About Black Mold
Black mold, also known by its scientific name, Stachybotrys Chartarum, is a greenish-black fungi that grows on damp surfaces and hidden moist areas.
Excessive and continuous moisture is the leading cause of a black mold infestation. On average, this species of mold takes 8 to 12 days to grow and spread when given the right conditions. Usually, homeowners find black mold in bathrooms, kitchens, basements and crawl spaces.
Black mold is considered a health hazard because it produces harmful mycotoxins, which are known to damage respiratory and immune system health. Its spores are also irritants, causing itchy skin and eyes, as well as sneezing and sniffling. Long-term exposure to this toxic mold is harmful to children and seniors, but it’s not safe for anyone to be exposed to any type of mold for too long.
Due to the potential health risks of indoor mold, it’s essential to isolate and remove it from your home immediately.
Where Does Black Mold Grow?
Black mold grows in high-moisture areas, typically attributed to water leaks or unmitigated standing water. Improperly remediated water damage can also promote black mold growth.
The most common places to find toxic black mold include:
- Inside walls, behind or on drywall
- Under subflooring
- Around windows
- In showers and bathtubs
- On or under carpets
- Under sinks and inside cabinets
- In basements and crawl spaces
- In the attic or on roof trusses
- Within the building foundation
Pay particular attention to bedroom windows, where black mold thrives—especially on older, single-pane glass. If you have children, inspect their bedroom windows regularly.
Black mold may be mistaken for other types of mold that grow in similar places, including aspergillus mold.
Signs of Black Mold in the Home
If you live in a moisture-prone home, it’s important to keep an eye out for signs of black mold. Not only can you see and smell a mold infestation, but you can also monitor your family for any changes in health conditions.
Black mold signs and symptoms include:
- Musty odor or mildew smell
- Visible signs of growth on surfaces
- Discovering water leaks or water stains
- Sudden onset or increase in allergy symptoms
- New respiratory issues in otherwise healthy family members
Because these symptoms are similar to symptoms of other, more common illnesses, many people never attribute their health problems to black mold. It’s important for all families to perform regular inspections and take a proactive approach in spotting the signs.
Dangers of Black Mold
Black mold dangers vary from person to person and depend on the length and amount of exposure. People with compromised immune systems or existing respiratory illnesses are at greater risk of developing serious symptoms like lung infections.
Any level of black mold exposure is considered undesirable. Healthcare professionals agree that even small amounts of mold should be removed as precaution, even if everyone in the home is healthy. Additionally, black mold spores are allergens to some people, and these individuals develop more severe allergic reactions than others when exposed.
A black mold allergy can cause health issues like:
- Skin rash
- Itchy, red and watering eyes
- Itchy ears
- Runny nose and sneezing
- Difficulty breathing and shortness of breath
- Aggravated asthma symptoms
Exposure can also produce other health effects that don’t resemble allergies. Long-term exposure to high levels can be poisonous and affect human health neurologically.
Over time, black mold poisoning symptoms can include:
- Ongoing headaches
- Trouble concentrating
- Memory loss
- Changes in mood
- Nose bleeds
The poisonous effects of black mold are due to its mycotoxins—a group of toxic substances known to lead to cancer and immune deficiency. It takes quite a bit of exposure to result in black mold poisoning, so this illness is quite rare.
Black Mold Removal
It’s imperative to clean up black mold promptly and take preventive measures. In most cases, removal should be left to the experts, but you can take a careful DIY approach if the mold is contained to a small area.
Here are some tips to safely remove black mold:
- Use protective equipment such as masks, respirators, gloves, goggles and rubber boots
- Increase ventilation by opening doors and windows
- Remove nearby mold-free objects and discard items that are too moldy or damaged
- Clean nonporous surfaces using a black mold cleaner like bleach, ammonia or fungicide
- Remedy the moisture problem by fixing leaks and using fans and dehumidifiers
- Allow the affected area to dry thoroughly before using the space again
If mold growth is extensive, call a remediation specialist trained in removing mold safely. Professionals contain the room using negative pressure, limiting mold spores spreading to other parts of the home. They also use the proper techniques and have the right tools and products to get rid of black mold for good while disposing of it safely.
Preventing Black Mold
If you’ve recently recovered from a black mold problem, then taking steps to prevent it from growing again is vital. Essentially, this means mitigating or eliminating entirely the conditions under which mold grows—high moisture and low ventilation.
Here are some simple mold prevention tips to follow:
- Control moisture—keep indoor humidity levels under 60%
- Improve indoor air circulation—open doors and windows and use fans and exhausts
- Dry moisture-prone surfaces, like window sills, regularly
- Address water issues immediately, such repairing leaks or installing a new sump-pump as needed
- Don’t leave water damage untreated
If you have recurring mold growth on your window sills, install high-efficiency windows that prevent condensation and dampness. EPA-approved mold-inhibiting products can also be sprayed on mold-prone surfaces. However, if you’re constantly battling an infestation, hiring a mold abatement service is a necessary step.
Hiring Black Mold Remediation Services
Black mold can be a sneaky problem, often growing in places where leaks go undetected. Since water damage is one of the primary mold causes, it’s important to remedy moisture issues swiftly. Professional mold removal companies have the training, techniques and tools to locate, remove and dispose of black mold, keeping you and your family safe in the process.
When hiring a mold removal company, it’s important to find one that is IICRC certified in mold abatement and water damage restoration. Fully qualified technicians can help remove mold, restore your home and prevent future mold growth.