The Health Risks of Black Mold
Black mold refers to several fungi commonly found in homes and working spaces. One of the most common types of these fungi is Stachybotrys chartarum. Mold looks like dust and can be many colors. . It is important to know that the color of mold doesn’t determine how harmful it is.
Mold is even present in the air in trace amounts. It can cause irritation and allergic reactions. People with compromised immune systems are more at risk from black mold exposure.
Molds also do well in moist and damp environments. In fact, we see them in toilets, kitchens, and basements. All mold should be removed, regardless of color or perceived toxicity.
How Does Black Mold Exposure Happen?
The two main ways we are exposed to mold are inhalation and ingestion. When ingested in significant amounts, mold can cause health issues due to mycotoxins. A mycotoxin is a toxic compound naturally produced by certain types of fungi.
How Dangerous Is Black Mold?
When ingested, the effects of mold are easy to define. However, there is no way for scientists to know for certain that a person has inhaled it.
Therefore, inhaled mold is far more difficult to accurately quantify and there is no way to determine safe or toxic levels of mold.
Symptoms of Mold Exposure
Mold can release allergens into the air. Therefore, its main side effect is allergy-like reactions.
Signs of mold exposure vary from person to person and depend on how much exposure there was. Sometimes mold exposure is asymptomatic, meaning it will show no symptoms at all. If you already have a mold allergy, you may experience one or more of these symptoms:
- Red, swollen, or itchy eyes
- A stuffy nose
- A skin rash
- Wheezing or coughing
- Sore throat
Certain molds can trigger an asthma attack in people who are already living with asthma.
A 2016 study discovered that high levels of mold were directly linked to asthma. The findings also suggest that mold plays an important role in childhood asthma.
How to Check for Black Mold
When checking for mold, it’s always best to seek professional help. Professionals can examine mold safely. This is especially true when the mold covers more than 10 square feet, or it hides behind wallpapers or tiles.
Avoid touching mold with your hands as much as possible. If you ever need to check for mold yourself, employ only your senses of smell and sight.
Identifying Black Mold in Your Home
Black mold is pretty easy to spot if you know what you’re looking for. Look out for these indicators:
- Small clusters of dark spots: Mold can be seen gathered in small clusters. Look for green, black, or brown clusters in moist areas. Also, check damp clothes, books, and shoes.
- Target cellulose-rich substances: Black mold thrives on cellulose. A good lead would be to look for plant-based materials. Target items are made of wood, cardboard, or paper.
- Musty smell: Black mold can be identified by a dank, musty smell. Think rotting books, old cheese, or a stuffy attic. Certain molds produce this smell due to the microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs) found in them.
- Consult a professional: Mold can be tricky to the untrained eye. A professional can easily determine the source, find it, and remove it with proper mold-cleaning chemicals. Bleach does not kill mold. If even a little spot is left behind, the mold will spread again.
Removing Black Mold from Your Home
After spotting black mold, the next step is removal. Black mold must be removed meticulously to avoid repopulation. If mold cannot be removed from a surface, don’t hesitate to discard it.
- Ventilate: Black mold cannot survive in a properly ventilated and dry room. Cross ventilation can help maintain the exchange of air and stop mold from populating.
- Check the plumbing: Moisture is the top cause of mold in living and working spaces. Cut off moisture and you can control mold. Broken pipes, leaking roofs, and dripping faucets can become life sources for mold. Be sure to fix all plumbing and drainages when removing black mold.
- Sort, clean, or discard: Sort through items affected by mold. Usually, some are redeemable. Be sure to eliminate all the mold on any item you plan to keep and discard the items you don’t.
- Remove moldy housing materials: Peel off or cut down moldy wallpapers, tiles, and rugs. They can house any mold colonies that survive decontamination.
How to Prevent Black Mold
With black mold, prevention is often easier than removal. You won’t get it all out; however, you will definitely reduce the population in your home. Here are the dos and don’ts for mold prevention:
- Get a dehumidifier to manage indoor relative humidity. Always keep the relative humidity (RH) below 50 percent.
- Conduct regular maintenance for your home’s plumbing.
- Cross-ventilate your home. Cross-ventilation can help maintain fresh air by drawing cool air in and pushing warm air out. Without sitting moisture, mold cannot thrive.
- Clean your home regularly. Emphasize mold-prone areas like bathrooms, basements, and kitchens.
- Fix leaks in your roof and walls immediately to avoid the accumulation of mold.
- Clean big spills, like house floods, within 48 hours of discovery.
- Don’t put carpets or rugs in moisture-prone areas like basements and kitchens.
- Don’t ignore leakages from roofs, pipes, or groundwater. Attend to them as soon as possible.
- Don’t cover mold. Painting over mold is simply whitewashing the problem. It is safer to decontaminate your home.
- Don’t leave decaying paper or wood for long periods. They become hosts for mold colonies. Discard decaying material upon seeing them.
While mold may not link directly to any health conditions, it can lead to serious allergic reactions. Therefore, whenever you discover mold, take action to remove it as soon as possible. Professional help is necessary when removing or preventing mold. If you have any questions regarding mold removal, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at ONEighty Solutions. We’re only a call away!