When it comes to household mold, it can be troubling to identify and assess any specific type of mold and the danger it may pose as a threat to your home and health. However, one thing is for sure: the danger of black mold cannot be understated. Black mold is infamous for being the most toxic type of mold to humans. While this guide is meant to inform homeowners and facility managers, we highly recommend contacting a professional mold specialist rather than confronting the issue of black mold on your own.

How to Identify Black Mold

There are a few telling characteristics of black mold that homeowners can use to assess a suspicious area before calling a professional.

  1. Color. As the name suggests, black mold ranges in color from black to deep and dark greens.
  2. Smell. Black mold has a distinctive earthy and musty smell.
  3. Appearance. Black mold often appears as clusters of black spots.
  4. Texture. Do not ever touch unidentified mold with your bare hands. Using a rubber glove, you should be able to tell that black mold is slimy and wet.

Is All Black-Colored Mold Toxic Black Mold?

While most black-colored mold is associated with the toxic Stachybotrys chartarum, not all black mold fits in that category. Other less dangerous varieties like Nigrospora or Cladosporium are actually not known to cause toxic side effects. The aspect of Stachybotrys chartarum that makes it so dangerous is its production of mycotoxins.

What Causes Toxic Black Mold?

The first report of toxic black mold being a problem in homes and buildings was in 1986 (source), and since then the fungus has been studied by many. Mold spores of various kinds exist naturally in the environment and the air we breathe. However, just like other molds, once those spores settle in a favorable environment they can spread quickly. 

Black mold is frequently a result of ongoing moisture problems such as exposure to leaky pipes, or previously flooded homes or buildings. Mold spores can get into your space through any number of ways. It can be a result of tracking in dirt from outside and not cleaning it sufficiently or, most commonly, introduced to the building materials of your home that are high in cellulose. This includes gypsum wall board, wallpaper, ceiling tiles, paper products, carpets, and more.

If untreated, black mold can cover a surface area of seven feet in a matter of days. It is important to contact a professional mold removal specialist as soon as you are made aware of the problem.

Health Symptoms of Toxic Mold Exposure

Depending on the individual, symptoms of exposure to toxic black mold may vary from no symptoms to severe symptoms. The CDC asserts that mold can affect some people severely and some not at all. Some common health symptoms are:

  • Respiratory difficulty
  • Eye irritation
  • Fever
  • Chronic headaches
  • Sneezing
  • Rashes
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Vomiting 
  • Nausea
  • Asthma

Many symptoms stemming from black mold can be easily mistaken for symptoms of things like the common cold or flu, so it is important to keep up with regular home inspections.

Prevention & Remediation of Black Mold

Since the presence of mold almost always occurs as a result of some sort of issue with moisture, it is important to identify what that source may be in your building. Be sure to fix any leaking appliances, rooms with poor ventilation and the like as a first step to achieving a mold-infested environment.

It is also a good idea to address anything that may pose a threat to potential future issues regarding mold. Ensure the humidity levels of your house are under control, and replace any carpet or upholstery that has been soaked without proper drying.

Once you’ve taken steps to prevent mold, it is time to call in the mold experts. Your local ServiceMaster by Rice team is available 24/7 to schedule mold removal and mold remediation services. Don’t wait on cleanup when it comes to something as potentially dangerous as Stachybotrys chartarum. Contact us today!