N95 mask photo

Safety: Mycotoxin (Vomitoxin) and respiratory health

Mycotoxins in corn are produced when certain molds infect the ears of corn. Molds produce mycotoxins only under certain environmental conditions. Furthermore, not all molds cause mycotoxins, but mycotoxins in corn cannot exist unless molds are present. In fact, thousands of molds are capable of growing on corn, but only a very few species actually produce mycotoxins – and only under certain conditions. One type of mycotoxin of concern to the feed industry is vomitoxin.

We can test the corn for vomitoxin levels present, however, this is after you have handled and grinded the corn sample.

When you are handling the corn sample and grinding, mold spores can become airborne and easily enter the lung. While the body has natural defense mechanisms such as coughing and sneezing that helps prevent particles from entering the lungs, the mold spores, because of their very small size, can easily move into, accumulate, and settle into the lower lungs. In the lung the level of vomitoxin present can easily be absorbed into your system. Health effects depend on you age, level of exposure, overall general health of the individual, etc.

Allergic reactions may be the most common health problem of exposure. Typical symptoms reported alone or in combination include respirator problems such as wheezing , difficulty breathing: nasal and sinus congestion; burning eyes, watery eyes, reddening eyes, hacking cough, sore throat, nose and throat irritation; shortness of breath; and skin irritation.

The best way to protect yourself is being proactive and wear an N95 respirator while working with or around corn.