What Is Black Mold
One shade, many types
Black mold is the misnomer often assigned to the mold species Stachybotrys chartarum, which is just one of many species of black mold. Another example is Aspergillus niger. It may surprise you that there are more than 60 other species of black mold that may have deleterious effects on human health, though this article will only concern Stachybotrys chartarum. Black mold gets its name because it contains melanin, which is responsible for its coloration. Interestingly, the melanin offers protection to the mold colony from the damaging and oxidizing effects of their environment..
How common is it?
Commonly found indoor molds include Penicillium, Cladosporium Aspergillus, Alternaria, and Fusarium.
Stachybotrys, although notorious in name, is less common in water damaged buildings when compared to other molds. While it does not occur as often as other molds, it is not rare and should be addressed appropriately.
Most molds require humidity levels ranging from 35%-70%, while Stachybotrys prefers general humidity over 90%. The lower humidity range associated with common molds is more representative of what is found throughout the average home. Therefore, it is more likely that Stachybotrys will only reside in high humidity areas, while the other common molds have a higher likelihood of residing throughout the house.
What Happens If You Breathe In Mold & What To Do
Do you suspect mold is growing in your home or on your belongings?
Worried you might be breathing in mold & it might be dangerous to your health?
In this guide, you will learn:
- The health effects of mold exposure & How much Mold Exposure is Harmful,
- The Signs and Symptoms of what breathing in mold can do,
- How to treat mold spores growing in your lungs.
How Common Is Mold In Buildings
Molds are very common in buildings and homes. Mold will grow in places with a lot of moisture, such as around leaks in roofs, windows, or pipes, or where there has been flooding. Mold grows well on paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, and wood products. Mold can also grow in dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery.
The most common indoor molds are Cladosporium, Penicillium, and Aspergillus. We do not have precise information about how often different molds are found in buildings and homes.
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Exposure Sources And Prevention
The primary sources of mold exposure are from the indoor air in buildings with substantial mold growth and the ingestion of food with mold growths.
While mold and related microbial agents can be found both inside and outside, specific factors can lead to significantly higher levels of these microbes, creating a potential health hazard. Several notable factors are water damage in buildings, the use of building materials which provide a suitable substrate and source of food to amplify mold growth, relative humidity, and energy-efficient building designs, which can prevent proper circulation of outside air and create a unique ecology in the built environment. A common issue with mold hazards in the household can be the placement of furniture, resulting in a lack of ventilation of the nearby wall. The simplest method of avoiding mold in a home so affected is to move the furniture in question.
Prevention of mold exposure and its ensuing health issues begins with the prevention of mold growth in the first place by avoiding a mold-supporting environment. Extensive flooding and water damage can support extensive mold growth. Following hurricanes, homes with greater flood damage, especially those with more than 3 feet of indoor flooding, demonstrated far higher levels of mold growth compared with homes with little or no flooding.
How Is It Diagnosed
Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and examine your medical history. They may suspect ABPA or a mold infection if you have a condition that weakens your immune system or an existing respiratory condition.
The next step of diagnosis often involves taking a small sample of your lung fluid to examine under a microscope. They take the sample by inserting a special instrument into your nose or mouth to collect a small amount of lung tissue.
Your doctor may also run a blood test to look for evidence of fungal spores or antibodies in your blood.
An X-ray or CT scan may help them rule out other conditions and look for a buildup of mold in your lungs.
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Scientists Identify First Invasive Case Of Rare Mold In A Cancer Patient
City of Hope scientists have found a toxic fungus previously thought to not be infectious in the sinus tissues of a man with refractory acute lymphocytic leukemia. This is the first time that direct infection of a patient with the black mold Stachybotrys has been recorded. The team’s findings published this week in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.
Strains of Stachybotrys are typically associated with “sick building syndrome,” or black mold infestations in damp buildings that can make people sick by breathing in toxins that the organisms release into the air.
“We have now shown, for the first time, that this black mold can also directly infect immunocompromised people,” said Markus Kalkum, Ph.D., corresponding author of the study, professor in the Department of Molecular Imaging & Therapy at the Diabetes & Metabolism Research Institute at City of Hope and director of the Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics Core Facility.
In other words, the actual fugus was found in the patient’s tissues as opposed to just the toxins that are usually associated with illness from black mold. It was seen in biopsy specimens from the patient’s sinuses after he had complained of facial pain during a hospitalization associated with complications from refractory acute lymphocytic leukemia. Subsequent follow-up tests using modern molecular techniques, including DNA sequencing and species-specific staining methods, confirmed the fungus as Stachybotrys chlorohalonata.
How To Get Your Home Tested For Mold
Tests to identify mold can only show that mold spores were present at a particular moment. They cant tell you when you may have been exposed, if you inhaled any mold spores, or what your health risks might be.
Large areas of mold are easy to see, and sometimes to smell, so testing isnt generally necessary. Also, all mold is cleaned the same way, so it doesnt matter what type it is.
The CDC does not recommend routine sampling for molds. The agency states that reliable sampling can be expensive and there are no established standards for judging acceptable levels of mold.
If you do want to get your home tested for mold or need professional mold removal, there are a few places to find a certified mold inspector in the United States.
finding a professional to remove mold
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Does Mold Cause Cancer
There is no evidence linking indoor exposure to black mold or any other type of mold with cancer. Mold is associated with other health problems, though.
Mold can be found anywhere theres moisture. Mold spores travel in the air, so spores can find their way inside homes and other buildings. Most of us breathe some in every day without any problems.
In high concentrations, or with long-term exposure, mold can aggravate allergies and asthma, and cause upper respiratory symptoms.
Some people are more sensitive to mold than others. People with certain pre-existing health conditions can have serious problems due to mold.
Continue reading for more information on black mold, other types of mold, and whos at risk.
What Are The Effects Of Breathing In Mold Or Mildew
Mold and mildew, found everywhere in the environment, are both fungi that need to be in moist areas to grow. Areas that are dark and have poor air quality can also contain mold and mildew. These fungi will eventually damage the surfaces they grow on by spreading seeds or spores. These spores can enter the air and be inhaled, or come into contact with your skin. While not always harmful, inhaling or touching mold or mildew can cause both minor and serious symptoms in some people.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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A Qualified Environmental Lab Took Samples Of The Mold In My Home And Gave Me The Results Can Cdc Interpret These Results
Standards for judging what is an acceptable, tolerable or normal quantity of mold have not been established. Sampling for mold can be expensive, and standards for judging what is and what is not an acceptable quantity of mold have not been set. The best practice is to remove the mold and work to prevent future growth. If you do decide to pay for environmental sampling for molds, before the work starts, you should ask the consultants who will do the work to establish criteria for interpreting the test results. They should tell you in advance what they will do or what recommendations they will make based on the sampling results. The results of samples taken in your unique situation cannot be interpreted without physical inspection of the contaminated area or without considering the buildings characteristics and the factors that led to the present condition.
Why Mold Causes Problems
Molds alone dont usually cause many health problems. Its when they land on damp surfaces and reproduce that you feel their nasty health effects.
Mold spores produce allergens substances that can cause you to have allergic reactions resulting in hay-fever-like symptoms: itchy, red eyes, runny nose and asthma. If these persist, you can develop respiratory infections. Its rare, but exposure to mold spores can eventually cause organ damage, cognitive difficulties and even death.
Whats more, mold spores can irritate your lungs even if youre not allergic to mold. When introduced to your body, spores irritate your airways in your nose, mouth and throat, Dr. Ibrahim says. They can also cause burning and bleeding if they become lodged in your mucus membranes, such as in your sinuses and lungs.
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Green Works Professional Mold Detecting Process:
GreenWorks is a professional mold detection and removal company in New Jersey that uses the following process to accurately test for mold:
1) Mold Testing
For families who have no apparent health effects or illnesses from mold, testing may not be required. However, for those who have children or individuals with allergies or immuno-compromised systems, mold testing should be conducted by professionals.
2) Client Interview
The mold test starts with an interview of the homeowners or current occupants. This gives our experts a better understanding of the structure of the home and any mold-related issues that the family has come across such as health issues, water damage, or past repairs. The interview helps our team decide whether or not mold testing is necessary.
3) Olfactory Investigation:
Trained mold investigators are sometimes able to identify actively growing mold through smell. This is helpful, especially when the mold is not visible. However, olfactory investigations may be affected by the weather, air transfer, or other factors that dilute or overpower the aroma of indoor mold.
4) Mold Inspection
Our experts will conduct a comprehensive visual inspection of your home. This helps to determine if there is mold growth in moist areas of your home such as bathrooms, under sinks, basements, crawlspaces, and more. Molds often hide in dark, hard-to-reach reach places, which our team is trained in inspecting.
5) Mold Inspection
6) Hydrology Inspection
7) Mold Inspection Report
How Do You Recover From Mold Poisoning
Options include: avoiding the allergen whenever possible. a nasal rinse, to flush mold spores out of the nose. antihistamines, to stop a runny nose, sneezing, and itchiness. decongestant nasal sprays, a short term remedy for congestion. nasal corticosteroids, to reduce inflammation. oral decongestants, to reduce congestion.
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Can Mold Cause Lung Cancer
Long-term exposure to mold or fungal spores can result in lung diseases since you will have breathed the particles for a prolonged time. It can also induce pneumonitis, which is an inflammation produced by the immune system attacking lung cells. Mold particles settle in your lungs and emit toxins that harm your nervous system, skin, and lungs with every second that you dont cure them.
Continuous human exposure might result in more severe lung damage, neurotoxicity, renal toxicity, immunologic abnormalities, and cardiac or gastrointestinal problems. It is crucial to remember that the clinical significance of mycotoxins has not been demonstrated at realistic airborne exposure levels. Furthermore, a large portion of the supporting data is based on case studies rather than controlled research, which says fungus or mold can cause lung cancer or disease in a very rare condition.
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Is It Safe To Clean Black Mold Yourself
If the black mold growth in your home is small enough for you to treat alone, a simple mixture of bleach and water can help. Add one cup of bleach to one gallon of water and apply it to the moldy spots. Apply the cleaner to the mold spot and scrub away the growth. Be sure to dry the area thoroughly when youre done.
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How Does Mold In Lungs Cause Illness
Mold can cause respiratory illness in a number of ways.
First, it causes irritation to the delicate lining of the bronchi and the tiny bronchioles in the lungs. Inflammation and irritation of the bronchioles make it difficult to get enough air through, causing wheezing and labored breathing. Asthma attacks may occur. Infection of the bronchi, called bronchitis, can also result from mold in the air passages.
Second, microscopic particles of mold that are not expelled by coughing can lead to pneumonia when they become lodged in the lungs. Symptoms of pneumonia range from moderate to severe and include fever, shortness of breathing, coughing, and chest pain when you cough or breathe.
Third, since mold is a foreign substance in the body, it can trigger an immune response in the form of an allergic reaction. This can cause respiratory symptoms as well as an itchy rash or hives.
Finally, some types of mold produce toxic substances called mycotoxins, which may cause a wide range of health problems.
Some people are more susceptible to mold-related illness than others, including small children, elderly people, people with pre-existing respiratory disorders like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder , and people with weakened immune systems, like those with HIV/AIDS or those undergoing chemotherapy.
Symptoms of mold exposure can include:
Health effects linking to asthma
How Do You Tell If You Have Mold In Your Walls
Mold can be black, green, gray, white, or brown. Mold can even appear orange, pink or purple when it grows behind vinyl wallpaper. Another sign of visible mold is discoloration of walls, even if it has been painted over. If the water damage inside the walls persists, mold will show signs on the surface.
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What Types Of Health Issues Are Caused By Mold
Molds have the potential to be harmful to ones health. Molds generate allergens , irritants, and even poisonous substances in some circumstances . In susceptible people, inhaling or handling mold or mold spores may induce allergic responses. Mold allergies are quite frequent. They might be both immediate and delayed. Molds can also trigger asthma episodes in those who are allergic to mold. Furthermore, mold exposure can irritate both mold-allergic and non-allergic peoples eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs.
However, there is no proof that indoor mold or any other form of mold causes cancer. On the other hand, mold is linked to a variety of health issues which sometimes may also contribute cause cancer in humans.
Mold or fungus symptoms may appear inexplicable and chronic. Its not unusual for someone to see a slew of doctors and undergo a battery of tests that all come back normal or for mold poisoning to be misdiagnosed.
Could Your Symptoms Be From A General Mold Allergy
Regardless of the species of mold in question, symptoms of a mold allergy can appear very similar, especially when looking at many individuals. So if you see black-colored mold and experience allergic symptoms, it could be Stachybotrys, or it could be another species of mold. That said, the same person can react differently to different molds. For example, one person may have severe dry eyes in response to a Cladosporium exposure, while Aspergillus exposure may cause wheezing and asthma-like symptoms.
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Does Black Mold Cause Cancer
Black mold The CDC states that there have been rare reports that these molds can cause serious health conditions like memory loss or pulmonary hemorrhage. However, theres no proven link between mold and such health problems. Black mold is not linked to lung or other cancers.
Is it safe to live in a house with black mold? Moulds can give off toxic chemicals, called mycotoxins, and if theres a lot of mould these nasties can cause allergic reactions, asthma and flu-like symptoms. Its not something anyone should have to live with.
What does black mold do to your lungs? The only possible link is this: Mold can cause pulmonary fibrosis , which is scarring in your lungs. If you have PF for a long time, it can make you more likely to get lung cancer.
What happens if you breathe in black mold? The most common black mold symptoms and health effects are associated with a respiratory response. Chronic coughing and sneezing, irritation to the eyes, mucus membranes of the nose and throat, rashes, chronic fatigue and persistent headaches can all be symptomatic of black mold exposure or black mold poisoning.
What does black mold do to you? The most common black mold symptoms and health effects are associated with a respiratory response. Chronic coughing and sneezing, irritation to the eyes, mucus membranes of the nose and throat, rashes, chronic fatigue and persistent headaches can all be symptomatic of black mold exposure or black mold poisoning.