Just the mere mention of the term “black mold” is often enough to terrify a homeowner and rightly so. Black mold is also known as stachybotrys chartarum. It is a fairly common mold and can produce potent toxins. Like other types of mold, stachybotrys requires a moist environment to thrive. Black mold will grow in any part of a home where it can find sufficient dampness. Areas of a home that are often damp and humid include basements and crawl spaces that have leaks as well as bathrooms. These are the areas in which mold is most likely to grow.
The mold itself is not toxic; however, it can produce toxic compounds that attach to its spores. Spores are how mold reproduces. These microscopic seeds are carried by the air and can be inhaled by those in the home.
How Black Mold Looks
Black mold is usually a dark green color and can be slimy or wet. It can also be gray and have a dry, powdery feel. Homeowners should note that many different types of mold fit this description. It is not possible to identify black mold by appearance alone.
Health Issues Caused by Exposure to Black Mold
Exposure to black mold is known to cause a range of health issues. The severity of these issues can vary depending on the length of time an individual was exposed to the mold and the number of spores they inhaled.
The people who are most likely to suffer from health problems as a result of black mold exposure include:
• Infants and children
• The elderly
• Individuals suffering from chronic respiratory illnesses
• Individuals with suppressed immune systems.
According to the Centers for disease Control, health issues that can be caused by black mold include:
• Asthma symptoms in people with asthma
• Pulmonary diseases including interstitial lung disease
• Allergic reactions such as wheezing, a runny nose or a rash
• Nausea, vomiting and bleeding in the lungs (these symptoms can occur if a person has been exposed to black mold for an extended period)
• Otherwise healthy children can develop respiratory illnesses as a result of black mold exposure, according to the Institute of Medicine.
• Infection in people with suppressed immune systems
• Chronic fatigue and the inability to concentrate
Under the right conditions, stachybotrys can produce a variety of different mycotoxins including a particularly potent group called trichothecenes. Scientists believe that trichothecenes are the cause of the more severe symptoms of black mold exposure such as fatigue and skin rashes.
Once black mold has been removed from a person’s environment, any symptoms of exposure should decrease over time. Therefore, it is essential that a home be carefully inspected and cleaned. Tile and grout cleaning in a home’s bathrooms and kitchen is one of the important factors in removing mold from a living space. Also, the Environmental Protection Agency suggests that controlling moisture can help to eliminate mold. This means that it is important that a homeowner regularly inspect their home for leaks and have them repaired.
Indications of Black Mold
One of the easiest ways to detect black mold in a house is by its smell. The odor that molds produce is earthy and can be described as being similar to rotting leaves. Stachybotrys produces a particularly strong smell. Homeowners should check for mold on building materials in moist parts of their home such as their bathroom. If the earthy smell is detected in any part of a home, it is an almost certain sign that there is a mold problem. Note that the smell alone does not mean that the mold is stachybotrys chartarum. The only way to find out the species of mold is to examine it under a microscope.
Stachybotrys Chartarum is less common than other mold species; however, it is not rare. Careful inspection and maintenance of your home can help to prevent its growth and thus safeguard the health of your family.
Dee Jensen has had personal contact with mold and knows about it’s health effects.