With over 100,000 known species, mold takes on nearly any shape, color, and consistency you can think of. But nothing else strikes more fear into the hearts of property managers and building owners than black mold. However, much of what you think you know about black mold isn’t true. Let’s dispel some common myths about toxic black mold so you know what to do if you think you find any in your property.
Myth: Only black-colored molds are toxic.
The term “black mold” refers to mold that is black in color. However, only a few strains of black mold are toxic, including Stachybotrys chartarum (aka Stachybotrys atra), and Memnoniella echinata (aka Stachybotrys echinata). These molds produce mycotoxins, but only under certain conditions. This means that even if toxic black mold is present in your building, it isn’t necessarily endangering anyone.
At the same time, Stachybotrys molds are not always black, meaning molds of different colors could also be dangerous. In other words, there’s no way to tell just by looking whether you’re dealing with toxic or totally harmless mold.
Myth: Toxic black mold runs rampant in homes and apartment buildings.
While mold, in general is very common in damp indoor environments, Stachybotrys is less common than other mold species, including Cladosporium, Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Alternaria. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) doesn’t have statistics about how often Stachybotrys molds are found in buildings, but it’s less common than ostentatious media reports would prefer to admit.
It also takes longer for black mold to form. While other species need only 24 to 48 hours to grow, Stachybotrys molds need eight to 12 days – and the material they grow on must be constantly wet the entire time. This is just another reason why toxic mold is less common than people think.
If toxic black mold is in your building, you’re likely to find it growing on a material with high cellulose and low nitrogen content in a moist environment. Fiberboard, gypsum board, and paper products in areas with water damage, condensation, excessive humidity, or a history of flooding are at risk for toxic mold growth.
Myth: Exposure to any type of mold affects the human body.
For most people, spending time in damp, moldy environments has no adverse health effects. However, some individuals are sensitive or allergic to mold, which may cause symptoms of hay fever when exposed to it. Immune-compromised people or patients with chronic lung disease may develop lung infections when exposed to mold.
The symptoms of exposure to toxic black mold are much more severe. These include breathing difficulties, uncontrollable coughing or sneezing, headaches, fatigue, rashes, mental impairment, and in extreme cases, death. Infants, pregnant women, and the elderly are particularly at risk. The effects of toxic black mold exposure can be permanent, and the longer you’re exposed, the more it could damage your health.
Myth: You should determine what type of mold you have before removing it.
Because lab testing is required to identify the mold species, this process is often too time-consuming to go through. That’s why the CDC recommends treating all molds with the same level of caution you would exercise if you knew for certain that you were dealing with toxic black mold. This means leaving the removal process to a professional mold remediation company.
If you find extensive mold growth of any kind in your property – regardless of its color or location – call Rainbow International® today to begin the remediation process. We’ll remove the mold and address the source of moisture to prevent the problem from recurring.
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