You found something that looks like it could be black mold, but how can you tell, and what do you do? There is a common belief that black mold is highly toxic and causes health problems. Find out more about black mold and if you and your family are at risk.
WHAT IS BLACK MOLD?
A mold is a form of a fungus with many varieties, characteristics, and growing habits. Color is one way to categorize different molds, but it is NOT an indication of how dangerous a mold may be. Black mold is a common name for several species of mold that have the same appearance and are dark or black in color, as the name implies. It is usually found in damp or water-damaged buildings.
WHAT DOES BLACK MOLD LOOK LIKE?
In most cases, black mold is dark deep green, almost black appearance. Black mold will begin growing in one area as small flecks of slimy or fuzzy substance, and then it travels up or down a wall creating a larger patch. Once black mold begins to form, it can expand quickly and take over an entire wall or travel down across the floor.
WHAT CAUSES BLACK MOLD TO GROW?
All it takes is a warm environment with lots of moisture for black mold to grow. That’s why baths, showers, toilets, kitchens, and basements are common places to find mold growing. Mold can also grow on wood, dirt, and paper. If you live in a humid climate, your home has a higher risk of mold.
WHY CAN MOLD BE DANGEROUS?
No matter what color the mold may be, it is important to remove it because some individuals can have symptoms from living with mold in the home. For example, inhaling or touching the mold can cause an allergic reaction. Mold can worsen asthma or lung problems for people with sensitivity to mold. Others may have no reaction to mold so it only exists as unsightly home damage.
SYMPTOMS OF AN ALLERGIC REACTION TO MOLD?
Symptoms of an allergic reaction to mold can include:
- Skin rash
- Watery, red eyes
- Sore throat
More severe allergic reaction symptoms may include:
- Shortness of breath
- Trouble breathing
If someone is experiencing an allergic reaction to mold, move them away from the infected area to get fresh air or run cold water over the area of skin that came in contact with the mold. Then call the Missouri Poison Center for more advice and directions. In the case of a medical emergency, call 911 for further treatment.
HOW TO REMOVE BLACK MOLD?
To fix a mold problem, you need to first fix the moisture problem otherwise regrowth can occur. Finding and eliminating the moisture source is the key to controlling all types of mold. Some mold-removal instructions call for chemicals such as bleach or detergent. Home treatment should be limited to small areas such as less than a 3ft by 3ft patch. Another alternative is to hire an experienced professional to remove mold from your home.
If you decide to treat mold on your own, be sure to read the labels on all substances, and understand how to use the products as well as how to store them properly afterward.
HOW TO REMOVE MOLD FROM WALLS?
To help remove mold from a wall, shower, bath, or toilet, mix no more than 1 cup (8 ounces) of household laundry bleach per 1 gallon of water in a bucket. Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners. Mixing can produce poisonous gas. Make sure you are in a well-ventilated area with open windows and a fan running. Wearing gloves, goggles, and a respirator (if possible), use a scrub brush to vigorously scrub the affected area with the bleach/water solution. Keep doing this until the spots are gone. Do not paint or caulk moldy surfaces directly as the paint is likely to peel. The area needs to be cleaned first.
HOW TO PREVENT MOLD GROWTH IN YOUR HOME?
There are several ways that you can prevent mold growth in your home:
- Promptly fix leaks in your home including the roof, walls, or plumbing.
- Keep humidity levels less than 50%. The use of an air conditioner or dehumidifier will help with this.
- Clean bathrooms with mold-killing products
- Use exhaust fans that vent outside your home, especially in areas like the bathroom or kitchen.
- Clean up and dry and flood areas within 24-48 hours.
WORRIED YOU ARE EXPERIENCING SYMPTOMS FROM A MOLD EXPOSURE?
If you’re worried that you or someone else is experiencing symptoms of an allergic reaction to mold, call the Missouri Poison Center to talk with a specially trained Registered Nurse or Pharmacist. Our call center is open 24 hours, every day of the year, including holidays. Don’t wait — call now.