Another member of the Aspergillus genus, Aspergillus versicolor is commonly found in soil, hay, cotton, and dairy products. You can frequently find it indoors, particularly on water-damaged buildings or materials such as wallpaper and insulation.
A. versicolor is unique in that it can appear in a wide range of colours. Initially, A. versicolor appears white but turns yellow, tan, pale green, or pink over time. You can often find it in an emerald green colour with a powdery texture. It has a musty or earthy odour and is a common indicator of moisture, humidity and ventilation problems in buildings.
Aspergillus versicolor can produce mycotoxins (sterigmatocystin and cyclopiaxonic acid) that can cause diarrhea and upset stomach. Other symptoms can include eye, nose, and throat irritation. Reported to be a kidney and liver carcinogen, A. versicolor is only occasionally pathogenic.
Interestingly, A. versicolor is capable of growing in conditions of very high salinity and has been found in the arctic regions as well as in the Mir space station and the Dead Sea.
Let’s take a closer look at this potential danger, getting to know what it’s all about, what it’s capable of, and what exactly we can do about it.
What exactly is Aspergillus versicolor?
This is a type of fungus belonging to the Aspergillus genus, which has dozens of species under it.
You can encounter it all over the world in various climatic conditions as it is a particularly hardy fungus.
As a matter of fact, it has even been reported in such places as the Mir space station in its orbit around the earth, the Dead Sea, which is perhaps the saltiest water body on earth, regions of the Arctic where it bore nearly zero degree temperatures, and even Uranium mines.
What kind of mold is Aspergillus versicolor?
Similar to the other molds it shares a genus with, the Aspergillus versicolor is osmophilic, meaning it has the ability to survive and reproduce in solutions with high concentrations of sucrose or sodium chloride.
It’s for this reason that these types of mold have been used throughout the ages in the production of various types of wine by many cultures such as the Chinese.
The versicolor differs somewhat from the rest of its genus members in the matter of appearance. While most other Aspergillus types will be of a more or less uniform, single coloration, the versicolor goes through a variety of color tones throughout its life.
That’s actually what the name ‘versicolor’ refers to. It will typically start off as white, but gradually turn yellow, then orange, green, and take on specks of pink and flesh tones as it continues its development. The texture of the mold formation will be powdery to the touch.
How quickly does the Aspergillus versicolor grow?
Even though the versicolor has the ability to grow just fine in temperatures ranging from 4 degrees to 40 degrees Celcius, its optimal growth range is from 22 and 26 degrees Celcius.
Now, how quickly the mold will grow depends on numerous factors including the location of the growth, temperature, exposure to fresh air.
As a general rule, you can expect a fresh growth of Aspergillus versicolor to take from 1 to 3 weeks to cover an area of about two square feet, especially in places that have seen recent water damage and remain damp.
Where can you find Aspergillus versicolor?
As we’ve mentioned, all types of mold like to grow in damp places. In your home, this will usually mean places such as ventilation ducts, damp basements and attics, wallboards, and insulation fittings.
The risk of developing a growth of mold becomes exponentially higher should there be a leakage somewhere or recent water damage in these places.
The mold reproduces by producing lightweight spores that are carried by air to new breeding grounds, and these are the spores which can negatively affect us should we happen to breathe them in.
That’s part of what makes this such a dangerous situation – you probably won’t notice the growth in these out-of-the-way places until you begin to feel its effects.
What are allergies caused by Aspergillus versicolor?
Allergies are excessively powerful reactions by the human body to allergens, or foreign materials, entering the body.
Aspergillus versicolor has been found to be a carrier of numerous allergens that may trigger allergic reactions in people who are particularly allergic to them, with children, older people, and those suffering from lung conditions being most at risk.
The signs of an allergic reaction include:
- breathing difficulties
- running noses
- bloodshot eyes
- sore, itching throat
Those with asthma are at a particularly high risk of experiencing difficulties related to versicolor exposure.
Can Aspergillus versicolor raise an infection?
Should a person be exposed to a large quantity of versicolor spores, the mold can actually begin to grow in their lungs, a serious condition known as aspergillosis.
What happens is that the mold will grow to form a toxic fungal ball in the lungs which then proceeds to deposit allergens and harmful toxins directly into the patient’s bloodstream.
Once things have progressed to this point, there will be noticeable health effects including weight loss, coughing up blood, lack of energy, breathing difficulties, and persistent coughing.
Aside from aspergillosis, versicolor has also been linked to the occurrence of Onychomycosis, which is an infection of the nails of a person’s hands and feet, although it most commonly attacks the toenails. The nails will turn yellow or white, thicken considerably, before eventually falling off entirely.
Aspergillus versicolor and pneumonia
Should a person’s immune system be already weakened as a result of conditions such as leukemia, AIDS, cancer, or recent organ transplantation, then they might at be at risk of developing invasive pulmonary aspergillosis which is a potentially deadly infection that comes with pneumonia.
In cases where patients don’t respond to medication or surgery, the condition eventually leads to their demise.
Aspergillus versicolor tretment – How to get rid of it?
As you can see, the dangers associated with Aspergillus versicolor are quite severe, and the best way to deal with such a threat is to avoid it entirely.
This can is done by ensuring our homes are entirely free of any Aspergillus mold growths.
This, however, is easier said than done. As much as we can try to keep our homes free of dampness and places for the mold to develop, there is always the chance that it may take root in a hidden nook or cranny in your home.
Should you ever notice signs of the mold established somewhere around your home, it’s best not to try and get rid of it on your own, no matter how simple it may look.
In the process of clearing the mold, you may accidentally inhale a large density of the spores and fall ill. Professional mold removal services are there to help you handle a mold outbreak safely and effectively.
They will be able to get any hidden growths you might miss on your own in addition to advising you on how to ensure the growth does not happen again in future. Stay safe and call in the experts when dealing with any such hazardous situations.