Mycotoxin: Simple Trichothecenes (T-2, Deoxynivalenol (DON)), Fumonisin, Zearaleone
Health Effects: Approximately 12 species of Fusarium have been shown to produce infections in humans, including F. solani, the most frequently detected species (>50%). Fusarium can cause superficial infections such as keratitis or onychomycosis in healthy individuals and disseminated infections in immunocompromised patients. T-2 is the most toxic of the Fusarium Mycotoxins. Most of the knowledge of its effects come from studies on ingestion of T-2 contaminated food. It causes depression of the immune system, nausea and vomiting.
It has been shown in experimental animals that trichothecenes are 40 times more toxic when inhaled than when ingested. T-2 is listed as a chemical warfare agent and has believed to have been used in combat. Fumonisin B1 has been linked to a higher incidence of esophageal cancer in regions consuming maize with higher concentrations of this mycotoxin.
More than 50 species of Fusarium have been identified. Most are plant pathogens and can infect crops such as wheat, barley, oats and other feedstuff, where they can produce mycotoxins. Regulatory agencies mandate testing of food and feed for mycotoxins produced by fusarium and maximum allowable limits are set. The most common species causing human infections is Fusarium solani. This is rarely found in water damaged buildings and is not currently part of the EPA’s ERMI test of molds found in damp homes.