Mold (or mould) is a term used to refer to fungi that grow in the form of multicellular filaments called hyphae. They thrive in moist, warm places and can be found both outdoors in nature and inside homes in moist, humid places. They contribute in breaking down dead leaves, plants, and trees and play an important role in nature. However, indoors mold can cause a lot of damage in homes, spreading across walls and eating away at wood and fabric. And while most molds are considered non-toxic and harmless to humans, there are some types that can cause many health problems. These toxic molds can release a mycotoxin that can cause harmful reactions in people with respiratory problems, asthma, weak immune systems, and allergenic or sensitive individuals.
What is Black Mold?
The Stachybotrys chartarum or toxic black mold is a slow growing mold that needs a lot of water over an extended period of time to grow and thrive. This mold can grow on porous materials like wood, fabric, brick walls, etc. However, the material needs to be wet for at least 72 hours for this mold to grow and should have consistent moisture for its continued growth. It can release spores as it feeds on common household items like drywall, carpet, insulation or sub-flooring that have been exposed to moisture. These spores, if ingested or inhaled, can cause a range of unpleasant and even dangerous symptoms in humans. Moreover, it can produce mycotoxins that are toxic for humans as well as animals. Having this mold infestation in the home can be very dangerous. You should get a professional for black mold removal if you find any infestation in your home.
Causes of Black Mold
In general, all types of mold grow in humid conditions. All molds need three ingredients to grow and thrive. These ingredients are water, relative humidity 60% or above, and a nutrient (like drywall). Black mold, however, needs more of these ingredients and for a longer period of time to grow. For example, an attic or a bathroom has constant supply of moist humid air which can trigger the growth of black mold. However, if the wet area is dried off in 24-48 hours, the chances of mold growing are greatly decreased. Any flooding or leaks which have been stagnant or neglected for a long time can get infested by mold. If the food source of the mold is high in cellulose and low in nitrogen, it will grow rapidly.
Effects of Black Mold
Black toxic mold can cause serious health problems in many individuals. The damage generally depends on the length of exposure and the amount of spores ingested. The most common black mold health problems are associated with the respiratory system. The symptoms include nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, chronic coughing or wheezing, eye irritation, or, in some cases, skin irritation. In particularly severe cases of prolonged exposure, allergic reactions can cause nausea, vomiting, and bleeding in the lungs and nose. But this does not mean that all molds that are black in color are toxic or dangerous. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise everyone to get rid of any kind of mold in the home regardless of its color or spread.
Mold prevention is always the best defense against mold growth. If you see any part of your home getting infested with mold, you should remove it immediately. Make sure you don’t have any leaks or flooding in your home. Ensure your house is properly ventilated. Try to keep moist and humid areas as dry as possible. Identifying the sources of moisture in your home is the key to preventing mold growth. However, if you already have a badly infested area or if you have health issues, it’s better to let a professional handle the infestation for you.