Many types of indoor mold, most significantly black mold, can cause health problems, in some people more easily than others. The most at-risk groups include infants and children, senior citizens, people with allergies or asthma, and people with weakened immune systems who may be at risk of fungal infection. In general, the most significant concern, as far as developing health issues, is in relation to allergies and respiratory irritation.
So, what is black mold anyway? Experts say that while many molds are black in color, the mold that people are typically referring to when they say “black mold” is called Stachybotrys chartarum, also referred to as Stachybotrys atra.
Physical Symptoms of Exposure to Black Mold
Symptoms of coming into contact with mold, including black mold, include:
- Runny nose
- Stuffy nose
- Watery, red eyes
- Dry cough
- Skin rashes
- Sore throat
- Sinusitis (inflamed paranasal sinuses)
Some people believe that black mold can cause more serious problems due to its release of a toxic substance called mycotoxins. These issues could include:
- General aches and pains
- Mycotoxicosis (mold poisoning)
- Mood shifts
- Memory loss
- Shortness of breath
It’s fairly difficult to find a test that shows when or where you’ve been exposed to black mold, but your doctor can check for mold allergies. First, they’ll review your symptoms, and then they’re order one of the following tests:
- Blood draw to measure for certain antibodies
- Skin prick test with small mold sample
If you are dealing with symptoms from black mold exposure, your doctor might prescribe a nasal spray or rinse. Essentially, a solution of warm, distilled saline water can clear the spores and ease congestion. You might also be prescribed an antihistamine to lessen the response from your immune system and reduce inflammation in the airway. Oral medications are available to reduce mucus buildup, and regular allergy shots can build up your body’s immunity. Ultimately though, the best way to deal with black mold is to steer clear of it altogether.
Black Mold Prevention
To prevent black mold, keep your home clean, particularly the bathrooms. When you shower, cook, or wash dishes, open a window or run a fan for proper ventilation. You might also use a dehumidifier or an indoor air purifier with a high-efficient particulate air (HEPA) filtration.
When it comes to preventing buildup of moisture, be sure to fix any and all leaks in your walls or roof, making sure you rain gutters aren’t clogged. If, for some reason, your home experiences flooding, work to have it clean and dry within two days.
Proper home maintenance can help with mold prevention as well. Some basics include, not leaving old paper or wood sitting unused in one spot, avoiding putting carpet in rooms that experience moisture buildup (bathrooms, kitchens, basements, etc.), and fixing pipe leaks as soon as you are aware of them. The biggest one we see is painting over mold. Whatever you do, don’t paint over mold; clean and disinfect the area first.
Your home should be a place where you can relax, breath easily, and be healthy. If you have concerns about mold or black mold, we can send over an expert to perform a thorough inspection of your property. They’ll be able to identify mold varieties and levels, giving us the information we need to create a custom removal plan. If you want to learn more about our mold removal process, reach out today.