Dampness Danger: 9 Things to Know About Black Mold

As a homeowner, the words “black mold” are probably terrifying. Why is black mold so dangerous? Where does it come from? Here’s what you need to know.

Black mold in the corner of room wall

You work hard to keep your home clean and safe, but black mold is still a worry. That’s because mold can grow in places that are out of sight. With more information about black mold, you can avoid the risk.

Here are the 9 things you need to know.

1. Where Black Mold is Found in the Home

Black mold growth can occur in the home and any other building, so you should be cautious of mold in your home as well as other areas like your office space.

Mold spores can drift in through doors, windows, and ventilation, or you can track them in on your clothes and shoes. When the spores are introduced to any damp environment they’re more likely to grow. Areas prone to condensation and leakage are most vulnerable, such as a leaky roof or pipe. Walls, floors, and ceilings can be dampened by a leak. Organic materials (e.g. plant products like wood, paper and cotton) are more prone to black mold when it gets wet.  

Black mold is often found in places like the cabinet under your sink, and the carpet in your basement. Potted plants are also more vulnerable, especially if you overwater.

2. Black Mold Causes Various Health Problems

People who are more sensitive to mold exposure may experience congestion, soreness or swelling in the throat, red or itchy eyes and skin irritation. People also report experiencing fatigue. For those who are allergic, reactions can be more serious. Fever and shortness of breath can occur. 

The truth is that studies haven’t been able to draw definitive proof that black mold is the sole cause of certain illnesses, but they often find a connection. It’s definitely enough to take it seriously. Be careful to avoid exposure to mold in your home and at work. 

3. Health Impacts Can Usually be Treated

There are less common health issues that develop from exposure to black mold that can be permanent. It’s possible to develop asthma from repeated exposure. Toxic mold exposure has also been linked to the development of mental difficulties like memory loss (especially in the elderly). 

Treatment for less serious symptoms of mold exposure include:

  • Over the counter medication for a cough, sore throat or skin irritation
  • Nasal sprays for congestion
  • Allergy shots (if recommended by a doctor)

4. Black Mold May Alter Your Mood

Beyond the physical health issues caused by exposure to black mold, there’s also evidence that it may have an effect on your mood. A Brown University study from 2007 found a link between homes with mold and depression in the residents. They found that rates of depressive symptoms like sleeplessness, lack of appetite and low self-esteem are more common among residents of homes with damp or moldy conditions.  

The study’s leader doesn’t claim that they have proven exposure to mold is a cause of depression. However, he does say the study makes it clear that overall living conditions can have a big effect on mental health.

5. Some Are at a Greater Risk

People with allergies may have a more serious reaction to black mold exposure. Anyone with an immune system deficiency or lung disease is at a greater risk of fungal infections.

There’s some evidence of a connection between black mold exposure and complications during pregnancy. However, exposure to black mold is dangerous for anyone. Even your pets can develop serious health problems from black mold.  

6. Children Face a Higher Risk

Because children are undergoing various developmental stages, they face risks that fully grown adults do not. While the immune system is still developing, children are at a greater risk of respiratory illness. The IOM (Institute of Medicine) has found evidence that mold exposure may be linked to the development of asthma in some children. 

7. Inspecting the Home and Identifying Black Mold

If there are any areas in your home that are prone to collect moisture, you’re at risk of mold growth. These are the areas you should be most mindful of. Start by checking your laundry, shower, and cooking areas.

When checking your home, you might see black mold growing, or suspect it’s present because of a smell. It just looks like spots that may appear gray/black, or they may have some color to them. You might also notice a musty smell. 

Black mold growth may not be visible. It could be growing behind your sheetrock or below cabinets. If you suspect you have mold, but you can’t find it and remove it yourself, you should hire a professional to do the work for you.

8. Removing Black Mold From the Home

If there is mold growing in your home, you need to remove any trace of it and also fix the leak or source of excessive moisture. Hard surfaces are the easiest to clean. You can often remove black mold using household products like bleach, but there are also mold killing products you can purchase.

If you’re using bleach, dilute it in water. Mix a solution of no more than 1 cup of your regular laundry bleach per gallon of water. Cover your skin and mouth when near the mold and scrub the area until all trace of mold has been removed.

You may need to cut away areas of drywall if it’s affected. You might also need to throw away porous materials like cloth fibers, like rugs, that cannot be soaked in a solution, cleaned and quickly dried. 

9. Preventative Steps to Avoid Ever Getting Black Mold

The best thing to do is to avoid mold growth, or by not allowing it to happen again by taking some mold prevention steps:

  • Control the humidity levels in your home with a dehumidifier
  • Promptly repair leaks (roofs, windows and plumbing)
  • Quickly clean and dry areas affected by flooding
  • Ventilate areas that may get steamy like the shower and kitchen
  • Do not install carpets in rooms where moisture occurs

 Fixing the Problem

Black mold is a serious danger. If you think you’re at risk, there are professionals that can help. Contact Blackmon Mooring & BMS CAT if you experience a mold problem.