Mold can appear for all sorts of reasons. While mold can be visible, it can also grow in areas we can’t see.
The presence of mold in your house is no reason to panic. Although you should remove it, most times mold in your home will not cause serious health problems, providing the mold is removed and air quality restored.
Toxic mold can be found in various parts of your property, such as your basement, bathroom or HVAC system. It only requires a few key factors to thrive in your home or building: a source of moisture and organic materials, such as drywall, wood, fabric, etc.
In our long track of handling mold removal and remediation, we have come across an extensive variety of toxic mold. Our licensed technicians have successfully removed the mold and therefore improved the quality of life of hundreds of homeowners and commercial buildings owners.
This article will cover:
- What is toxic mold?
- Common types of mold
- Signs of mold in a property
- Is mold dangerous?
- How to remove mold
- How to remove mold odors
- Signs of a mold allergy
- Who is vulnerable to mold allergies
- How to prevent mold growth
What is toxic mold?
There is no specific singular type of mold that is toxic on its own. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the term rather refers to the chemical substances called mycotoxins that certain types of mold produce and that are harmful to humans, as well as pets. Prolonged exposure to mycotoxins can cause severe health problems and deteriorate your home. Therefore, it is important to spot any signs of mold and have it removed as early as possible.
Types of toxic mold
The most common types of mold found in the home include:
Stachybotrys chartarum (Black mold)
You’ll mostly find this type of mold in areas of the house that don’t have much ventilation such as basements, attics. Aspergillus is also common in fabrics, dry food items, and walls. It’s mostly green, white, or grey in color and can have a powdery look.
You’ll mostly find this type of mold after water damage. It’s yellow, green, and blue in color and has a fuzzy look. This type of mold thrives under carpets and in basements.
Cladosporium is black, brown, or green in color and thrives in both hot and cold areas. So you’re likely to find this type of mold in heating and cooling ducts, on wood, or carpets.
Stachybotrys chartarum (Black mold)
Stachybotrys chartarum is what’s commonly referred to as a black mold. It’s black or greenish-black in color. Black mold grows on surfaces with high cellulose content such as drywall, paper, and fibreboards.
Black mold exposure has been linked to several health problems such as skin irritation, allergy like symptoms, and eye symptoms. Eating moldy food, especially when it’s back mold could lead to immunotoxicity leading to immune suppression or bone marrow suppression. However, research indicates Stachybotrys chartarum isn’t among the common types of mold associated with asthma development.
Aureobasidium is pink with black spots and is commonly found in wood and walls.
If you’ve seen creamy white mold in your bathroom, or kitchen then it’s most likely Trichoderma. Trichoderma however turns green once it releases mold spores.
Alternaria is a fuzzy mold that’s white with black spots. This type of mold will grow in an air conditioner, fabric, window, bathroom, kitchen, and wallpaper.
Is Mold Dangerous?
While some people experience mild symptoms of mold exposure, there can be more severe health impacts over time.
Mold affects some people more than others. Generally, mold is more dangerous to:
- People with asthma and chronic respiratory diseases
- Immunocompromised people
- Babies and young children
- Elderly people
Different types of mold and the level of mold exposure result in different allergy symptoms for people.
Certain molds produce mycotoxins but many types of household mold are not toxigenic. There have been very few reports of black mold exposure and other common mold types found in homes causing rare health conditions like memory loss. Academic research institutions are still trying to find concrete evidence of the link between toxigenic fungi and these conditions.
Mold poisoning symptoms vary per person. Some people get more severe symptoms, others may only have allergic reactions at certain times of the year while others have allergic symptoms throughout the year.
Signs of Mold in a Property
Here are some of the signs that can indicate mold is growing in your property:
If your home or place of business has suffered severe water damage, mold will grow in your walls if the water or the affected areas were not removed within 24-48 hours. If water reached drywall, the best practice is to cut and remove it one foot above the affected area.
Other common water problems such as leaking pipes can also trap moisture inside your walls and other areas that one cannot reach. Even in these cases where leaks are visible, moisture can get inside walls, providing a place for mold to grow. Common signs of moisture trapped in or behind drywall are:
- Dark rings
- Water stains
- Bubbling, peeling, or cracking of paint or wallpaper
If the walls or flooring are bowed, bulging, or warped, they most likely contain moisture. Another common sign is if the surface of the walls or floors feel wet or damp.
If the material appears to be rotting, it is very likely that mold is hiding underneath it. In less severe cases, mold may not be as noticeable. Inspect the area and check for mold on walls behind furniture and along baseboards as well.
Mold can have many different colors and textures to it, be sure to recognize them. Mold can be anywhere from black, brown, green, or white. Sometimes it can even appear to be orange, pink or purple when it grows behind vinyl wallpaper.
The presence of excess household mold will also give your home an unpleasant smell. Mold odor can be difficult to eliminate but professionals know what tools and items to use to get your space smelling fresh. However, you should also know that not all molds produce an odor but most types of mold produce a musty smell.
If you don’t see signs of mold growth but you can smell it, it may be hidden in your walls or underneath your floors. A musty smell is a common sign that mold is growing in your home or place of business. The smell of mold has an earthy feel to it, like rotting leaves or decaying wood in a damp forest.
If you have a feeling there’s mold in your walls, try smelling the electrical outlets. This may sound like a weird tactic, but it may help you sense mold growth within your walls. Outlets have better access to the area behind walls without having to agitate the mold spores. Thus, smelling them can be a safe way to help identify the mold problem.
To best determine if there is mold growth in your home and how much of it there is, consult a professional mold removal company like iFlooded Restoration. Our technicians use specialized inspection techniques and tools to determine the existence and extent of mold. iFlooded Restoration’s specialized mold remediation process will bring your home and the air quality in your home back to its safe and normal state.
Signs of a Mold Allergy
Here’s a list of the most common allergic reactions that indicate the presence of mold in your house.
Eye irritation causing watery eyes, itchiness, or red eyes
Runny nose, nasal congestion, or stuffy nose
What to do if you suspect a mold allergy
You should seek the services of a healthcare professional if you experience any of the symptoms for a prolonged period of time.
How to get rid of a mold allergy
Removing the source of the mold is the only way effective way to treat a mold allergy in the long term. While mold allergy symptoms can usually be treated in the short term with over the counter medications, this isn’t a long-term solution.
Who is affected by mold in the home?
Mold exposure poses greater health risks to certain classes of people because of several risk factors. Here are a few groups of people who are at risk of developing severe health issues if they get into contact with mold.
People With Asthma and Chronic Respiratory Diseases
Inhaling mold spores when you have a mold allergy and asthma triggers asthma symptoms. Likewise, if you experience mold exposure when you have a chronic respiratory disease your immune system overreacts. People with asthma or a chronic respiratory disease experience difficulties with breathing, shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing.
People With Weakened Immune Systems
Mold exposure can have severe effects on a person with a weakened immune system. For example, a person living with HIV already has a compromised immune system and could easily get fungal infections as a result of mold exposure.
In infants and children mold exposure through inhaling mold spores or eating moldy food can serious health problems. Inhaling mold can trigger an allergic reaction making it difficult to breathe. Ingesting food with mold can cause bleeding in the lungs. Additionally, prolonged exposure to black mold is dangerous for infants and young children because they’re at an increased risk of developing hemorrhagic pneumonia.
Old age is one of the risk factors that predict adverse effects of mold exposure. Unlike younger people, old people are more likely to develop mold allergy symptoms after prolonged mold exposure because the body isn’t operating at its optimal level and most already have other issues.
How to Remove Mold From A Property
With visible mold, many people are tempted to remove household mold on their own. For most common molds mixing bleach with water is one of the ways used to kill mold on surfaces in your home. However, it should be noted that you shouldn’t mix bleach with other cleaning products or ammonia since the combination produces toxic fumes.
It’s better to use the services of a mold remediation professional company because experts know how to kill mold without endangering you or themselves. Certain molds grow on carpets and the services of a professional carpet cleaning company will ensure you don’t have a mold problem in the future.
If you want to remove mold yourself, here are the steps to follow:
- Ensure the area is well ventilated
- Use non porous gloves and a respirator or dust mask to prevent contact with / inhaling mold particles
- Mix one part bleach to three parts warm water in a bucket
- Use a scrubbing brush or heavy duty sponge to scrub the area thoroughly, removing all traces of mold from the area
- Use fresh mixture when the water is dirty
- Where areas are severly mold infested, you may need to use mold removal formula or let the area soak for a few minutes before scrubbing
- Once the area is mold free, thoroughly dry the area with a moisture-absorbent cloth or towel
- Keep the area well ventilated for a few hours
- Use a dehumidifier if possible
How to Prevent Mold Growth
While the presence of mold can expose you to health issues and cause substantial damage to your property, the good news is that you can prevent mold growth.
High levels of humidity or wetness foster the growth of mold. Therefore, the first step to prevent the growth and spread of mold is monitoring the humidity level in your home. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that the humidity level shouldn’t exceed 50%. If you live in areas with high humid levels consider using a dehumidifier.
Other steps to prevent the growth of mold include:
Improve ventilation in your kitchen and bathrooms by using exhaust fans.
Clean up any mildew as soon as you spot it and monitor closely to spot it early enough before it spreads.
If your home incurs water damage, treat it immediately before mold spores have the chance to grow and cause issues within your home. Water damage restoration services can clean up and dry the areas of your home that are impacted.
To protect your walls and ceilings, add mold inhibitors to your paint.
Don’t place an air conditioner in areas like your heated basement during winter. The temperatures and humidity during winter make air conditioners perfect breeding areas.
If you install an air conditioner in other parts of your house ensure that it has a HEPA filter so that it removes mold spores from the air.
Once you notice any pipe leaks or water leaks get plumbing experts to fix them immediately.
Don’t use carpets in areas that are likely to get wet such as bathrooms and kitchens. You should also use carpet cleaning services to treat remove and spores that might be present.
Monitor the humidity levels of the areas where you store books and other paper products because they get damp easily and provide conducive breeding surfaces.
Closely monitor for indications of the presence of mold in your home.
At the first signs of mold in your home, it’s important to take steps to completely remove the mold, either by doing it yourself or by calling a mold remediation company.