What Is Black Mold
Black mold, or Stachybotrys chartarum, is one of the most common indoor molds. It grows in damp, humid, and dark areas in homes. Like other molds, it releases spores into the air surrounding it, which can be inhaled by humans or absorbed through your skin, and can also allow it to be transported to other areas of a home.
Preventing Mold In Your Home
The best way to keep your family safe from black mold is to prevent it from growing. Since mold grows in damp, dark places, you should aim to improve ventilation and reduce humidity in areas that are prone to mold.
In your bathrooms, for example, you can use a shower squeegee to remove excess water from shower walls and bathroom mirrors. You can also install a vent fan or open a window when showering to allow humidity to leave the room. These steps help reduce the moisture in your bathroom and make it more difficult for black mold to grow.
Make searching for black mold or potential growth areas a part of your spring cleaning routine. The sooner you catch a mold growth, the better chance you have to get rid of it before it causes health problems.
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Black Mold Symptoms And Health Effects
Learn about black mold symptoms and health effects so that you can identify indicators of black mold exposure and black mold poisoning.
A mold infested room of an old building.
Mold in homes can be a costly and dangerous problem, particularly when infestations of toxic black mold occur. The symptoms and health effects of black mold exposure and black mold poisoning cover a wide range of health problems, but understanding the indicators can help keep you and your family safe.
Toxic black mold, or Stachybotrys chartarum, as its known to scientists, can release spores as it feeds on organic materials in common household materials like drywall, carpet, insulation or sub-flooring that have been exposed to moisture. These spores, if ingested or inhaled, can cause a range of unpleasant and even dangerous symptoms in humans.
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Health Consequences Of Exposure To Dangerous Mold Types
Before we get into how to tell if mold is toxic, lets talk about why you need to take this so seriously.
One of the most frightening things about exposure to mold is that it will impact everyone differently. This means that, in some cases, you could go for months potentially even years without even realizing that youre being exposed to it. This long-term exposure makes you much more likely to suffer more severe consequences.
The first sign of exposure to black mold is usually some kind of respiratory illness. If you have a history of asthma and other breathing problems already or if you have a weakened immune system in general the respiratory symptoms will be more severe.
Youll notice yourself sniffling, coughing, and feeling like its hard to catch your breath. You may even feel like youre suffering from a cold, right down to itchy and watery eyes. Expect to experience headaches, exhaustion, and potentially even rashes across the body.
In more severe cases, the consequences to your health are incredibly serious. This is because the spores of the black mold have impacted your lungs.
You may experience nosebleeds, nausea and extensive vomiting, and even bleeding in your lungs. Youre also much more likely to develop bronchitis and other lasting respiratory infections.
In some cases, you may even experience extreme depression and mood swings due to a presence of toxic mold.
Worst of all, toxic mold has been linked to brain damage.
The Root Cause Of Mold Problems
Here are common sources of mold growth in an indoor space:
Moist air makes it easier for mold to multiply. A damp basement or a humid bathroom can create spores that spread to the rest of the house. Purchasing a dehumidifier and keeping levels around 30-50 percent may be helpful in preventing mold growth. A poorly ventilated bathroom can be a source of high humidity. Using a ventilation fan during showering and for at least 30 minutes may be helpful.
Poorly sealed windows, gaps in walls, improper flashing
Doors windows and walls will all need to be sealed properly to prevent water intrusion.
Common places include under bathroom and kitchen sinks. Wet carpeted areas may need to be removed to prevent mold and bacteria growth.
All leaks need to be fixed as soon as possible. It only takes 24-48 hours for mold to begin to grow from a water source.
Keep a regular maintenance and cleaning schedule for air conditioning and heating. They can be a source of spreading spores.
During winter, the warm indoor air can hit the cold window and create condensation. This in turn can cause mold growth on wooden window sills.
And other sources
This list isnt exhaustive. Mold can commonly be seen throughout a home: in fireplaces, mattresses and bathtubs, just to name a few.
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Issues That Cause Mold And Mildew
Moisture is the chief cause behind the growth of mold and mildew. Mold spores entering your home are inevitable this is difficult to stop. But you can stop the factors that help mold and mildew to grow. Besides moisture, lack of sunlight, poor ventilation, and dirt and debris can cause mold and mildew to grow. Because of this, mold and mildew tend to develop in the home:
- Under carpeting
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Create A Bleach Mixture
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. You can also find commercial black mold removal products.
Soak a paper towel in the cleaner and press it over the mold growth to dampen the area. Then start scrubbing. Avoid spraying moldy areas, since the droplets will collide with the mold spores and launch them throughout the room, making them easier to breathe in and harder to eradicate.
Be sure to dry the area thoroughly when youre done.
Do NOT mix bleach with ammonia. This combination can create toxic fumes that are far more dangerous than any mold youre trying to clean.
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How Do You Treat Mold Toxicity Symptoms
Right now, youll see a lot of experts recommending handfuls of supplements and strict diets but the reality is, we just dont know for sure if these are the right treatment approach, says McElroy. Instead, she recommends the steps below. You might be surprised to see that killing the mold is only one out of five. Thats no coincidence! As McElroy explains, I often dont focus on killing mold since most symptoms are due to the immune response, not the mold itself. Instead, she starts with simple lifestyle steps and utilizes non-pill practices to achieve a state of better immune health, including:
Why Is Black Mold So Dangerous
Black mold is commonly referred to as toxic mold, and for good reason. Aside from causing all kinds of respiratory reactions like coughing, sneezing, sore and itchy throats, and watery and itchy eyes, prolonged exposure can have serious health consequences.Black mold is toxic, and prolonged exposure can have serious health consequences.
One study found that exposure to mold during infancy led to asthma at 7 years of age, while others have linked exposure to brain inflammation, behavioral dysfunction, movement disorders, and neurological deterioration.
In short, black mold warrants its reputation as a toxin, and should be treated as soon as its discovered. Below are several signs it may be inhabiting your home.
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How To Clean Non
As we hope youve gathered already from this post, its extremely important that you leave the process of cleaning toxic mold to a professional.
However, if you think the mold is nontoxic, or if the mold hasnt gotten out of control just yet, you can attempt to handle things on your own.
Once youve put on a mask, gloves, and long sleeves and pants, youre ready to go.
Begin by spraying the moldy area with just water first. The goal here is to help to keep the number of airborne spores at bay once you start the intensive part of the cleaning process.
Use a scrubbing brush and water at the start Scrub the mold to loosen things up, and also scrub the area surrounding the mold.
Next, you can bring in the heavy-duty cleaning agents. In most cases, homeowners prefer to use bleach. This is certainly an effective way to get rid of mold, but it can also irritate your nose and throat. Again, ventilation and protective clothing are key here.
If youre especially worried about exposure to bleach or bleach poisoning? You may want to use white vinegar and lemon.
No matter what, just make certain that you never mix cleaning agents. Youll end up creating an extremely toxic gas, which can sometimes cause serious illness. Take frequent breaks, and immediately stop if you begin to feel sick.
Once youre satisfied with the cleaning job youve done?
How Long Does It Take To Get Sick From Black Mold Exposure
It will depend on each person and the time frame for irritation and allergies caused by molds but I would assume that if you are in a poorly ventilated house or room and have a history of allergies that it probably just takes inhalation/digestion/contact with a few spores.
The real thing to do is to treat the mold, and then treat the cause of the mold- moisture. Make sure the house is dry, clean, and you have fans in all bathrooms and good ventilation throughout.
How long will my recovery from mold exposure take? Recovery time is will depend on several different factors, so there is no simple answer to this question. Listen to your body watch you allergies.
If in any doubt please consult your medical professional for specific advice to you as everyone is different. This information is for informational purposes only and nothing more,.and
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Toxic Mold Syndrome Diagnosis
To make a toxic mold syndrome diagnosis, there is no way to actually measure mycotoxins in the blood but there is a test for mold toxins in the urine which is called the urine mycotoxin test and there are blood tests that test different blood parameters that suggest mold toxicity.This blood test is offered as a panel at Life Extension called the Biotoxin Mold Illness Panel. There is also an eye exam that can indicate mold exposure called the Visual Contrast Sensitivity Test. These are the main tests to help make a toxic mold syndrome diagnosis.
In addition, there is a genetic test called HLA DR Mold genetic test which is a blood test that will determine if you have a genotype that is prone to being sensitive to mold. There is also a blood test to test for allergies to molds which is called the Allergen Profile Mold test and it will tell you if you also have an allergy to mold in addition to mold toxicity.
SUMMARY OF TOXIC MOLD SYNDROME DIAGNOSTIC TESTS
BIOTOXIN MOLD ILLNESS PANEL
HLA DR MOLD GENETIC TESTING
ALLERGEN PROFILE MOLD BLOOD TEST
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Signs And Symptoms Of Black Mold Poisoning
Black mold exposure may often present with your typical allergic complaints that are listed above. However, one must be mindful that other non-allergic, mold-related illnesses exist and may present similarly to a mold allergy, but often with more seemingly unrelated symptoms.
Research has found that people who have been exposed to mixed mold, mold spores and mycotoxins have experienced neurological and behavioral symptoms. These symptoms have been corroborated by other studies like Gordon et al. and Rea et al. .
Such non-allergic symptoms to mold may include, but are not limited to:
- Cognitive impairment
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What Causes Mold Sickness
The toxins in your system from breathing in mold spores add to the total amount of toxicity in your body. We call this the Total Body Burden. When your burden is high, you start experiencing symptoms many which are seemingly unrelated.
For most people, toxins get flushed out from the body when eliminating waste.
For some, the toxic load is so high that its too much for the body to eliminate them all efficiently. For others, they may have poor detoxification processes or they may even recycle or reabsorb these mycotoxins back, as the body tries to eliminate them. Genetics plays a huge role in this difference from person to person
In short, multiple symptoms happen because, as we say in environmental medicine genetics points the gun, and then the environment pulls the trigger.
What Are Black Mold Health Symptoms
We all know mold isnt welcomed in the home, but did you know too that breathing in the presence of mold can harm your health? There are over 2,000 different species of mold and the most dangerous of all is called Stachybotrys Chartarum, also known as black mold or the invisible killer.
Why is black mold so dangerous? Black mold releases toxic spores that linger in the air and attack your respiratory health. The potency of these toxic spores has proved to be the most detrimental to human health.
Black mold often appears as slimy and greenish-black. If its water source runs out, it can also appear as dry and powdery. Black mold is also dangerous because its sometimes difficult to distinguish from other species of mold.
The following are health symptoms associated with black mold exposure:
- Eye irritation
In severe cases, symptoms caused by inhaling black mold can lead to the following health troubles:
- Respiratory complications
Sometimes mold invades spaces that are hard to see and reach. It spreads fast, burrowing into walls and ceilings and hiding in cupboards and under carpets. Quite often, people are exposed to black mold without even knowing it. If you or anyone in your home is experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms without knowing why, you may be exposed to mold.
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Condensation And Persistent Moisture
Whether there is excess moisture on your windows, or condensation dripping from your pipes, a damp home is an ideal breeding ground for mold, and can be an indicator that mold is already present in your home. The best dehumidifiers serve as a good solution to reduce excess moisture as they will set the humidity in your home to the level you indicate on the dehumidifier. They arent a permanent solution, however, and you should consider getting your windows swapped for double-glazed panes, or having them re-sealed by a professional.
If youre finding moisture on pipes, a plumber can help diagnose the problem here. In some instances, putting insulation around pipes can prevent moisture build-up, and in others you can consider running warm-water pipes away from cold ones, to avoid excess moisture build-up.
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Why Are Mold Issues Difficult To Diagnose
Conventional medicine recognizes that mold can cause allergies but does not recognize that mycotoxins emitted by some species of indoor mold can cause a problem, says McElroy. This means that doctors unfamiliar with mold and mold treatment may miss one of the main types of mold reactionsthe chemical and inflammatory reaction. This is for a few reasons:
- There is no gold standard in testing for mold
- There is no standardized treatment protocol or drug for mold toxicity
- There are very limited human-based studies looking at the connection between mycotoxins and human health
- The presentation of mold issues is very different among patients
- Not everyone exposed to mold mycotoxins will have a reaction to them
Its no wonder mold illness can be hard to diagnose. Fortunately, holistic medicine providers consider environmental factors that affect health when evaluating patients and may have additional advanced training in treating mold toxicity.
According to McElroy, one of the biggest challenges with mold is that mycotoxins can cause only some people to launch an inflammatory response. This unpredictable response can go on for years after a long-term exposure in a susceptible individual, she explains.
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The Facts About Mold In Your Home
Mold is a fungus that reproduces by creating small spores that work like seeds. Every home has mold. Mold spores can be unwelcome guests floating in on the breeze through an open window or door, hitching a ride on clothing or hiding in plain sight on packaging materials like cardboard or paper. Once established, it will look like fuzzy spots or blotches that can be black, green, brown, yellow, and even orange or white.
There are nearly 1,000 types of household mold. A few common culprits are Alternaria, Aspergillus, Cladosporium and Penicillium. The dreaded black or toxic mold that you see in the headlines, Stachybotrys chartarum, also know as Stachybotrys atra, isn’t a common mold, but it’s not rare either. It will look dark green or black.
You can’t keep mold out, but you can make it less welcome. Household mold needs hospitable conditions in which to thrive. One key ingredient in establishing and maintaining a mold colony is moisture. If you don’t have a consistent source of moisture, mold won’t be able to survive.
In the next section, we’ll take a look at ways to check for mold.
- Inside ductwork
- Above ceiling tiles
The nose knows, and if you can’t find any mold but the smell persists, there’s probably mold hiding somewhere nearby.
In the next section, we’ll discuss ways to get help dealing with mold in your home.