Black mold, referred to in the scientific community as ‘Stachybotrys chartarum’ or ‘Stachybotrys atra’, is a fungus that spreads by emitting spores throughout the air; the implications of which are more than an ordinary domestic pain. Other words and phrases that have become synonymous with this type of mold are ‘toxic black mold’ and ‘sick building syndrome’.
Because spores can eat into wood and other common building materials, the presence of black mold can place the structural framework of a house in jeopardy. More importantly, when ingested, inhaled, or in direct contact with skin, it can pose serious health concerns to humans, ranging from simple allergic reactions to more severe lung disorders, and even death. This is particularly dangerous for those with respiratory ailments, allergies, and/or an immunodeficiency.
Most commonly linked to poor indoor air quality due to excessive moisture and/or water damage, once detected, black mold must be dealt with quickly, safely, and decisively. Read on for an overview of the various areas surrounding the topic, then dive deeper into the site for a better understanding of this toxic fungus and how it may affect your home and your health.
Causes of Black Mold
Black mold spawns on moisture and in areas with high humidity. Because water pipes are rarely scrutinized for leakages, mold can develop uninterrupted for a long period of time until the problem has reached crisis condition. Blocked rain gutters will cause rain to drip into wall space and through the roofing, making it possible for moisture to collect in areas not immediately obvious. Concealed areas are not the only areas where growth can take place.
Due to moisture content and the porous nature of floor tile grout, bathrooms are common places for black mold with the spores developing in between and behind the tiles on the floor. Warped wood and loosened dry wall adhesive are both evidence of a degree of wetness suitable for this fungus to grow, and because of the volume of water and the length of time it takes for drying out, flooding is a common cause of mold growth.
Finding Black Mold
Black mold often hides in plain sight. It’s in areas where there is a relative humidity level of more than fifty-five percent, which can be anywhere in a building. A dank, musty smell is typically the first warning of the presence of this dangerous toxin. Individual mold spores are not obvious to the naked eye; therefore noticeable signs are usually evidence of a sizable colony of mold. Such visible proof can be yellow staining on walls or ceilings.
Green, brown, or perhaps black stains will show advanced stages of mold build up. Cracked or peeling paint will clue of moisture collection that has grown to the point where fungus is being created. A final means of finding black mold requires the use of a black light fluorescent tube. This is moved over the suspected area of mold build up in the dark. A yellowish gleam provides proof there is mold growth. The extent of the contamination can be determined with the use of mold spore traps or swab tests.
Removing Black Mold
There are a number of black mold removal products available and in some cases all it takes is a good scrubbing with soapy water followed by some bleach. There are EPA biocides that can be sprayed on contaminated areas and a number of organic removal products for the environmentally conscious are on the market.
As mentioned earlier, the mycotoxins created by black mold are serious health hazards and any physical contact must be avoided. Protective clothing and goggles to keep skin from exposure to mold spores can be purchased online or at a number of retail outlets. However, more serious cases of contamination will require professional help to solve the problem. This stage of removal can be costly and may result in a building having to be evacuated during the process. Extreme cases will result in the building being condemned.
Preventing Black Mold
This is an example of prevention being cheaper than the cure. The cost of removing high concentrations of black mold can run into the thousands of dollars. Taking steps to insure the fungus doesn’t have the means to grow will avoid that risk. Controlling moisture is the best means of black mold prevention. Air flow is important as a means of keeping a place dry and the stream can be improved by the use of a ventilation system or wall fans.
The floor of the cellar can be heated up by means of underfloor heating and that keeps the area free of moisture, removing possible breeding spots. Places prone to spring flooding benefit from the installation of sump pumps that prevent water from reaching levels above that of the basement floor.
De-humidifiers have been recommended for handling interior humidity. These are very effective in buildings where there is no air conditioning. A final means of getting rid of possible breeding areas for black mold is using effective storage space strategies. Regularly airing out storage cabinets and making sure that moist things are not allowed to collect on the floor are good ways to control moisture content.
Health Risks of Black Mold
Black mold presents a serious health and well-being threat to the people who may be living in a contaminated building. The risk is sufficient enough to be considered life threatening in certain cases, due to harmful toxins called trichothecene mycotoxins. A feature of the toxic body of trichothecenes is their ability to hinder protein synthesis. Another feature is that these kinds of mycotoxins can sink into the skin and, as a result, coming in contact with black mold with uncovered hands and fingers can result in skin irritation.
A sub-class, macrocyclic trichothecenes, is produced by black mold which can become airborne and contaminate the house’s natural environment with mold spores. These can get into a person’s body through the simple act of inhaling. Research has discovered proof to link this mold to upper respiratory tract conditions common to people with breathing problems (e.g. conditions such as bronchial asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder).
Individuals suffering from asthma are especially at risk from the harmful effects of black mold. Further, health threats can significantly increase when certain demographic groups are exposed.
About Your Black Mold Guide
YourBlackMoldGuide.com seeks to educate people about black mold: how to recognize it, how to get rid of it, and how to prevent it from becoming an unwelcome house guest. The individual pages help a person deal with a problem before it gets out of hand, and in the most cost effective and efficient ways. Black mold can be a definite home wrecker if it is allowed. The aim of this website is to help stop that from happening.