Toxic Black Mold: What You Need to Know

Toxic black mold

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 rare species, if present in your home, can be extremely detrimental to your health, even more so to infants, the elderly, and pets. It releases a toxin known as mycotoxins, which are airborne spores. When breathed in overtime, the effects can be devastating and sometimes even life-threatening. It’s also important to remember that black mold is an essential part of nature as it plays a vital role in the decaying process of dead organic matter.

Topics Covered

  • 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?

Several factors can cause Stachybotrys chartarum 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 humidity levels and poor ventilation? Perhaps a leaking pipe somewhere out of sight? All these can cause this terrible fungus to form, and often, it will be out of sight like behind drywall or in attics.

But how do black mold spores find it’s way into your home in the first place? There are various ways which include being unknowingly carried into your home by family members, pets, and sometimes even wind. Fortunately, there are ways you can take to minimize the chances of Stachybotrys chartarum and other species from forming in your home.

Is all black mold toxic?

Stachybotrys chartarum is identifiable 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 it is toxic. Many of the non-toxic and lesser toxic mold species look identical. The only way of knowing for sure is by taking a sample and doing a test. This is done by either a remedial expert or by yourself with a home test kit.

How common is toxic black mold?

Toxic types are relatively uncommon, 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. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to have it removed as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

Where does it grow?

Toxic, along with most other types of mold, usually thrive in warm and damp environments. It can grow and spread on most types of surfaces and the most susceptible places to look out for include ceilings, basements, attics, carpets, beneath kitchen sinks, untreated wood, tile grout, fabrics, roof tiles, indoor plants and drywall. It’s almost guaranteed to be in such places if there is water present from a leak or previous flooding.

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 the non-toxic types start appearing within 24 to 48 hours. Fortunately, toxic species can take somewhat longer to germinate and will usually begin to appear from 8 to 12 days.

What does black mold smell like?

Your nose can be an excellent indicator of 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 musty smell is the result of 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 by simply following the smell.

Symptoms of black mold exposure

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

This is only some of the symptoms one may experience. Visit here for a complete list of all known symptoms.

How to get rid of black mold?

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

Also, visit our mold removal page for all the different methods of safely removing it.

More Information

How to identify mold by color

The various types of mold

Mold growth rates