We’ve all heard of the antibiotic penicillin, but did you know it comes from penicillium mold, which can be found in nearly every home? While penicillin has health benefits, exposure to the mold from which it’s made does not. Like any other mold, it causes damage to your health as well as your home.

What Are The Characteristics Of Penicillium Mold?

This blue or blue-green colored mold comes in more than 200 known species which multiply and spread quickly from one place to another. It’s commonly found growing on fabrics, old mattresses, couch cushions, carpet, plywood and even in the insulation inside walls and proliferates in areas where leaks and improper ventilation occurs.

It has long been known that some kinds of mold have healing properties, but it wasn’t until 1928 that penicillin, the world’s first antibiotic, was created. It wasn’t widely introduced until the 1940’s but changed the face of medicine. Penicillin is believed to have saved more than 80 million lives in the years since its discovery. While there are other antibiotics, penicillin was the first and is the most common.

What Are The Health Problems Caused By Penicillium?

Exposure to mold is not good for your health, even if it is the kind of mold which antibiotics are made.

Exposure to Penicillium can cause shortness of breath, coughing, sneezing, a runny nose, and chronic sinusitis. Allergic reactions may occur in some people, including a rash or hives and swelling in the throat (a potentially life-threatening reaction known anaphylaxis). In some instances, mold mycotoxins may also damage internal organs.

Immunocompromised people—those with immune systems that are not functioning at full capacity—are at most significant risk for health problems caused by exposure to this Penicillium, but healthy people can get sick too. Infants, the elderly, and those with respiratory disorders like asthma or emphysema are all at risk. Pets are also at risk for mold-related illnesses. It is vital to have the mold removed from your home as soon as you can, to protect the health of both you and your loved ones. If you are experiencing symptoms of illness you suspect are caused by mold, see your doctor.

How To Clean Your Home Of Penicillium Mold

If you discover Penicillium, it needs to be removed as soon as possible—the longer it’s there, the higher the likelihood you’ll develop mold-related health problems.

If you chose to remove the mold yourself, make sure to wear the proper gear, including disposable gloves and a mold protective face mask. Block the work area so mold spores can’t drift into clean areas, and dispose of contaminated materials by sealing them in heavy plastic bags before you carry them out. If you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, or if you have contamination of more than ten square feet in size, contact a mold remediation specialist.