Black molds in house: symptoms, identify and health risks

Mold is a visible part of a fungi system, which grows in warm, dark, humid places with no proper air ventilation. It spreads by spores, which can be carried by air, animals, transport, humans, etc. At present, there are about three hundred mold  strains in the USA, black mold is one of the most harmful types. Though it is not widely spread, it is also not rare.

However, it is worthwhile to keep in mind that not all fungi systems are that harmful and unwelcome and must be fought against. Some of them have been used over centuries for various purposes, for example, for food processing and fermentation. And these products are not considered to be disgusting but rather luxurious. Think, for instance, of various prestigiuos cheeses, they are treated with various fungi. Can you immagine your diet without Danish blue, Roquefort, Gorgonzola, etc? They owe their particular consistency to the presence of a bule fungi Penicillium roquefortia, a common fungus in the  Penicillium genus. The history of its use for food processing is rather long and dates back at least to 50 AD, when it’s use was first documents in writing.

As a matter of fact, the great utility for the mankind of the Penucellium fungi family goes much further than its usage in food processing. Millions of human lives were saved thanks to the antibiotics, first of which was invented in the 1940s due to the Penicillium genus.

Unfortunately, other fungi and the products of their activity, like spores, etc, may be not so useful for human health. On the contrary, their influence is harmful, when they become unwelcome neighbors in our homes. Living next to them damages health, which can be manifested through several symptoms described below.

What does black mold look like

Photo of black mold
what does harmless black mold look like


toxic mold photo
what does toxic mold look like

What are the usual symptoms of black mold

Sometimes, it is growing in hidden, invisible places where you are doomed not to find it for ages. It can hide under the  carpet, on the humid wall behind the bookcase or leaking dishwasher or washing mashine. It can multiplicate undisturbed in abandoned wet basements and attics. It is not for nothing, that sometimes it is referred to as silent or invisible killer.

So, how do you know if you have black mold? Sometimes you can discover it only by indirect signs, since Stachybotrys Atra can grow in very hidden places and remain invisible.

So, what are black mold signs?

Note: if you start coughing or sneezing everytime you enter a specific room in your house, or you experience difficulty to breath there, or your eyes are itching without any reason, it may be high time to look around for the presence of mold.

Because these are all usual black molds symptoms


How to identify black mold

You can detect black mold, carefully inspecting your house, especially its dark warm and humid spots. Black mold, or Stachybotrys Atra (Chartarum), looks like closely situated to each other black spots, stains or blackmildew on the walls, ceiling, or in the corners. The appearance of mold is a symptom of problems with water and air circulation in a building. Black mold in house signals water leakage, excessive humidity and lack of air ventilation. So, apart from being unpleasant to see, it also indicates that the place it grows on has rather unhealthy characteristics as far as humidity, stale air and lack of light is concerned.

If in your house there are leaking pipes, dark, humid areas with stale air, these are the first places to be inspected for the presence of mold. Basements and attics are also usual places where these unwelcome fungi grow. And of course, warm and humid air of bathroom, closet, and kitchen favoures the growth of black molds. Black mold is also dangerous because it’s sometimes difficult to distinguish from other varieties of mold. And there are various species of mold. Hence, you must spend your time to identify black mold in your house in order to eliminate it definitely. However, in doing so you must remember that the appearance of this fungi infestation is a sure symptom of the ‘unhealthy place’ with a combination of darkness, humidity and stale air. So,  fighting only the symptoms is not enough, as you might know from medicine, but you should also eliminate these unhealthy conditions which favor the black mold growth. Otherwise, even if you eliminate fungi spores this time, and humidity, darkness and stale air remain, the mold will come back. It will be only a matter of time.

Some people start really panicking as soon as they discover fungi infestation in their houses. Some of them are even ready to abandon their houses for this reason. Some people contact the nearest laboratory to have the fungi samples collected in their houses for inspection and identification. It is important to keep in mind that the costs of these operations are rather high. And even when you finally discover the type of fungi strain living in your house, are you ready to perform any experiments with your own health? Are you going to wait to find out whether you are allergic to this particular strain or not? As a matter of fact, whatever strain is found and identified in your house, you may never know whether you are allergic to it or whether some allergy might affect you in the future. So, a common sense advice might be to eliminate definitely any fungi infestation in your house, whatever it’s color or consistency is, by using abundantly desinfecting chemicals that kill fungi spores and mycelium. And, of course, prevent reappearance of moist, dark, badly ventilated spots in your house in order to avoid the reappearance of fungi infestation and your exposure to it, which is rather harmful to human health.

As we said, contacting the nearest laboratory and having them examing the fungus in your home will cost you a certain amount of money. Whatever the result is, after all the laboratory tests you still have to eliminate the fungi infestation in your house. So, probably it makes sense to spend your money immediately on eliminating fungus system and improving your house conditions, such as repairing hydraulic system in order to prevent leakage and moist, to install dehumidifiers or air conditioning, or may be substituting fragments affected by fungi.


Black mold exposure

Some molds produce very toxic substances, toxins, (or mycotoxins, to be exact), which can be very harmful to human health. Toxic black mold  produces toxic spores that are transported by  air, in other words they are airborne. Black mold spores can affect your respiratory system. Hence, long exposures to black molds are not desirable for human health, especially for some categories of people, like, for example, children and individuals with suppressed or weakened immune system. Some research provided evidence that links indoor mold exposure and respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children.

Thus, such symptoms as eye irritation, chronic headaches, fever, sneezing, chronic fatigue, rashes, etc. can be traced back to the black mold exposure.

However, in some severe cases, the following health troubles may appear as the result of long exposure: asthma, vomiting, nausea and other respiratory complications.

Can black mold kill you?

Though Stahybotrys Atre is definitely not a welcomed  inhabitant in you house, black mold can hardly kill you. Official governmental sites inform us that up to now, there are very few reports stating that toxigenic molds found inside homes can cause unique or rare health conditions  (like, for example, pulmonary hemorrhage, memory loss, etc.). Such reports are rare, and there is no firm causal link between the presence of the toxigenic mold and these conditions proven by the research and statistics.

Moreover, on these sites US government draws attention to the fact that there is always a little mold everywhere, since it is inevitable, spores are airborn and hence, very mobile. However, it is important to remember that hazards presented by toxigenic molds (in other words by molds that may produce mycotoxins) may be considered the same as other common molds which can grow in your house.

What does black mold smell like?

Black mold has a particular smell. And it is exactly due to this particular smell that we can detect black mold long before it becomes visible on the surface. Though it is difficult to describe molds smell, the most general description of it will be that It smells if stale humid air. When asked how black mold smells like to them, a lot of  people compare it to the smell of rotting paper and wood. Other people hold that it smells like cedar or dirty wet socks. Anyway, wet, musty, and stale might be the adjectives that best describe black mold odour. Remember it while inspecting your home.

Black mold health risks

Black mold can cause various illnesses. The most common health concerns related to molds may include hay fever-like allergic symptoms. Certain individuals with chronic respiratory disease (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, asthma) may experience difficulty breathing. Individuals with immune suppression may be at increased risk for infection from mold. In other words, these are common black mold health risks.

Black mold poisoning

You may even find black mold on food, for example on bread.

Remember:  all black mold on food is toxic.

Never try to eat food affected by mold, by trying to cut away the molded part. What you see on the surface, is only a small visible part of fungus system, predestined to produce and disseminate the spores. Even if you remove the visible moldy part sitting on food, the invisible mycelium remains in the food and causes mold poisoning, since its much more massive than the visible part of fungi on the food surface.

Moreover, people with allergies may be more sensitive to all kinds of molds. Individuals with immune suppression or those underlying lung diseasea are more sensitive and vulnerable to fungal infections and poisoning. Also, people with a weakened or supressed immune system, such as people with thyroid problems or diabetes, as well as those receiving treatment for cancer, undergoing radio o chemotherapy, or patients who have had an organ or stem cell transplant, and patients taking medicines, which suppress the immune system, are in fact more likely to get mold infections or poisoning. They are more vulnerable to black mold poisoning and side effects of black mold.

Can black mold cause pneumonia

In 2004 the Institute of Medicine found there was sufficient evidence, which allowed to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, such as  cough, wheeze, sneezing in otherwise healthy people, as well as with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition.        The research also provided sufficient links with asthma symptoms in people with asthma. Hence, black mold can cause pneumonia in people susceptible to this disease.


Side effects of black mold

Actually, some recent studies have suggested the existence of a potential link between early black mold exposure and  development of asthma in some kids, particularly among children who may be genetically susceptible to the development of asthma. This research tentatively suggested that selected interventions, which aim at improving housing conditions can actually reduce morbidity from respiratory allergies and asthma.


Black mold in your  house

Black mold is formed from spores which get into warm humid places and start growing. You can find it in various places of your house. Black spots on walls is also black mold. Black mold can grow on wood as well. If it grows on wood, it can be dangerous. What does black mold do to wood exactly? it’s mycelium destroys the wood structure and it can finally collapse, causing damages and injuries.

Black mold can also grow on ceiling tiles, indicating a constantly leaking pipe above, you might not even guessed about its damage. It can even grow on plastic.

Actually, at present there are about two thousand types of mold known in the world. Black mold is more toxic compared to regular mold. So, black mold is really bad. There are several types  of black mold and they look differently. There is black mold in the form of powder or with white fuzz. In general, when the water sourse has dried out, the fungi system which lived nearby becomes dry and powder like.

As a matter of fact, if you consider the situation with your home and various virus, fungi spores and bacteria in it and around it, this situation can be compared to that of youemr body, surrounded by numerous aggressive virus and germs. You cannot eliminate all the harmful germs and bacteria in the world around you, but you can maintain your immune system strong and healthy and it will fight these mononucleous enemies for you. The same goes for your house, there will be always some spores or virus around since they are airborn and come inside through windows, doors, with shoes, clothes, pets and so on. But if you create healthy microclimate in your house, that is, dry and fresh air, sunlight and regular cleaning, it will help you to fight many unwelcome mononucleous organisms, fungi included.

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