Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites produced by some fungi that are capable of causing disease and death in humans and other animals.
- Because of their pharmacological activity, some mycotoxins or mycotoxin derivatives have found use as antibiotics and other kinds of drugs; still others have been implicated as chemical warfare agents.
- There are approximately 300 fungi that produce mycotoxins
- Common Indoor mycotoxin producing fungi include Alternaria, Aspergillus (multiple forms), Penicillium, and Stachybotrys.
- Mycotoxins can be traced to mold growth on crops/grains, nuts, and coffee beans in the fields or in storage.
- The effects of some food-borne mycotoxins are acute, symptoms of severe illness appearing very quickly. Other mycotoxins occurring in food have longer term chronic or cumulative effects on health, including the induction of cancers, immune deficiency, and severe neurological impairment.