Black mold (Strachybotrys chartarum, Strachybotrys atra) is an uncommon, but not rare, form of mold. It is a fungus, typically dark green or black in color and has a similar appearance to coffee grounds; when it is wet it will look shiny and feel slippery to the touch. It can be found in places that are excessively damp or humid, since it requires constant moisture in order to grow.
Black Mold is Known to Cause Respiratory Illnesses
- It can compound existing conditions like asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, or a compromised immune system.
- It is especially troublesome for infants, as it has been linked to respiratory bleeding problems, sometimes fatal.
- If you believe you are ill as the result of black mold, it is imperative to seek medical attention as soon as possible to begin treatment.
Where Can Black Mold Be Found?
There are many places where black mold can be found. Within the home, common problem areas are the bathroom, basement, kitchen, areas impacted by leaks or flooding, or anywhere there is a high moisture level in the air or on the surface.
Common Signs of a Black Mold Problem Include:
- Peeling paint or wallpaper
- High humidity
- Discoloration or rust
- Visible appearance of black mold.
- Respiratory symptoms such as sinus infection, sneezing or runny nose, headaches, and dizziness are likely if the problem is severe.
How Do I Get Rid Of Black Mold?
While the mold itself is not toxic, it produces toxins; therefore, you must use safety precautions in your mold cleanup efforts. Wear rubber gloves, proper clothing, and a dust mask to prevent inhalation or skin contact.
- First, rectify any potential causes; fix leaks, replace broken fixtures, remove contaminated objects such as wallpaper or furniture, and use a dehumidifier in the area.
- If there are any items infested beyond your ability to clean them, remove them from the house and dispose of them. It is recommended to wrap these items in a layer of thick plastic, such as a yard cleanup bag, to prevent further contamination.
- Take care not to disturb dried black mold as this releases spores into the air and allows the mold to regrow.
- Next, disinfect the area; a solution of one part bleach to ten parts water is strong enough to kill black mold.
- Saturate the infested area with this solution and allow it to sit for 15-20 minutes.
- Clean the mold thoroughly and dry the area completely.
- If the black mold covers a large area, or affects an internal structure or material such as carpet, insulation or drywall, this is considered a severe infestation and should be treated by a professional.
To prevent a recurrence of black mold, be sure to keep your humidity level down, check for adequate ventilation and make repairs if necessary, and use discretion when redecorating. Two good examples are the addition of a mold inhibitor any time you paint part of your home, and the use of non-carpeted flooring for damp areas such as the kitchen, bathroom or basement. It is also wise to maintain a high standard of cleanliness and periodically check for signs of a mold infestation; the sooner it’s caught, the sooner it can be controlled.