Is Black Mold Dangerous?

Written by nicole harms
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Is Black Mold Dangerous?
(Wikimedia)

If you frequently suffer from allergy attacks, with no apparent trigger, or your home smells musty regularly, you and your home may have a problem with mould. While most homes have some mould from time to time, the spores from one type, black mould, can cause serious health problems. Finding the mould and dealing with it quickly will help your family live a healthier life.

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Definition

Stachybotrys chartarum is a fungus commonly known as black mould. This fungus, which can sometimes grow indoors, appears as a greenish-black, slimy growth. Black mould is particularly dangerous because it can produce airborne mycotoxins, which can cause health problems. The mould is sometimes called "toxic mould," but the CDC says that this is an inaccurate description, because the mould itself is not toxic, at least not to the touch. It is the mycotoxins in the mould spores that lead to health problems. The airborne mycotoxins are often simply called "toxins."

Health Effects

According to Mold-Help, a non-profit organisation that educates about black mould, airborne toxins in mould spores cause several health problems, including difficulty breathing, hearing loss, memory loss, flu symptoms, acid reflux, dizziness, sinusitis and allergic reactions. Some individuals who are exposed to these toxins start having problems with excessive bruising or develop skin lesions. The CDC states that eye irritation, skin irritation and chronic lung diseases are also possible from overexposure to mould mycotoxins.

Complications

Airborne black mould toxins can also cause some serious health problems. Sometimes, they get trapped in the sinus cavities of sinusitis sufferers who are exposed to mould spores. If the sinusitis does not improve with typical treatment, the infection and toxins can spread to the bloodstream or the brain, potentially leading to permanent brain damage or life-threatening blood infections. Some have attributed black mould spores to lung haemorrhage in children, but the CDC states that there is not yet a proven link between this deadly condition and black mould exposure.

Who Is in Danger

While airborne black mould toxins have an affect on everyone, some individuals are more prone to serious reactions than others. Patients with lowered immune systems, either due to medication or another disease, are more likely to develop a life-threatening lung disease or pneumonia from black mould spore exposure. Those with chronic allergies or lung problems are also more susceptible to complications from lung exposure. The young and elderly are more likely to develop problems than healthy adults.

Solution

If you find black mould in your home, you need to remove it quickly. If it is growing on a hard surface, the CDC recommends cleaning the area with a solution of one cup of bleach in one gallon of water. If the mould is growing on drywall, carpet or another absorbent material, you will need to replace the item, because it is impossible to completely clean. Mold must grow in dark, damp places, so find the source of the moisture and deal with it. This will keep the mould from returning. If the mould problem is extensive, have a professional mould removal company help you clean it.

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