Hurricane season has barely just begun here in Florida, and already we are experiencing a major storm. So far, Tampa has, for the most part, been spared, however, weather channels are reporting that we will be experiencing a period of ‘deep moisture’ in the coming weeks. With heavy rains and high temperatures, the conditions are ripe for the unfortunate occurrence of mold infestations. In previous articles, we’ve covered the risks associated with high moisture levels and mold-producing fungi such as wet rot and dry rot. However, no other fungus is more likely to strike fear into the hearts of homeowners than black mold. Tampa residents have good reason to be concerned in particular during this current weather period, as there is no other conditions that black mold thrives better in than warm temperatures and high humidity. Not only can black mold cause serious damage to houses, but it also poses a serious health threat as well. In this article, we’ll explain what black mold is, and how to detect it if it makes its way into your home.
What is Black Mold?
Black mold is a term that is used to refer to a very wide group of fungi. The fact of the matter is that not all mold that is black is toxic. There are several different types of mold that are not black that are toxic as well, and this variability between mold toxicity has created a lot of confusion and fear in the public’s mind. However, in this article, when we talk about black mold, we are referring to a very specific group of fungi who fall into the genus (a genus is a scientific classification that refers to a group of closely related species) Stachybotrys. Scientists have formally recognized over 20 different distinct species of Stachybotrys, however, the most common species of black mold that infests houses is called Stachybotrys chartarum. For the purpose of simplification, throughout the rest of this article, the term ‘black mold’ will be used to refer specifically to S. chartarum.
This specific type of black mold is most certainly toxic to humans, as well as to any kind of pet. The toxic effects of black mold come from chemicals that are produced both in the mold and in the spores that are produced by the fungus. For the most part, you really need to breathe in a lot of spores to experience the symptoms caused by black mold exposure, and therefore, pets are much more likely to be sickened by black mold than humans. However, the risk is still there, and the more that black mold grows inside your home, the higher the risk of getting exposed to the toxic chemicals found in black mold spores, which are referred to as ‘mycotoxins’. The mycotoxins produced by black mold are known to produce a plethora of unpleasant symptoms in humans. These symptoms include respiratory distress, discomfort in the kidneys or bladder, excessive fatigue, headaches, irritated mucous membranes, red and itchy eyes and runny nose, coughing and sneezing that are difficult to control, a suppressed immune system, and even coughing up blood. Needless to say, exposure to black mold mycotoxins is a very serious ordeal.
One thing about black mold that makes it especially dangerous to both your health as well as your home is that it can grow on nearly any surface, as long as there is sufficient moisture and temperatures that the mold can tolerate. This means that carpets, drywall, bathroom tiles, ceilings, floorboards, and wood panelling are all potential places in the home that can be damaged by black mold. As a general precaution, if you think you have black mold growing behind any surfaces in your home, such as behind wallpaper, never ever remove the material to get to the black mold without wearing a respirator. Removing the surface that is covering a black mold infestation can cause thousands if not millions of microscopic spores to become airborne and be inhaled.
How to Detect Black Mold
The first sign of a black mold infestation will nearly always be the smell. More likely than not, if you detect the smell of something like mildew, or an odor that is very musty in nature, you’ll likely detect some kind of dampness in the general vicinity of the smell. If you detect dampness along with a mildew or musty smell, the chances are very high that some kind of mold, if not black mold, is present. If you don’t actually see any mold growing in the area, proceed with extreme caution. Do not remove any surfaces to search for mold growing behind them, as this can be extremely hazardous to your health if the mold growing there is indeed black mold. Instead, call a professional. If you do see mold growing on any surfaces in your home, the way to tell if it is indeed black mold is very simple and straightforward. Many different kinds of mold produce an incredible variety of colors. Molds can be green, orange, white, gray, and even blue. However, black mold, as its name implies, is a distinctly dark black mold. If you intend on attempting to get rid of black mold on your own, be absolutely sure to wear a respirator.
Apart from black mold’s ability to produce seriously toxic compounds, this particular fungus is also capable of wreaking quite a bit of havoc to the home. Unfortunately, if black mold is found on any surface other than a very hard surface such as tile or concrete, you will almost definitely need to replace that which it is growing on. Carpets, drywall, floorboards, etc, will most likely need to be replaced after the contamination and moisture source has been dealt with. A leaky roof or appliance or a flood are all things that could cause black mold to grow in your home and destroy parts of your property. As active members of our Tampa community, our team of professionals at Premiere Builders has a lot of experience dealing with black mold, and even more experience in home restoration services. If you have suffered the unfortunate event of a black mold infestation and need restorative work done on your home, look no further than Premiere Builders Inc. We always offer free estimates on all of our work, and we will do whatever it takes to get your home back to exactly the way you want it. If you’re in need of restoration services, get in contact with us right away!