A musty odor that lingers, or the appearance of dark spots on walls, ceilings and on grout, are indicators of a possible mold problem in a home. After verifying the presence of mold, it is important to determine whether it's regular mold or something more sinister like Stachybotrys chartarum -- black mold.
Black or Green, What Does It Mean?
Mold is a moisture-loving fungus made up of spores of various sizes. Some mold spores are as small as 3 microns, while others are as large as 40 microns. Mold spores also vary in color. For instance, mold spores that grow behind wallpaper often have a yellow or pink hue. Mold spores that grow on open walls and tile are usually green, brown and sometimes black. Black mold is often the most worrisome. Nevertheless, the presence of black mold spores does not necessarily mean that there is a toxic problem.
When Is Mold Just Mold?
While the presence of regular mold is not ideal, the existence of black or toxic mold poses serious health risks. Regular mold becomes dangerous when it begins to produce toxins. The poisonous toxin associated with black mold is mycotoxin. Mycotoxins are organic compounds or secondary metabolites that play no direct role in the growth of the mold. It is also important to note that mycotoxins are not only associated with indoor molds but plant crops as well.
Same Solution, Toxic or Not
Whether mold is regular or of the toxic black variety, it is important to stop its spread. To do this, it is important to cut off its moisture supply. Any types of water seepage including leaky pipes, leaky roofs and wall cracks that provide an entry point for moisture require immediate mitigation. Cleanup begins afterward with the use of products such as bleach solutions that kill the mold on hard surfaces. Carpeting, drywall and other porous materials that absorb moisture usually require disposal.
A Final Note
Black and regular mold sometimes cause even those with healthy immune symptoms to become symptomatic. If mold is suspected of causing health issues, it is important to see a physician. While regular mold is able to cause allergies, allergy-like symptoms and other illness, the mycotoxins in black mold are historically responsible for mycotoxicosis -- a toxic poisoning that sometimes leads to death.