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What is Black Mold?

Black mold and its different variations are some of the most common indoor molds in residential houses and commercial buildings. There are many different types of black mold and there can often be confusion when it comes to properly identifying which types are toxic and which are non-toxic.

Toxic Black Mold

The two common types of toxic black mold are Stachybotrys chartarum and Aspergillus niger. Each of these molds produces mycotoxins, which are harmful to humans and animals.

Stachybotrys chartarum

Stachybotrys chartarum is a mold that grows on cellulose-rich building materials in damp or water-damaged buildings. It requires high moisture content in order to grow. If your home or building has had water damage to its drywall or wallpaper, there is a high probability that this toxic black mold is present.

Stachybotrys chartarum can be identified as a greenish-black mold. When wet, the mold looks greenish-black and slimy, but can also look black and soot-like. This mold variety grows on material with low nitrogen and high cellulose content. Items such as fiberboard, gypsum board, dust, paper, and lint are at risk of being a breeding ground for this toxic, greenish, black mold.

Health effects associated with Stachybotrys chartarum include skin inflammation, coughing, running nose and nose bleeds, burning sensation of the mouth or nasal passage, cold and flu-like symptoms, headaches, general fatigue, and fever.

Aspergillus niger

Aspergillus niger one of the other most recognized types of black molds. It can grow in homes and due to their toxigenic qualities are dangerous when confined in an indoor environment.

Aspergillus niger is dark gray to black in colour, looks dry, and is distinct from Stachybotrys chartarum.

Health effects associated with this type of mold include allergies and infections of the respiratory system. Individuals with weak immune systems are more likely to be impacted by the mycotoxins associated with Aspergiullus Niger.

Black mold spores

Mycotoxins Create Health Issues

It is important to remember that it is the mycotoxin that creates negative health effects on the human body, not the mold itself and that certain specific factors need to be in place for black mold to become toxic.

What causes Black Mold to grow?

Mold is found both indoors and outdoors. Mold can enter your home through open doorways, windows, vents, and heating and air conditioning systems. Mold in the air outside can also attach itself to clothing, shoes, and pets can and be carried indoors.

When mold spores drop on places where there is excessive moisture, such as bathrooms, basements where sewer backup or leakage may have occurred, roofs, pipes, walls, plant pots, or where there has been flooding, they will grow. Building materials provide suitable nutrients that encourage mold to grow. Wet cellulose materials, including paper and paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, wood, and wood products, are particularly conducive for the growth of mold. Other materials such as dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation materials, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery, commonly support mold growth.

Symptoms of Toxic Black Mold Exposure

The mycotoxins associated with toxic black molds have been linked to a variety of symptoms due to poor indoor air quality.

  • Asthma
  • Dizziness
  • Sinus headaches and nasal congestion
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Sore throat
  • Chronic coughing
  • Lung complications, such as bleeding in the lungs
  • Skin rashes and hives

How to Test for Black Mold in Your House

The first step in figuring out if you have mold in your house if it is not visible to the naked eye is by smell. Since mold grows in wet and damp locations, it could be hidden behind a wall, floor or ceiling. A musty, earthy odour will permeate around building materials.

Basements and crawlspaces are places that promote black mold growth, especially if there has been flooding due to heavy rains or snowmelt. If mold issues are not dealt with in these less-trafficked areas, mold can continue to grow and spread, and affect the indoor air quality and the health of you and your family, in your entire house.

Black mold in attics is also a problem for houses that have leaky roofs or are not properly weatherproofed or insulated.

If you discover black mold in your home, it is recommended that you get a mold inspection from a certified professional. If it is present then mold testing can let you know if the black mold in your home is toxic or non-toxic to ensure your safety. Hiring a mold removal company would be the next step.

Non-Toxic Black Mold

While toxic black molds draw the most focus due to the health risks associated with them, there are many other types that are not toxic.

The most common non-toxic variation is Cladosporium, which has no known toxic side effects. Cladosporiumis is common as both an indoor and outdoor mold.

Most individuals come in contact with Cladosporium daily with little to no ill effects. Symptoms from heavy exposure to this mold are an increase in allergy and asthma symptoms, but there are no toxic health effects as the mold is not known to produce mycotoxins.

Other molds that may appear to be black mold include Ulocladium, Pithomyces,Stemphylium, Dresclera, Alternaria, and Aureobasidium. All of these types are not known to produce mycotoxins and are considered non-toxic.

While these do not pose the serious health threats that toxic black mold can cause, these molds can cause allergy symptoms and trigger asthma as well as providing a cosmetic issue in a home or commercial property.

Think Your Home Might Have Black Mold?

got mold?™ has certified professionals in Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Manitoba. Call us to talk to the pros or fill out our online form and we will respond within 24 hours.

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