Find The Moisture Source
Black mold removal is important. But first, one must identify that it is black mold. First, look at the color, followed by the smell. Black mold is black or even dark grey in color, and often smells wet and musty, as it usually grows in areas with a lot of moisture. Black mold is also usually noticeable in the home if you experience a burning or scratching sensation in your throat or lungs. Black mold is dangerous, and can greatly affect your health if left untreated, so it’s important to remove it as soon as you’re aware of it.
Before you can begin any black mold treatment, youll need to perform a black mold test and find the source. Its often the result of excess moisture in a particular area. Youre most likely to find black mold in areas of your home that you dont visit as often like the basement, but it can pop up anywhere. Here are a few common moisture sources to look for:
- Faucets and fixtures. Sink, shower and bathtub faucets and fixtures that are leaking can lead to the growth of black mold over time.
- Exposed plumbing. Damaged or leaking pipes, especially in warmer temperatures, can often create black mold in areas like basements.
- Water heaters. A small leak can create black mold in your basement or water heater closet.
How To Tell If Black Mold Is Hiding In Your Walls
Black mold – the words alone are enough to make you cringe. It’s the last thing you need in your home. Any mold can cause problems for people who are allergic, of course, but those molds referred to as “black” or “toxic” are particularly dangerous. Chances are, if the conditions inside your home are hospitable to mold, you’re going to have it. If you suspect the mold is “black” or toxic, however, consider hiring a professional to remove it for you.
What Is The Taxonomy Of Black Mold
Black mold is a fungus with the Latin name Stachybotrys chartarum. It is most commonly found in buildings that have experienced water damage or are generally damp. It consumes cellulose, meaning that it can live on things like:
- Those with allergies
- People with weakened immune systems
In general, anyone who has problems with skin irritation, allergies, or respiratory problems can be susceptible to mold spores. If you do live with one of the above groups, you should be especially aware of mold if anyone demonstrates symptoms you should immediately consult with a physician.
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What Happens If You Breathe In Black Mold
For people sensitive to mold, inhaling or touching mold spores can cause allergic reactions, including sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash. People with serious mold allergies may have more severe reactions, including shortness of breath.
However, if you breathe in large amounts of mold for a long time, it can cause chronic allergy or cold like symptoms, or more serious side effects such as chronic fatigue, brain fog, or even mold growth in lungs or respiratory systems.
Black Mold Removal And Cleaning
Mold remediation in stores, offices, or schools is best left to the pros. This also applies to household mold exceeding 10 square feet.
The contractors you choose should have insurance and licenses from organizations like the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification .
Homeowners can handle cleaning about 10 square feet of black mold on their own.3 If the patch is small enough, a combination of bleach, water, scrubbing, and ventilation should do the trick.
Before treating mold on your own, prioritize ventilation and protective gear.
Removing black mold is a tough and dirty job. If you or anyone in your family is sensitive to mold allergies, has respiratory or immune issues, trust the professionals.
Find a contractor in your area to get started.
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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.
Symptoms Of Black Mold Exposure
Many types of indoor mold, not just black mold, can cause symptoms if you are sensitive to them or are exposed to them for a prolonged period of time. Symptoms of mold exposure include:
Symptoms of mold exposure may be worse in people who are most at risk, including:
- People with an allergy to mold
- People with a weakened immune system, who may develop infections
- Older people
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Signs Of Black Mold In A House
As a homeowner, you might wonder how to identify signs of a black mold growth in your home.
The first and most important realization for you when you are looking to spot a black mold growth is that there has been a water breach in your space. This can be a large breach such as a major breakage or a smaller leak of a roof or through windows.
In either case, the moisture that comes in makes black mold growth likely.
Other clues to a black mold issue can include:
- Dark spots on a wall
- Discolored tile grout
- Baseboards peeling away from walls
- Spots on carpets
Health Problems Caused By Black Mold
Black mold in houses can lead to numerous health problems, though some people seem to experience more problems than others. Infants and young children, elderly people, people with chronic respiratory problems like asthma and those with compromised immune systems such as people with HIV often experience more health problems as a result of black mold than others. However, many people that typically enjoy good health begin to suffer health problems after being exposed to black mold on a regular basis.
Some health problems that may be caused by black mold include:
- General feeling of malaise
- Chronic sinus infections
Unfortunately, these symptoms do not usually respond well to medications as long as you continue to be exposed to black mold in your home. The black mold in homes must be removed in order for recovery to begin, and even then it can take some time to feel well again.
This video explains how mold can affect your body.
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How Does Black Mold Spread
Black mold spreads when it is allowed to attach to a material that is absorbent and has become moist.
Wooden materials, wallboard, carpet, and paper products are just a few of the ideal hosts for mold to begin to build a colony and spread.
In addition to water, mold thrives in areas that are dark and humid. This can make it hard to find in a home because it may spread behind doors, under tiles that have become loose, and in the shag of carpets.
Undiscovered mold will continue to thrive until the moisture it needs to grow is removed and dried.
Testing For Black Mold
You can have your mold tested to find out exactly what kind it is. Cost varies, but you can expect to pay hundreds of dollars to determine the type of mold.
There are also black mold testing kits, available at the hardware store or on , that you can purchase for around $35-50. With this DIY route, you take samples from a suspected affected surface, then send off to be tested in a lab.
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How Does Black Mold Form
The main reason behind the formation of black mold is moisture, which can be caused by several things, such as, water leakage, lack of proper ventilation, flooding, irregular maintenance, humidifiers, condensation, clogged-up gutters, damp clothes, humid basements, or even water accumulation around the foundation of your house.
Is It Dangerous To Live In A House With Black Mold
We spend a majority of our time in our homes, and they should be safe spaces. They are where we eat, sleep, return to after a long day at work, and are the places where we are most ourselves. As much as they reflect our needs, interests, and style, they ultimately serve the purpose of sheltering us from the outside world. So, what about when our homes actually compromise our health?
Black mold is a relatively common presence in homes, but that doesnt mean its a harmless one. Here is what you need to know about black mold and how it could endanger you and your family.
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Signs Of Black Mold In Houston
Like all types of mold, black mold thrives in moist, warm environments exactly the type of environment produced by the flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey. If your property was impacted by the flood, you have an increased chance that your home or business is infiltrated by this type of mold.
There are several warning signs that indicate the presence of black mold in your home or business. When it comes to detecting mold, use your eyes as well as your nose.
Some of the signs that you should be on the lookout for as you examine your Houston home or business impacted by flooding include:
Visible mold growth. One of the tell-tale signs of black mold growth is actually seeing it. As youve likely guessed, this form of mold appears black in color however, it isnt always dark black. It can actually appear to be grayish, greenish, or blackish. It often has a slimy-like texture, as well.
An odor. Black mold isnt always visible, which is why it can be difficult to identify. It feeds off of surfaces that have a high cellulose content, or that are low in nitrogen. Black mold has pungent musty or mildew-type of odor, so if you notice this scent, seek further investigation from a mold expert.
If mold growth is present in your heating and air conditioning venting systems, the odor may only be evident when the system is turned on. Therefore, when you run your HVAC system, pay close attention if you smell a musty odor.
How To Remove Black Mold
Protect yourself. You don’t need to worry about having mold tested if you find mold in your house. But you should get rid of it no matter what type of mold it is. Take precautions to protect yourself before you attempt to remove mold.
Use an N-95 face mask to avoid breathing in mold spores. Wear gloves to protect your hands and goggles without ventilation holes to protect your eyes.â
Find and destroy the mold. The most important part of removing mold is finding and removing its water source. Mold can’t grow without moisture. Keep the following tips in mind when you’re cleaning up mold:
- Items that can’t be dried quickly should be discarded if they show signs of mold or water damage. Porous items such as carpet, padding, drywall, and paper soak up moisture.
- Do not paint or caulk over moldy surfaces. Remove the mold and dry the surfaces before you paint. Paint applied over mold will peel.
- Use plastic sheeting to block an area with mold from the rest of your house and keep the spores from spreading.
- Scrub hard surfaces with mold with detergent and water and dry them thoroughly.
- Put any moldy items in a plastic bag before you take them out of the room to prevent mold spores from spreading.
- Use a HEPA filter in your air conditioner and furnace to capture mold spores that may be airborne in your house.
- Consult a specialist if you’re not sure of the best way to clean a valuable or sentimental item.â
What Is Black Mold Poisoning
Black mold poisoning is also known as stachybotryotoxicosis: A serious and sometimes fatal intoxication chiefly affecting domestic animals that is due to ingestion of a toxic substance produced by mold .
Popular home and garden channel HGTV points out that the symptoms for black mold poisoning and black mold exposure may be the same, including chronic coughing and sneezing, irritation to the eyes and mucus membranes of the nose and throat, chronic fatigue, constant headaches, and rashes.
Treatment For Mold Exposure
The most important treatment for indoor mold exposure is to fix and remove the source of the mold. Limiting your exposure to mold is the most effective way to eliminate symptoms. If you remove the mold yourself, you need to take appropriate precautions to prevent exposure. You can also contact a mold remediation company to remove it for you.
These sprays, which contain corticosteroids or decongestants, are generally well tolerated and effective. They work by reducing the inflammation caused by allergies. Some can be bought over-the-counter, and some are only available by prescription.
Over-the-counter allergy medications such as cetirizine or loratadine are often used to treat allergies. These are antihistamines that work by blocking histamine, a chemical released by your immune system in response to allergens.
Montelukast is a prescription allergy medication that works by blocking another chemical released by your immune system, leukotrienes.
Rinsing your sinuses with saline water can help flush away allergens and mucus from your sinus cavities. This will help keep your nose free of irritating substances that can cause bothersome symptoms. These kits are widely available over the counter.
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How To Treat Black Mold Poisoning
Black mold, scientifically referred to as Stachybotrys atra or Stachybotrys chartarum, is typically black or dark green and often linked to serious health problems.
In fact, exposure to black mold can lead to black mold poisoning, or stachybotryotoxicosis a condition thats dangerous, particularly for young children and the elderly.
Even though black mold poisoning typically affects horses, cows, and pigs, humans can become infected if they inhale or ingest the spores.
Symptoms of stachybotryotoxicosis include skin rashes , throat and sinus irritation, burning eyes, and a decrease in the production of white blood cells.
Health Effects Of Black Mold
According to the EPA, various types of mold can cause health problems for some people. Those health problems are primarily in the form of allergies such as stuffy head, headache, itchy eyes, trouble breathing, etc. These ailments can be more severe in the young, the old, and those with other health issues. The CDC basically says the same thing that mold can cause health issues in some people, or no issues in other people.
According to the CDC, Stachybotrys black mold is unproven to cause serious medical issues beyond those mentioned above. In other words, symptoms of black mold are only proven to be similar to other molds. The CDC simply states that various types of mold may cause health symptoms, to consult with a doctor if symptoms persist, and that no color or type of mold belongs in a building.
You may be thinking: If all we know for sure is that mold causes allergies in some people, and maybe some serious health problems in a small percentage of other people, then whats the big deal?
Well, our answer to that is to imagine yourself as one of those people who are sensitive to mold. Constant allergies, constantly feeling sick, and miserable in your own home. Theres even a scientific name for it: Sick Building Syndrome . Mold, along with other problems such as radon, Chinese drywall, etc., can cause Sick Building Syndrome. Suffering through Sick Building Syndrome is a terrible way to live, and we wouldnt wish it upon our worst enemy!
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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, black mold can also appear as dry and powdery. Black mold is also dangerous because its sometimes difficult to distinguish from other species of mold.
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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