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Identifying Potentially Dangerous Molds

by Joslyn

How Do You Know if a Mold is Dangerous?


When an inhabitant sees their environment affected by mold for the first time, it is easy to jump to conclusions that the mold is dangerous. The truth is that there are over 200 known types of mycotoxins, or toxicities released by mold.

Not all of these are dangerous, though it is unknown how many undiscovered toxins are yet to be identified. When trying to determine the seriousness of a mold infestation, the best thing to do is to look to hiring a toxic mold inspector.

Mold identification is something that should only be attempted by a trained eye.


Mycology is the study of fungi, and only those trained in mycology should attempt to identify the mold present in a location to determine its exact type and toxicity.

Not only are inspectors trained to recognize causes, symptoms, and instances of mold, but they can provide valuable helpful information on cleaning the mold and preventing a recurrence.

Toxic mold inspections require a thorough evaluation of the premises, including mold sampling and mold testing.

It is important to remember that mold may even be present where it is not seen, and only a trained or certified mold inspector will know where to check for the growth of mold. Not only are they trained to detect mold by visual inspection, but they can also determine if mold is present by scent.

Potentially Dangerous Molds Give Off Odor

Potentially dangerous molds such as Stachybotrys, give off an unmistakable odor that is easily recognizable by mold inspectors. Most likely, those inhabiting the dwelling have smelt the odors as well.

However, to determine exactly which spores are present, the inspector will need to take a sample of the mold. Lab testing under a microscope could take from one to several weeks.

What about Toxic, Black Mold?

Stachybotrys, also known as black mold and toxic mold, is recognizable because of its color. While there are several types of mold that appear black in color, Stachybotrys is a greenish-black, flowering-type mold.


It grows rather rapidly, and is the mold you so often see on news programs featuring homes ravaged by floods. This mold is different from the green and white mold on foods, and the black mold that shows up on the shower curtain.

Toxic mold will typically show up on high-cellulose surfaces, such as paper, dry wall, wood, and ceiling tiles. Carpet and wallpaper are great surfaces for Stachybotrys to grow on.

What Does a Mold Inspector Look For?

Most important for the mold inspector is to find the source that created an atmosphere in which the mold could grow. If the source of excess water is not found, such as leaking pluming or an inefficient HVAC, mold spores will only re-infect the area once the current damage is cleaned and removed.

The only way to prevent the dangerous molds from growing is to control the moisture indoors and provide proper ventilation throughout.

By taking these measures indoors, and by controlling excess water outdoors with proper grading, building owners can help prevent the dangerous mold spores that can grow – and the health affects that they come with.

Further Recommended Reading :

Joslyn from the Moldblogger Team

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kenneth palmer October 29, 2008 - 11:44 am

We air tested our home and it showed up a white flower type with a green center. Is this a toxic mold?

robert April 14, 2009 - 6:26 am

If you live in the NY area a good mold inspection or removal business directory is http://www.moldinspectionandremoval.com , they have a thorough listing of mold inspections companies t choose from.

ashley bowman February 28, 2010 - 12:05 pm

My 2 month old has been sick since she has been 2 weeks old. she is enrolled in a day care so i know alot of sickness goes through there. I recently descovered mold around window seals.(was very slimy and had hair growing on it. We live in a home where the windows are on the ground pretty much. its a split level.So there is alot of moisture. Could this be why she is always coughing. She has never ran a fever the whole time she has been sick. But is constantly coughing. I scrubbed the areas with soapy water and then bleached it. There are still some spots on wood work where the slimy black stuff was but just a few random green spots now.

Shekinah A. February 7, 2011 - 6:06 pm

What are the chances that the mold on the left over rice ball was the dangerous black mold? It looked fuzzy and cottony.

Try Here April 6, 2013 - 6:32 pm

Its like you learn my thoughts! You appear to grasp so much approximately this, like you wrote the e-book in it or something. I believe that you could do with some p.c. to power the message home a bit, however other than that, this is fantastic blog. A fantastic read. I’ll definitely be back.

Chelsa August 10, 2013 - 2:05 pm

Black spikey puffball that gives off clouds of black substance when touched. The balls are about golf ball sized. Spiney black puffballs along floor and up against wall. Pitch black! Help!!?!!

frank September 12, 2013 - 11:21 am

I live in northwest Fla. I built a 12×24 wood shed with pressure treated floor and is all insulated just like a house there is a white powder growing on all motorcycle tires leather seats and some metal things in there. Is this caused from the pressure treated floor or the strandboard plywood on the walls

Lex July 23, 2015 - 7:28 pm

I have on my wall near my ceiling a black fuzz growing out of it I tried moving it thinking something was up there and I was grossed out what is this? How do I get it gone for good?

BrianReeves July 24, 2015 - 12:40 pm

The best thing to do would be to get the residence tested for mold, and if the results show it is needed, find a trustworthy remediation company to deal with the mold safely.

Rebecca August 20, 2016 - 4:03 pm

What type of mold that grows in a lot and is grey,black and near orange all in one under the house which is always wet and most and there is an aircon under there also,my children are constantly sick with chest infections and breathing difficulties and headaches and runny noses,is it a toxic mold? It seems to be going up the floor Boards and via the aircon also as it really stinks every day ESP in the mornings,please help,local dr doesn’t know

dtb December 9, 2016 - 4:56 pm

Hello i have black hairballs keep showing up after i have cleaned everything thoroughly. have had respiratory infection in me my old lady and my cat and legions that wont heal. i instantly feel relief when i leave the home and the opposite when i enter the home. it is a poorly ventilated nonpressure treated reclaimed wood structure that is mostly covered in earth. i am trying to the bottom of this. does this sound familiar?

J January 19, 2017 - 11:15 am

Hi. I found dark green mold above my ceiling tiles. When I attempted to clean it up I got horrible nausea and ended up vommiting the next morning. My property manager wants to just clean it up without taking a sample to see what kind of mold it is. I’m concerned for my health.. Any advice?

Shelley February 5, 2017 - 10:01 am

I had a leak in my live in horse trailer. I sealed the leaks from the roof, however there is a unique musty smell in the trailer. I ordered a mold test kit. Can you have the unique musty smell and it not be dangerous molds? I’m recovering from toxic mold found in my office which is a health care facility. The office always has a chemical smell. I did not associate it with mold because it was not a musty smell. I had very high levels of mycotoxins and was very sick. The health care facility idid minor remediation and it is bisiness as usual. However, I’m out of work because I can’t go back in the building. Incredible the denial of the major health organization I work for!!


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