinical Microbiology Reviews; Pathogenesis of Aspergillus fumigatus in Invasive Aspergillosis; Taylor R. T. Dagenais, Nancy P. Keller

Mycotoxin Exposure Adverse Health Symptoms:

Exposure to mycotoxins may produce the following adverse health symptoms:

- Chronic burning in the throat and nasal passages
- Coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath
- Loss of balance
- Depression and/or anxiety
- Dizziness
- Eye irritation
- Fatigue
- Headache


After clinically testing positive for mycotoxin-producing molds and/or mycotoxins, the exposure source of the molds/mycotoxins in the environment is paramount. Since mycotoxins are produced by molds, and molds grow on recurrently wet/water-damaged surfaces. likely sources of molds and mycotoxins include visible or hidden surface mold growth in the indoor environment.

Bulk Materials Testing

After moldy building materials have been located, bulk or swab samples can be collected for laboratory analysis of fungi to determine whether any mycotoxin-producing molds and/or mycotoxins are present which could be a contributing source of the molds and mycotoxins found in clinical samples (blood, urine, sputum).

Air and Dust Testing

Surface mold growth frequently results in elevated levels of airborne mold spores, which serve as carriers for mycotoxin molecules. Repeatedly inhaling elevated levels of mycotoxin-laden mold spores can result in the accumulation of mold spores and mycotoxins in the nasal passages and upper respiratory tract. Since airborne mold spores settle onto the floors and other horizontal surfaces over time, settled dust samples can be collected from the floors and other horizontal surfaces for laboratory analysis to retrospectively determine whether significantly elevated levels of molds and mycotoxins may have been present in the air, suggesting an inhalation exposure.

Laboratory Analysis

Call Angstrom Testing Services for a free consultation or if you would like to schedule dust or moldy materials testing for mycotoxin-producing molds and/or mycotoxins.

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