What is Black Mold and Can it actually Kill You?
What are the most common questions associated with Black Mold?
In this comprehensive post, you'll learn;
- What Black Mold is and how to identify it.
- Common misconceptions.
- What causes Black Mold and how to get rid of it.
- How dangerous Black Mold can be.
So if you've ever asked yourself any of these questions, you'll love this post!
What is Black Mold?
Black Mold grows in areas that are commonly known to be damp. Think bathrooms (toilet, bathtub, shower), kitchens and basements.
These common areas are known to be warm and humid allowing the space to become a perfect breeding ground for mold. Additionally, mold can also grow on damp wood, dirt and even paper.
Using a dehumidifier can be helpful in reducing the likelihood of mold growth. If there is already mold present, Mold Remediation is needed for it to be completely removed.
Black mold is a fungus, much like other types of mold.
Like other molds, there are a variety of black molds and most are considered toxigenic.
The most common species of black mold is Stachybotrys Chartarum. Stachybotrys Chartarum isn’t really just black, it can also appear to have a green tint to it as well!
The difference between black mold and regular mold is the fact that black mold produces mycotoxins which are poisonous.
Mycotoxins, when disrupted, will attach to mold spores that have been released into the air. When these spores are released, they will then attach to any kind of surface.
The spores, which are now poisonous, can easily be inhaled by both people and animals.
Health issues can either begin or be exacerbated by the inhalation of toxic mold spores. Various symptoms can include:
- Excessive Coughing
- Irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat
- Chronic Fatigue
- Bleeding in the lungs due to coughing/irritation
Any of these symptoms could be the result of black mold poisoning and would warrant a visit to the doctor.
Those who are already immunocompromised, have a mold allergy or are more vulnerable to illness are more susceptible to poison like symptoms.
What does it look like?
You wonder, “how will I know if I have black mold inside my home?”
First and foremost, there will be an odor of a musty mildew type smell. The smell could be in a room, or a small area depending on the presence of mold.
Since there is a variety of mold species, it may be difficult to tell if the mold that is present in your home is toxic or not.
Green or gray mold is likely to not be harmful to you or your home. If the mold appears to be a dark green or black, it could be black mold.
In addition, the black mold could look slimy and wet and resemble something like Jell-O. When the black mold looks like this, there is a water source nearby.
Check in areas where there could potentially be water damage (like in a basement, bathroom, kitchen) and also near hot water heaters, sump pumps, and HVAC systems to find possible mold colonies.
Without water, black mold can look like a powder or even black dust and will be dry.
Even without seeing mold, the toxic spores could still be in the air. Take notice if you find yourself coughing, sneezing, or having breathing difficulties when going into a certain room or area.
If you have any concerns about the possibilities of black mold being in your home, contact a mold remediation specialist to identify and remove any mold in your home.
What causes black mold?
Since black mold thrives in damp environments, water or moisture will be or has been present in any area that the mold colony has started growing.
Areas with water damage like a leaky pipe under the sink, flooding from a storm or other event are also more likely to have black mold. This includes carpet, drywall, and gypsum board.
Black mold spores can come from anywhere and get into your home also. This includes coming in from the outdoors on clothing, pet fur, and from the summer breeze coming in from the open window.
Resolving the moisture issue, and removing the black mold affected areas will help prevent the continued growth of the mold colony.
How do I get rid of it?
Getting rid of any kind of mold can be tricky. Usually, any kind of mold whether it is toxic mold or your regular everyday mold, you’re going to want it gone.
While mold removal should be left to the experts, there are some things you can do at home to help prevent future mold growth.
- Wear protective gear (face mask, gloves, all skin covered).
- Seal off the contaminated area with mold using plastic sheets as to not let the mold spores spread.
- Clean the air by opening doors and windows or by using an air purifier or dehumidifier.
- Remove all visible mold from surfaces using either mold removal cleaner or bleach/water combo (DO NOT mix bleach and ammonia, this is more toxic). Natural remedies can also include tea tree oil, baking soda, vinegar, and grapefruit seed extract.
- Remove materials that have or had mold (carpet, drywall).
- Remove items that have not been affected by mold to clear space preventing any contamination.
- After cleaning, remove any used cleaning supplies (any sponges, cloths) and place them into closed garbage bags. Change clothes and wash hands thoroughly.
- Keep damp areas clean and dry (incorporate mold and mildew removal products into cleaning routine).
- If remodeling, use mold inhibitors in the paint to prevent mold growth on walls/ceilings and be sure to allow everything to fully dry.
- Don’t use carpet in areas with high moisture (kitchen, bathroom, basement).
- Maintain less than 50% humidity level throughout the day to prevent mold growth.
- Keep rooms with moisture well ventilated.
- Use air purifiers and dehumidifiers.
- Close windows at night (mold spores are more airborne at night)
Sure, this may all sound simple, or at least something you can understand, but it's always best to have a mold remediation expert come into your home and provide accurate mold inspection, testing, and removal.
This type of mold is toxic, and as soon as it is disturbed the poisonous spores will be released into the air causing potential harm to you and your family.
Mycotoxins from this kind of mold can cause severe damage to your health and can take years to break down. It is best to have a certified professional provide the cleanup for you.
Now, onto the burning question...
Can black mold kill you?
Mold can affect everyone differently. Those who are more at risk for serious health problems due to mold are:
- Preexisting lung conditions
- Young children
- Weakened immune systems
While symptoms can vary, the most common include:
- a runny or blocked nose
- watery, red eyes
- dry cough
- Skin rashes
- Sore throat
Research is constantly being conducted on different mold species, and more so, black mold species called Stachybotrys Chartarum.
So, it may look like this won’t kill you, but it can surely cause some serious side effects.
Long term exposure can also be harmful to your health and put you at further risk for infections, serious illness, and other symptoms.
Aside from having flu-like symptoms, or worsened allergies, other serious effects can occur from prolonged exposure to this type of mold. These include;
- Hair loss
- Muscle or stomach cramps
- Confusion or memory loss
- Weakened Immune system
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD)
- Internal damage
- Skin irritation
If any of these symptoms are persistent, going to the doctor will be the first step. Step number two will be to contact mold testing and remediation experts to take care of your home or business!
If you or someone you know have been wondering about Black Mold, call our Rock Environmental professionals at 585-340-6799. Or click the button below to send us a message!
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