Black mold is just as scary as it sounds. Like the plague, it spreads spores full of mycotoxins that can damage people’s property as well as compromise their health. Ideally, homeowners want to prevent this toxic substance from growing. Even so, there are still things that people can do if they already have this nasty toxin breeding in their bathroom or basement. This comprehensive guide will address the causes of this problem as well as how to remediate it.
Table of Contents
- Is Black Mold Dangerous?
- Symptoms of Black Mold
- Where Do Molds Grow: Identifying Spores
- How to Get Rid of Black Mold
- Black Mold Interesting Facts
- Black Mold Statistics & How to Prevent It [Infographic]
- Frequently Asked Questions
- The Final Word
Is Black Mold Dangerous?
It depends on the person. Yes, black mold looks horrible and has a horrid smell. So, any person with mold in the house should get rid of it. In particular, those who have allergies to fungi in general. Spores (and black mold) are terrible for those who have asthma, for example. Or anyone with lung disease. This means that people with this type of health problem will feel the effects of black mold even worse than other persons. Anyway, it’s always best to get rid of this plague. Then to way for it to ruin one’s health.
What Are the Symptoms of Black Mold Exposure?
As stated above, black mold can affect the health of human beings. And those who have an immune disease will suffer the most. Here readers can find some of the symptoms of having this type of spore at home. Most of them are quite similar to those of the flu or a cold.
- Stuffy or runny nose. This will make it hard for people to breathe – quite a serious thing for those who have asthma.
- Wheezing. Again, persons who feel this type of symptom should go to the doctor.
- The eyes and skin can feel irritated. This is because the spores fly everywhere. And can attach to one’s mucosa.
Other types of most serious symptoms include fever and nausea. As readers can see, it can make residents feel very uncomfortable and sick.
People with asthma are more sensitive to mold. Black mold can make people sick and feel as if they have the flu. It can be black, yellow, green, or red.
Where Do Molds Grow: Identifying Spores at Home
It can be tricky to properly name this type of toxic growth because its appearance can vary. Besides the color black, it can take on a yellow, green, white, or red tone. The spores this guide is referring to are the dangerous and potentially deadly mycotoxins that can affect any household. Belonging to the Stachybotrys family, it’s more common in humid areas. If an individual spots a dark, unfamiliar substance indoors, it’s best to contact a professional. In the meantime, here’s where and what to look out for to protect family health.
How to Get Rid of Black Mold
While eradicating all molds from home is virtually impossible, the following tips can help with testing for Stachybotrys fungi and how to ensure its removal.
Limit Moisture Exposure
One of the easiest things that individuals can do is to keep moisture levels as low as possible. Molds don’t take too well to dry air, so maintain good circulation throughout all the rooms in the house.
Remove as Much as Possible
Depending on where the infestation is, there might be tainted objects or carpeting. The best bet is to remove these things from the area. Most of the time, the cost of replacing a rug or drywall is lower than a remediation treatment.
Stifle Indoor Growth
Sometimes spores reach outdoor items first, so be sure to check any furniture or porous objects before bringing them indoors. When in doubt, keep it out. This is particularly important when storing wooden patio chairs and tables for the winter.
Tackle it With Products
When it comes to cleaning black mold, not just any spray will do. Fortunately, there are products specifically designed to tackle the mycotoxins in several types of mold. Consider a preventative cleaner for the bathrooms, kitchen, and basement.
Mold is more likely to grow in the bathroom or kitchen. Leaks can promote the growth of black mold.
Protect Cold Surfaces
This tip is for the basement in particular. Insulation is crucial, and yet lots of homeowners aren’t properly protecting their concrete floors. Something with a vapor barrier, such as plywood sub-flooring, can reduce moisture levels and keep moldy invaders away.
Heating & Cooling Expert
Spores in the home are nothing to play around with, so it may be best to seek guidance from a professional contractor. They can survey the property and point out any areas that are prone to spore growth.
Keep the Humidity Levels Low
A more tropical climate holds a greater likelihood of inviting fungi in. To combat this issue, use a dehumidifier to keep humidity levels at 60% or lower. In warmer weather, an air conditioner can help, too.
Warm Up the House During Winter
During the colder months, condensation can appear on windows. Therefore, even though there is less moisture in the air, it is building up and resting on the glass in the house. Keep an eye out for this and strike a perfectly balanced temperature.
Get the Air Flowing
Turn on some fans and open the doors between rooms to increase air circulation throughout the house. This will encourage warmer air to hit the colder surfaces, preventing spore growth.
Repair Leaks & Drips
Something like a leaky faucet can lead to excess moisture, creating the ideal environment for molds. Be sure to fix these inconveniences and regularly check on appliances to make sure there isn’t any water seepage
In the Kitchen & Basement
These two rooms are highly susceptible to fungal growth. Due to the number of appliances, as well as the presence of water, homeowners need to be extra diligent in these spaces.
Circulate the Air With Fans
Cooking over the stove can cause a lot of moisture build-up. To remedy this, make use of the exhaust fan and funnel that warm, wet air to another portion of the house, or ideally, outside.
Do a Water Check
Make a routine of looking for leaks, seepage, drips, and puddles around the sink and other kitchen appliances. An accumulation of water will create the preferred breeding conditions for mold.
Don’t Neglect the Refrigerator
This appliance is prone to leaks, so be sure to check the drip pans and basics for water build-up regularly. If necessary, empty the tubs and give them a good washing before replacing them.
Stock the Crawl Space
It’s a bit inconvenient, but check out the basement’s crawl space for any spots where moisture and dirt can come in from the ground. Cover any places that you found with plastic to keep the area dry.
Remember to Ventilate
Crawl spaces also need some ventilation, so consider blowing a fan in there from time to time. It might even be necessary to install some vents on the outside wall.
Concrete floors are rarely prepared for prevention, so consider sprucing up the place with some paint or area rugs. This is a much better alternative to wall-to-wall carpeting, which can harbor pockets of water and heat.
Get a Professional’s Opinion
This lethal mold is nothing to play around with, so bring in an expert who can check the basement and kitchen floors. They can also look at other areas of the house and point out risk factors while offering professional advice.
Get Into the Gutters
Moving to the outside of the home, check that the gutters are working properly. Since they deal with a lot of excess water and damp leaves, they’re a good spot for spores to settle.
Around the Washer & Dryer
The laundry room is another area that homeowners can’t neglect. Washers and dryers are large appliances, and their vents and basins are great spots for spores to settle.
1. Redirect the Dryer Vent
The clothes dryer should ideally vent to the outside to avoid excess moisture. All of that wet, warm air can end up making the laundry room or basement very humid, so proper circulate is a must.
Black mold can appear if the air doesn’t circulate properly, especially in rooms where there are not many doors or windows to ventilate the space.
2. Keep Things Clear
Moreover, make sure the vents are cleaned and free of obstructions. This includes things like lint, but also look for any holes that warm air can escape out of.
3. Watch Where Damp Clothes Go
Don’t just dump damp shirts and pants in a laundry basket and call it a day. The excess moisture will add up and invite toxins to start breeding.
The Bathroom & Beyond
Hot, steamy showers may feel great after a long day of work, but they can also invite the growth of various molds. Here is a guide to fighting off that invasion.
Hit the (exhaust) Fan
Circulating the air is especially important in the bathroom, especially if there aren’t any windows in it. Hopefully, the room has an exhaust fan that can whirl the moisture into another part of the house.
Lay Down a Rug
Another way to combat that warm, tropical air is by putting an area rug in the room. It can help dissipate the moisture hanging around, as well as add style to this space.
Do a Leak Check
Homeowners should make it their duty to check the shower, tub, sink, and toilet for leakage or seepage. Spotting the issue early means they can remedy it and prevent further damage.
Crack Open a Window (if possible)
It helps tremendously to open a window (even just a bit) when taking a hot shower. All of that humidity and moisture needs somewhere to go, and the best choice is outside.
Don’t Leave Wet Towels Laying Around
Similar to the tip from the laundry room, those wet towels shouldn’t sit on the floor, a hanging rack, or a hamper. Toss them in the dryer to keep them from spreading a mildewy mess.
Black Mold Facts
Despite the seriousness of black mold, shockingly few people know what it is and why it’s so dangerous. Below are some staggering facts about this substance, including what it can do to the body and mind.
1. It Can Be Deadly
This is why it’s so important to know the symptoms of black mold. Prolonged exposure to the mycotoxin can lead to brain and organ damage and a compromised immune system.
2. It’s a Known Neurotoxin
Its spores can hook onto a person’s neurons, which can cause mental health issues like mood complications and brain tremors.
3. It Lowers Immunity
Breathing in spores can suppress the immune system, exposing victims to more diseases and diminishing their ability to fight off the toxins.
4. It Contributes to a Variety of Symptoms
It’s not just neurological problems that signify exposure poisoning. Other telltale signs include breathing issues, eye irritation, sneezing, fever, and headaches.
5. Pets Are Susceptible to it, Too
Fluffy and Fido can feel the harmful effects of this substance, too. All living things are susceptible, especially elderly people and kids.
Take care of pets as well, as they are very sensitive to mold and can end up suffering from the respiratory disease if the owner does not get rid of the fungi.
6. Expectant Mothers Are Especially At-Risk
Pregnant women need to be especially careful since exposure to this toxin can increase the chances of birth defects and miscarriage.
7. It’s Possible to Detect it Through Smell
Besides its distinct dark color, individuals can identify this fungus through its odor. It smells musty with a hint of mildew.
8. It Prefers a Tropical Environment
A warm, humid, and damp atmosphere is a paradise for all kinds of mold. That’s why people need to be extra careful about checking their bathrooms and kitchens.
9. The Damage Can Be Irreversible
Unfortunately, black mold exposure can end up weakening someone’s immune system permanently. Damages to the physical environment may also be irreversible.
10. It Technically Isn’t Toxic
It’s not the mold itself that’s the primary concern; it’s spores. They contain mycotoxins that can reach the brain and cause serious health issues.
The mold is not a serious issue, but spores can affect the human lungs, producing symptoms like wheezing, cough, and even nausea and headaches.
11. Everyone is Surrounded By Mold
Fungi is everywhere, both inside and outside. Fortunately, there are lots of non-toxic and harmless ones, but black mold isn’t one of them.
Black Mold Statistics & How to Prevent It [Infographic]
Frequently Asked Questions
What Does Black Mold Do to a Person?
Black mold symptoms can affect all parts of the body and mind. As for physical ailments, these include respiratory infections and issues with the circulatory system. Victims may experience skin problems, such as irritation, redness, and swelling. The substance can also harm organs, the reproductive system, and unborn babies. Mental effects include brain fog and confusion, a feeling of disorientation, and hallucinations. Since its a neurotoxin, it can mess with the brain’s neurons, leading to anxiety, shock, seizures, and more. Exposure may also present itself as bloodshot eyes, jaundice, and chronic fatigue.
Is it Safe to Stay in a Home With Black Mold?
Most experts agree that a family should not stay in a house that has black mold. Once they discover that the substance is lurking in their home, it’s time to call in a professional. The next step is a remediation treatment, which involves exposing the toxin and removing it from the property. The pros wear special equipment and clothing for this process, so families must stay away at this time. While there are some cases in which an individual can stay around for the removal, this typically pertains to other types of toxins, not black mold.
Is Bleach or Vinegar Better to Kill Mold?
Both of these things can kill it, although vinegar does a better job of removing it from the more porous materials. Bleach, on the other hand, is more useful when cleaning spores off of the surface of an object. To get deep into it, vinegar is preferred. That said, black mold is an entirely different beast, and in some states, it’s illegal for homeowners to try to remove the toxin. It requires professional treatment, so if there are any suspicions that the substance is lurking at home, call up an expert right away for professional removal.
In some states, the law prevents individuals from removing black mold: they need to hire a specialist.
Is it OK to Sleep in a Room With Mold?
First, one has to consider if the mold in the room is dangerous. If it’s a harmful toxin, then sleeping that room is not a good idea. While it’s true that some family members may be less prone to exposure symptoms, the best thing to do is call in a professional. They can determine if and how they can get it out of there. Staying at home during the remediation process depends on several factors, including the seriousness of the infestation and the individual’s tolerance to exposure.
Does Black Mold Require People to Throw Everything Away?
When dealing with black mold, the best course of action is to start fresh with new mattresses, bedding, and clothing. Any porous materials are going to be prone to spore contamination, so it’s better to throw them away. Ceramic, glass, and metal items have the greatest chance of recovering from exposure. However, appliances and electronics typically contain fans that can blow contaminants around the house, so they should be replaced.
Materials like ceramic and glass are rarely affected by black mold, while the main victims tend to be clothing, mattresses, and even electronic devices with fans.
The Takeaway: When in Doubt, Toss it Out
While experts can eradicate black mold from a property, there are way too many health risks associated with it. There is no use taking chances with this substance, so be sure to follow the tips in this guide. By checking appliances, flooring, and vents, it’s possible to end 2019 on a fresh, clean note.