Don’t Panic Not all Black Mold is Toxic
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Black mold often connotes the “Black Plague.” If you find something you think is black mold, don’t panic, as not all discoloration is mold and not all black molds are toxic. In fact, humans and pets often cause some of the spots that look like black mold.
If people lean their heads against a wall repeatedly, or pets rest in the same spot against a wall, the oils from hair and fur can cling to the wall.
The oil will collect dust from the air, and the patterns created often look like mold.
If you see something that appears to be mold, relax and investigate the area, because you may be panicking for no reason.
At the same time, learning to look for mold will also alert you to finding toxic mold.
Toxic mold must be removed as it can cause several health problems in people and pets. Read on to learn more!
What Is Mold Anyways?
Often, we hear the words mold and mildew used in sync. Cleaning products especially brag about their ability to remove mold and mildew. But what exactly is mildew anyways and how does it relate to mold?
If you do any research, you may discover that the information out there tends to contradict itself.
There are generally two schools of thought concerning mold and mildew: 1) mold and mildew are the same or 2) mold and mildew are not the same.
Let’s break it down.
Mold is what we term microscopic fungi that grow in long, branching filaments and that are multicellular (these filaments are called hyphae incidentally).
There are thousands of species of mold and mold derives its energy from the organic matter in which it lives.
Mold produces mold spores. Most spores remain airborne indefinitely and can resist extreme temperatures and pressures.
Molds are only visible to the naked eye when colonies grow.
Mildew is actually a general term for growth produced by mold fungi; different fungi produce different types of mildew.
Mildew appears in a variety of forms to include spores that look like sugar, spots and discolorations on leaves as well as downy patches.
There are two main types of mildew: powdery and downy.
Powdery mildew appears as small white or gray patches and is commonly found on flowers.
Powdery mildew is not fatal though it may impair photosynthesis. Downy mildew varies in appearance as well and may look like yellow or tan, angular or blotchy spots on leaves or white fuzz that engulfs the organic material it grows on.
Downy mildew commonly forms on grapes, cucumbers, potatoes and even flowers.
Mildew will grow in an environment that is damp with poor air circulation.
Thus, to help prevent the occurrence of mildew on plants or crops, avoid crowded plantings, try to grow mildew-resistant varieties and don’t grow varieties susceptible to mildew in the shade.
In sum, it is my opinion that the discolored growth in your shower or tub is not mildew; rather, it is mold.
So why the discrepancy?
Mildew sounds less severe than mold. “Oh, that’s just mildew in the corner” makes it sound as if the problem will go away with the blink of an eye compared to thinking that you have mold growing. Everybody knows that if you have mold, then you’ve got a problem.
People often inspect their homes for mold when someone in their household gets sick or they see a news report on mold.
People tend to get nervous and think every black spot warrants a thorough inspection.
On occasion some visible mold can be determined to be harmless and “cosmetic” old mold that was present when the building was constructed.
While it is always possible that additional more harmful molds are present in addition to the cosmetic mold, if there is no leak history nor any other evidence of mold growth in a building and if there are no health or building-related occupant complaints, the identification of the cosmetic mold described here might be accomplished by visual inspection alone, saving on more costly professional mold tests.
For example, sometimes on beams and rafters there is “cosmetic mold” If it is only on one or two boards in a section and stops abruptly, the boards most likely came that way, because mold doesn’t stop growing in straight lines.
If you don’t like the look of it, you can remove it with cleaning solutions. Cosmetic mold will not reappear, but if it does, it was not cosmetic mold and new mold is growing, and it is time to look for the causes.
Walls and Ceilings
The discoloration that looks like mold on walls or ceilings, but seems to grow in stripes where joists are, is probably no more than stains caused by thermal tracking.
This is when dust and dirt collect on cooler parts of your walls and ceilings.
Scented candles, dirty furnaces and poor ventilation contribute to this type of staining.
Types of Mold
There are three types of black mold that are less common but are considered very serious health hazards.
Mold infestation can be obvious or it can be hidden in places like behind walls and underneath appliances.
Occupants often become sick from exposure before a mold problem is even suspected.
Recognizing the differences between harmless mold and toxic mold will not only save you a lot of time and money, but it will also alleviate much worry in your life.
Unfortunately, sometimes you will find mold that needs to be removed from your property.
There are over 100 000 mold species, some more harmful than others.
Mold spores are less than 4 microns in size. Spores are so small that as many as 250,000 spores can fit onto the head of a pin. In one minute your lungs can take in over seven hundred thousand of these spores.
It is believed that as many as fifty percent of all homes and buildings may have some level of Stachybotrys infestation.
According to some, “Mold Exposure is perhaps the single most misdiagnosed illness in the United States.”
Prolonged exposure to mold can stimulate allergic like reactions in people as well as cause an assortment of illness symptoms.
It appears that people with better immunity will be able to tolerate the ill effects of mold; however, people who are under stress, have weakened immunities, are allergic to mold or are seniors are at greater risk to develop illnesses related to mold mycotoxins in their homes.
Also, mold can make pets sick as well!
The website for the Center of Disease Prevention has an excellent database of common molds and diseases caused by exposure to them. Please refer to this link.
Mold: it’s everyone’s worst enemy.
So what should you do when you discover that you have a mold problem in your home?
Most people tend to think that you can take care of the problem yourself. With so many mold removal How To articles on the internet, if you’re brave enough, you might just go for it.
Unfortunately, most people do not have access to proper protection gear or even proper mold removal disinfectants.
Well what about bleach?
Unfortunately, the notion that bleach kills mold is false. Bleach merely “bleaches” the color out while the mold roots remain intact and continue to grow.
Furthermore, you need to do more than just kill mold, you have to remove it.
To remove mold, a series of steps must be taken with great safety.
From properly removing the mold and the affected surface to properly disposing of the mold (even dead mold gives off volatile organic compounds and is a potential allergen).
For example, a common misconception that consumers come across is that you can effectively remove mold from your bathroom tile.
Again, most so called mold killers commonly available on the market are made of bleach.
Truly, the only way to remove the mold from your shower stall is to completely remove the grout and re-grout the tile with a new application.
Mold remediation companies are fully equipped to handle any mold situation, from small to large.
Usually, after the initial call is made, a specialist will come out and assess the situation. Usually, from that point, a quote can be made.
Next, a thorough mold inspection will take place as well as mold testing. After the inspection and testing are done, the mold removal and remediation processes will take place.
In no time, your property will be restored and mold-free.
Keep Your Home Mold Free
To keep your home mold-free, you simply have to control excess moisture in your home.
When it comes to identifying the signs and probable causes of moisture and moisture-related indoor air quality problems in your home, there are several practical solutions that any homeowner can take to reduce moisture and make the home less hospitable to mold.
Many household problems can be solved if you adopt strategies to prevent excess moisture in the home, perform maintenance or minor repairs and/or hire a professional restoration company to make repairs.
Often, mold damage is a direct result of flooding or storms. In the event of a flood, especially a flood caused by sewage back-up, it is critical you call a professional restoration company for emergency water removal.
The technicians can dry out your home completely and make it uninhabitable for mold to grow.
In sum, know what is mold, what isn’t mold, and know when to call for help!