What is 'Toxic' Mold
“Toxic Mold”is not the most accurate description of molds that produce mycotoxins. The molds themselves are not poisonous or toxic, but rather produce mycotoxins which can be hazardous to your health. There is mold everywhere but there are a few types of mold that can cause health conditions such as memory loss, asthma or pulmonary hemorrhage (bleeding in the lungs). One of these is Stachybotrys Chartarum (aka Stachybotrys atra). It is also commonly referred to as black mold, but can appear dark green to black in color.
What is Stachybotrys?
Stachybotrys is a greenish-black mold which can grow on anything which has low nitrogen and high cellulose content. This includes paper products, gypsum board, fiberboard, lint and dust. While uncommon, this species of mold can still be found in many homes and commercial spaces. It is less common that other indoor molds such as Aspergillus, Cladosporium, Alternaria and Penicillium but by no means considered rare.
Stachybotrys is a micro-fungus of the family Stachybotryaceae and falls under the genus of molds. It is a hyphomycete, which means it produces asexually. It is related to Memnoniella based on the spores being produced in slimy heads as opposed to dry chains like many other spore producing microfungi.
Stachybotrys does not compete well with other molds in nature and perfect conditions are seldom available to this slow growing mold outside of human habitation. high water content, no sunlight, no other molds, low nitrogen, high cellulose and large temperature fluctuations are the ideals required by this mold to thrive in the indoor environment. The mold has to be disturbed before the spores are released in to the air due to the mucoid nature of the colonies formed.
Who are most likely to be affected by Stachybotrys?
Very young children, elderly people, people with allergies, people with lung ailments or diseases, people with a suppressed immune system or people who have a high sensitivity to the mold spores can all be affected with the toxins.
What are the symptoms of sensitivity?
It can start with symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, blocked noses, sinusitis, itchy eyes and skin irritation. It can also lead to asthma and other allergy related symptoms. Severe reactions can include shortness of breath and fever. There is also a possible association between Stachybotrys Chartarum (Stachybotrys atra) and acute idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage in babies, but further research is still being conducted in this regard.
It is always recommended to get a professional to do the mold remediation should you have Stachybotrys in your home or office. They can also assist with the removal of the issue causing the areas of moisture in your home. They have access to cleaning materials and the correct PPE gear to prevent inhalation and spread of the spores. Some areas may not be salvageable and carpet, ceiling tiles, drywall and other porous materials may need to be removed and properly destroyed to prevent re-growth of the mold. Even if the mold is dead, you can still experience an allergic reaction if you are sensitive to the spores.
Once Stachybotrys is removed from your home or business, you should do regular inspections to ensure there are no water leaks or damp spots in your building that will allow for further growth of mold in the future. Keep the humidity as low as possible and allow for adequate ventilation in the home.
In the Caribbean, H&L Environmental Services Ltd's laboratory has been deemed proficient in conducting fungal assessments by the AIHA Proficiency Analytical Testing Programs. Send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us 1-758-452-0594. We can help resolve these lingering air quality issues.