What does black mold look like? The question appears to have such an obvious answer that it seems almost existential. Black mold looks black? Really? Are you sure? Seriously, it almost sounds like a very lame joke at a second rate comedy club.
Unfortunately, it isn’t much of joke and a reader shouldn’t wait too long for a punch line because there isn’t one. Mold is a serious problem, spreads quickly and can be here all week and beyond (don’t think of trying the veal). Black mold, or stachybotrys chartarum, is a fungus that grows in damp areas and on water damaged material, particularly material made of cellulose. While not fatal by itself, stachybotys chartarum spores can exacerbate respiratory problems if inhaled and contact might cause a rash on a person who is sensitive to a trichothecene mycotoxin that black mold is known to produce (Satratoxin-H). Black mold can cause serious structural damage because mold will weaken and destroy any organic matter it grows on, such as wooden beams, and the damage cost can be in the thousands. Knowing what black mold looks like before it reaches an advance stage can save a lot of time, trouble, and money.
Stachybotrys chartarum starts infinitesimally small and gradually grows larger and larger, covering large areas of surface in a relatively short period of time. It really isn’t black at all, by the way, but more of a dark green color and it can also be other colors such as white, brown, or yellow. While yellow discoloration around wallpaper is a common early sign, the initial detection of black mold is less by sight than it is by smell: a dank, musty odor noticed upon entering a room where stachybotrys chartarum is present. The mold itself can either be one big patch or splotches covering a surface and although wood is a common location, the black mold can also be noted in between tiles of a shower or bathroom floor where moisture can gather.
Areas of high humidity are where black mold proliferates. Molds themselves are not visible to the naked eye so when a person does see mold, that individual is looking at a colony of mold which has been established and is growing. Stachybotrys chartarum becomes a health hazard when it does turn the dark, almost black, color because at that stage it is beginning to generate mycotoxins, and those can become airborne and create problems for people with mold allergies or asthma.
Whatever color the mold may be, it is a sign of problems that will get progressively worse if left untreated. Yellowish discoloration on a wall or surface is often a reliable sign of mold cultures developing and is sufficient reason for heightened concern. Because black mold in its early stages is so difficult for an untrained eye to detect, it is a smart idea to have professional mold removers check the dwelling for evidence of mold. This is especially important when making the decision to purchase a home. So what does black mold look like? Interestingly, there is a way to use color to detect stachybotrys chartarum. A medical grade, fluorescent tube known as a “black light” is moved around a room where there is a possibility of mold growing. If the light from the tube evokes a yellow glow that is a sign that the area the tube has been passed over has mold growth, and remedial action needs to be taken.