Many people have heard of black mold but don’t really understand what it is, whether it’s dangerous, and the possible health effects or effects to a property are. Airborne mold spores exist all around us. Mold thrives and grows in moist environments and particularly in houses with ventilation issues, leaking pipes or roofs, condensation problems within walls or attics—or all three.
There are many different colors and types of mold that can impact your home and your health in various ways. Black mold is not technically a single type of fungus, but rather several different kinds of mold that are dark in color.
What Does Black Mold Look Like?
Typically, black mold is dark green, blue-green, or some other shade of green. There are several types of fungi that fall under the category “black mold,” and many cannot be seen with the naked eye.
The most common types of “black mold” are:
- Stachybotrys chartarum (Stachybotrys atra) – this is the infamous black mold, the one you’ve probably heard about and want to keep away from your home. Stachybotrys chartarum actually gives off a greenish-black spore that is visible to the naked eye.
- Memnoniella echinata – this mold is bluish-green in color and sometimes looks like a cobweb or felt when it grows. It can grow on cellulose materials such as wood, carpeting, insulation products, drywall, wallpaper backing—and pretty much anything that is organic in nature.
- Aspergillus niger – this black mold is normally a powdery substance that can grow both indoors and outdoors, thriving on a wide variety of building materials including insulation, ceiling tiles, wallpaper, and other non-porous surfaces.
Whether they can be seen or not, black mold growth has a negative effect on your indoor air quality and should be treated quickly and carefully to prevent their spores from spreading.
What are the Effects of Black Mold Exposure?
Long-term exposure to toxic black mold mycotoxins may cause various health problems and mold allergies in individuals. Mycotoxins are toxic substances produced by mold.
Common symptoms of black mold exposure include:
- wheezing, coughing, and difficulty breathing
- headaches, loss of concentration, and fatigue
- memory loss
- skin reactions such as rashes or hives
- nasal congestion and drainage
- sore throat, irritated sinuses, or frequent sneezing
- allergic reactions or allergy symptoms
People with mold allergies or weakened immune systems can be more sensitive to mold spores than others. While some people are more mold sensitive, others may not experience any noticeable effects from the exposure.
If mold is untreated, it has the potential to cause toxic mold syndrome, which is believed to be caused by mold allergy. Many times, people ignore black mold symptoms because they are unaware of the cause. They believe their seasonal allergies are acting up; they have the flu, etc. This can lead to even more serious physical and neurological issues.
Whether experiencing black mold health symptoms or not, when any type of mold is discovered in a home, it’s important to take immediate steps. Always wear protective gear when near suspected mold to avoid exasperating health problems, and contact a professional to assist with removing mold.
Where Does Black Mold Grow in Homes?
Black mold tends to grow in warm, humid places where there is little air circulation. It thrives on wood that has moisture problems, like basements and crawlspaces, but can also appear on walls, insulation, roofs, the air conditioner, and anywhere else it gains a foothold.
Although black mold requires some water or humidity to grow initially, it does not need continued exposure to survive. The most important ingredient for toxic black mold is cellulose material which makes up much of the structure of homes, both inside and out. If you have a leak somewhere in your home—from a roof or a pipe or something else—this can create a breeding ground for black mold spores to take over quickly if they are allowed to remain wet. Homes that have been flooded or suffered water damage, and particularly homes that experienced water damage and then not dried thoroughly and quickly enough, are most likely to see black mold growth.
It’s important to locate not only black mold but also its source. Without locating the source, you leave open the opportunity for the mold to regrow or spread further.
How Do You Treat Black Mold Growth?
The first step treating black mold is to identify the actual mold and the source of the mold. If there are visible signs of mold growth in or on your walls, don’t disturb them—the spores can become airborne very quickly and further contaminate the air you breathe. Because of the potential health issues that mold can cause, it’s recommended that you reach out to a professional like PuroClean if you suspect mold growth. Our technicians have the tools and knowledge to identify the black mold and safely remediate it.
If the black mold is affecting an area of your home smaller than 10 square feet, there are some steps you can take to remediate the mold problem yourself. These are not the same techniques a professional would use. Any time you are around black mold, you should wear proper PPE (Personal Protective Equipment.) This includes gloves, eye protection/goggles, and an N-95 mask. For general tips to remove black mold, check out this blog.
How Do You Prevent Black Mold?
One way to keep your health and home protected is to prevent mold growth in the first place. Preventing toxic black mold in your home is a matter of controlling the moisture levels and keeping your home generally dry. Fix water damage or leaks in the walls, roof, gutters, and plumbing pipes quickly, keep the indoor humidity level at 30-50%, prevent condensation by reducing humidity, and ventilate appliances that generate heat and moisture. For repairs, use mold-resistant paint, drywall, and sheetrock.
Mold can begin growing in your home as soon as it gets wet. Because of this, adequate ventilation is the first step to preventing mold growth. By flood-proofing your property and maintaining adequate airflow throughout the indoor environment, you’ll prevent moisture from becoming trapped, and thus, hidden mold from developing.
If you notice a musty smell or see any discoloration of the walls in your home, don’t ignore it. Take the necessary steps to prevent further black mold exposure before it becomes an issue that requires professional remediation. Prevention will save you time and money on future repairs.
Call PuroClean for Black Mold Remediation You Can Trust!
If you need black mold remediation services, PuroClean is available to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We have local professionals in your area who are trained and certified to remove black mold from walls, ceilings, floors, and other surfaces. We can also test air samples before, during, and after to ensure the air quality is satisfactory.