Black Mold Allergies

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Stachybotrys-cultureWhat is Black Mold?

While all molds can appear black, it is normally the dreaded Stachybotrys chartarum (also known by its synonym Stachybotrys atra) to which the term “black mold” is referring to. One primary reason is the fact that Stachybotrys can appear as extremely dark black and shiny when compared to other molds growing on the same surface.

Black Mold Grows Everywhere

It can grow on material with a high cellulose and low nitrogen content, such as fiberboard, gypsum board, paper, dust, and lint. Growth occurs when there is moisture from water damage, excessive humidity, water leaks, condensation, water infiltration or flooding. Stachybotrys is a slow growing mold and needs constant moisture source for its continued colonization.

Black Mold is Toxic

Stachybotrys is considered a toxigenic mold and may produce several toxic chemicals called mycotoxins. Mycotoxins can be present in spores and small mold fragments once released into the air. It is these mycotoxins which can cause what many have referred to as “black mold poisoning”. Black mold or Stachybotrys have received much attention in recent years mostly due to some high profile legal cases in the U.S. and around the world.

Symptoms of Black Mold Exposure

Symptoms of exposure to mycotoxins from Stachybotrys and other toxigenic molds include coughing, wheezing, runny nose, irritated eyes or throat, skin rash and diarrhea. Since these symptoms are general in nature, they also can be caused by a cold, influenza or exposure to other allergens. It is not known what level of mycotoxins from Stachybotrys must be present in the air to cause these symptoms and is believed to vary according to environmental conditions.
Is Black Mold really Different?

While Stachybotrys can occur as an indoor air pollutant, it is actually found much less than other toxigenic molds. However, it is paramount to test for mold when there has been events which could promote any toxic mold in the indoor environment. If any toxigenic mold is found in the indoor environment, extra steps to eliminate the live (viable) and dead (non-viable) mold spores must be taken. It is important to understand that live or dead spores in sufficient quantities can cause serious respiratory illnesses in certain humans depending on many factors.

About the author:

The Sick House Center is a resource and information about indoor air pollution to include mold related issues. View Mold Pictures at the Sick House Center.

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Mold Allergy Symptoms

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stachybotrysHow to deal with a mold allergy?

So I never had any allergies before, and recently began receiving some of the symptoms such as eruptions on the eyelids and a lot of sneezing and a runny nose. I discovered one of my old bags that had been hung from a hook on the door had mold in it. I used it last about as a month ago so I’m not sure where the mold came from.   I’m pretty sure that when I ever leave my house, I feel better. It sucks. The mold could be randomly somewhere where I can not see it – please help!  I live in a studio apartment and I fear that this could seriously damage my health, how can I cope?  I’m even starting to have some chest pains that I do not really know how to fix this problem. Thank you very much.

Best Answer:

Mold needs two things to grow:

  1. The organic matter, of which every home has a much of it.
  2. High levels of humidity. Mold needs to least 60% relative humidity to grow.

If you feel you have an allergy to mold then it is probably not all mold species but a particular type. When you develop a hypersensitivity to a mold, then you will experience allergy symptoms when exposed to it. This is especially true if the mold is growing somewhere in the house such as a damp wall, the air conditioning coil box or perhaps a refrigerator drip pan.

First look around the cupboard and the whole apartment for sources of moisture. Check for damp walls, leaking pipes, mineral stains in the ceiling sheet rock from a roof leak, holes in siding and around window frames. Since you live in an apartment complex, there is also a chance that moisture is being caused by a leak in an adjacent unit, so ask around and see if your neighbors have mold problems. If no leaks are obvious then it may be growing in a place out of sight such as those listed above. Have a heating and air conditioning professional check your unit for mold in the coil box, check under sinks for a mold smell, clean your refrigerator drip pan and check all other hidden areas where moisture may be hiding. You could even purchase an inexpensive hygrometer and check the humidity levels around the house. Relative humidity (RH) readings should be below 60%. If the RH level is above 60%, then you should rent or purchase a dehumidifier to control humidity in the house. As soon as you lower and maintain moisture levels relative between 40-50%, then molds may dry out and release spores into the air. Unfortunately a dead or alive mold spore can make you ill so you will still need to remove excess dust including possible mold spores from the indoor environment.

Consider purchasing a HEPA (high efficient particle air) vacuum cleaner and air purifier and use regularly until symptoms get better. If you continue having a moldy smell indoors, then you may also consider hiring a mold contractor to remediate the problem. Be sure and check at least three of their references before proceeding.

About the Author:
The Sick House Center provides resources and information about Sick House Syndrome and other indoor pollution issues. Read about Mold Solutions for the indoor environment at the Sick House Center.

Mold Allergies