How Dangerous is Black Mold?

Molds that produce mycotoxins, like black mold, are considered very hazardous. The mold itself is not toxic, but the mycotoxin byproducts of the mold growth can cause respiratory problems, among other effects. Black mold is the common name for Stachybotrys chartarum mold, and it can grow inside homes and buildings, making it a very dangerous threat to homeowners.

What Is Black Mold (Stachybotrys chartarum)?

The dangerous type of black mold is a dark shade of black. It can be slimy and wet or powdery and dry. It can be difficult to identify the dangerous type of black mold, since many other, nontoxic molds can also appear dark gray or black. Contacting a professional mold expert is typically the best way to identify toxic black mold.

The mold needs warm, moist environments to thrive, and prefers materials that contain high levels of cellulose and low levels of nitrogen. Many common building materials like fiberboard, carpet, insulation, and gypsum board are perfect breeding grounds for the mold. Residentially, black mold is typically found in areas homeowners can’t easily see. It may start from a flood, water leak, or in high humidity environments like basements and attics.

Black mold takes time to grow, unlike other common household molds. It may take as long as a week in a moist and warm environment to start developing. The mycotoxins produced by the mold are spores that can be inhaled by residents, leading to the many symptoms of this dangerous mold. In some cases, the types of mycotoxins produced by black mold can take years to eradicate from a home. Occasionally, a home cannot be salvaged after black mold has developed.

Identifying and Treating Black Mold in the Home

There is usually no reason to have your home tested for black mold unless you or your family experience symptoms associated with the mycotoxins, you have had significant water damage, or if you spot black mold. Contact a mold professional to perform an inspection and take samples of mold. Professionals use moisture meters and other tools to evaluate the conditions in areas of the home that aren’t readily visible.

Hire a professional mold remediation team to treat a home for black mold. He or she will have equipment needed to safely remove the mold growth. Once the mold has been eliminated, most symptoms associated with black mold should start to disappear. You and your family may need to leave the area until this mold problem has been contained. Black mold often indicates the presence of a leak in the plumbing system, which also must be addressed to prevent a recurrence.

Common Symptoms Associated With Black Mold

Respiratory symptoms are the most common symptoms associated with black mold. Coughing, sneezing, shortness of breath, and worsening asthma symptoms may be caused by black mold. Inflammation, mucous membrane irritation, internal organ damage, nausea, vomiting, immune system suppression, and mental difficulties are also symptoms that may be caused by the mycotoxin spores released by black mold. The longer an individual is exposed to the black mold, the worse the symptoms may become.

Preventing Black Mold Growth

Routine inspections for water damage can help prevent black mold from growing in the home. If you have experienced water damage, high humidity levels, flooding, or other moisture-rich conditions, invest in a professional inspection. To combat high humidity levels, air conditioners and dehumidifiers can help. Try to use new paints that have mold inhibiting additives, and always use cleaning products that contain mold-reducing components. Air filters in the home can also capture unsafe microbes and spores in the air, but they are not a solution for preventing mold in the home.

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