Many types of mold grow in a household, most relatively benign and no more than a nuisance, although all mold must be treated with caution. One type in particular, however, is a more serious matter. It is called Stachybotrys, and known colloquially as toxic black mold, or simply, black mold.
Toxic black mold is actually kind of greenish in colour, though quite dark, almost black. It is somewhat slimy to the touch. Black mold grows on anything with a cellulose base, for instance wood, paper, cardboard and also wallboard or drywall. Often it will grow under carpet or behind paneling, and may grow inside walls, where it can be posing a health risk without even being detected.
Black mold has been associated with Pulmonary Hemorrhage in infants, and can be much more severe to a person with a depressed defense mechanisms or to a child. Even healthy adults are at risk, and health effects can vary from itchy eyes and sneezing, to asthma attacks, shortness of breathe and dizziness.
Mold needs moisture to survive, and will only flourish in areas that have consistent supply of it. However, mold doesn’t require much moisture to be able to grow. Even condensation, for instance from the sweating pipe, or from a high level of humidity, is enough. Improperly tuned air conditioner systems, constant steam from showers, or other high humidity factors can encourage mold growth.
Black mold will frequently grow as a result of a leak or flood. A pipe or roof leak which has a constant small drip, particularly in a dark, warm space, might be a favourite place of mold. If you think you might have a mold problem, do a visual consult with a flashlight into dark areas, and use your nose to guide you. If you find mold, do not disturb it, however, until you are prepared. Disturbing the mold will cause the spores to disburse into the air, and then you run the risk of breathing them in.
There are several commercial mold killer products on the market. If the mold is easily accessible, then this is an option. Wear a mask when cleaning mold, and be sure to ventilate the home properly. Using an air purifier with a good HEPA filter is usually recommended. Shower and bathroom molds are usually fairly easy to deal with in this way.
If the mold is a lot more extensive, as an example as a result of a flood, it is probably advisable to call in the experts. Often in the case of flood, a crew will enter the home with respirators and many plastic sheeting and actually cut away all the wallboard in the affected areas. The mold will grow on the wooden studs behind a wall, and must be treated with a chemical solution to kill it. Once the mold has been killed it is carefully scraped and vacuumed until it is all gone. Only then will new wallboard be used to replace the old and repair the wall. Carpets often need to be thrown out, and the floor underneath thoroughly cleaned.
Toxic black mold is an unfortunately prevalent problem in many modern homes. Often, it is undetected, and only after suffering constant respiratory problems does a house owner commence to suspect there can be a mold problem. If you have suffered flooding of any kind, then it is important to get the area dry as fast as possible. If you learn a persistent leak, once the leak is repaired you can start to assess the mold situation. Many mold problems can be handled by using commercially available products, but much more serious mold growth should be dealt with by professionals.