Perhaps it’s been a wet summer and you come across it in the garage. Perhaps you’re purchasing a home and find it during an inspection. Maybe it was just there one day, growing quietly in the corner of a bedroom. However it got there, you’ve got black mold, and clearly the world is about to end. We’ve all heard the terrifying stories and legends around black mold poisoning, and according to anecdotal “experts”, by the time you notice it, you’re already as good as dead!?
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The Reality Of Black Mold Poisoning
Thankfully, the truth is much less frightening. While black mold and black mold poisoning are both significant issues, they are far from insurmountable and really no more or less dangerous than any of form mold exposure or infestation. The key is in detection and remediation. Once you’ve detected the signs of black mold poisoning, you must act quickly. The team at Mold Solutions is happy to offer this informative blog to help you separate fact from fiction and what to do if you find evidence of a black mold infestation in your home or place of business.
What Is Black Mold Poisoning
In order to understand what black mold poisoning is, we should first establish exactly what constitutes black mold. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, black mold is named Stachybotrys Chartarum and is a greenish black mold that’s capable of growing on any surface with a high cellulose content like fiberboard, gypsum board and paper. It will grow anywhere there is a constant source of moisture from water damage, infiltration, or flooding. Leaks and condensation are also high-risk factors for black mold.
Symptoms Of Black Mold Poisoning
There is currently no definitive connection to associates the fungus that causes black mold poisoning with any particular health symptoms or diseases. There are however, common symptoms among people who have been exposed to black mold. Black mold gives off a toxic substance known as a mycotoxin, and this substance can cause symptoms consistent with mold inhalation These symptoms include but are not limited to:
- aches and pains
- changes in mood
- memory loss
Other Possible Signs Of Black Mold Poisoning
Other symptoms may present themselves among people who are prone to allergic reactions or are particularly sensitive to mold, and may suffer symptoms consistent with mold reactions including but limited to:
- a runny or blocked nose
- watery, red eyes
- a dry cough
- skin rashes
- a sore throat
This list is by no means exhaustive. There could be literally millions of varieties of fungus and molds on Earth, and any of them could trigger an adverse reaction in someone with a sensitivity to that particular strain of mold. Any of these could be considered symptoms of black mold poisoning.
People Vulnerable To Symptoms OF Black Mold Poisoning
While black mold poison actually poses no more or less of a threat than any other species of mold, it is important to remember that people with systems compromised by some other factor can be more susceptible to exposure and its adverse effects. These conditions include:
- seasonal or chronic allergies
- cystic fibrosis
- weakened immune system
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), and…
- immunodeficiency disorders.
How To Test For Black Mold Poisoning
Having established that many adverse reactions can be a symptom of black mold poisoning, and allowing that there will be individuals who are in fact asymptomatic, the only real ways to establish infection or a sensitivity to mold is for a doctor to perform either of the two following tests:
Your doctor takes a blood sample and sends it to a testing laboratory to test for the reaction of certain antibodies in your immune system to different mold species, including black mold. This can help diagnose both mold allergies and more severe reactions to mold that may indicate mold poisoning. A blood test can also check for biotoxins in your blood from mold exposure, which can also reveal mold poisoning.
Skin Prick Test
Your doctor takes tiny amounts of mold and applies it to your skin using a tiny needle. Your skin will break out in bumps, a rash, or hives if you’re allergic to that mold species.
Treating Black Mold Poisoning
The suggested treatment for black mold exposure tends to run along similar lines as other allergy treatments. Over the counter saline nasal rinses and/or corticosteroids such as Flonase are recommended to reduce inflammation and swelling of the airway. Antihistamines can reduce the intensity and duration of symptoms of an immune system response, and a decongestant like Sudafed can also be used to reduce airway swelling. People who are prone to allergic reaction may want to visit their physicians for an allergy shot.
Locating And Eliminating The Source Of Black Mold Poisoning
Mold exposure can be dangerous to certain individuals, and is considered generally unhealthy. Once presence and exposure has been established, and treatment of adverse physical symptoms, identifying the source of the mold, disinfection and prevention of future mold issues become paramount concerns. Mold infestation of any sort must be located and remedied immediately. If there is mold in a given space, it is an immediate indication that there is an issue with moisture. So, the first move is determining where the water damage is coming from and eliminating it.
What Is Water Infiltration?
In terms of homeownership water is the second most damaging element in existence, directly behind fire. Water can infiltrate your home through cracks in your home’s foundation, your basement floor, through siding, and even through windows. If there is any sort of opening, water can theoretically get in. In addition to mold issues, the consequences of water infiltration can include:
- Negative effects on the residents’ health;
- Weakening of the building’s structure;
- Weakening of the building envelope’s insulating capacity;
- Depreciating resale value of your home;
- Legal proceedings for having a latent defect not being declared to the home’s buyer.
How Does Water Infiltration Happen?
Locating the actual source of water infiltration can be a difficult, frustrating task. Water in your basement could actually be coming in from your roof as a trickle of rainwater making its way through cracks, walls and seams throughout your home. Water can enter anywhere there is even the smallest crack or space. If the origin of water infiltration isn’t easily isolated, a building expert with access to thermal imaging may be needed to properly determine the path of the water from its source to its resting place. Now that our theoretical moisture issue has been both identified and resolved, we can now focus on the elimination of the black mold itself.
Finding Black Mold
Locating the mold is usually not terribly difficult. Look for spots, perhaps with a slight furry texture, and take note of any wet or musty smell that may be in the area. Notice any physical reactions you or someone else may be experiencing. This could be in response to inhalation of airborne mold particles, spores or mycotoxins from an unseen location. Pay attention to any growth areas like old paper, carpets, food or wood and remove any objects that may be contributing to the issue. If you suspect the mold problem encompasses more than a localized outbreak, bring in a professional testing and inspections crew like Mold Solutions in Seattle to properly assess your mold issue.
Treating Black Mold
Once identified, a mixture of soap and water can be used or a combination of no more than one cup of bleach to no less than one gallon of water. If you do decide to use bleach when eliminating black mold, please keep these important safety tips in mind:
- Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners. Mixing bleach with ammonia or other cleaning products will produce a poisonous gas.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when you use bleach or any other cleaning product.
- Open windows and doors to provide fresh air.
- Wear masks, rubber boots, rubber gloves, and goggles during cleanup of affected areas.
- If you need to clean more than 10 square feet, check the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guide titled Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings, which gives advice on all building types. You can get it by going to the EPA website.
Preventing Black Mold Poisoning In The Future
Black mold poisoning can only be fought with diligence toward mold prevention and remediation. There are several weapons that homeowners and anyone who wishes to prevent mold issues going forward can use as weapons in the war against mold. Keep in mind, that mold is all around us so regular preventative measures will always be necessary.
- Mold prevention starts with remembering the mold thrives in moist environments.
- Monitoring humidity levels is of paramount importance, so keep an eye on problem areas like bathrooms and laundry rooms where moisture levels are likely to be higher than usual.
- Don’t be afraid to use a dehumidifier if necessary, particularly during humid or rainy months.
- Maintain exhaust fans, and air conditioning units.
- Deal with any moisture issues promptly.
- Dispose of old papers, and avoid carpet in moisture prone areas, like kitchen, bathroom and basement.
- Clean and vacuum living areas regularly.
If you are in need of mold removal in the Seattle area contact Mold Solutions today!