Stachybotrys chartarum is the most well-known black mold because of its dark greenish-black appearance that often also looks fuzzy or slimy and, with time, can grow into large dark colonies. The color and tecture also depends on its age and if it is wet or dry.
It can be found both indoors and outdoors, and can also be identified by its particularly strong musty odor.
Black mold typically grows in areas of a property where there has been water damage or there is a lot of moisture, such as basements, bathrooms, and kitchens.
It can grow and live on just about any surface such as carpet, tile, drywall and wood when these materials have been exposed to moisture for a short or extended period of time.
Stachybotrys chartarum is also known in the medical literature to produce myctoxins that cause serious health issues to animals and humans including respiratory problems and neurological disorders. Children are especially vulnerable to this type of fungus.
This is why it is sometime referred to as “toxic mold.”
Other molds that are often found indoors include Aspergillus, Cladosporium, and Penicillium.
These molds can also appear as a black color but can look gray, brown or green and may appear powdery or downy, depending on the type and surface. Like black mold, they typically only become a problem when there is excessive moisture indoors.
Black Mold Removal
The EPA recommends,” One consideration is the size of the mold problem. If the moldy area is less than about 10 square feet (less than roughly a 3 ft. by 3 ft. patch), in most cases, you can handle the job yourself.”
But they also caution that, “If the water and/or mold damage was caused by sewage or other contaminated water, then call in a professional who has experience cleaning and fixing buildings damaged by contaminated water.”
The job requires special equipment and protective gear.
You will need to purchase or rent special cleaning equipment for the job, such as gloves, goggles, respirators and a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.
The EPA also states that “If you have health concerns, consult a health professional before starting cleanup.”
It is my professional opinion that if you have health issues or a weakedn immune system, you should never attempt to remove black mold by yourself. Also, removing just the surface growth won’t solve your problem because the roots of the mold may still be present.
Mold spores can easily become airborne during the cleaning process, which can spread it throughout the home.
This places all residents at risk for severe health problems, especially those with pre-existing respiratory conditions like asthma or allergies.
This is especially dangerous if you’re removing it from your HVAC system, where spores are easily circulated throughout your property.
It is almost always best to hire a certifoed professional.
Dangers of Black Mold
Black mold is one of the most toxic molds because it produces mycotoxins and is linked to a variety of health issues including respiratory problems and neurological disorders.
Even if you don’t see any signs, the spores can still be present in the air and affect your health if you have a weakened immune system or a respiratory condition.
The severity of exposure can depend on the amount of time you’ve been around the toxic substance as well as the concentration of spores you’re exposed to each day.
Allergy symptoms, including sneezing, runny nose and watery eyes
Asthma attacks in people with asthma
Eye irritation (burning)
Prolonged exposure to black mold can lead to more serious issues. These include:
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Mold Safe Inspections Conclusion
If you suspect you have black mold in your home, there are ways to determine if this is in fact what is growing behind those walls or in that attic.
First, look for any signs of water damage.
If you have had a broken window, burst or leaky pipe or an area that has been flooded, you will most likely find black mold there since these types of environments are ideal for its survival.
To help keep the air in your home both healthy and clean, it’s important to identify and remove any growths as soon as possible.
To do this, you need to hire a independent professional to inspect and test the air quality in your home or business.
Moe Bedard is the founder of Mold Safe Inspections and manager at Mold Safe Solutions. A full-service Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) company specializing in property water damage, mold inspections, consultations, and mold remediation.
If you need help with a project, please call 760-818-6830.