Mold is a type of fungal growth that produces spores. While there are various types of mold that can grow in a home, black mold is the one you hear of most often. Let’s look at what black mold is, the symptoms of and allergic reactions to black mold exposure, and how you can safely remove and prevent black mold growth in your home.
Black Mold: The Basics
Scientifically known as Stachybotrys chartarum, black mold is a species of mold that’s dark green or black in appearance. It sometimes produces toxic chemicals found in its airborne mold spores and fungus fragments which can cause various health problems. Black mold growth usually appears as spots or patches that spread over time and often produce a musty odor.
Causes of Black Mold
Black mold can get into your home through open doorways, heating and air conditioning systems, vents, and windows, but mold spores can also attach to clothing, shopping bags, furniture, carpets, pets, and shoes.
Black mold primarily thrives in damp, humid areas with poor ventilation and a supply of suitable nutrients, such as basements; showers; around leaking pipes, roofs, or windows; where there has been flooding; and areas around heating and cooling appliances.
Because wet cellulose materials support mold growth, you’ll commonly find black mold on paper products, including wallpaper, upholstery, and other fabrics, ceiling tiles, insulation materials, cardboard, and wood products. With the right conditions, black mold will grow and spread rapidly.
Health Concerns Related to Exposure to Black Mold
In addition to being unsightly and causing unpleasant odors, black mold can cause health problems. People with mold allergies are often more sensitive to black mold and can experience symptoms like a blocked or runny nose, itchy nose and throat, wheezing, skin rashes, sneezing, sinusitis, a dry cough, and watery eyes when they encounter black mold. In extreme cases, black mold allergies can cause more severe allergic reactions like pneumonitis and hypersensitivity.
For people with asthma, exposure to black mold spores can cause an attack, while those with chronic lung conditions or breathing problems can experience increased breathing difficulty. Black mold exposure can also affect people with weakened immune systems, increasing their risk of fungal infections, including lung infections.
Tips for Safely Removing Black Mold
Black mold can easily be removed from hard surfaces like tile, sealed and painted wood, metal, tub surrounds, and enamel-coated walls and fixtures by scrubbing with soap and water, household products, or a bleach solution.
However, understanding the type of mold you have will help you more effectively eliminate it. Once you confirm it’s black mold, you need to take proper precautions to prevent yourself from getting sick and keep mold spores from being released into the air.
Wear full protective clothing, including a respirator, safety glasses, gloves, boots, long pants, and long sleeves, ventilate the room, and sort and discard any objects with black mold. You also need to take precautions to resolve any issues that could result in the risk of black mold regrowth, such as fixing any water issues and ensuring the area is dry before renovating.
Preventing Black Mold Growth
There are several ways of preventing black mold growth within your home or property, including:
- Control humidity levels (should range between 30-50%)
- Promptly fix any leaks in your home, so black mold doesn’t have moisture to grow
- Use a dehumidifier or an air conditioner during humid months
- Thoroughly clean and dry any flooded area in the home within 24-48 hours
- Ensure your home, especially the kitchen, shower, and laundry room, have proper ventilation
- Ensure wet floor mats are dried quickly
Do You Have Black Mold? Trust a Professional to Find Out
Black mold typically grows in moist, humid, and poorly ventilated environments, so damp basements, kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms can all serve as breeding grounds for black mold. This can be a health hazard, especially if you or your family member is immunocompromised or has allergies, asthma, or any other chronic respiratory disease.
If you’ve noticed a musty smell and are concerned about the possible presence of black mold in your home, it’s best to get it tested immediately. At St John Environmental, we provide mold testing services to determine what type of mold is growing in your home and how bad the contamination is. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with our experts!