We have all heard the news and media talking about toxic black mold. Some of us have seen it growing in our homes in damp places where drywall and ceilings have been exposed to moisture. Black mold can grow on any moist surface that oxygenated. It can replicate and spread within seven days of exposure to water or damp organic liquid. But what makes black mold so dangerous and what are the symptoms of exposure to these unsightly splotches?

What is it?
Mold is a type of fungus that can grow anywhere organic that was exposed to moisture. Leaky roofs, cracks in basement foundations, and unknown drips from pipes can all lead to an outbreak of mold in the carpet or walls of any building. Heating and air conditioning units are also common areas for mold growth. HVAC systems can never be completely free of mold, but they can be treated and controlled by yearly maintenance.

The toxic black mold that can grow inside houses and businesses is from the Stachbotrys genus of fungus. This is usually dark blue, green, or black and grows in patchy, circular formations clumped around a dampened area. There is usually a very musty smell with black mold, which is a first indicator for many people that mold has infiltrated that space.

Signs and Symptoms
Mold is not dangerous in and of itself, but black mold spores can produce mycotoxins. These toxins can cause disease and even death in humans and animals. Not all mold outbreaks will release mycotoxins into the air, but the possibility is usually enough for people to call for help when they see black mold growing in their immediate environment. It can appear on ceilings after a roof leak or around heating and air conditioning vents in humid geographic areas.

Mold outbreaks inside a home or office can cause a plethora of respiratory problems, among others. Noticeable symptoms include headache, sore throat, sneezing, and cough. Dizziness, nausea, and vomiting are also possible in people sensitive to mold or in children and the elderly. Black mold is also dangerous for pregnant women, as it can cause birth defects. People can get rashes, asthma attacks, and even have problems with concentration.

What To Do if You Suspect Mold
The thought of something toxic floating in the air is distressing. Exposing your family to these spores inside your home is less than desirable. But what if you aren’t sure if there is mold in your home?

The first step is to remove yourself and others from the area. Call for a mold inspection. Professionals will inspect the area, identify the type of mold, and design a proper plan to safely remove the damaged area from your environment. Carpet, dry wall, and insulation must be handled professionally so the potentially-toxic spores do not spread through the air upon disruption. Prolonged exposure to mold can cause lasting health problems for compromised people but usually, symptoms improve following removal of mold from the area.