Aspergillus is a group of molds, of which about 200 species have been identified. Aspergillus molds are found throughout the world and are the most common type of fungi in the environment. About 16 species of Aspergillus molds are known to be dangerous to humans, causing disease and infection.
Aspergillus niger is the most abundant species of Aspergillus in nature as it can grow on a large variety of substances. Aspergillus niger can even grow in environments with very little nutrients available. In houses it is often found growing on damp walls. Of the Aspergillus species, Aspergillus niger infects humans the third most often. A fungal ball in the lungs is eventually created by Aspergillus niger after it infects a person’s lungs and begins to grow. The health effects of Aspergillus niger include hearing problems and even hearing loss. Aspergillus niger is black on the surface and white or yellow underneath.
Aspergillus flavus produces the carcinogenic mycotoxin, aflatoxin which often contaminates foods such as nuts. After Aspergillus fumigatus, Aspergillus flavus is the second most common Aspergillus mold to infect humans. The surface of Aspergillus flavus is yellow-green in color and it is gold or red brown underneath.
Aspergillus fumigatus causes infection in humans more often than any other Aspergillus species. People who handle or who are exposed extensively to Aspergillus fumigatus often develop a hypersensitivity to it so that they develop severe allergic reactions to the mold. Aspergillus fumigatus is often found growing in decomposing organic material. Of all the Aspergillus species, Aspergillus fumigatus is the most tolerant to temperature and can grow in environments between 20 degrees Celsius and 55 degrees Celsius. Aspergillus fumigatus can be identified by the blue-green or gray color of its surface and appears white or tan underneath.
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