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 are airborne spores. When breathed in over time the effects can be devastating and sometimes even 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.
There are a number of factors that 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 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 it 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 stachybotrys chartarum and other species from forming in your home.
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. 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.
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 as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
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 water is present from a leak or previous flooding.
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 start appearing from 8 to 12 days.
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.
Exposure symptoms vary from person to person but the most common signs to look out for include the following:
This is only some of the symptoms one may experience. Visit here for a more complete list of all known symptoms.
Believe it or not but there are a number of 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 are 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.