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Black Mold: What's the Big Deal

Thursday July 18, 2013 9:10 AM

Black Mold

Black mold, the toxic killer lurking inside your home. Not so much. The terms "black mold" or "toxic mold" have been exaggerated in the media. It has installed feelings of fear and panic in homeowners around the country. At Buffalo, we spend the time to hear from the experts in the field. And our job is to share that information with you, dispel the myths, and share the facts about mold.

What is mold?

Mold is absolutely everywhere. And contrary to popular belief, not all mold is bad for you. There are 100,000 species of mold in all colors and sizes. Only a portion of those species can be harmful to humans. Mold is mold, regardless of what kind. Its effects on humans depends on the individual's sensitivity to mold which varies from person to person, and the amount of spores in the air.

Mold is a living organism and needs moisture and organic material to survive. Naturally it enjoys warm, damp, and dark spaces in the home. Things like drywall and dust give it the food it needs.

Myth: Black mold is more harmful than other mold

Stachybotrys is the scientific name for black mold. This species is often seen in buildings with poor indoor air quality perhaps caused by fungal growth from past water damage. The CDC, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, says that calling stachybotrys "toxic mold" is not an accurate term. This species can produce toxins but aren't toxic or poisonous. Black mold or toxic mold is the same as other mold in your home and should be treated the same for clean up purposes.

The most common indoor molds are Cladosporium, Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Alternaria. Stacybotrys is not rare but it is less common than the other indoor molds. Stacybotyrs is greenish-black and grows on materials with high cellulose and low nitrogen content such as fiberboard, gypsum board, paper, dust, and lint. Stacybotrys has been associated with acute idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage among infants but this has not been proved.

Many people want to know if they have black mold in their homes. Testing for the type of mold is not that important and can be costly. If you are experiencing health effects, regardless of the type of mold, it should be cleaned and removed.

Mold can do more than just cause harm to your body. It can completely deteriorate structures and cause major damage if not removed properly.

Possible symptoms:

The Institute of Medicine and the CDC report that there has been sufficient evidence that exposure to mold can cause upper respiratory tract symptoms such as a cough and wheezing. It may also cause hay-fever like allergic symptoms and respiratory diseases, particularly in people with immune deficiencies.

Mold Cleanup:

If you're experiencing health problems or symptoms from mold in your home, it is wise to get it removed. Perhaps you see mold in your home but it isn't causing any major problems for your health.

There are still some considerations:

It isn't attractive to see in your home! Removal isn't urgent but will most likely be requested during the sale of your home.

Identify the source. If you have mold in a room, it may be the result of poor ventilation which is a problem that should be fixed so that mold doesn't come back after it is removed. Some spaces are just prone to mold growth because of how they are built.

Or, you may have mold from a previous water damage that was not entirely dried afterward. If you choose to get the mold remediated, it should not come back if done correctly.

Note: Bleach or "Killz" is ineffective at permanently removing mold. The suggested technique is like doing your dishes, the surface needs to be cleaned and dried, not simply covered up.

Be careful, mold spores are easily dispersed through the house through your HVAC system or foot traffic. You could have a bigger problem on your hand if the affected space isn'’'t contained. The CDC recommends full protective gear when cleaning. Buffalo employees wear full PPE gear and contain the affected area during cleaning.

Mold is preventable:

Here are some easy tips on preventing mold from growing in your home:

Humidity should be no higher than 50%, an air conditioner or dehumidifier will help Proper ventilation, you should have exhaust fans in kitchen and bathrooms

If you have a room that may be prone to mold, you can get mold inhibitors in paint Clean bathrooms regularly

Do not carpet bathrooms, the carpet will hold moisture

Dry water damage immediately and completely. Mold can grow within 72 hours of water damage. A restoration professional will ensure that the affected area is 100% dry.

Bottom line: Don't panic. Mold is everywhere. And permanent removal is possible if done correctly.

More questions? Call Buffalo at 406-998-1800 or complete our contact form.