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What Species of Mold is Growing in Your Home?

moldYou already know that mold can be more than a minor inconvenience. In fact, it can be a very big problem. Some types of mold carry significant health risks when nothing is done to stop them. They can also affect the market value of your home and force you to undertake costly mold remediation efforts.

Here’s something you may not be aware of. Mold comes in many different species, and some are significantly more harmful than others. The question is, what type of mold are you dealing with?

The usual suspects

These types of mold are commonly found in homes and businesses. If you’ve got a mold problem, there’s a good chance it’s one of these species.

Penicillium
A very common species of mold with an ability to grow and spread quickly. Penicillium is often greenish blue or white, and often has a thick velvety texture. This is the mold that gave us Penicillin, so it’s not all bad—but it’s certainly not something we want in our homes. The health risks from exposure to Penicillium are great.

Aspergillus
Here’s another mold that is often found inside American homes. The color of Aspergillus varies from yellow or reddish to white or even black. This type of mold prefers damp, dark locations within the home. The most serious health problems associated with Aspergillus are respiratory in nature.

Cladosporium
This mold often has a consistency like powder, with a dark (green or black) appearance. Also note that Cladosporium thrives on materials like paper, wood, carpet, or anything with pores that allow it burrow in. Breathing in large quantities of Cladosporium spores can lead to major health problems and should be avoided at all costs.

Other possible culprits

Stachybotrys chartarum
This mold often has a slimy black appearance and is particularly harmful. Stachybotrys chartarum is often referred to as “black” or “toxic” mold. Prolonged exposure can be deadly.

Botrytis
Yet another species of mold that thrives in moist areas without good ventilation, Botrytis is a health risk that should not be trifled with.

Ulocladium
This species loves water—the more, the better. Properties that have undergone serious flooding or leakage should be weary of Ulocladium. It has a dark appearance (brownish, black or gray) and leads to bad allergies in many people.

Alternaria
This mold often grows outdoors, but can also be found inside. If your property has recently sustained water damage, you’re at greater risk for an Alternaria infestation. Other warning signs include leaky taps, damp rooms, and a sudden surge of allergies amongst the people in your home or business.

Aureobasidium
Like Alternaria, this mold is commonly found outdoors but can also be found inside. With colors ranging from pink to black, in can be difficult to distinguish from other types of mold. Aureobasidium causes severe reactions in many people.

Chaetomium
An exceedingly damp environment (such as a basement that has recently been flooded) with a very strong smelling “moldy” odor may be infested with Chaotomium.

Trichoderma
A dangerous species of mold that thrives on damp surfaces indoors. Trichoderma produces mycotoxins and is very detrimental to health.

Fusarium
Look for this mold on paper, fabric or upholstery. Unlike many types of mold, Fusarium can grow in cooler temperatures.

Serpula lacrymans
This yellow mold is often seen growing on wood. If you have a fireplace, beware bringing Serpula lacrymans into your home.

How do I know which type of mold to look for?

The short answer: Professional mold testing. Many species of mold look similar, and unless you have years of training and experience, it can be virtually impossible to know what kind of mold you have by sight or smell. Professional mold testing involves detailed lab analysis that allows you to shape your mold removal strategy accordingly.

We hope you’ve found this post informative, and look forward to your questions and comments in the area below.