What is Mold?
First off, let us clarify and help you understand more about mold. Molds are fungi that are found almost everywhere — indoors and outdoors, year-round. Molds act as nature’s decomposers, breaking down organic matter and can be various colors including white, orange, green, or black. Molds reproduce by releasing microscopic spores into the air, which can enter homes through windows, doors, cracks, and vents. Most molds show little ability to actually harm us, but they often irritate those who have asthma or allergies. However, there are harmful molds that can be found inside the home. Stachybotrys Chartarum, a greenish-blackish colored mold, is a more aggressive mold and can be harmful.
Stachybotrys Chartarum – Often Called ‘Black Mold’
Stachybotrys Chartarum (atra) is a greenish-black toxic mold that colonizes particularly well in high-cellulose material (straw, hay, wet leaves, drywall, carpet, wallpaper, fiberboard, ceiling tiles, thermal insulation, etc). Stachybotrys, before drying, is wet and slightly slimy to touch. There are around 15 species of Stachybotrys known throughout the world. This toxic mold grows in areas where the relative humidity is above 55%. This type of mold does not grow on plastic, vinyl, concrete products, or ceramic tiles. It is not found in the green mold on bread or the black mold on the shower tiles.
Stachybotrys produces a mycotoxin that causes human mycotoxicosis.
This type of mold is thought to be a possible cause of the sick building syndrome. Children’s exposure to Stachybotrys spores is thought most likely to cause pulmonary hemosiderosis (bleeding in the lungs). The following is a list of symptoms associated with exposure to Stachybotrys mold spores:
- Respiratory problems, such as wheezing, and difficulty in breathing
- Nasal and sinus congestion
- Eyes-burning, watery, reddened, blurry vision, light sensitivity
- Dry, hacking cough
- Sore throat
- Nose and throat irritation
- Shortness of breath
- Chronic fatigue
- Skin irritation
- Central nervous system problems (constant headaches, memory and mood changes)
- Aches and pains
- Possible fever
- Possible hemosiderosis
- Immune suppression
How Do I Know What Kind of Mold I Have?
Even though you may see or smell mold, it is nearly impossible to make a visual diagnosis to identify types of mold. Remember, not all molds are harmful. The best way to identify the types of mold inside your home is to have air or surface testing performed.
Can I buy a home mold testing kit from a Home Improvement Store?
Yes — although these tests are inexpensive, and the results are usually of little use to you. These tests are used to give you a yes or no answer, but they don’t tell you what types of mold are present. We view these “home mold testing kits” in the same way you might view “home drug testing kits.” You are left with inconclusive results, and even when you spend the time to send the samples to a lab, they give you a yes or no answer. Most people want detailed information, like what kind of drugs? I would recommend saving your money and utilizing a professional mold testing company.
How many tests or samples should I take?
A minimum of 2 tests should be taken for accurate results. One should be taken inside near the suspected area, and one should be taken outside of the home. This way you have something to compare the inside sample to. You should know the mold levels inside your home relative to the levels outside.
Where Should I Look for Mold?
- Air Ducts
- Carpet & Padding
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