Most consumers are unaware of the exposure to toxic molds infested in their homes, office or schools. But most of the time, these microorganisms are difficult to detect because their development is not visible macroscopically and their detection requires a specific mycological analysis.
Unfortunately, some types of mold can cause damage to the human body, and their toxicity is not limited to their multiplication, indeed they are also toxic indirectly through the mycotoxins they produce.
Unfortunately, often underestimated by home owners, the harm caused by these mycotoxins to the human body is diverse and can range from acute intoxication to chronic fatigue. It can also cause allergic reactions or an increased predisposition to certain cancers.
So, what are these mycotoxins? What are their types and how do they damage our health? How can we detect them? And above all, how can we protect ourselves from them?
What are Mycotoxins?
According to the World Health Organization, mycotoxins are toxic compounds naturally produced by certain types of molds (fungi).They grow on either on the floor or walls in a humid and confined environment or on some foods. Mold growth can occur before or after harvest, during storage, on or in the food itself, often in a hot, humid and moist environment.
Mycotoxins are produced by just over 360 species of mold, mostly belonging to the type of Aspergillus, Fusarium and Penicillium. They have a low molecular weight and are most often thermo-stable in non-aqueous medium, and therefore difficult to degrade. In most cases, they can survive in food even after the elimination of mold.
There are several hundred types of mycotoxins, but the most harmful ones for our health are Aflatoxins, Ochratoxin A, Patulin, Fumonisins, Zearalenone and Nivalenol. They appear in the food chain because of the contamination of crops by molds, these toxins can also contaminate the human being by air. Even if they are mostly known for long term harmful effects, such as immune deficiency or cancer, mycotoxins can also expose to immediate complications such as acute intoxication.