Black Mold: The Truth About Black Mold Health Risks
You probably won’t mistake it for the fuzzy green stuff growing on that loaf of bread from last week or the splotchy blue mold on that chunk of cheddar in your refrigerator, but identifying black mold from other types of mold isn’t always easy.
Black mold is commonly associated with water damage or flooding, but it is just as likely to grow in areas prone to humidity or condensation and places that are persistently damp. Once black mold appears, it may require significant effort to permanently remove.
What is Black Mold?
Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation about black mold and mold in general. There are actually thousands of types of mold and many of them are black in color. However, when most people think of black mold, they are actually thinking about a number of species of mold in the genus Stachybotrys. The most infamous of the black mold species are Stachybotrys chartarum and Stachybotrys chlorohalonata.
As the name suggests, black mold is usually is a greenish-black color. However, it may also be a variety of other colors as well. Black mold is one of a variety of airborne fungus that grows in the presence of moisture. Like all molds, black mold in a home or business is a symptom of a water issue. While you can clean up black mold, it will return as long as there is a consistent source of moisture.
How Dangerous is Black Mold?
There is a great deal of controversy about black mold. The Stachybotrys chartarum species of black mold was originally linked to the death of two infants in Cleveland, Ohio in the early 1990s. Scientists originally believed exposure to heavy amounts of black mold lead to pulmonary hemorrhages. The condition involves the bleeding of the lungs and can be fatal if not treated quickly. However, extensive retesting by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was unable to link the deaths to black mold.
What are the Health Risks of Black Mold?
All molds pose some health risks, however, there is no scientific evidence that so-called toxic black mold is more dangerous than other molds. Common symptoms of mold exposure can be similar to mild allergies. They usually include a stuffy nose or chest congestion, dry or itchy eyes, or mild skin irritation. Mold may cause more severe symptoms in individuals with mold allergies, prone to upper respiratory issues, or who have immune deficiencies.
How do you Know if you Have Black Mold?
Due to concerns about whether black mold is dangerous, many people want to know if they have black mold. The simple truth is that most varieties of mold appear black, so you won’t be able to tell species of mold apart just by looking at them. Unfortunately, the only way to identify the specific species of mold, fungus, or mildew is with costly scientific analysis. Regardless of the species, you should repair the source of the moisture and remove the mold as soon as possible.
Is There a Difference Between Mold and Black Mold?
The black molds in the Stachybotrys genus are just one of the thousands of types of mold. While each mold is unique, most behave very similarly. In nature, molds aid in the decomposition of organic matter. Within a home or business, all molds will begin to decompose building materials if there is a consistent source of moisture. Like all molds, you should take steps to address black mold issues in your property to prevent structural damage.
Steps to Cleaning Black Mold
When it comes to cleaning black mold, it’s important to remember that mold is the symptom of a water issue. If you don’t address the water first, black mold will return even after a thorough cleaning. After making repairs, use fans and dehumidifiers to remove excess moisture and dry affected areas.
For areas of mold less than a few square feet, you can clean up black mold with a disinfectant solution. While a solution of bleach and water will work, a hospital grade disinfectant is much more effective. Wipe hard surfaces like metal, glass, and plastic down with a rag soaked in the disinfectant. Use a sprayer to mist the disinfectant throughout the area.
Unfortunately, cleaning black mold from porous materials like carpeting and drywall is much more difficult. While the sprayer may work in some cases, you may still need to replace those items. When in doubt, discard items that you aren’t certain you can effectively clean. This includes paper and cardboard items. To prevent the spread of black mold spores, bag items in heavy-duty construction-style garbage bags.
Review our how to clean mold guide for more details on cleaning up black mold Although do-it-yourself cleaning can be effective, you may not be able to permanently remove black mold on your own. For areas larger than a few square feet, the CDC recommends hiring a mold remediation company. They have the training and knowledge to safely remove black mold and prevent it from returning.
Know When to Call A Professional Mold Removal Company
Many household items and construction materials are conducive to mold growth. Drywall, cardboard, paneling, carpeting, insulation, fabric, upholstery, dust, lint, and even paint are all prime real estate for mold. Once these items get wet, they can quickly become a breeding ground. Even after a thorough surface cleaning, mold may still be lurking behind wallpaper, drywall or paneling, underneath flooring or in carpet padding, or in the walls and ceiling.
If you have persistent or widespread mold issues, areas that are consistently damp or prone to moisture or humidity, or significant water damage, contact a professional mold remediation specialist to customize a mold cleanup plan suited to your needs.
Restoration Local is the nations #1 network of restoration companies, making it easy to find a mold remediation company in your area. Our directory includes both independent companies and major franchises like Bio-One, Rainbow International, and PuroClean. For immediate service, call 1-888-443-3110 to speak with the local, on-call mold removal company in your neighborhood. Our on-call emergency response companies offer a free estimate for all black mold removal services.