Is Black Mold Dangerous? – What You Need to Know
Black mold, or Stachybotrys chartarum, is a toxic mold that produces harmful airborne contaminants. Homeowners can reduce the risk of black mold exposure by taking common-sense steps, including maintaining proper indoor humidity and cleaning common mold spots regularly. Find out what black mold looks like, the effect of black mold, and what causes it to grow, as well as how to prevent it!
What Does Black Mold Look Like?
There are many types of black mold, but few are toxic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no specific link between the color of mold and its health risk. Scientists do know that Stachybotrys chartarum, a black and dark green mold, is toxic and can be harmful to humans if ingested.
This type of mold ranges from black to green and often appears as a fuzzy or film-like substance. Experts recommend that all kinds of mold be removed from your home by a licensed professional. Cleaning black mold can trigger respiratory reactions, especially in individuals with allergies or underlying health conditions.
Black Mold vs. Mildew
Color is often the best indication of whether you're dealing with mold or mildew. Mildew is usually gray, white or a light brown color. It resembles a light powder and may have a faint odor. Mildew always appears flat, not unlike a layer of dust.
Mold is usually black, green, or a dark color and appears fuzzy. It can also appear lumpy and even become thick if left to grow for several weeks.
What Causes Black Mold?
Mold thrives in moist or humid areas of your home such as the bathroom, shower, kitchen sink, dishwasher, or basement. Cleaning and ventilating these areas of your home greatly reduces the risk of mold, but unexpected leaks from your roof, plumbing, or windows cause mold in spots most homeowners can't spot easily. Similarly, both minor and major flooding events should be cleaned and dried immediately to prevent mold growth.
Common Symptoms of Black Mold Exposure
To date, there is no scientific evidence that airborne toxins from black mold cause any kind of disease. However, elevated levels of airborne mold spores can trigger allergy symptoms for those sensitive to mold. The most common symptoms caused by mold are:
- Nasal congestion
- Itchy eyes, nose, and throat
If you believe you’re allergic to mold, talk to your doctor about a mold allergy test. Your healthcare provider may recommend over the counter nasal sprays, antihistamines or other treatments until symptoms subside.
Preventing Black Mold and Mildew with Your HVAC System
Maintaining excellent indoor air quality is important in preventing black mold growth. Here are a few ways to use your HVAC system to reduce the risk of mold.
- Keep your indoor humidity between 30-60%. Humidity levels of 50% or less can also reduce the impact of dust mites and other airborne irritants.
- Change your air filter every 1-3 months. If you or someone in your household has allergies, asthma, or other respiratory issues, change your filter every month.
- Use a filter with the appropriate MERV rating for your HVAC systems and respiratory needs.
Cleaning Black Mold Safely
Removing black mold can release mold spores into the air, triggering asthma-like symptoms in those with mold sensitivities. We strongly recommend contacting a professional mold remediation service if you believe have black mold on ceilings, walls, or wood. This mold can be tough to clean completely and may quickly return if the underlying causes aren't addressed.
Keep Your Air Quality Standards High with One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning
Indoor air quality is a top concern for families with allergy sufferers or young children. Your local One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning team can help you make the small changes that make a big difference in reducing dust, VOCs, and airborne irritants. Request an appointment or call (800) 893-3523 today.