BLACK MOLD

Courtesy of SafeWise

Black Mold - How to stay SAFE

Mold is a type of fungus. It is present almost everywhere, including the air. In general, normal amounts of mold in the environment do not pose a substantial health risk to healthy people with regular immune system function.

There is no single type of mold called “black mold” — many molds are black. When people use the term, they may be referring to a type called Stachybotrys chartarum (S. chartarum), also known as Stachybotrys atra.

Stachybotrys chartarum is a greenish-black mold. It can grow on material with a high cellulose content, such as fiberboard, gypsum board, and paper. Growth occurs when there is moisture from water damage, water leaks, condensation, water infiltration, or flooding. Constant moisture is required for its growth.

Is black mold dangerous?

The short answer is—not really. But that doesn’t mean you should keep black mold as a pet.

Everyone has different levels of tolerance to allergens like mold spores, but that’s all black mold is—an allergen. Those with asthma, respiratory allergies, or immune suppression will feel the effects of black mold’s mycotoxins more than most folks.

As one source put it, “Previous reports of ‘toxic mold syndrome’ or ‘toxic black mold’ have been shown to be no more than media hype and mass hysteria.”

But whether you feel black mold symptoms or not, it’s best to get rid of black mold as soon as you find it.

What are the symptoms of black mold exposure?

If you find black mold on your property, there’s no need to panic. But black mold presents more health risks to sensitive groups like those with respiratory conditions or immune conditions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), black mold spores can generate cold- or flu-like symptoms such as:

  • Stuffy nose

  • Wheezing

  • Skin and eye irritation


Longer exposure can cause more serious symptoms like:

  • Fever

  • Shortness of breath

  • Nausea

So while black mold probably won’t kill you, it can make you feel sick and should be removed as soon as possible.

How does black mold get inside a house?

Mold spores find their way inside by hitchhiking on clothes, pet fur, and air currents into your home. But spores can’t get comfortable without plenty of water. This is why you’ll usually find black mold around water-damaged areas impacted by plumbing issues like floods or leaky pipes.

Materials like drywall, carpet, or gypsum board can soak up water, creating a perfect home for a black mold colony. If you find water damage at home, it’s crucial to remove all the affected materials to prevent mold from growing.

Black mold removal and cleaning

Mold remediation in stores, offices, or schools is best left to the pros. This also applies to household mold exceeding 10 square feet.

The contractors you choose should have insurance and licenses from organizations like the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC).

Homeowners can handle cleaning about 10 square feet (roughly 3 feet by 3 feet) of black mold on their own.3 If the patch is small enough, a combination of bleach, water, scrubbing, and ventilation should do the trick.

Before treating mold on your own, prioritize ventilation and protective gear.

Keeping mold out in the first place is your best plan of action. You can avoid paying a ton for mold remediation and endangering your health by doing the following:

1. Keep it dry. 

Keeping your home dry is key to preventing mold from growing. Dehumidifiers in basements, ceiling fans in bathrooms, and good air flow can all improve your chances of keeping mold at bay. 

2. Remove tainted material.

It’s imperative that you remove affected materials if you undergo mold remediation. 

3. Keep it outside.

Never bring old wood or other porous objects in from the outdoors. Mold spores grow on everything and can go wild when brought indoors.

4. Use cleaning products.

You can use mold reducing sprays in your bathroom and damp locations. Endurance BioBarrier preventative mold spray is one product that discourages mold growth. It works on mildew too.

5. Get a dehumidifier. 

Dehumidifiers suck moisture out of the air and prevent mold growth. The Frigidaire FAD504DWD Energy Star 50-pint Dehumidifier (Amazon) is the “#1 Best-Selling” dehumidifier on Amazon and will do the trick.

6. Keep water away from your house.

Water is key to mold growth. Don’t let your basement or home become flooded, and you’ll have waged half the battle on mold. You can do this by grading your yard to keep water flowing away from your house. You may also install downspouts that divert water from your home.
 

Mold Remediation

If mold creeps up on you or you buy a new house and find it hiding in the walls, don’t panic. You can have mold professionally remediated. While this can cost anywhere from $500–$10,000, you might be able to add a rider to your homeowner’s insurance policy to cover this event.

Mold remediation specialists use special ventilation masks and clothing for protection. You won’t have those products on-hand, and should avoid a DIY approach since it’s can be dangerous. In some states, it’s actually illegal (especially during a renovation) to handle the mold yourself. Inspectors will have to sign off on the remediation to ensure safety to the building’s occupants.

Black mold is an unwelcome and dangerous guest in your home, but it can be prevented and treated.