Black mold is a toxic fungus that grows under humid conditions and thrives in hard-to-spot areas. It can lead to serious health issues, even life-threatening for those with respiratory problems. Here’s what you must know about this sneaky fungus.
We’re at the time of the year when storms and warming weather provide the ingredients that create the perfect humid conditions that cause the toxic fungus known as black mold to grow. Black mold is especially dangerous and likely if your home was flooded. However, you don’t necessarily have to have water leaks to create black mold. Anywhere where humidity and moisture can build up in your home is a breeding ground for mold. Unfortunately, black mold tends to thrive in hard-to-spot areas. So now is the time to check your home for this dangerous fungus.
Black mold can lead to serious health issues even when you aren’t showing signs or suffering from any ill effects from exposure. You could have black mold in your home and not know it. In fact, it could be harming you or your family’s health right now.
Mold is a fungus that is everywhere: Indoors, outdoors and in the air. It comes in a variety of colors: Green, orange, yellow and black. There is no “good color.” All mold is undesirable. While there is more hype around the dangers of black mold, you need to know that all colors of mold can cause illness.
When it comes to black molds, there are many types. The one most often referred to as “toxic black mold,” goes by the scientific name Stachybotrys chartarum (abbreviated as S. chartarum), and is a greenish-black mold. It is the type most often linked to mold poisoning in the cause of serious health problems.
Sometimes you can detect a musty odor, which can be an early indicator of black mold. Other common signs that black mold might be a sudden onset of symptoms such as watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, burning throat, headaches and disorientation. If a person who already has respiratory problems, such as asthma, experiences a sudden onset of symptoms such as shortness of breath or a fever, it can be another indicator of the presence of mold.
The first thing you need to keep in mind is that mold doesn’t grow without the presence of moisture. Moisture can come in the form of flooding, water leaks, or simply an area that is prone to a high buildup of humidity. In the case of the latter, and especially during the humid summer months, the use of a dehumidifier or air conditioner can help pull the moisture out of the air. For areas that naturally have water sources (kitchen, bathrooms, laundry room), make sure these are well-ventilated. If they cannot be, consider a dehumidifier for these areas as well.
If you find black mold in your home, you’re going to need to scrub items and possibly remove and replace areas of the walls or floors depending on the situation.
The first thing you need to do is remove any items that can’t be dried thoroughly, especially if flooding occurred. This would be items such as carpeting, insulation, drywall, paneling, wallpaper, etc. Most likely, these items will need to be replaced.
For hard surfaces, they need to be scrubbed properly. Scrub surfaces using a commercial product or bleach solution of 1 cup of bleach added to 1 gallon of water. Wear a face mask, airtight goggles, rubber gloves that extend up the forearm, and open windows and doors. Make sure to clean your home within 48 hours following any flooding.
The Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) offer more information on mold. An overview on mold in general can be found at the CDC website. Also visit the CDC’s page for specific information on black mold and for tips on black mold cleanup.