What Is Black Mold?

Black mold forming around a bathtub.
Black mold forming on a wall.

Black mold, also known as toxic black mold, is the non-scientific name given to the Stachybotrys chartarum species – the most poisonous of all mold types. Although a very rare species, if present in your home, can be extremely detremental to your health; even more so to infants, the elderly and pets. It releases a toxin known as mycotoxins which can become airborne spores. When breathed in over time the effects can be devestating and life threatening. It’s also important to remember that black, along with other types of mold is an essential part of nature as it plays a vital role in the decaying process of dead organic matter.

Table of Contents
  • What causes black mold in a house?
  • Is all black mold toxic?
  • How common is toxic black mold?
  • Where does toxic black mold grow?
  • How fast does black mold grow?
  • What does black mold smell like?
  • Symptoms of black mold exposure
  • How to get rid of black mold?

What causes black mold in a house?

There are a number of factors that can cause black mold to form in a house but the most common cause is a combination of high humidity and water leaks. Has there recently been flooding in your home? Does your basement have high levels of humidity and poor ventilation? Perhaps a leaking pipe somewhere out of sight? All these can cause this terrible fungi to form and oftentimes it will be out of sight like behind drywall or in attics.

But how does mold find it’s way into your home in the first place? There are various ways which includes being unknowingly carried into your home by family members, pets and sometimes even wind. Fortunately, there are various steps you can take to minimize the chances of mold forming in your home.

Is all black mold toxic?

Stachybotrys chartarum can be identified by its slimy looking black or sometimes dark green color. If the mold in your home fits this description then it doesn’t necessarily mean that its toxic black mold. Many of the non-toxic and lesser toxic types look exactly identical. The only way of knowing for sure is by taking a sample and doing a test. This can be done by either a remedial expert or by yourself with a home test kit.

How common is toxic black mold?

Toxic types are not common at all and chances of the mold in your house being poisonous are very slim. Also keep in mind that not all toxic mold is black and not all black mold is toxic. Even if not poisonous it can still wreak havoc on your health especially if you are prone to allergies so its always a good idea to have it removed quickly and efficiently.

Where does toxic black mold grow?

Toxic along with other types of mold thrive in warm, damp environments. It can grow and spread on any surface but the most common places to look out for include inside ceilings, basements, beneath kitchen sinks and behind drywall. It’s almost guaranteed to be in such places if water is present from a leak or previous flooding. Other susceptible places include walls, wood, wallpaper, shower curtains, above and below carpets, roof tiles, inside air conditioner units and damp clothing. Not even the great outdoors are immune as the fungi can oftentimes be found growing on tree’s, leaves and soil that are situated in shady areas.

How fast does black mold grow?

There is no real or accurate set time limit because moisture levels, temperature and food sources play a vital role in the amount of time it can take. Most water damage responders however, agree that the majority of non-toxic mold types start appearing within 24 to 48 hours. Fortunately, toxic species can take somewhat longer to germinate and will usually start appearing from 8 to 12 days.

What does black mold smell like?

Your nose can be an excellent indicator on whether or not mold is present in your home. All species have a similar smell and can be identified by a strong wet musty odor. The odor itself is created by a process known as VAC (Volatile Organic Compounds). Most of the time the odor from VOC is so strong that one can pinpoint its exact location simply by following the smell.

Symptoms of black mold exposure

Mold exposure symptoms vary from person to person but the most common signs to look out for include the following:

  • Difficulty breathing / shortness of breath
  • Chronic coughing
  • Difficulty with concentration / impaired memory
  • Red, itchy eyes with a burning sensation
  • Physical weakness / fatigue
  • Sinus congestion
  • Headaches / sensitivity to light
  • Mood swings / aggressiveness
  • Skin rashes
  • Pain in stomach area / diarrhea
  • Lung infections / Bleeding of lungs

How to get rid of black mold?

Believe it or not but there are a number of easy to follow steps one can take to stop mold before it even starts. After all, prevention is better than cure. Preventing moisture, condensation and lowering the humidity levels in your home are essential in the fight against mold. Visit here for more information on how to do this and for other useful precautionary measures.

If your home already has mold then visit our mold removal page for all the different methods of safely removing it.