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Black mold is a name given to five of the fungal mold species which are known to cause harm to humans. These molds, like other fungi, grow naturally both indoors and outdoors. However, it is the indoor growth that poses a problem in the case of toxic molds.
Black mold grows well in any environment which provides food, a surface on which to grow, oxygen, and a warm, humid climate. The molds feed on materials that contain cellulose, such as wallpaper, sheet rock, carpet, and even duct work lined with fiberglass. Moisture is the biggest mold grower, especially standing water. A warm, humid climate accommodates the mold further. All of these factors come together to create and nurture a very deadly fungus. It is virtually impossible to remove all indoor mold and mold spores, but it is possible to manage.
People are exposed to some amount of mold everyday. When mold is growing on a surface, spores can be released into the air where a person can then inhale them. A person who is subject to inhaling a large amount of these spores may be subject to some medical damage.
Spores are microscopic and airborne mold "offspring." They are a product of the fungi's reproduction, and also the method through which mold enters the body. They enter through the mouth, nose, and skin—through ingestion, inhalation, or touch.
The demographic most susceptible to these illnesses are the elderly, infants, and those with weakened immune systems. Those who are sensitive or allergic to mold also suffer from even the mildest of the black molds. Illnesses that result from a mold contamination are usually mild. The symptoms resemble those of either a severe allergic reaction or flu virus.
Stachybotrys chartarum is the most deadly of black mold species. It has been tied to diseases as minor as hay fever, to those as serious as liver damage, pulmonary edema, and in the most severe cases, brain or nerve damage and even death. It has also been linked to severe illness in infants. Those with compromised immune systems, small children, and the elderly are highly susceptible to illness when they come in contact with this species of mold. Some symptoms associated with exposure to Stachbotrys include:
nasal and sinus congestion
central nervous system issues
aches and pains
Prevention and what professionals call "remediation" are the keys to avoiding illnesses that result from black mold exposure. Remediation is the removal or cleaning of materials contaminated by mold. This is often a very tedious and very expensive process, which most property owners can avoid with prevention. Those measures include removing all standing water, as well as removing material the mold has or would come in contact with; bleach treatment; and proper ventilation.
For property owners, black mold can be a worse disaster than a flood or fire. Black mold is a potentially dangerous fungus. It can inhabit just about any indoor space that contains the right environmental settings. The spores are spread when agitated and can enter the body easily. Black mold is particularly hazardous, especially to those who have high risks of infection. The illness that results can be severe, even deadly.
Toxic molds are all very dangerous if allowed to grow inside the home. Proper precautions should be taken to prevent and eliminate their growth. These measures should include eliminating every material that nourishes the molds, such as old remodeling materials left in a basement. Also, never try to determine the type of mold in your home. Contact a professional to test any mold colony you may find, and consult with your family physician.