Black mold is a type of fungus that refers to several mold species, which have a black or dark green appearance. The Stachybotrys chartarum is the most common species of black mold. Most of these molds are known to be toxigenic, meaning they release toxins that can be harmful to anyone especially people with pre-existing health conditions. They are usually produced as mold spores known as mycotoxins that feed on various food sources such as paper, dirt or wood and later grow to form colonies with other mold spores. This article gives detailed information on the dangers of black mold, why it makes people feel sick, and how you can prevent it from invading your home.
How to Recognize Black Mold?
Black mold is one type of mold that usually grows in most homes, and it is scientifically referred to as Stachybotrys chartarum. Other types of indoor mold include Alternaria, Aspergillus and Cladosporium. Although it can be difficult to tell one species from another, black mold is the most dangerous of all the species and it is usually very dark with a slimy texture. It thrives well in damp and humid areas as long as it has access to the necessary conditions that will accelerate its growth.
How Black Mold Gets Into the Indoor Environment
Mold spores occur both indoors and in the outdoor environments. They can be blown into your home through windows, doorways, or ventilation. Outdoor spores usually attach themselves to people outside and you can carry on clothing, at the bottom of your shoes and even pets. Once the black mold spores drop on places with high levels of moisture, they start growing rapidly since all conditions available favor their growth and duplicity. Some of the building materials that encourage the growth of molds include wood products, cardboard, and ceiling tiles.
Why is Black Mold Dangerous?
Extreme exposure to black mold leads to serious health conditions such as allergies, asthma and lung problems. The mold spores get into your body through the lungs as you inhale them from the air. Once they settle inside your lungs, they release toxins and can make you feel sick. In addition, your nose will feel stuffy since the spores get stuck on the hairs in your nostrils. Allergic reactions to mold can happen throughout the year and are not seasonal.
Black mold that grows in basements and other hidden areas in your home may go undetected for years and can be fueled up by damp and humid conditions. Black molds require three conditions to grow – a food source (drywall, wood), moisture, and a relative humidity of over 60%. They pose serious health risks as they continue to grow in number.
Here are some of the health effects of black mold:
People who spend a lot of time in damp and humid environments have higher chances of getting respiratory infections. The systemic mycosis or systemic fungal infection is a serious health threat of mold exposure that mostly affects immunosuppressed individuals. It is also possible to have lung and skin infections as well as sinuses.
Allergies and Asthma
Numerous studies associate the presence of mold and dampness with respiratory asthma and allergies. Patients who have had pre-existing health conditions are more susceptible to the dangers of black mold compared to healthy individuals. Regardless of your condition, it is important to carry out a medical diagnosis to assess whether you have asthma, allergy or an infection.
This condition is usually caused by direct mold exposure, which is inhaled in the air. The most common effects are asthma attacks, watery eyes, runny nose, and persistent coughs. Hypersensitivity induced by black mold can lead to other serious health effects if immediate treatment is not provided.
Toxic mold syndrome
The toxic mold syndrome is not a medical diagnosis but rather a legal construct that involves reports of illness and constellation of disparate symptoms in a physical examination of patients who suffered from direct exposure to black mold. Toxic mold was identified as the cause of human illness. Its symptoms are often linked to problems with indoor air quality when a building is not maintained or properly ventilated.
Symptoms of Black Mold Poisoning
Mold poisoning is also referred to as mycotoxicosis, and usually affects the upper respiratory system of the body and comes with symptoms related to flu or cold. The additional symptoms caused by mycotoxins are not only harmful but can also be fatal to people with asthma or allergies. The common symptoms for black mold poisoning include coughing, wheezing, itchy skin, stuffy nose, and red or watery eyes.
People with asthma, allergies or preexisting illnesses may experience severe symptoms such as headaches, fever, frequent coughs, chest colds, allergic reactions and difficulty in breathing. Although black can affect anyone mold, its health effects are worse in young children compared to adults.
How to Keep Black Mold out of your Home
The best way to prevent the growth of black mold is to cut off all sources that accelerate its growth starting with moisture. Remove any objects from a room that has been affected by molds. Bathrooms fixtures and fittings may experience black mold because of poor plumbing or leaky surfaces. Make sure that all plumbing fixtures are repaired or replaced and that your basement is clean and dry. It is also important to seek advice from a professional if you cannot remove the molds by yourself.
Black mold is dangerous because it makes people feel sick and it negatively affects the health of immunosuppressed individuals. It is essential to take the necessary steps of preventing the growth of black molds in your home so that you and your family can stay safe. If you can feel the smell of mold but you have trouble finding it, then you will need the expertise of a professional to inspect the situation for you. People with allergies, asthma or other immune system conditions are more vulnerable to mold. The most appropriate way will be to keep an eye for small mold growths and take quick action before it grows out of control.