What is black mold?
Mold is everywhere. Mold is in the air and on many surfaces. Some types of mold or fungi may have little to no effect on a person’s health and other types may wreak havoc on a person’s immune system. What is the difference between species of mold? The difference is that some mold is toxigenic, meaning they produce toxic compounds called (myco)toxins (“myco” is a prefix relating to fungi). Some types of mold do not produce (myco)toxins.
What is black mold?
“Black mold” or “toxic mold” has earned the reputation of the most dangerous mold that exists. Color is not an indicator of how dangerous a mold is, however, black mold could be harmful to your health. It’s potentially more harmful with prolonged exposure.
Black mold gets its name from the greenish-black color that appears when it grows on organic materials. It is particularly fond of cellulose, an organic material that is the primary ingredient in cardboard, paperboard, wood products, and cotton textiles.
Mold can be categorized into three groups:
Allergenic molds cause allergic responses like nasal congestion or skin irritation.
Pathogenic molds negatively impact people with immunocompromised body systems.
Toxigenic molds affect anyone regardless of current health condition. Some symptoms of toxic mold exposure include respiratory issues, cough, runny nose, sore throat, or complications of the central nervous system.
What are common types of dangerous black mold?
Aspergillus Penicillium, Cladosporium, and Stachybotrys are three species of black mold commonly found in homes or businesses.
A common black mold, Aspergillus can trigger infections in the lungs and sinuses called Aspergillosis. In fact, any mold in this species can trigger adverse health responses.
People with weakened immune systems are at risk of suffering from exposure to Aspergillus. This particular mold infects the lungs and other organs.
Cladosporium is a type of black mold that is allergenic. This means that the spores are most likely to affect sinuses, nasal passages, and possibly skin. This type of mold is commonly found in households. Cladosporium is more likely to grow in wet or damp areas such as the bathroom, attic, basement, or heating and cooling appliances.
Cladosporium grows on surfaces such as paper, painted surfaces, cabinets, fabrics, wallpaper, walls, and other organic materials.
Prolonged exposure to Cladosporium could contribute to chronic allergic reactions and possibly severe asthma related incidents in people suffering from asthma.
Stachybotrys (aka Stachy) is a black mold tinted with green. This type of mold is particularly fond of growing on products with a high cellulose content such as gypsum board, fiberboard, cardboard, or paper.
Some strains of Stachybotrys produce mycotoxins. Mycotoxins cause adverse health effects in humans and animals because they are toxic to living cells.
Who is more likely to be affected by black mold exposure?
When exposed, some people are more susceptible to the effects of toxic mold than others. People who suffer from immunocompromised systems, asthma, or respiratory diseases are vulnerable to mold exposure.
This is not to say that only immunocompromised individuals are affected. It just means the risk is higher. There’s no acceptable level of exposure and all mold should be remediated immediately.
Is there a way to confirm toxigenic mold?
If mold is present, you may notice dark spots quickly growing on an organic surface. Rapid mold growth indicates that a much bigger problem exists. The mold growth is likely caused by an unidentified source of moisture and should be addressed immediately. Moisture is the fuel that mold spores need to continue to grow.
The only way to confirm if you have toxic mold growing in your home is to have the species tested by an accredited laboratory. It is strongly recommended to hire a certified mold assessor to inspect and collect samples. A certified mold assessor uses a variety of inspection techniques that include moisture surveys, air/surface sampling, thermal imaging, and visual inspection. Once a thorough evaluation is performed, the mold assessor will provide you with a report and make informed recommendations.
What to do if you suspect black mold
If you suspect mold, contact an environmental testing agency that employs certified mold inspectors and has an accredited, in-house laboratory. AMD Environmental’s certified mold inspectors provide professional property assessments and microbial samplings in Buffalo, NY and across central and western New York. Our mold testing services include a full property visual inspection as well as physical testing by experienced and certified technicians.
Our experts inspect any property, inside and out, for visible signs of fungus, mold, and water staining or moisture intrusion. All visible surfaces in a building or home will be inspected.
The heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are also inspected for signs of leaks or water buildup that can lead to mold growth.
Our goal is to help you identify and get rid of any mold in your home or business.