chartarum (atra): A mold that may be found in water-damaged
Fungi are common in nature and serve a central role as breakdown agents
for organic matter. They contain fragments, or spores, which are found
in virtually every home and building.
Stachybotrys chartarum: Stachybotrys
chartarum (SC) is a greenish black fungus that grows on material with a
high cellulose and low nitrogen content, such as fiberboard, gypsum
board, paper, dust, and lint, that becomes chronically moist or water
damaged due to excessive humidity, water leaks, condensation, water
infiltration, or flooding. No one knows how often this fungus is found
since buildings are not routinely tested for its presence. However, one
study in Southern California found it in 2.9% of 68 homes (Kozak). S.
chartarum may (under specific environmental conditions) produce several
toxic chemicals called mycotoxins. These chemicals are present on the
spores and the small fungus fragments that are released into the air.
Although spores and other parts of this fungus are usually trapped in a
wet, slimy mass of fungal growth, many health officials are concerned
that spores may become airborne when the fungus dies and dries up.
Because S. chartarum spores are very small, some may be drawn into the
lungs when airborne spores are inhaled.