What is Black Mold?
Molds are a type of fungus that reproduces asexually using spores. Some types of mold can grow indoors under certain conditions, using surfaces with a high cellulose content, such as wood, paper products or even carpets, as a substrate. Many types of mold may be present in the home, but the most infamous type of mold infestation is known as black mold. Black mold, also called toxic black mold, refers to the species Stachybotrys chartarum, which is also known as S. atra. This type of mold has a dark green or black appearance and has a habit of growing on drywall and wallpaper in homes.
So What is Black Mold?
Toxic black mold earned its name due to its association with certain health problems. Molds in the home produce allergenic spores that can decrease air quality and some produce mycotoxins that can have ill effects on health. In people with weak immune systems due to other health problems, molds may be involved in an opportunistic fungal infection. The lungs of people who are ill are specifically susceptible to fungal infections of the lungs and related complications, such as a type of fungal pneumonia.
Black mold specifically is related to allergies and chronic respiratory problems. Some individuals can have a severe allergic reaction upon exposure to mold spores. Black mold has also been associated with an increased risk of pulmonary hemorrhage. The severity of the symptoms of black mold exposure are related to the extent of the mold infestation of the home, the length of exposure to the mold and the sensitivity of the residents of the home to mold. Some people are more likely to experience allergic symptoms upon mold exposure than others.
The toxic black mold species S. chartarum may be linked to more severe health problems than most other mold species that may invade the home, such as Aspergillus or Alternaria. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advocates home mold removal for all species of mold, however, because the spores of many species may cause allergic rhinitis in sensitive individuals. Mold spores are very similar to pollen grains in that they are numerous, airborne and very allergenic.
The best approach to mold removal is to control the humidity of the indoor environment, because molds require a high level of humidity to grow and reproduce. If mold growing on home surfaces is removed and the humidity is still high, it is likely that the spores in the air will allow the mold to recolonize and the infestation may come back just as strongly as before. Dehumidifiers can help control the humidity of the air inside of a building. The mold itself can usually be easily removed with a bleach solution or a mold remover; the spores are harder to get rid of, but controlling the humidity can prevent them from growing into mold. If the mold damage to the home is extensive, professional mold remediation may be necessary to remove the mold and repair the damaged structures in the building.