Is "Black Mold" Really Toxic?

Stachybotrys Chartarum is often referred to as "Black Mold" or "Toxic Mold". It is a greenish black mold that often appears gelatinous or wet on the surface. This type of mold growth is fairly common in areas of water damage and readily grows on materials with high cellulose content (e.g. fiber board, gypsum board, paper, etc.).

The term "Toxic Mold" is not entirely accurate. While certain types of molds, such as Stachybotrys Chartarum, are toxigenic (meaning they produce mycotoxins), the molds themselves are not directly poisonous. Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites produced by fungi that may be toxic to humans. Some mycotoxins, such as those produced by Penicillium, are used as antibiotics. Until recently, human illnesses resulting from Stachybotrys mycotoxins were considered rare occupational diseases, mostly occurring with farm workers that handled moldy straw or hay. With the introduction of building materials containing high cellulose content, the presence of Stachybotrys has become more common placed in the residential environment.

The primary health concern with "Black Mold" has been the association between Stachybotrys and acute pulmonary bleeding in infants (i.e. idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage). Although this is a sensitive issue with families, there have been very few reports of this rare health condition and there has yet to be a proven casual link between toxigenic molds and these illnesses. If an individual experiences persistent symptoms that they believe are associated with mold, they should seek advice from a licensed physician. Because mold has been associated with allergenic or upper respiratory symptoms, it is commonly recommended that families take routine measures to prevent mold growth in their homes and remove visible molds when present.

A Solutions EHS Certified Industrial Hygienist can help you to identify moisture or building related problems that may lead to mold issues, assess the magnitude and scope of mold contamination, and/or make recommendations for mold removal. If mold testing is desired, air sampling may be conducted to assess the level of airborne contamination or to investigate hidden mold concerns. Surface samples may be taken to identify the specific types of mold present in your home.

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