Identifying Black Mold

Mold can grow in any moist area of your home, including behind the refrigerator (left) or in the water heater closet (right).  Photos (l. to r.): Wendy Brolga, Flickr; rian_bean, Flickr

So you’ve been noticing a musty odor lately at work, or at home.  You’ve also developed a rash, constant headaches and watery eyes.  What’s causing it?  It could be mold.  Mold and it’s spores are all around us.  The primary types of mold include penicillium and aspergillus.  Other kinds of mold like the type you see growing in your bath tub or shower are generally harmless.  Out of all the toxic molds, Black Toxic Mold is the most well known because there have been so many cases of these mold problems in houses devestating the residents’ health. 

So let’s identify Black Mold:

Black mold looks black or dark green.  While growing it has a distinctive shiny, slimy looking surface.  Dry however, it can turn gray and powdery looking.  There are other types that look similar, so the only way to confirm its toxicity is to have an expert check it under a microscope.

Conditions, Causes and Where Black Mold Grows:

Black mold can develop wherever there is constant moisture from water damage, humidity, water leaks, condensation, water infiltration or flooding.  As a food source, mold needs substances high in cellulose and low in nitrogen to grow.  And guess what?  This means it can grow on most indoor building materials!  However, an interesting fact is that it’s spores don’t stay airborne for long.  The spores are much heavier than most others.  In fact, even in houses with black toxic mold problems you won’t often find it in the air.  The spores are often carried inside instead, especially through flooding or on building materials during construction. 

So What do we do next?  

  1. Bring in a certified professional to test for mold in your home.  There are a lot of DYI testing kits on the market, but steer clear.  At-home testers are not always reliable and often provide negative readings, even if you do have a problem with mold.  Invest in this step with a quality professional who can properly identify the extent of infestation.  If you don’t know of anyone in your area, call a reputable restoration company that is certified themselves or who can recommend a professional.  Inhalation of mold spores cannot only cause respiratory issues but are immunosuppressive as well and cause a range of symptoms including mental impairment and organ damage.  DON’T TAKE CHANCES!

     2.  If your mold professional determines that the mold problem is on the surface only, you can remove it 
          yourself. We will discuss how to do that SAFELY in our next blog!!

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