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10 Facts About 'Black Mold'

"Toxic Black Mold" AKA Stachybotrys Mold

Have you ever seen black mold in your home?

Were you concerned that it was the “Toxic Black Mold” that we have been hearing about in the news?

These are common questions that people are asking, and desperately looking to find the answers to.

It has been well documented that mold spores are common indoors and outside. Mold requires moisture, an organic food source, timing, and the right temperature to thrive.

Any type of mold infestation can be devastating when it invades our homes, so why is this particular Black Mold so hazardous… yet intriguing?

Here Are 10 Facts About Stachybotrys Mold That You Need to Know

1. The “Toxic Black Mold” People Are Most Concerned About Is Called Stachybotrys Chartarum or Stachybotrys Atra.

For the purposes of this article I have interchanged the names Stachybotrys, Black Mold and Stachy to mean the same thing.

Yes, exposure to this specific type has been linked to several health issues, such as headaches, vomiting, nausea, fatigue, rashes, lymphoid disorders, damaged organs, flue-like symptoms or worse.

In fact, this particular mold gained wide scale recognition as one of the most harmful fungi, especially in the United States. Back in 1993-1994, there was a serious outbreak of pulmonary hemorrhage affecting infants in Cleveland Ohio.

Research revealed that Stachybotrys Chartarum growing inside the home of the sick infants.

Since that time there have been a number of other cases involving “Toxic Black Mold” across the nation, resulting in lawsuits and problems for building owners on how to address this issue.

However, there is much debate regarding the specifics on this topic with regard to medical claims… yet the common consensus is that people get sick when they ingest or breathe the harmful mycotoxins from this fungus.

It should also be stressed that several other non-related mold types, including Aspergillus can be dangerous as wellSome of these other molds are black, as well as green, blue, pink, brown, white and yellow.

Anytime you see a moisture issue and resulting mold in your home or building, the situation must be addressed in short order. Call in a professional for best results.

2. According To The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black Mold, And All Other Mold Is Not Toxic…

The term “Toxic Mold” is apparently incorrectInstead, it is the mycotoxins released from this fungus that are considered toxic. I have included a link at the bottom of this article for more clarification on this.

3. Black Mold May Or May Not Produce Toxins.

According to another article written in Mold-Help.org blog, there are a variety of conditions that will determine whether a mold will produce toxins. Although this mold has the ability to produce health compromising toxins, they do not always release the poisons.

It depends on a number of factors, such as the surface it is grows on, the temperature, the food source and humidity.

4. Stachybotrys Is A Wet, Sticky Mold.

Stachy spores are clumped together in a sticky coating so they do not usually travel well in air currents like many other mold types. However, if they dry out or become disturbed, they can be disbursed.

Dry mold is not really dead; it lies dormant and can still be dangerous. In the dry state it can take on the appearance of soot.

Due to its sticky make up, Stachy is best collected and tested by taking physical swab or tape surface samples. They can then be sent to a microbial lab for analysis.

Inspectors may suspect that a home has Stachybotrys, (based on visible observation) yet still choose to conduct air samples to determine if any other kinds of mold are present.

Knowing that these spores do not travel well in the air, you should be especially concerned if the only one tiny Stachybotrys clump is revealed in a lab report. This is a clear indication that thousands more are likely to be present.

5. Excessive Prolonged Moisture Leads To Stachybotrys growth.

This fungus needs to be exposed to moisture for long periods of time (1-2 weeks) before it begins to colonize.

Other mold types commonly found in a home, such as Aspergillus, Penecillium and Cladosporium, can grow within 24-48 hours.

Indoors, it grows best on organic cellular materials like insulation paper backing, drywall, ceiling tiles, cardboard, wallpaper or any other paper based materials.

A quick case study: During one of my inspections, a large concentration of Stachybotrys Chartarum was found behind a mattress leaning along a bedroom wall. According to the strata president, this was caused by high humidity over a three-month stretch.

Normally one would expect to see this fungus growing because of a long-standing flood or leak rather than high humidity.

To save money, the homeowners were air-drying all of their laundry in one bedroom, while keeping the windows and door closed. It was like a humid rain forest.

The takeaway from this… high humidity over time can cause this fungus to grow. Keep the windows open (about an inch or two) for cross ventilation and always use the dryer rather than hanging moist clothing in a closed room.

6. Poisonous Toxins Released By Stachy, And Other Molds Are Called Mycotoxins.

These poisons (mycotoxins) are what make people ill when they are ingested or inhaled. Another reason this mold has been called Toxic Black Mold is due to the fact that it produces more mycotoxins than most other types of indoor mold.

7. Toxic Black Mold Is Not Always Visible.

This mold is not easily seen for a number of reasons. It needs to be sitting in moisture for at least 8 days to begin growing. Visible leaks are usually dealt with right away, so it wouldn’t have the time to colonize.

A small leak that develops over time can start the process when the leak is not visible. Problems begin without us knowing, as many leaks are concealed behind walls, and under carpets, floorboards above the ceiling in and areas that have been saturated for long periods of time.

At this point is it too late… People begin to experience health effects, or eventually see the signs once it has established a presence. By this time, the subsequent damage can be vast and expensive.

8. This Black Mold Has A Very Distinctive Odour.

Some would describe it as a potent, damp, stale, musty or rotting earthy wood smell. If this strong type of odour is present, yet different from other rooms in the home, then the area should be investigated for mold infestation. Consider this a priority.

9. Over Time, Stachy Will Usually Dominate Other Molds.

Through testing and analysis we know that this mold grows best when exposed to moisture for at least a week, or more. When its food source is low in nitrogen and high in cellulose, (organic materials) Stachy is happy… us and other molds, not so much.

Although different mold colonies will likely grow beforehand, once the Stachy takes form, it will dominate the environment completely.

10. Dry Mold Will Grow Again When Exposed To Moisture.

It’s true… Stachybotrys and several other mold types can sit dormant for thousands of years until it gets wet, allowing new growth to take form.

For this reason, I strongly recommend calling in a professional remediation contractor to discard all contaminated items, and or building materials.

For more details on this take a look at my article called Tips for hiring a mold remediation company.

Summary:

Stachybotrys Chartarum/Atra fungi produce potent mycotoxins that are capable if making people and animals very sick, which have been documented and exposed by the media since the 1990s.

The elderly, infants and those with compromised immune systems are most at risk to illness caused by exposure to mycotoxins. However, anyone exposed to fungal poisons can develop health complications.

Although Stachybotrys has been branded as “Black Toxic Mold”, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains that this term is not accurate… but rather, the poisons released by the mold are toxic when inhaled or ingested.

Their ability to produce these toxins does not always happen as it depends on a number of environmental conditions.

Stachybotrys is different from other fungi for the following reasons.

  • It takes much longer to grow
  • Is less commonly found that other fungi types such as Aspergillus, Penecillium and Cladosporium
  • It is held together by a wet, sticky gelatinous structure
  • It produces higher mycotoxins than other molds
  • It is often difficult to detect until it establishes a firm colony

In appearance, it can closely resemble many other black/dark green mold types. So the only definitive way to identify it is through a microbial lab analysis.

Dry mold should be removed completely or it will regenerate when exposed to moisture.

When moisture or mold issues have been discovered, is imperative take quick action by calling a reputable, experienced inspector and or remediation contractor.

Resources:

The article from Mold-Help.com provides a thorough breakdown concerning health issues associated with Stachybotrys Chartarum.

http://www.mold-help.org/content/view/429/

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains the toxic poisons released by mold, as well as a number of other related topics.

https://www.cdc.gov/mold/stachy.htm#Q1

Feel free to share this article with anyone you believe it will benefit.

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