What is “black mold” or “toxic mold”?
You have probably heard a great deal about black mold or toxic mold. It is usually associated with Stachybotrys, a black mold that is often found after there has been persistent water damage. The known health effects from exposure to Stachybotrys are similar to other common molds and may cause illness in individuals with a sensitivity to “mycotoxins” (chemicals produced by certain molds), to people who are immunocompromised, or to individuals who have become sensitive after prolonged exposure. In fact, many molds are black and it is the amount of mold and level of exposure that are necessary pieces of information to discover.
How do I know if the mold in my home is toxic?
Web sites and media articles will often use the terms “toxic mold” or “toxic black mold”. This is largely a marketing strategy, a scare tactic designed to encourage you to make financial decisions that may not even be necessary. In fact, most molds are toxic to some extent and many are black. There is one variety of particular concern; Stachybotrys. About 30% of the strains of this species produce abundant mycotoxins and are reportedly more potent than other types of mold. A few species/strains of Aspergillus and several others can be nearly as dangerous. Ingesting mold in contaminated foods has been shown to poison people and may even cause cancer. Of further concern is mold contamination found around the home in areas in which children could have access to it. It is important that young children do not put items in their mouths if there is a chance of mold, especially if it is Stachybotrys or Aspergilus. The main thing to remember is that many molds are toxic and once you know you have a mold problem, all molds need to be removed to minimize exposure risk. The type of mold has no bearing on the remediation process. All mold contamination needs to be removed, regardless of the type.