If there was one organism that was in dire need of a PR overhaul, it would probably be black mold. Yup, when it comes to mold, you don’t get much worse than this. Yet how much of it is over-sensationalized, and how much should we really take to heart? MoldBlogger investigates!
Is Mold Dangerous to Breathe?
Normally when we come across mold – whether in our home or somewhere else – we recoil, perhaps gag and then set about getting rid of it or simply walking away. And whilst mold is, unarguably, a less-than-favorable sight to behold, the real concern can actually be a lot more serious, depending on the person and the type of mold found. So, what can breathing in mold actually do?
There is quite a bit of contradictory advice when it comes to testing for mold in the home; namely, whether it’s a DIY-type job or one that calls for the experts. But as with most things, it’s not a black and white answer, with different circumstances requiring different approaches. Before we explain further, however, let’s outline the factors that may lead you to check your home for mold in the first place:
What is Black Mold?
“Black mold,” or stachbotrys as his mycologist friends like to call him, is actually a dark green mold, but not only did “Dark Green Mold” fail miserably at striking fear in the hearts of the public, Penicillium mold pretty much held the copyright to all-things-green. “Killer Mold,” too, fell short of fear-mongering. And “The Notorious B.M.” didn’t quite have the effect mycologists were going for, which could be why a dark green mold was given the nickname “black mold.” Or, more specifically, “toxic black mold.” But, what causes black mold? And why is it considered so toxic?
Q. Being advocates for healthy homes, how often do you get contacted concerning black mold and how to remove it?
Lisa: We get contacted quite often for mold inquiries from people all across the country, but most people are unaware if they actually have mold, the scope of the problem or how to properly remove it. Many people will experience hay fever like symptoms, but if they can’t see visible mold, they tend to think it doesn’t exist or isn’t a real threat.
Ron: We always start by advising the person test, not guess. Too many people unknowingly put themselves and/or their loved ones in danger by ignoring the visible signs of moisture or water damage and/or a musty smell. They assume it will go away on its own. Many people wait too long before addressing the root cause of the issue – typically a leaky water source.
Toxic Black Mold
Usually associated with the nasty back and green patches on the walls, mold is the non- scientific term for a wide variety of fungi. These organisms thrive in damp, warm and humid environment and can evolve both indoors and outdoors. Mold is not only unsightly and smelly, but it is also potentially dangerous for human health.
Toxic black mold in particular can be quite hazardous and can trigger an array of symptoms. Also known as Stachybotrys chartarum, these fungi feed on organic materials such as carpet, insulation and drywall, while releasing spores. These spores are then inhaled or ingested, causing a range of unpleasant and sometimes severe health issues.
An Uncomfortable Situation
Black mold is absolutely horrible and can do more than simply ruin the way your furniture looks. The stuff can cause serious health problems if you don’t deal with it right away and clean your furniture thoroughly. The most common household product used to get rid of this nasty mold is bleach, but even that could be toxic and do more harm than good.
Mold is a serious problem. It is known to cause respiratory problems and other health issues. Detecting and removing mold is difficult because it tends to show up anywhere that water does. Carpet mold is very serious. It often develops beneath the carpet fibers. This makes it hard to detect. A leak in one part of a house can trickle into another. This leads to nearly invisible carpet mold.
What is Black Mold?
what does black mold look like*
Hearing about mold can be scary, especially if it’s in your home or business and it’s making you and other people sick. It can poison your family, your co-workers, your friends, and even your pets. Most people think green when they think of mold, but black mold, or Stachybotrys, is actually a very common problem in damp or water-damaged areas (Stop mold after water damage) and it can be very dangerous. (7 ways to know if a mold is dangerous).
Mold is everywhere, and toxic molds often take root within homes and other buildings. Water leaks and damp environments fuel the fugal growth and the proliferation of mold spores in the environment. Once mold is discovered, a safe and effective treatment is necessary to prevent further damage to building structure and the health of those who are exposed. One common cleaning method, chlorine bleach, is neither a safe nor often a effective solution. However, essential oils are becoming known as a harmless and potent method to fight molds.
My last post on Radishes: An Anti-fungal Powerhouse, explored one beneficial food in the battle against mold and exposure symptoms. Nature provides many similar fungus-fighting foods and herbs. One of these battling edibles is dill weed. Dill has been used as both a spice and medicine and is especially known for its antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties.
What is Mold?
Mold (sometimes referred to as mildew) is a microorganism that has been classified as a fungus. All fungi – whether mold, mushrooms, or yeast – share these three biological attributes:
If you are in the process of purchasing a home, then you are probably aware of the myriad of steps that you must go through before reaching the day you close. Your broker or realtor may have already informed you of the necessity for a pre purchase inspection. The purpose of a pre purchase inspection is to identify any potential serious defects in the home. The possible defects could range from roof damage, plumbing issues, or even electrical problems. At this point in the home purchasing process, you could still choose another home in the unlikely event that a major problem with your original choice was detected during inspection. One issue that you will definitely want to have your inspector perform is a mold inspection.
Although mold can be found in almost any environment, there are certain types and quantities that can put your health at risk. Mold is a fungi that thrives off warmth and moisture, quickly reproducing by sending spores that travel through the air until they find a surface where they can grow. There are thousands of different types of mold but only a few types that are commonly found indoors; some of these being especially toxic to many people. If you have signs of mold exposure, it is important to seek medical attention and have the mold removed from your environment.
Under many common conditions mold can be serious, and given time could possibly lead to severe health complications. In this five part series I hope to tackle and explain some of the biggest misconceptions about mold.
Misconception 2 of 5 – If you have a mold problem bleach will get rid of it, always and forever.
I hear this one a lot. If a mold problem develops, many will grab some bleach, pour it on, and think they’ve kissed their mold problems good bye. If this is the typical scenario, their battle with mold has only just begun.
If you happen to spot any black mold in your home, you must do everything you can to remove it as soon as possible before the infestation spreads throughout your home. Black mold is very toxic to humans and animals, being the source of serious health issues. There is a bit you must know about the mold itself before you try to focus on cleaning it. We still recommend you look for professional help when you’re handling things as this is a dangerous task. The following tips will give you some idea about what you can expect:
Understanding how to get rid of mold is something that all homeowners should know. Even if you don’t see mold in your home right now, that doesn’t mean you won’t have to battle with it later. You may also have mold growing in areas where you don’t commonly look – like under the sinks, for example, where it can be very damp and small leaks can go unnoticed. Most homeowners don’t think about checking there.
How to get rid of mold, though, depends on the extent of the problem that you have with it. Some mold issues are very easy to handle, and others, like a black mold infestation, require a professional mold remediator (we have some tips on choosing the right one) to deal with them because of their size and/or severity.
“So, How Do I Get Rid of Mold?”
Knowing how to get rid of mold on your own is a great way to keep costs down and protect your family and pets from the sicknesses that can come from mold exposure. Of course, some removal jobs are too big to tackle on your own. Knowing when to get a professional is important.
For small infestations, cleaning them thoroughly is usually all you need to do. Use a cleaner that’s specifically for mold and mildew, use a bleach solution, or simply use soap and warm water. If you’re cleaning sheetrock or drywall, don’t soak it heavily. That can keep it from drying properly and cause more growth later. Cleaning the moldy area won’t solve the entire problem, though, because you have to stop the spores from coming back.
Fixing Mold Problems Yourself
To do that, you need to find the source of the problem. It could be a leaking pipe, it could be from flood damage or another type of water damage, or it could be just a buildup of moisture in a kitchen or bathroom where there’s a problem with proper ventilation. Finding the problem and fixing it has to be done – and you might need to get a professional to fix it for you.
Simple things like tightening a loose pipe fitting are easy for a homeowner to handle, but if you have more serious issues or you need an exhaust vent put in so you can get the moisture out of your bathroom or kitchen, it’s best to call in a professional. That way, you’ll know the job is done right.
Calling a Mold Remediator
Sometimes mold removal is too big of a job for a homeowner to handle. If that’s the case for you, you can call a mold remediator. They know how to get rid of mold, and they can help you by making sure mold is removed from your house and the problem that caused it is taken care of. It’s a great way to get larger infestations removed and keep them from coming back in the future.
Black mold symptoms are nothing to play around with. Black mold can be extremely dangerous, and it can cause a wide range of symptoms, varying in severity. Some are easy to deal with and more of an annoyance than anything else. Others can be debilitating and potentially life-threatening. If you think your home or business may have a black mold problem but can’t locate the source of it, you should consult a professional mold remediator about finding the mold problem and eradicating it.
“What are some of the symptoms?”
Until the mold is cleared up, there’s a lot of potential for symptoms. Most people only have mild symptoms like a runny nose, itchy eyes, and a cough. Some people get much sicker, though, and even the mild signs can be annoying and debilitating after a while. Because they’re so persistent, black mold symptoms sometimes turn into more chronic respiratory problems that can cause missed days at school and work, as well as other health problems.
Those With Respiratory Problems Beware
People who have allergies to black mold or who are already dealing with chronic respiratory problems like asthma or emphysema can be at serious risk when it comes to mold, and they have to be more careful than the general population. That’s a very important thing to remember if you fall into one of those groups or know someone who does.
Treating The Symptoms
Black mold symptoms should be treated by a doctor or healthcare professional, and the source of the problem should be located and eliminated. That will make sure the person who has sickened by the mold has the best chance to recover, and it will also help to ensure that the mold doesn’t keep coming back, poisoning other people.
Don’t Let Symptoms Escalate
If the mold isn’t removed, there are more serious black mold symptoms that can develop. Many people become nauseated and fatigued when they live with a mold problem. Those kinds of problems persist, and they can take a toll on the body. It’s difficult to get anything done when you’re tired all the time. Being nauseated is a problem, as well, because it’s difficult to eat and can lead to poor nutrition.
“What are the most dangerous symptoms?”
In rare and extreme cases, some of the most dangerous black mold symptoms are bleeding from the nose and lungs. Thankfully, this is uncommon. When it does occur, though, it can be life-threatening. The best choice is not to allow mold to get to the point where it causes those kinds of symptoms. Black mold symptoms should always be treated properly and quickly and the source of the black mold removed. If you’re unsure how to do it the right way, you can get a professional to help you.
“When do I need to call in the professionals?”
A mold removal service run by professional mold remediators may be needed if the job is a large one, you have trouble finding the source of the problem, or you think you’ve removed the mold but you’re still battling black mold symptoms. Don’t be afraid to consult a professional if you need one. Most of them are very reasonable in cost and can take care of the problem quickly. Your health and the health of your friends and family members is too important to compromise.
Black mold removal can be a real trial, and it’s best left to professionals if it’s a large area. There’s no reason to risk harm to your health and potential damage to your home when you can get professionals to handle the issue for you. For small areas, though, you may be able to remove black mold yourself.
Understand The Process
Whether you try to do it yourself or hire a company it’s a good idea to know how the black mold removal process is handled. That way, you’ll be prepared for any issues that might come up and you’ll be knowledgeable enough to make sure the job’s being done right – no matter who’s doing the work.
Identify The Source
The first thing you should do with black mold removal is identify the source of the moisture problem. If you don’t know where the moisture (and, therefore, the mold) is coming from, you won’t get it stopped and the mold will continue coming back. Flooding, water leaks – including slow ones, and even high humidity can all contribute to the growth and recurrence of black mold.
Stop The Leak
Stopping the moisture or the leak from causing further damage is the first step with black mold removal. From that point, the cleanup needs to begin. Black mold isn’t something you can just spray with an antibacterial spray like Lysol and forget about.
Contain The Spores
If the area is a small one and you’re going to handle the cleaning of it yourself, you should first seal off the room so that mold spores don’t drift around. They can easily get into the air, mix in with dust and dirt, and get carried throughout the house. By isolating them to one room and not letting them get into the rest of the house, you’ll be better off and healthier. The cleanup will be easier, as well.
Avoid Further Contamination
Even for a small area, it’s important to seal off the room so you don’t risk any further contamination in the rest of the house. Once you’ve sealed the room, make sure the moldy area is damp. If it’s dry, mist it lightly. Dry mold spores are very quickly airborne. Keeping them damp is another way to help cut down on contamination.
Use Air Power
If the room you’re working in has a window, it’s a good idea to open it and place an exhaust fan in it, because any mold spores that do get airborne will be drawn that way and removed from the house. If you don’t have a window in the room, don’t just run a fan – you’ll just blow the black mold spores around and risk inhaling more of them.
Don’t Miss A Spot!
When you clean the area – which should be done with soap and a sponge – make sure you clean the moldy area first, and then expand your work to clean the entire room. Mold spores are tiny, and you want to make sure you get all of them so they don’t try to cause you health problems in the future. If you’re unsure about your ability manage the black mold removal from your home, do the safe thing and hire a professional to handle the job for you.