Trichothecene is a type of mycotoxin produced by toxic molds. Trichothecene is one of the most notorious mycotoxins because trichothecenes are extremely toxic and because they are so difficult to destroy.
Trichothecene and Toxic Mold
One reason why trichothecene is such a well known mycotoxin is because it is produced by Stachybotrys chartarum (also called toxic black mold or just black mold). This species of toxic mold has caused many problems in homes and has frequently been mentioned in the media. There is more information about Stachybotrys spores and mycotoxins at Toxic Black Mold Spores and Mycotoxins.
The toxic mold Fusarium also produces trichothecenes. People can end up ingesting trichothecene mycotoxins when Fusarium grows on grains such as maize, oats and wheat.
The toxic molds Verticimonosporium, Trichoderma, Trichothecium, Cephalosporium and Myrothecium also produce trichothecene mycotoxins.
There are 60 known types of trichothecene mycotoxins. Some of them are:
- HT-2 mycotoxins
- T-2 mycotoxins
- Verrucarin A
Trichothecene Mycotoxin Symptoms
Exposure to trichothecene mycotoxins can cause these symptoms in people:
- Dry eyes
- Tiredness, fatigue
- General discomfort
- Abdominal pain
- Mental impairment
There is more information about the symptoms of trichothecenes at the Toxic Black Mold Symptoms page.
Trichothecene is amongst the most toxic types of mycotoxins. The LD50 rate (the dosage level that caused 50% of the group to die) for laboratory mice given trichothecene mycotoxins is between 1 and 7 mg/kg depending on the specific type of trichothecene and the method of exposure.
Destroying Trichothecene Mycotoxins
Trichothecene mycotoxins can remain toxic for years in a normal environment. Ultraviolet light does not destroy trichothecenes and they are not soluble in water.
Trichothecenes can also withstand freezing. Temperatures of 500 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes or 500 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes is needed to destroy them. A solution of 5% sodium hydrochlorite, the active ingredient in bleach, can destroy trichothecene mycotoxins.
T-2 Trichothecene Mycotoxins in Biological Warfare
T-2 trichothecene mycotoxins are the only mycotoxins that have been used in biological weapons. These trichothecene mycotoxins have the advantages of being highly stable in the air, not degrading under ultraviolet light and being able to withstand heat.
They are also used because they can be produced relatively easily and cheaply and they are extremely toxic with no antidote or vaccine available. T-2 mycotoxins are also the only substances used in biological warfare that can be absorbed through a person’s skin.
The United States military is reportedly doing 90% of its current biological weapons research in T-2 mycotoxins. The Yellow Rain biological attacks used in Vietnam and Afghanistan were concentrated T-2 mycotoxins and Gulf War syndrome is believed to be caused by American soldiers’ exposure to T-2 mycotoxins during biological attacks in Desert Storm.