Is black mold in the shower dangerous?

Black mould is a concern when it is either the Stachybotrys or Memnoniella types. They are considered toxic when an infestation is disturbed. Bathroom walls, shower stalls and grouting is usually the Cladosporium type of mould. It is not considered to be a toxic hazard, but in some individuals, a high level of exposure may cause them to develop health problems if they are particularly sensitive to it. The Cladosporium type feeds on soap scum that is present in shower areas.

Sensitivity to Mold

Some individuals, if exposed to high levels of the black mould, may develop allergies or asthma. Under these circumstances, it may be dangerous. Small children and babies are most likely to be affected by health problems with mould, according to the University of Vermont Extension. This is because their bodies are smaller and their respiratory systems less developed. Exposure to mould may also affect senior citizens, since their bodies may not work as efficiently as those of younger people.

Exacerbation of Illnesses

People with allergies, sensitivities to pollutants and respiratory conditions are often more sensitive to the exposure of mould. Other individuals with weakened immune systems, such as those undergoing chemotherapy, may be more sensitive than other people. The response to exposure may be mild to severe.

Causes of Black Mold

Stachybotrys and Memnoniella moulds are unlikely to appear in a shower area. They exist only in areas with cellulose materials that get wet frequently. Sources that have cellulose material include paper found on gypsumboard, ceiling tile, cardboard, cellulose insulation and wood. These materials are rarely used in constructing bathrooms, therefore the dangerous moulds are generally not present.

Lengthy showers and baths exacerbate the growth of the Cladosporium black mould in bathrooms. These rooms are typically small and have little ventilation. Mold is present everywhere, but humid conditions enable it to thrive. Raising the window or using the exhaust fan in the bathroom helps reduce the humidity in the room. Using a squeegee on your shower walls or a dry towel to wipe off surfaces in the bathroom prevents further mould growth.

Aesthetics and Cleaning

Black mould makes your bathroom look dirty and unsanitary. Since it is often present on shower curtains as well as the shower surfaces, it's important to wash the curtains periodically. Wash the curtain with a load of towels and hang it up on the shower rod to air-dry.

Cleaning the black mould in the shower area is not a difficult process. Open the bathroom window or use an exhaust fan to ventilate the area. Wear goggles, rubber gloves and long sleeves. Purchase an N-95 respirator mask available at home supply or hardware stores to prevent breathing in the mould and cleaning solution. Scrub the affected area with a stiff-bristle brush and a detergent or soap-and-water mixture. Rinse the area well with clear water.

Mix a solution of 1/2 cup chlorine bleach and 5 cups water -- double the amount if cleaning a large area. Dip a sponge into the bleach mixture and wipe down the areas affected by mould. Do not use this mixture if your soap or detergent contains ammonia. Combined with bleach, it creates toxic fumes that can be deadly.

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About the Author

Chelsea Fitzgerald covers topics related to family, health, green living and travel. Before her writing career, she worked in the medical field for 21 years. Fitzgerald studied education at the University of Arkansas and University of Memphis.