What is Black Mold?
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What Is Toxic Black Mold?
First things First – All Black Molds are Not Toxic. There are many thousands of different species of this fungi worldwide and at least a thousand different species living and found in the United States, alone. However, a very large percentage of these molds are harmless to humans but also look so very much alike. Therefore, it is very important to properly identify what Black Mold Is and Is Not before committing to your mold remediation plan.
Determining how to best trouble-shoot your given situation can be overwhelming and a bit scary if you are not sure of what you are up against. Especially, if you can smell the fungi and not see it.
What Does Mold Look Like?
Molds come in all sizes, shapes and a range of colors from black to orange, blue to white, and yellow to green. Molds can also be distinctive by their texture and profiles – some are flat looking while others appear to have hairs or a bumpy appearance to them.
Moreover, mold is made up of tiny microscopic organisms that are found everywhere, indoors and out. And, mold spores are spread throughout the air when blown or disturbed from the surface in any way from which they have attached themselves.
What Does Black Mold Look Like?
Black Mold, or Stachybotrys Atra (also known as Stachybotrys chartarum) is a species of a Toxic Mold that you may have heard about most often. It can be dangerous and threaten the health and welfare of pets as well as anyone who comes into contact with the mycotoxins that several of these species produce.
This fungus requires and thrives off moisture to survive. It will often appear as slimy and features a dark greenish-black (sometimes gray) coloration to it that is not often found as with other species and groups of this fungi.
And, because of its moisture requirements, black mold spores will be dampened downward and not easily contaminate the air around it as readily as other species spores might.
Does Black Mold Have a Smell?
Yes, Black Mold has a distinctive odor that favors a mildew and very musty odor. You might even discover a moisture issue within the general suspect area. Sometimes, when found in the hvac ducts, the odor can only be smelled when the unit is pushing air through the vent systems in the home.
Black Mold Symptoms
If the mycotoxins that are produced by toxic black mold are ingested or inhaled, you could expect to experience any one or combination of the following symptoms depending on the amount or duration of the exposure.
The particular strain of the species of toxic mold will be a factor as well. These symptoms could be amplified for infants, the elderly and if one is already suffering from any upper respiratory illness.
- Respiratory Distress and/or Breathing Difficulties
- Unrestrained Coughing and/or Sneezing (sometimes coughing up blood)
- Irritation to the Mucous Membranes
- Kidney or Bladder Discomfort(s)
- Impaired Concentration Levels (sometimes memory loss)
- Excessive Fatigue, Headaches or Tiredness
- Nausea, Vomiting and/or Diarrhea
- Immune System Suppression
- Redness and Itching to Eyes, Mouth and Nose
Toxic Black Mold can be deadly if it is allowed to grow unrestrained. And, as unappealing as this fowl smelling fungi is, its this distinctive odor that can lead you to its location and taking action to get it removed from your home as soon as possible.
Where Does Black Mold Grow?
Just about anywhere really. Outside, toxic mold will grow in the soil which is assisting mother natures process of further breaking down organic substances like dead leaves and tree limbs. Inside, this toxic fungi thrives in warm and moist areas that are low in nitrogen and high in cellulose.
This would include carpet, dry-wall, drop-down ceiling tiles and wood paneling. When these items get wet and remain in this condition for any period of time, then the moisture weakened areas are primed for mold growth.
Often enough, you may not be able to see any mold even after experiencing strong odor indicators that mold is indeed present.
As a general rule, any mold growth that is found inside of the home or business should be safely and quickly removed. Any moisture issues should also be corrected quickly.
Before Jumping Right IN – Be very careful before tearing down the wall-paper from the bathroom wall – OR, removing a caulk line from the shower wall and tub.
If there is indeed black mold behind these areas, then you need to capture or contain any mold spores before disturbing the area where the mold is present. It is important not to launch the mold spores off into your homes ventilation and surrounding airspace.
This is especially true for infants, pregnant women, the elderly or anyone with a depressed immune system living in the contaminated area. And, lets not forget about our “Furry” members of the family as well!
For personal safety, it will be beneficial to invest a few dollars into some basic personal protection equipment before beginning your mold restoration game-plan. Your Basic PPE (personal protection equipment) kit should include a minimum of safety goggles, protective coveralls with a drawstring hood, safety gloves, boots and a N-95 respirator (can be found at most local hardware stores).
Molds That Make You Sick
When speaking to black mold, there is no single one group or species of mold that defines the phrase “black or toxic mold”. Instead, several classes of molds are more commonly referred to as toxic molds and here are a few of them:
- Stachybotrys chartarum (also known as Stachybotrys atra, Stachybotrys alternans or Stilbospora chartarum) * This mold, aka “black mold” to the general public lives its life surviving off of dead materials that are rich in cellulose. A few examples would include cereal grains, wood-pulp, paper and hay or straw; (Stachybotryotoxicosis is a disorder that has affected farm hands that have handled contaminated straw). This species of mold is more commonly found in soil and plant debris. However, when found in your home, school or business; it is likely that there is or has been a water or moisture problem in the area.
- Aspergillus niger * Aspergillus niger can be found in environments where there is very little nutritional value for it to grow. However, it is abundant throughout our environment among the many species of molds. And, it is often found in homes where the walls are damp. It is black in color on its surface and generally white or yellow underneath. This particular species is also dangerous to humans when its spores settle into the lungs and have been credited with hearing issues and/or the loss of hearing.
- Memnoniella echinata : also know as Stachybotrys echinata * This particular species has been often found on cottons, linens, wool and canvas items. This mold does produce many of the same toxins produced by Stachybotrys chartarum and is therefore considered to be potentially dangerous to humans and indoor air quality.
Some of the more problematic groups and species of indoor molds are Aspergillus, Chaetomium, Penicillium, Fusarium, Cladosporium, Mucor and Stachybotrys. There are certainly others and a really good site to visit if you need specifics on different mold groups and the relevant species nested within each group is http://www.moldbacteria.com/mold-types.html.
I’ve Got Mold in My Home
It is important to note that molds are common in our homes, schools and businesses. Each individual can and will react differently to allergens in the air that are associated with mold spores.
It is when moisture or humidity is added to an environment in which mold spores are present, in which they will thrive and colonization begins.
Mold plays a vital part in assisting Mother Nature in the breakdown of cellulose materials such as dead leaves, tree branches, fallen trees and other organic matter.
However, it will not simply disappear on its own unless it is properly removed and the conditions surrounding it have been changed that are not conducive to its growth.
For ourselves and loved ones, any suspect mold issues may need to be addressed as quickly as possible. We hope that you enjoy this site and what it has to offer on Removing Black Mold.
In future posts, we will be exploring the facts and/or myths surrounding black mold and how it effects all of us in our homes – our place of business and in our health.
Enjoy the very short video below for more on What Black Mold Is.
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