Every other homeowner you ask about mold would most likely say “black mold” out of dread. Because this mold spreads so easily and creates so many health problems, it’s a major nuisance for anyone.
You need to know all you can about black mold. You may protect yourself and your loved ones from the dangerous fungus by following this guide.
Why Is Black Mold Dangerous?
This mold can thrive in any environment where there is a source of moisture. If you have a basement, it could be hidden there, or if you have a bathroom and kitchen, it could be found there.
The musty odor mold gives out will let you know it’s there.
If Stachybotrys isn’t eliminated quickly, it might cause a variety of health problems. Respiratory issues, flu-like symptoms, forgetfulness, and diarrhea are all possible side effects.
Mold poisoning is especially dangerous to children, the elderly, and pets. When you notice a dark area on your walls, you need to take action immediately.
To help you recognize black mold in your house, we’ve put up this guide.
Other Molds To Look Out For
In addition to Stachybotrys, you should be on the lookout for other fungus in your home.
During the spring and summer, this mold typically emerges. Floating spores propagate the fungus, which can be found growing on fabrics.
If left untreated, Alternaria can cause serious allergic reactions.
This mold can be found in the air, but it can pose a risk to those with compromised immune systems. Lung infections and allergic responses are possible side effects of exposure to this mold.
Even though this is a common mold, if it becomes encased in a space, it can exacerbate respiratory conditions such as asthma.
Black mold and this mold have a lot in common. Water-damaged places are where you’re most likely to locate it.
Chaetomium has been linked to immunological and neurological disorders.
Soil and plant waste are the most common habitats for this mold. Your walls and carpets might also be a breeding ground for it.
When you come into contact with this mold, your eyes may become infected.
What Can Kill Black Mold?
Remove black mold as soon as you discover it. Fortunately, there are a number of home items that can be used to remove mold.
Undiluted vinegar can be applied directly to moldy areas. You can use it to kill black mold from the roots with its antibacterial properties.
Baking soda can be used to remove black mold, which is one of several household messes it can handle.
In addition to eliminating musty odors, it also works to stop the spores from re-growing on surfaces. It’s also safe for children and pets.
To make a cleaning paste, combine the powder with water.
There are antibacterial, viral and fungicidal characteristics in this cleaning chemical. Use it to clean wood and other porous surfaces.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to determining if you have black mold on wood.
Hydrogen peroxide is a safe and environmentally-friendly cleaning agent that may be used at home. To make it easier to apply, combine 2 parts water with 3 percent hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle.
The quickest way to get rid of black mold is with lemons. There’s a good chance you’ve got some in the fridge.
In the meanwhile, it’s best to look for a more powerful chemical. Lemons can be used to alleviate the musty odor, but they aren’t strong enough to kill the roots.
Let the juice sit for five minutes before wiping it off with a paper towel.
Tea tree oil
Mold spores cannot establish new roots in the presence of this liquid, which acts as a natural fungicide.
Tea tree oil diluted in 1 cup of water is ready to use. Get your mold killer by putting this in a spray bottle!
Grapefruit seed extract
Grapefruit seed extract can also be used as a cleaning solution, which you may not have known. As a disinfectant and mold-killer, this extract contains antibacterial polyphenols that can be used in wet environments.
In a spray bottle, combine 1 cup of water with 10 drops of grapefruit seed extract. For at least 10 minutes, let the liquid sit on the site before wiping it away.
How To Prevent Black Mold
It’s important to keep the black mold from returning after you’ve removed it. These suggestions will help you keep mold at bay in the future.
1. Dry all wet areas
Whether you spilled water or there is a leak in your home, let us know. In order to prevent the surfaces from absorbing the moisture, you must dry these regions immediately.
2. Have proper ventilation
When cooking, bathing, or doing laundry, make sure your room is properly ventilated. Mold can grow in any environment that contains moisture.
3. Monitor the humidity
Maintain a humidity range of 30% to 60%. Use a moisture meter or be on the lookout for unusually high levels of condensation.
Mold thrives in moist environments, such as those caused by high humidity.
4. Use mold-resistant products
Mold-resistant drywall and paint are available, as well as anti-microbial chemicals that can be used. This will protect your house from such infestations in the future, which is always a good thing.
Where do the most dangerous molds grow?
All molds develop in the same places, including the most deadly ones, which is to say, everywhere. Mold can grow in any dimly lit space that has a high concentration of moisture. To cultivate it, you’ll need a moist, organic surface in your house or place of business. Moisture can come from a variety of causes, including excessive humidity and flooding. From the outside, water is the most prevalent source of moisture in a property.
It’s practically difficult to get rid of all the mold species that exist in the world. Mold develops both indoors and outdoors, so we are constantly exposed to it. Mold is a natural part of the ecosystem. However, we can and should prevent our homes from becoming breeding grounds for molds, particularly the more deadly ones.
The Most Dangerous Molds
There are five distinct types of toxic molds. Penicilium, Fusarium, Stachybotrys, Aspergillus, and Cladosporium are the sub-categories. A vast variety of hazardous properties can be found in each mold species. There are a wide range of symptoms, from mild allergic reactions to life-threatening diseases. All five of these types of plants can be grown in a home environment. It can hide in areas like your basement, under your carpet, and even inside your walls, making it a difficult pest to control.
Stachybotrys, the “black mold,” is an exceedingly hazardous fungus. When this genus’s molds are disturbed, they release mycotoxins, which can lead to a wide range of dangerous illnesses. Cellulose-containing materials that have been left moist for an extended period of time are ideal substrates for their development. Other organic materials that can be used as surfaces include gypsum board and other types of ceiling tiles.
A severe disease in young newborns has also been related to Stachybotrys in the past. It is especially dangerous for those with weakened immune systems, young children, and the elderly to be exposed to this mold. Stachybotrys exposure can cause a variety of symptoms, including but not limited to:
difficulties with the respiratory system
congested nose and sinuses
– itching of the eyes
– a swollen tonsils
difficulties with the brain and spinal cord
Penicillium molds can be found in the air or soil, and there are over 200 recognized species. A common sign of high moisture levels in the environment, mold spores’ primary function is to ruin food and other perishable commodities. In the house, they’ll stick to wet surfaces such as walls and wallpapers, floors, and even carpeting to keep themselves clean. Among the palette’s many shades are shades of blue, yellow, green, and white.
Nail fungus, asthma, and infections of the lungs, liver, and kidneys have all been linked to these mold groups.
One of the most hazardous mold types, Cladosporium is extremely frequent. More than 40 species are included within this genus, which can be found in a variety of colors. In addition to a variety of wet surfaces like carpets and walls, these are some of the most popular places for people to assemble.
Edema and emphysema can occur in patients with chronic Cladosporium infections.
Fusarium thrives even at subzero temperatures and is frequently seen growing on carpets and fabrics that have been submerged in water. It can induce moderate allergic reactions, asthma, and serious respiratory disorders if it is present for an extended period of time. It’s often a bright orange hue.
In some cases, Fusarium can induce gastrointestinal problems and has been connected to female reproductive system issues.
The Aspergillus mold family has about 200 species and is the least harmful of the most deadly mold groups. Only 16 of them are harmful to humans, and none of them are fatal if they are properly treated. Typically found indoors, this mold is yellow-green in hue. Hypersensitivity pneumonitis, which occurs when the lungs become inflamed as a result of untreated respiratory infections, might develop if the situation is ignored.
Toxic molds create toxins and poisons throughout their natural growth process. Those molds that have been shown harmful to the human body are referred to as “toxic mold.”
General mold categories
Generally speaking, mold species fall into one of three categories:
- It is unlikely to produce an allergic reaction (though it may aggravate mild allergies)
- People who are immunocompromised may become infected by pathogenic organisms.
- Humans and animals who come into contact with it will be poisoned by the term “toxigenic.”
Mold spores are present in the air, but some people are sensitive or develop asthma symptoms as a result of breathing in mold spores. Allergy symptoms such as runny nose, itchy eyes, and dry skin can be caused by the inhalation of mold spores in the atmosphere. It is possible for mold spores to enter the lungs and set off an asthma attack.
Everyone is exposed to mold spores in the air.
- Alternaria is a mold genus that has around 50 different species. An allergy to its spores is frequent in people who are exposed to it. Alternaria species are commonly seen as dark gray patches on the surface. A food source, such as wood, is ideal for the growth of mold in the home. A. tenuissima and A. alternate are the most common Alternaria species. It is common to find A. alternative growing indoors when certain materials are damp: iron, ceramic tiles and bricks, drywall, paper and canvas2.
- Aspergillus is one of the most prevalent molds found in hospitals around the world. In certain cases, the spores can cause an allergic reaction. Because Aspergillus is so prevalent, it’s unlikely that you’ll escape inhaling any of its spores. Breathing Aspergillus is not dangerous to most persons with good immune systems. People with impaired immune systems, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or asthma should avoid inhaling some species of the genus since they may be poisonous to them. Aspergillosis is the medical term for the wide variety of health problems that Aspergillus can cause. A serious allergic reaction can occur when humans inhale spores of the Aspergillus fumigatus species. Aspergillosis produces airway inflammation, which is known as allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA). 3
- Molds that belong to the Cladosporium genus are among the most common. Its spores can cause allergic reactions in persons who are particularly sensitive. Cladosporium herbarum is the most prevalent Cladosporium species to cause allergic reactions. 4 Cladosporium can be found on wet building materials, such as gypsum board, acrylic painted walls, wood, wallpaper, carpet and mattress dust, HVAC fans, and wet insulation in mechanical cooling units, in the indoor environment. 5
- Numerous penicillin-producing strains originate from the Penicillium genus, a mold genus that has hundreds of different species. Many folks have seen a blue-green mold developing on their food. Airborne spores from some Penicillium species can cause allergies and asthma in persons who are sensitive. 6
Epicoccum, Fusarium, Helminthosporium, Mucor, Rhizopus, and Pullularia are some common molds that release spores that can cause allergic reactions.
Humans can contract an illness from a pathogenic mold, regardless of their health. Some mold genuses have both allergic and pathogenic species, depending on the species. Aspergillus is a good illustration of this. Fumigatus, one of the genus’s pathogenic species, is also one of its allergenic members.
Humans can contract an illness from a pathogenic mold, regardless of their health.
- One of the two most common Aspergillus species, A. flavus, is responsible for the majority of cases of invasive aspergillosis and can cause long-term lung infections. Despite the fact that A. flavus is more common in some hospitals and locales than A. fumigatus, it has received significantly less attention. Mycotoxins are also produced by A. flavus. 7
- Mold known as Cryptococcus neoformans can be found in virtually any environment. However, it is extremely rare for people with healthy immune systems to develop an infection after inhaling its spores. It is possible for spores inhaled by an immunocompromised person to remain in the body and trigger an illness if the immune system weakens further. C. neoformans is the most common cause of cryptococcal meningitis (a fungal form of meningitis). 8
- Hemoplasma capsulatum – Hemoplasmosis is caused by H. capsulatum, a parasite found in soil. H. capsulatum spores in the air are the primary means of transmission. A lung infection can also be caused by inhaling spores (pneumonia). It is possible for the infection to spread throughout the body, which can be deadly. However, this mold can also be found in areas where bat and bird droppings are present. Typically, soil disturbances like as digging or structure demolition release spores into the atmosphere. Large-scale construction projects are the most common cause of outbreaks. 9
One type of mold that may produce mycotoxins, which can cause a toxic reaction in humans and animals, is the toxigenic mold species. Molds create spores for reproduction, but mycotoxins are something else entirely. Mold spores, on the other hand, can disperse these compounds into the air. Mycotoxins have been found to travel through the air on dust particles as small as a grain of sand or wallpaper as little as a speck. 10
On the surface of dust or small fragments of wallpaper, mycotoxins can readily be ingested.
Some of the most prevalent indoor molds that are toxic to humans include the following:
- Fusarium solani, F. oxysporum, and F. moniliforme are three of the more common species.
- Types of Penicillium: P. brevicompactum, P. chrysogenum, P. citrinum, P. corylophilum, P. cyclopium, and the genus Penicillium. It includes P. viridicatum13 and P. fellutanum14
- A. versicolor, A. niger, and A. flavus are three Aspergillus species.
- Black mold is Stachybotrys chartarum, which is often referred to in the media. Stachybotrys chartarum is a fungus.
What you can do about mold in your home
Moisture control is the most effective method of preventing mold formation. You can also take the following steps:
- Water leaks should be repaired as soon as they are discovered. Water leaks may only be repaired by a professional plumber or HVAC technician (which is the most likely cause of the moisture on which mold is feeding).
- Reduce the amount of moisture in the air in your home (the ideal humidity level is around 40%).
- When cooking, dishwashing, or cleaning, use exhaust fans.
- To get rid of mold that’s already evident, wash your hands with soap and a sponge.
- Spray a small mist of water on any moldy patches that appear to be dry. This will keep mold spores from escaping into the air while you clean.
- In the event that bleach is used, be sure it doesn’t stain the material. Bleach and ammonia should never be mixed. Toxic gases will be released.
- Cleaning up after a flood may leave a lot of damage, so be careful to put everything you use in a heavy-duty garbage bag and seal it. Using the nearest exit, carry the bag outdoors. Any airborne spores should be avoided at all costs.
How to protect yourself from mold spores and mycotoxins
- When handling moldy objects, wear a mask to protect your nose and mouth. Using a N95 particulate respirator is advised.
- Avoid coming into touch with mold spores by dressing in clothing that covers your arms and legs. After each cleaning, the garment should be washed or thrown away.
- Take care of your hands and eyes.
- To avoid inhaling mold spores or other airborne pollutants, wear an air pollution mask, such as the KN95-certified IQAir Mask.
- The use of a high-performance HyperHEPA mold air purifier can help to keep the air clean, even as the work is being completed. With the IQAir HealthPro Plus, mold and musty odors can be reduced or completely eliminated from the air.
If there is enough moisture, mold can grow on just about anything, as long as there is enough moisture in the air. Mold spore and mycotoxin exposure can be harmful to your health, but it can also be prevented if you are aware of the risks and take the necessary precautions. Visit epa.gov/mold for more information and tips on dealing with mold.
Mold FAQ – Questions About Mold
What is mold?
Molds are neither animals nor plants. It is a type of microscopic fungus that is closely linked to mushrooms as well as yeast and mildew, and it may be found just about anywhere. Enzymes and spores are used by fungi to break down food and proliferate. Dead plant debris such as leaves and wood can be decomposed by the presence of molds. Penicillin, one of the earliest and most extensively used naturally-occurring antibiotics, is derived from mold, which is the source of the cheese’s color. In addition to being a common allergen, mold is also a health risk.
Where does mold grow?
In order to colonize and proliferate, mold spores require moisture. Wood, ceilings, wallpaper, paint, carpet, sheet rock, and insulation can all be a breeding ground for mold. A cellulose-based food source and moisture are all molds require to thrive in the appropriate conditions. They disintegrate household items with the same strong enzymes they employ to decompose decaying plant waste. Extreme mold development is made possible in a setting with high relative humidity, which puts your health at danger. Mold thrives in kitchens, bathrooms, garages, basements, and crawlspaces. Water damage to any component of your house means mold is almost guaranteed to appear. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), between one-third and one-half of all U.S. buildings have regions that are sufficiently wet for mold growth. Even though indoor humidity levels are lower in the winter, mold allergy may be more common in some homes because of tight, energy-efficient seals. Mold is everywhere, even in the open air, and depending on where you live, you may be allergic to it during certain times of the year.
Is exposure to mold dangerous?
In addition to causing structural damage to your property, mold can also have a negative impact on your health. Mold can enter your body through contact with moldy materials, consumption of moldy foods, and inhalation of mold spores in the air. As many as half a million spores can be inhaled per minute without you even realizing it. Mold allergies can cause skin rashes, a runny nose, itchy eyes, a cough, congestion, and an increase in asthma symptoms, as well as other symptoms.
Chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) affects an estimated 37 million Americans, and a 1999 Mayo Clinic study indicated that allergic fungal sinusitis (AFS) was detected in 93% of cases. A 2005 study found that children who were exposed to mold in wet houses had a twofold increase in their chance of developing asthma.
Mold allergies are the most common cause of mold-related health issues, however molds can also infect the body and cause disease. Mold colonizes and develops in asthmatic mucus in the lungs, causing allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis, a dangerous lung condition. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients are more likely to develop fungal pulmonary infections.
What if I’m not allergic to mold, will it still affect me?
Yes. Mycotoxins are a dangerous consequence of mold development and colonization. “Sick building syndrome” has been linked to mycotoxins, which are strong agents. Even healthy adults and children can be affected by mycotoxins, which have the potential to induce a wide range of symptoms. Even in the most extreme circumstances, some of these hazardous byproducts have resulted in death. This mold FAQ will be revisited.
Which kinds of mold are allergenic?
All molds are not created equal. In the same way that pollen can elude the respiratory system’s defensive mechanisms, some molds can evade the respiratory system’s protective mechanisms. Alternaria, Aspergillus, Chaetomium, Cladosporium, Fusarium, Mucor, Penicillium, and Stachybotrys are among the most prevalent indoor mold allergens.
What is toxic mold?
As a matter of fact, the term “toxic mold” is somewhat misleading. Some toxigenic mould (“toxic molds”), on the other hand, release toxins called mycotoxins that have the potential to induce a variety of unpleasant side effects, including exhaustion and nausea as well as eye and respiratory irritation. When exposed to ambient cigarette smoke, Stachybotrys mold, popularly known as black mold, has been shown to induce deadly lung hemorrhage in neonates.
People who are allergic to mold may experience allergy symptoms if they are exposed to mold that is toxic. Molds like Stachybotrys and Chaetomium have also been linked to a variety of health issues including exhaustion and nausea as well as pulmonary hemorrhaging and respiratory issues such as asthma and COPD. In some cases they have also been linked to learning disabilities as well as memory loss and death.
Toxins like mycotoxins have been employed as biological weapons because of their ability to induce brain harm. Gulf War Syndrome, the mysterious sickness that struck many Gulf War veterans, may have been caused, in part, by biological warfare employing mycotoxins, according to some researchers. Those who suffer from severe mycotoxicosis (mycotoxin poisoning) experience tiredness and weakness, as well as loss of muscle coordination, shock, and death as a result.
A warm, moist environment favors the growth of toxigenic molds, as do all molds. The ideal setting for poisonous mold growth is a house that has been submerged in water.
How do I know if I have a mold problem?
Your bathroom or basement may be infested if you notice white thread-like growths or clusters of black dots on the walls, as well as the musty smell. Detection of mold might be difficult if it grows inside the walls of a house or other building. Some mold, on the other hand, is undetectable to the naked eye.
Mold allergies can cause a runny nose, itchy nose, sneezing, fatigue, headache, congestion, sniffling, sore throat, itch eyes, and watery eyes. Recurrent respiratory infections are common in children with mold allergy.
If you can’t see or smell it, how will I know it’s there?
Many of the low-cost test kits and services available online aren’t worth the money you pay for them. If the mold count is exceedingly high, a simple mold spore test isn’t an accurate indicator of a mold problem (we’ll discuss the mold count in a later Mold FAQ). According to our mold FAQ above, mold spores are everywhere. Mold spores can be found in the air in very few areas. A physical inspection, along with testing and humidity measurements, is the best way to determine if there is a problem in the home. Many severe mold problems can be easily overlooked, but it is best to utilize a qualified professional who considers a variety of variables such as licensing, reputation, and insurance when diagnosing and treating them. On the other hand, people can often tell whether something is off by how they feel. Some of the symptoms of a mold allergy are described in our article on All About Mold. These, together with an odor, high relative humidity, recent flooding, leaking pipes, etc., are frequently an excellent initial indicator of mold infestation.
How do I treat my mold allergy?
To treat a mold allergy, the best thing you can do is avoid mold spores. When working outside, use an allergy relief mask and take steps to prevent mold from growing in your home. Depending on the severity of your allergies, an allergist may recommend medication or immunotherapy treatment.
How can I control the mold growth in my home?
Mold spores, like dust mites, cannot be completely eliminated from your house, but you can regulate the amount of mold spores in your surroundings so that you can observe an improvement in your allergy symptoms.
Resolve any leaks or other issues that are causing water to accumulate in your home as soon as possible, and then remove any damaged materials (this includes wood, wall paper, carpet, etc.). Do not pile up wood or leaves near your house since they will accumulate moisture. Seal any outside surfaces. At least once a month, thoroughly clean your bathroom sinks and tubs, as well as your garbage cans. In the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry rooms, pay close attention to the seams, cracks, and grout lines. Mold spores can be reduced in the air by removing indoor plants.
A properly aired house is a healthy house. HVAC systems can harbor unseen mold colonies. Mold can be prevented from reaching you by using an allergy relief vent filter.
HEPA air purifiers and HEPA filtered vacuums can remove at least 99.97 percent of all mold spores from your house, and they can also remove microscopic mold spores deep in your carpet.
A hygrometer, or humidity gauge, is the best way to keep an eye on your home’s humidity levels. Maintain a humidity level of 40 to 50 percent in your home. Remove excess moisture and humidity from the air by using a dehumidifier.
In particular vulnerable to fungus invasion are the polyurethane and rubber foams often found in bedding. Allergy relief bedding, such as hypoallergenic polyurethane or rubber foam, is an option if your current bedding is prone to trapping allergens.
A sealer like Sure Cote can be used to prevent future mold growth by using diluted bleach or a flexible and odorless House Wash like Vital Oxide.
How should I clean up toxic mold?
Mold spores can be ten-thousand times more prevalent in the air when removing mold, which can cause serious disease and spread the mold if done incorrectly. Because of the high concentrations of mold spores in the air, workers should wear gloves, goggles, and a HEPA respirator while working. Consider hiring a professional mold remediation expert to clean up the mold and safely dispose of it if you fear dangerous mold is in your house.
What is a mold count?
An air mold count informs us how many mold spores were found in an average volume of air over the course of a 24-hour period at a specific time and location, similar to the pollen count. You should stay indoors if the mold count is high if you’re allergic to mold. Mold spore counts are now often reported on your local news and weather websites, especially if they are extremely high.
Mold can cause a variety of issues in your house. It can make your rooms smell and look unpleasant, and it may cause you to have health issues as a result.
When you know which mold is the most deadly, you can take the required precautions.
Keep an eye out for black mold in your home. Ventilate and avoid moisture buildup in your rooms.