4 Signs Of Black Mold You Should Never Ignore, From A Remediation Expert
While indoor mold growth, in general, isn't a commonly discussed topic in society, "toxic black mold" has made waves in the news over the years. Unfortunately, this has led to a long list of misconceptions, like that all black mold is toxic and that it's the only type of mold to worry about at home.
It's important to understand what "black mold" actually is, why it's harmful, and how to identify it at home before it becomes a problem.
So, what is black mold?
Over 100,000 species of mold have been identified by researchers so far, and they come in a variety of shapes and colors. Many of these species can be black in color, such as Aspergillus and Chaetomium. That being said, discussions regarding black mold typically refer specifically to a species called Stachybotrys chartarum.
All species of mold reproduce by creating microscopic spores and releasing them into the surrounding area. Some species of mold, like Stachybotrys chartarum, also release microscopic toxins called mycotoxins when threatened, which are naturally toxic to the human body. To make matters more complicated, some species of mold (including Stachybotrys chartarum) can create multiple types of mycotoxins.
Having spores and mycotoxins in your home can harm your indoor air quality and contaminate your surfaces. And since these particles are small enough to be inhaled, ingested, and absorbed into the body, they can trigger adverse health reactions.
Symptoms of black mold:
The tricky aspect of indoor mold growth is that everyone responds differently to exposure. Adverse health effects can vary greatly from person to person. Genetics, length of time exposed, volume of exposure, and preexisting conditions all play a role.
That being said, common symptoms include:
- Brain fog and cognitive difficulty
- Chronic fatigue
- Allergy symptoms/persistent cold
- Hormone imbalance
- Digestive issues
- Mood swings
- Headaches and/or migraines
- Muscle and/or joint pain
Signs of black mold at home.
These are four top signs that you might have black mold at home:
The first and easiest way to determine if there's indoor mold growth is to grab a flashlight and check out hot spot areas in the home. Black mold will appear black in color, but any abnormalities could indicate contamination. Hot spot areas to check include:
- Windowsills and doorframes
- Air vents
- Underneath sinks
- Inside cabinets
- Grout and caulk
- Toilet tank
As a water-loving mold, Stachybotrys chartarum requires high levels of moisture to grow in a home. This is why you'll always want to check water-damaged areas for signs of black mold. Visual issues to look out for include:
- Coffee-like stains on ceilings or walls
- Discolored carpeting
- Peeling, cracked, or bubbling wallpaper
- Peeling or bubbling paint
If you don't find any visible mold, that still doesn't mean that there isn't a problem. The growth could be in a hidden location like the inside of a wall or underneath the flooring.
In this case, rely on your sense of smell to help determine if there's an issue. Mold growth often creates a damp, musty, earthy odor due to the release of gases called microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOC). If you constantly smell dampness in the home, there's a good chance that there's contamination.
Unexplained chronic symptoms
Sometimes, mold growth is hidden and doesn't create an odor. In cases like this, pay attention to your body and how you feel at home. Have you developed chronic symptoms over time that no doctor can pinpoint a root cause for? Do they flare up any time you're hanging out at home? Never ignore chronic symptoms or accept them as the "new norm." Instead, attempt to pinpoint what is causing your body to send out warning signals.
Home health plays a huge role in our ongoing wellness. The safer and less contaminated these spaces are, the healthier and happier our bodies will be. Like any kind of indoor mold, black mold should be avoided and prevented as much as possible. Once you notice these telltale signs of it, it's time to spring into action and figure out your treatment plan.
Michael Rubino is a mold and air quality expert and founder of HomeCleanse, a revolutionary company with the vision to end the worldwide health epidemic caused by poor air quality and toxic indoor environments.
As President of HomeCleanse, Rubino specializes in working with people who are immunocompromised or have acute and sustained reactions to mold exposure. He works closely with the company's advisory team, which includes global well-being trailblazers Deepak Chopra’s The Chopra Foundation and Gwyneth Paltrow, to achieve the company's mission to improve the quality of life for 100 million people each year by 2030. Rubino is also the founder of Change the Air Foundation, a nonprofit committed to empowering the world to achieve better health by establishing safer and healthier indoor environments.
Through collaboration with over 100 doctors globally, Rubino strives to not only raise awareness globally but also provide solutions to correctly identify and remove the pollutants causing this worldwide health crisis. Rubino specializes in working with people who are immunocompromised or have acute and sustained reactions to mold exposure and has helped heal over 1,000 families so far—including celebrities and athletes. He is a council-certified Mold Remediation Supervisor by ACACa nd IICRC and is a contributing member, sponsor, and speaker for the Indoor Air Quality Association.