Mistaken Identity: Which Black Mold Is Toxic?

Mistaken Identity: Which Black Mold Is Toxic?

Mistaken Identity: Which Black Mold Is Toxic?

When your reputation is deadly, no one wants to be around you. In the case of Stachybotrys, also known as toxic black mold, even other molds that resemble it in color are avoided. As a home or building owner, ensuring the premises is safe for all patrons is a vital component of the landlord’s duties. If a family member or tenant states they see “black mold” in the building, the initial thought is it could be toxic. While this can be the case, it is not always true. Here in southwest Florida, the humidity levels increase the risks of mold growth, both toxic and allergenic. There are black colored molds that are not the infamous “toxic black mold,” Stachybotrys.

Black Colored Molds vs. Toxic Black Mold

 

Dark brown or light green features accompany Black colored molds, and the texture may vary depending on the specific species (there are thousands). Although these molds are known to be allergenic, they are not all proven to be toxic. Allergenic molds cause an allergic response in the human and animal immune system, such as itchy red eyes, sore throats, sneezing, and respiratory problems. The allergic response that occurs depends on the individual and their immune system. Pets may also have an allergic reaction should their immune systems cause a response in the presence of mold.

Prolonged exposure to any mold, allergenic or toxic, can cause an increase in immune response and should always be mentioned to a physician, or veterinarian, for evaluation.

Toxic black mold appears as dark black, sometimes accompanied by a dark green color. With a slimy texture, this mold tends to grow in areas that have been exposed to humidity for weeks, causing a desirable growth environment. Under the sink cabinets, wood structures, wet cardboard or wicker are all common locations of toxic black mold. Toxic black mold can be found indoors as well as outdoors. On average, the affected area would need to be wet or moist consistently for at least 72 hours for Stachybotrys to grow. Should this mold be identified in your home or building, inspecting for possible leaks or water damage would be an advised next step with mold remediation.

Initial exposure to toxic mold, inhaled, or ingested, can cause severe health reactions. The less severe risks can include trouble breathing, fatigue, sinusitis, or depression. However, toxic mold is also known to cause neurological problems, including decreased cognitive function, as well as pulmonary hemorrhage (bleeding from the lungs) in infants and children.

Common Black Molds

 

Although non-toxic, these molds are often seen and assumed to be toxic due to their appearance.

  • Cladosporium- Appears olive-green to brown/black, this mold portrays a suede-like texture. Cladosporium is frequently found within carpet, fabrics, and other upholsteries, along with wood structures such as cabinets. Cladosporium is known for disrupting the respiratory system causing issues with breathing.
  • Chaetomium- Beginning as a white-colored mold, this cotton-like textured mold darkens to gray and finally brown and black with time. Chaetomium grows within water-damaged buildings and is typically living within the roof, basement/crawl space, pipes, and drywall. Chaetomium is known for a musty smell and causing skin and nail infections.
  • Aureobasidium- ranges from pink, brown, or black, as it darkens with age. This mold is often discovered behind wallpaper or on painted or wooden surfaces. Aureobadidium is non-toxic, but this mold may cause eye, skin, or nail infections.

 

Should mold of any type be discovered in your home or building, calling in a professional inspector is the safest way to determine the immediate danger to anyone in the building, and the building itself. Certified inspectors are only a call away at Mold Inspectors Of Florida.

Laundry Room Mold: Inspecting and Preventing Mold in Your Washroom

Laundry Room Mold: Inspecting and Preventing Mold in Your Washroom

Laundry Room Mold: Inspecting and Preventing Mold in Your Washroom

Mold presence in laundry rooms should not come as a surprise. As most people are aware, mold growth occurs in moisture ridden areas, and a laundry room is no exception. Wet clothes in the washer are easy to be forgotten overnight, or in some cases, longer. Leaving these clothes unattended can cause mold and mildew to grow on clothes. Opening a washer to smell a pungent aroma on garments that have been sitting too long can be credited to mold and mildew growth. Remember the sound of your mother yelling not to leave the wet clothes in the hamper? She was concerned about mold growth. Due to the humidity levels that arise in a laundry room, and the presence of damp clothing, how do you properly prevent mold?

Where to Inspect and How to Prevent

Regular home inspections for mold are essential to staying on top of laundry room maintenance. Simple checks by the homeowner can save headaches in the long run. Running through a simple checklist at least twice a year is better than spending thousands of dollars in cleanup, remediation, and replacement.

Walls: Examining walls, both easily visible, and those hidden by the appliances, are important to check for mold growth. Mold can grow inside the drywall due to the moisture build-up in the laundry room. Walls with piping exposed can become especially vulnerable to mold. If you observe discolored spots or signs of leaks, this could mean mold growth.

Prevention: Regularly inspect for signs of water damage and mold growth. Clean up any spills or leaks promptly and assist incomplete drying of the water damaged area.

Washer and Dryer: Don’t let the names fool you, a washer can still be unclean with mold, and a dryer can even obtain moisture. Inspect inside the appliances for off-putting smells or discoloration. If your linens still smell after being washed, the machines may have mold or mildew growth on the inside. For front-loading washers, mildew, moisture, and debris can build up on the auto-lock features and rubber seals. Machines also have the potential to bust a leak inside the appliance.

Prevention: Place a drip pan under the washer to monitor for potential leaks. Perform regular maintenance cleanings for both the washer and washer door. Keep a timer on your phone to remember to move over the laundry to prevent mildew in the washer and dryer. Keep the lid of the washer open when not in use to assist in drying out the bin and preventing inner mold growth.

Around The Room: Regularly inspecting the floors for signs of leaks can give you ample time to act. Whether it be the washer, the utility sink, or a backed-up drain, there are several areas in which water damage can affect a laundry room. Checking the hoses and piping are also another beneficial tool in prevention. Over time, loose connections in the tubes may occur, especially if the washer becomes unbalanced.

Prevention: Pull the washer away from the wall and observe the hoses for drying or cracking. Secure any loosened tubes. Run a wash cycle while the appliance is pulled out and watch for any leaks in the tube. Pour a few cups of water down the floor drain and be sure it is working correctly. Hidden drain blockages can be problematic when an unforeseen circumstance arises.

Prevention

Adding a dehumidifier into the laundry room goes the extra mile in preventing mold and mildew growth in your laundry room. When purchasing, be sure to purchase a dehumidifier that has a hose attachment, and not a collection bucket. Collection buckets you must dump continuously, hoses can secure to the drains or utility sink and ensure the dehumidifier is continuously working.

If you find signs of mold or mildew in your laundry room, call us at Mold Inspectors of Florida to help investigate the origin and severity of the mold safely.

Pets and Mold: The Hidden Poison

Pets and Mold: The Hidden Poison

Pets and Mold: The Hidden Poison

Many articles are written about the danger that mold, especially toxic black mold, creates for humans. However, the topic of pets affected by mold is not as popular. Our pets are members of the family like any other, and ensuring their health and safety is just as important as providing our own. Should you not see or feel signs of mold exposure in yourself, keep an eye on your animals as well. Animals may have allergic reactions to molds that you or other household residents are not affected by, simply due to individualized immune responses.

Pets tend to sniff (inhalation through the nostrils), travel, and lick around the home. If mold is present on the house or food, a pet can quickly become ill from the exposure. Depending on the species of mold and the amount of exposure time, the symptoms can range from minor to severe. If a limited exposure has occurred, your pet may sneeze or cough, while prolonged exposure time may trigger neurological systems or become fatal. If your pet has been exposed to mold, the reaction can vary depending on if the response is a result of allergens, inhalation, or ingestion.

Allergenic Reactions

If your pet is allergic to mold, the symptoms may be minimal. Some animals show signs of excessive scratching, chewing, biting, or licking affected areas. Due to this extensive behavior, sores may develop on the skin, and fur loss can happen.

Inhalation Reactions

When your animal inhales, mold respiratory distress may occur. Respiratory distress may mean, breathing may take more effort or seems to be occurring faster than average. Other signs of mold inhalation may include nasal discharge, coughing, wheezing, sneezing, and fatigue. Bleeding from the mouth or nose has also been a known symptom in animals in severe cases.

Ingestion Reactions

Ingestion of mold can be from contaminated food they eat, or areas of the home they have licked that are infected with mold growth. Ingesting mold has been known to cause gastrointestinal tract disruptions such as vomiting, loss of appetite, and changes in the stool. Severe cases have also reported blood in stools.

Depending on the type and exposure time of mold, your pet may exhibit serious health concerns. Mycotoxins, toxic spores released by certain toxic molds, are known to disrupt the nervous system. Tremors and seizures, along with odd behavior, may occur in your pets. If you believe your pet has been exposed to mold, it is imperative to get a veterinary’s help as soon as possible. Delaying treatment can lead to damage of the liver, kidneys, bones, brain, and spinal cord.

Prevention

Not only home structure prevention but also household prevention is vital for you and your animals’ health. Relocating your pet temporarily with a friend maybe a savvy choice when suspecting or remediating mold. Relocation can ensure your pet doesn’t investigate an area that is infested and cause health concerns. Storing your pet’s food in an air-tight container will discourage mold growth on the food. Weekly washing of chew toys, food, and water bowls will also deter mold build-up. Pet beds should be regularly washed and completely dry before use. Plush toys, leashes, and other fabric pet supplies should also be routinely cleaned and dried.

If you are unsure if your home has mold, or suspect there may be an affected area, call us at Mold Inspectors Of Florida to get a detailed inspection. With topical swabs and air quality testing equipment, our technicians check thoroughly for mold. With specialized equipment to test within walls, as well as lab analysis for a detailed report on findings, rest assured you will have all the knowledge of what’s growing within your southwest Florida home.

Dangerous Common Household Molds

Dangerous Common Household Molds

Dangerous Common Household Molds

There are thousands of mold species in the fungal world. With species, sub-species, and a single fungi, it’s no wonder that the word “mold” has become a scary topic around the world. From expensive home remodels and remediations to painful illnesses, molds have become a hot topic in the homeowner circle. When a homeowner hires a mold inspector, there are endless possibilities for the findings of mold in a home and its structures. Having a basic knowledge of some of the common household mold species can give homeowners a sense of understanding they need to become proactive and preventative on household mold.

Aspergillus

Allergenic in classification, this mold also has the capability of becoming toxic depending on the species of this strain. Bringing in a professional mold inspector for analysis is the only way to accurately determine the species of molds present. While many describe this mold as long and flask-shaped spores, the colors vary by species, and this mold has more than 185 species in its genus line.  There are general minor risks associated with the inhalation and exposure to Aspergillus, as it is incredibly common indoors. However, certain species can create severe allergic reactions depending on the individual’s immune response. Severe reactions can include respiratory infections and inflamed lungs. There are particular species of this genus that can produce deadly carcinogen aflatoxins, a toxic compound formed by molds that are known to cause liver damage and cancers.

Alternaria

Alternaria is a known allergenic mold with a velvety dark green or brown appearance. Some homeowners describe this appearance as green or brown hairs growing. This fungus is one of the most common forms of household mold and found in the shower, bathtub, and below household sinks. Alternaria is usually quick to resolve if detected early, but can also commonly signify water damage. Depending on the location that the homeowner finds this mold, bringing in a professional mold inspector to take a more in-depth look may be the savvy choice. Alternaria is known to worsen or mimic the symptoms of asthma and respiratory problems.

Cladosporium

Cladosporium appears in a suede-like texture as an olive-green or sometimes brown colored mold. This specific household mold is an allergenic classification that is found in both cold and warm areas of a home. Should the environment be moist from condensation, leaks, humidity, or water damage, Cladosporium can grow. Carpet and fabrics, along with wood floors and cabinetry, have all been known to fall victim to this fungus. Cladosporium is known to specifically cause attack on the human respiratory system.

Trichoderma

Trichoderma is a complicated, household mold. While this mold is classified as an allergenic, most Trichoderma molds are non-pathogenic (does not produce illnesses). However, various strains of Trichoderma are pathogenic and can produce mycotoxins, which cause sinusitis, allergic reactions, and more. This common species grows within wet fabrics such as carpet and upholstery. Trichoderma is also commonly found within moist condensation areas of the home, such as behind wallpaper, within air conditioning filters, and HVAC ducts. With five different sub-species of Trichoderma, should you suspect mold in your home, a professional inspection and analysis is required to determine the health risk to the household residents.

Ulocladium

Ulocladium typically appears black. Homeowners often find this species of mold in kitchens, basements, and near windows. The common areas Ulocladium is found are known for extreme water damage and high levels of condensation.  This fungus is most common after severe water damage such as flooding or tropical storms and can appear both indoors and outdoors. Ulocladium slowly growing in the walls and floors after an event of water damage can cause severe allergenic reactions. Most commonly, Ulocladium begins mimicking the symptoms of hay fever and triggering asthmatic reactions.