Alternaria

February 17, 2014 admin

With about 50 known species, Alternaria molds are extremely common and widespread. The spores are found in high concentrations during dry, windy conditions, which make them extremely airborne. As such, susceptible individuals can develop allergies upon exposure to the mold spores.

Alternaria is a plant pathogen, and some species are also parasitic on living plants. In fact, statistics show that at least 20% of lost agricultural yields are due to various Alternaria species, and sometimes, these losses can reach up to 80%.

Is Alternaria toxic for humans?

Many species of Alternaria have been known to cause health problems in humans. They produce mycotoxins that affect the respiratory system, skin and nails. Other species are common allergens that may lead to asthma, hay fever, etc., but they rarely cause serious infections. They are of particular risk to immuno-suppressed and wounded individuals.

Where does Alternaria usually grow?

Alternaria is typically found outdoors, on dead plant materials, cereals, grasses and soil. It can grow on a variety of other high-cellulose substrates and does not require significant amounts of water to grow.

Indoors, Alternaria can be found in carpets, wallpaper, textiles, window frames and air. However, Alternaria spores identified in indoor samples often originate from the outdoor environment.

How to detect Alternaria

You can identify Alternaria with professional air testing for mold and surface sampling; without such tests and analyses, however, it is difficult to distinguish it from some Ulocladium species (for example, Ulocladium chartarum, which is very common in indoor environments).