Dr James Schaller
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Evaluating Aspergillus or Penicillium

I was recently asked to evaluate a Louisiana family in which a home swab sample had the result: "Excess Aspergillus or Penicillium." My concern is this only tells us they might have a serious problem. Why? Usually when the lab tech cannot tell the difference between Aspergillus and Penicillium, they are looking at a taped sample, which does not allow them to see the difference between this these two mold types.

But what is more important is which species of Aspergillus or Penicillium is present? Some types are dangerous and others are safe unless you are faced with major quantities.

This is one reason if you are doing testing you must have "speciation" of the mold that is found, particularly of Aspergillus, Penicillium and Cladosporium. A report that says you have "Aspergillus sp." Is not fully useful because it does not tell you which of the many species of Aspergillus is present. A comment in the text of the report or in a footnote that says, "Some species of Aspergillus, Penicillium or Cladosporium make toxins" is useless.

So look for speciation. It is very important.

Best,

Dr. J



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