Mold dangers are typically over hyped by the media and many mold removal professionals
Few topics get us more upset than seeing misinformation publicized about Black Mold, and mold in general, by unscrupulous companies and zealous media articles who seem more interested in sensationalism than fact-based reporting.
To put it bluntly, our industry is full of scare tactics and misinformation about mold—especially regarding black mold. Because of all this black-mold hype, many people contact us extremely worried about their health and well-being. Let’s cut through the hype and understand what having mold in your home may mean.
Common questions about black mold
- Is toxic mold the same as black mold?
- Are all black molds toxic?
- Is black mold any more dangerous than other types of mold, such as white, green, red mold?
- Is a mold inspection necessary?
- Can I remove black mold myself?
- Is Toxic Black Mold More Concerning Than Other Molds?
According to the CDC, the word “toxic” is an inaccurate descriptor. Molds of all species can grow wherever there is dampness and moisture, like basements, attics, kitchens, bathrooms or areas that have experienced flooding. While certain molds may be toxic, all molds should be removed from the home as quickly as possible to prevent growth.
The truth is – the color of the mold to the naked eye cannot tell you anything about whether its toxic or not. With over 100,000 species, mold comes in about any size, shape, and color you can think of, making it virtually impossible to tell what type of mold you have without testing by a certified mold inspection professional.
Toxic mold can come in many colors (not just black) and black mold is not always toxic.
Mycotoxins, Toxicity and Damp Building Related Illness (DBRI)
Media reports of Black Mold often refer to molds that can produce toxins (specifically mycotoxins), such as groups of molds known as Stachybotrys.
Mycotoxins will not always be produced when these types of mold are present. To put it another way, the presence of mold does not necessarily mean mycotoxins are present. The conditions needed for mycotoxins to be produced are not fully understood. A study by Michigan State found that one strain of mold, Stachybotrys chartarum, can cause a myriad of respiratory, immunologic, and neurologic symptoms, though the connection is not completely understood. And again, there are over 100,000 mold species, making it unlikely what’s in your home is Stachybotrys chartarum.
Further, mycotoxins can be produced by other types of molds besides Stachybotrys and these molds are not always black. Therefore, it is important to not only clean the mold, but find and fix the source of the moisture which allowed the mold to grow.
How to determine when a mold inspection is necessary
The CDC does not recommend testing as it can be expensive, inaccurate and does not change the fact that remediation of any present mold is imperative. In most cases where mold is visible, we advise our clients to forgo the inspection process if they plan on having it removed. There are exceptions, such as when a mold inspection is required as part of a real estate sale.
How to Get Rid of Mold Yourself:
Most cases of mold can be easily removed from hard surfaces using household products you likely already have: soap and water, commercial cleaning products or a bleach solution (1 cup bleach/1 gallon water). Porous materials or those that may have absorbed spores should be thrown away (carpet, drywall, ceiling tile, etc.) Again, it is important to clean and dry the area to ensure the mold does not return. If you have a recurring mold problem in your basement, attic, or other area it’s likely you need to address the moisture source to prevent future mold growth.
Tips from the CDC if you use bleach to clean up mold:
- Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners. Mixing bleach with ammonia or other products will produce dangerous toxic fumes.
- Open windows and doors to provide fresh air
- Wear non-porous gloves and protective eyewear
- If the area is more than 10 square feet, see the EPA guide to Mold Remediation, OR contact us for expert advice
- Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using bleach or any other cleaning product
Easy Mold Prevention Tips:
- Keep humidity levels low (no higher than 50%)
- Use an air conditioner or dehumidifier during the more humid months
- Ensure the rooms in your home have adequate ventilation, including an exhaust system in areas such as the bathroom and kitchen
- Keep your walls mold free by adding mold inhibitors to your paint
- Thoroughly clean bathrooms with mold-eradicating products
- Do not use carpets in areas with high levels of moisture (bathrooms, kitchens, basements, laundry rooms, etc.)
- Remove and replace carpeting that has experienced flooding
Bottom line, if you have any type of mold you should have it remediated
The term Black Mold and its typical health effects are commonly misunderstood. If you have visible mold or a suspected mold problem, our advice is always the same regardless of the color of the mold: Get rid of the mold. Whether you decide to personally get rid of the mold or hire a professional like Moldman to do so, be very careful and make sure currently accepted Mold Removal and Mold Remediation Principles and protocol are followed.
If you already see or smell mold, however, spending money on testing and inspections is usually unnecessary since all mold in the home, regardless of the color or species type, should be remediated. And all mold, regardless of the color or species, should be remediated and removed following the same accepted mold removal guidelines.