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Midwest Winter Flooding – Threats of Mycotoxin Tricothocences Exposure Exists

Award-winning indoor environmental consulting firm Pure Air Control Services offers advice on simple tests for tricothocene mycotoxins and for finding qualified contractors to assist in identification and remediation of mold cleanup

Detroit, MI 12/31/2008 12:14:52 AM

In the aftermath of Decembers devastating floods in the Midwest, world renowned microbiologist Dr. Rajiv Sahay, Director of EDLab, a division of  Pure Air Control Services reminds residents to be wary of what floodwaters leave behind—specifically, mycotoxin trichothecenes (toxin producing molds) growing on walls, behind walls, in the ceilings, under the carpets, behind cabinets, or in their ductwork..  Also, he warns of what unqualified disaster restoration firms leave behind…trouble.

Mycotoxin and Indoor Environment:


Mycotoxins are chemical substance produced by the fungal metabolic process. As a matter of fact, these compounds are the secondary metabolites of fungal metabolism. Due to the absence of common molecular feature, the chemical category of these compounds is still not very certain. Commonly, the fungi producing such chemicals are categories as toxigenic fungi. Mycotoxin plays a pivotal role in regulating competition with other microorganism besides helping the parasitic fungi in invading the host tissues. These compounds may also effects human health adversely. The kind and amount of mycotoxin produced by a fungus depend on the fungal strain, the substrate it is metabolizing, and possibly the presence and absence of other organisms.

Production of mycotoxins are also highly influenced by the environmental factors especially growth substrate, temperature, pH and others. Some of the mycotoxins are volatile in nature where as others may be non-volatile. Scientists have identified over 400 mycotoxins and list is increasing day by day. Conversely, a single fungal species may produce a number of mycotoxins. Over two hundred other mycotoxins produced by Stachybotrys chartarum as well as several other fungi like Acremonium, Fusarium, Trichoderma and Trichothecium etc. Trichothecene is one of the most important mycotoxin reported from indoor environment and very complex in nature. It includes compounds like satratoxin, roridins, verucarins. Therefore, it is essential to have an understanding about the trichothecene mycotoxin in order to effectively evaluate a building for its indoor environmental quality.


Now, more than ever, the potential health effects of mycotoxin produced by various fungi growing into the indoor environmental site are being given serious consideration due to its potential health hazards. Mycotoxins affect occupants in buildings primarily through inhalation. These chemical substances are cytotoxins that cause cell disruption and interfere with essential cellular process. Some mycotoxin are potent carcinogenic, some are vasoactive, and some penetrate the blood-brain barrier to cause Central Nervous System (CNS) effect. The assessment of the extent of mycotoxin contamination is the essential step in reducing exposureto such toxin and their affects.


Some common fungi associated with trichothecene production include:


  • Acremonium
  • Cylindrocarpon
  • Fusarium
  • Myrothecium
  • Phomopsis
  • Stachybotrys
  • Trichoderma
  • Trichothecium

What should I do?
Pure Air Control Services recommends that consumers and business owners use the following minimum guidelines to qualify and quantify any contractors they hire:  

  1. Obtain references from your health department, insurance company, friends and neighbors
  2. Know your contractor (check references)
  3. Check with the Better Business Bureau
  4. Make sure the contractor is licensed, bonded and insured (including professional liability insurances) 
  5. Obtain a copy of their license and insurance certificates. Make sure their liability/general liability covers mold.
  6. Hire contractors certified by reputable trade organizations such as AEE, IAQA, IIRC, ASCR, AIHA, NADCA
  7. Differentiate between a “Restoration contractor” and a “Remediation contractor.” Most restoration contractors are not knowledgeable in environmental remediation techniques and protocols.
  8. Certified contractors should follow a strict code of ethics (ask for a copy of their respective “code of ethics” they plan to work with)
  9. For mold/bacteria damaged buildings, request pre-remediation (baseline study) and post-remediation environmental testing be performed.  A Do-It-Yourself Mycotoxin Trichothecene kit is available from Building Health Check called Trichothecene Mycotoxin Check (TMC) for analysis for before and/or after cleanup.
  10. Request a post remedial environmental clearance study. This is essential to assure good indoor air quality (health and safety) and may be required when you sell your home.
  11. Request that the microbiology laboratory used is accredited by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) Environmental Microbiology Laboratory Accreditation Program (EMLAP).  Be careful that the lab of record is accredited and that the consultant and the remediation firm have not forged laboratory data.   Call the laboratory directly for confirmation if you have any questions.  See related article: Fla. Couple Charged with Faking Mold Remediation Lab Results

What Protocols should be followed?

Contractors who perform mold cleanup services should do so according to established industry standards and guidelines, including but not limited to:

ACGIH Bioaerosols: Assessment and Control
EPA Mold Remediation for Homeowners
New York City Department of Health - Guidelines on Assessment and Remediation of Fungi in Indoor Environments
EPA Mold Remediation for Schools and Commercial Buildings
IICRC S500 Standard and Reference Guide for Water Damage Restoration, Guide for mold remediation
NADCA ACR 2005, Assessment, Cleaning and Restoration of HVAC Systems

What indoor environmental tests are available?


The Environmental Diagnostics Laboratory (EDLab) provides an ELISA based technique (Limit of Detection is 0.14 parts per billion) for the rapid screening of trichothecene mycotoxin called Trichothecene Mycotoxin Check (TMC). Environmental samples such as dry wall, carpet, office supplies, air filter, dust and other like wise sample obtained from various test sites like schools, homes, hospitals, work places and other indoor environmental site are acceptable for trichothecene mycotoxin evaluation. Also the portion of same sample can be use for testing mold/fungi by performing addition tests.


A do-it-yourself screen test called Trichothecene Mycotoxin Check (TMC) is available at or call 800-422-7873 ext 303 for more information.

About Pure Air Control Services, Inc.

Alan Wozniak founded Pure Air Control Services, Inc. in 1984 as a small mechanical contracting firm. Today, the work distributed from its offices in Tampa, Atlanta, West Palm Beach, Houston and Washington D.C. sets the industry standard for indoor environmental quality diagnosis and remediation. Pure Air has serviced more than 500 million square feet of indoor environments in over 10,000 facilities.

Pure Air’s nationally performed services include: Building Sciences Evaluation; Building Health Check; an AIHA accredited Environmental Microbiology Laboratory; Environmental Project Management; and Mold Remediation Services, among other indoor environmental services. The company’s expanding client roster includes the General Services Administration (GSA); Allstate Insurance; Carrier Air Conditioning; Naval Air Warfare Center, Orlando; and Naval Air Station - King's Bay, Georgia, and many other Fortune 500 companies, school boards, and city, state, and county governments, making Pure Air a reliable industry leader.

For more information on Pure Air Services, Inc. and/or its collaboration with the General Services Administration, please contact Ed Ziegler, VP of Business Development, at (800) 422-7873 x804, or visit




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Pure Air Control, Services, Inc.

  • 4911 Creekside Drive
    Clearwater, Florida 33760
    United States
  • 1 (800) 422-7873