What is Toxic Black Mold?
Molds are a division of fungi that grow on leather, carpets, cloth, wood, and on human foods when moisture increases with the right amount of light, temperature and nutrients for them to grow. Molds and mildews cause health risks, and the most common of these fungi is the “toxic black mold”. Toxic black mold, also known scientifically as Stachybotrys, is a black fungus that dwells on materials that are high in cellulose such as hay, paper, straw, dry wall, wet leaves, wallpaper, carpet, ceiling tiles and insulators. It is slimy and wet and associated with poor air circulation indoors. Growth of the toxic black mold occurs in an extended periods of water damage that allows growth of the molds.
Toxic Black Mold on Walls
Toxic Black Mold Poisons & Properties
Black Mold Toxin
Stachybotrys or toxic black mold has the ability to replicate asexually (grows and duplicates on their own) and are filamentous (thread-like) in nature. Stachybotrys is dangerous to humans because it produces a harmful poison called mycotoxins that remain suspended in the air.
Black Mold Toxin Properties
This mycotoxin has the following properties:
- Potential Carcinogen
- Highly Toxic
Exposure to the toxins produced by the black mold can yield to human contamination resulting from ingestion, inhalation or skin exposure.
Toxic Black Mold Types
The genus Stachybotrys fungi have about 50 species present worldwide. The most common of these are Stachybotrys chartarum (or S. atra) and S. chlorohalonata.
Toxic Black Mold Health Effects (Risks)
Exposure to Stachybotrys species causes several health risks and problems. Some of these can be life-threatening and prompts for immediate medical attention. Here are some of the typical risks linked with the toxic black mold:
- Suppression of the immune system that causes more opportunistic infections
- Respiratory diseases including Pulmonary hemorrhage
- Psychological Depressions
- Gastrointestinal Problems
- Body aches and fatigue
Aside from the health risks, the toxic black mold can also lead to potential environmental hazards in the home such as:
- Air pollution
- Increased Fire Hazards brought about by the spores
- Early damage of household fixtures
Toxic Black Mold Removal
People should implement measures to eradicate molds and mildews to prevent health effects. As with any other species of fungi, careful removal should be done to prevent spread of the fungi. Recommendations are listed below:
Removal of water leak sources
Correct water damage or problems such as leaks and flooding. Removal begins with eradication of the main cause. Fixing water leaks will eventually lessen the growth of the mold.
Use air conditioner and dehumidifiers in times where there is high humidity to kill spores and prevent them from replication.
Ensure adequate ventilation in home areas which has a high tendency to be wet such as bathrooms and kitchens.
Use of mold-killing products
Use commercial products in cleaning hard surfaces such as bleach, soap and water. Mix 250 ml (1 cup) of bleach with 2 liters of water. Do not mix other cleaning solutions with bleach because this can produce chemical reactions and toxic fumes that are irritating. Always follow instructions when using commercial cleaning products.
Removal of mold inhabited equipments
Remove carpets in the bathroom. Washing of carpets is not effective as the molds may still be present and may grow again.
Replace wallpapers or boards with molds. As with carpets, wallpapers should be replaced and not just cleaned to prevent occurrence of molds.
Thoroughly dry flooded or wet areas and disinfect with bleach solution.
Clean the molds when they are still wet. Dry molds may disperse spores and can be inhaled. Use a moist cloth in wiping rather than dry dusting.
In cleaning objects with molds such as carpets, never shake or shudder. This disperses the spores of the fungi in the air which can cause respiratory inhalation.
Wear gloves and eye wear when cleaning to prevent accidental contamination from the fungi.
Professional mold removal team
When the area to be cleaned is big, seek help from home cleaners to have an expert removal of toxic black molds.
Mold Poisoning Symptoms
Individuals exposed to black molds or any fungi for that matter should inspect for signs and symptoms of toxic black mold poisoning. Manifestations are broad and depend on the exposure time and amount of spores that has contaminated the body. Symptoms can be vague such as fever and body malaise.
Specific mild symptoms are:
- Cough and colds
- Flu- like symptoms such as Fever, headache, body malaise
- Nose bleeding
- Eye irritation
- Sore throat
- Nausea and Vomiting
Moderate to Severe Symptoms
When poisoning becomes severe, a toxic black mold syndrome may occur which includes more serious symptoms and affects basically the respiratory, gastrointestinal and neurologic system such as:
- Sudden Hair Loss
- Difficulty of breathing
- Abdominal Pain
- Numbness in the extremities
- Memory Loss
- Mood instability
- Sudden change in bowel movement and bleeding in the rectum
- Unexplained anxiety and panic attacks
- Problems on vision
- Tinnitus or ringing in the ears, other auditory disturbances
- Bizarre taste in the mouth
- Joint pains and muscle spasms
- Poor coping mechanism and poor concentration
- Lymph node swelling as a sign of infection
Mold Poisoning Treatment
Treatment of mold poisoning is directed towards decreasing sensitivity to the spores and symptomatic management to eradicate symptoms. The following are the most common managements instituted by health care practitioners:
Administration of corticosteroids is done to address allergic reactions brought about by the molds. These are anti-inflammatory medications that will inhibit the inflammatory response that produces the allergic symptoms. It is better to talk to a doctor before taking these because it causes several metabolic side effects.
Antihistamines & Decongestants
Use of antihistamines and decongestants helps decrease respiratory symptoms and ease breathing. Most common of these drugs is phenylpropanolamine, diphenhydramine or cetirizine. When taking these medications, be sure to ensure safety as these causes drowsiness and lethargy.
In cases of severe allergic reactions, the person may be sensitized by injecting ample amount of toxins in the body to help the system recognize it and prevent allergies in the future.
Mold Poisoning Complications
When causes and symptoms of toxic black mold poisoning are not addressed, potential complications may arise as a result of prolonged exposure to the fungi. These complications include:
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases and Asthma
- Pulmonary hemorrhage
- Stomach ulcers
- Abdominal pain caused by liver disease
- Hearing loss
Cardiovascular & Urinary
- Heart diseases
- Heightened allergic reactions or anaphylaxis
- Blood pressure changes
- Urinary tract infections
Mold Poisoning Prevention
Prevention of black mold poisoning focuses on preventing the growth of the mold to prevent exposure. Basic is keeping the house clean and dry. Here are some of the specific suggestions to prevent toxic black mold poisoning:
Keep level of indoor humidity to at most 60%. Use air conditioners to prevent high humidity during humid seasons.
Welcome fresh air
Always allow fresh air to circulate by opening doors and windows.
Avoid using carpets on bathrooms. Use mold preventing products inside the bathroom and under sinks and always clean the bathroom and kitchen with mold destructing cleaners.
When toxic black molds are already present in the house, prevention of poisoning includes thorough cleaning to avoid exposure and use of protective equipments such as face masks and eye wears when coming in contact with the molds. Prevention is the key to a healthful living so it’s better to avoid the molds from growing.