What Is Black Mold

The news media often refers to "black mold" or "toxic black mold." These terms are usually associated with the mold Stachybotrys chartarum, a type of greenish-black mold that requires water damage in order to grow.

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Black Mold

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Sources in the Home

Black mold is not a specific type of house mold. The color black is just the common color of many different types of molds often found in our homes. Why do they form? It's all about moisture. If damp or wet conditions are allowed to exist in a house mold can start to form. Please examine the chart below to find potential sources of house mold.

"Black mold" or "toxic mold" are terms often used to describe Stachybotrys chartarum (atra), a mold that has received much media attention in recent years. This slow-growing fungus REQUIRES WATER DAMAGE TO CELLULOSE-BASED MATERIALS (such as sheetrock, wood, cardboard, paper or jute-backed carpeting) in order to grow.

Stachybotrys (black mold) spores die quickly after release but, like all mold spores, they REMAIN ALLERGENIC AND TOXIGENIC EVEN WHEN DEAD. In order to eliminate the hazard, the mold growth and mold spores themselves must be physically removed, not just treated with a biocide.

  • Chronic exposure to black mold toxins ("toxic mold") has been reported to cause cold or flu symptoms, sore throats, diarrhea, headaches, fatigue, dermatitis, intermittent hair loss, generalized malaise, or other health-related problems. Medical experts suspect Stachybotrys black mold may often be involved in ailments complained about in sick-building syndrome.
  • In 1997, black mold (Stachybotrys) was linked to a Cleveland cluster (1993-1994) of idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage in infants (bleeding lungs).
  • Researchers once believed that black mold (Stachybotrys) only occurred in 1 to 3% of homes, and that the spores were rarely airborne because the mold colonies are so slimy. However, in 1997 while working as an environmental health specialist in the Allergy Section at Children’s Mercy Hospital, MOLDetect's Susan Flappan found that Stachybotrys mold was present in 30 to 40% of the asthmatic/allergic patients’ homes she investigated. "We were surprised," researchers said. "This mold was supposed to be very infrequent, very rare. We found it was a lot more common problem than we ever thought it would be."

What Is Air Testing?

What Is Mold Testing? How Is Mold Testing Performed?

Broadly speaking, most mold testing involves taking a sample of either the air or a surface. Essentially, a mold inspector "tests" the air or surface to find out what kind of mold exists and/or if the mold found is able to grow in the area tested.

Mold Testing: Air Samples

Air samples can be taken and analyzed in a variety of ways. The most common method uses a "spore trap" and is called a "spore trap sample." Spore traps work by having a known volume of air pass impact a sticky surface as it passes through the spore trap sampling device. Most of the particles in the air also impact this sticky surface and consequently adhere to, and are captured on, this sticky surface. Mold spores comprise a subset of these 'particles in the air' and also are captured on the sticky medium inside the spore trap. When the spore trap is sent to the mold testing laboratory for analysis, the mold laboratory opens the spore trap, applies some stains to the sticky surface that the mold spores can absorb, and then identifies and quantifies the types of mold spores captured during the sampling process. There are other methods of mold sampling, including culturing or growing the mold spores captured from the air, but these are less commonly used.

When To Call A Mold Specialist

Indoor mold outbreaks can cause wall, furniture, carpet, drapery, book, and important paper document damage. Molds can also cause allergic reactions such as bronchial irritation and asthma attacks. The common molds seen in most home and work environments can actually become a major issue if not addressed quickly.

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When Should I Call a Mold Professional?

If you are uncomfortable with or unsure how to properly treat a mold problem you should hire a mold remediation services. Professionals use advanced mold detection and cleaning technologies to safely clean-up a mold outbreak and restore materials and structures. Once problem areas are detected, trained mold removal experts are able to use advanced HEPA vacuums and chemical treatments to fully rid the area of spores. Some remediation services will even offer to install special dehumidifying systems after the clean up is complete.

If you are experiencing mold problems that go beyond your abilities to handle, research your mold removal options online or contact a professional remediation service.