What is Toxic Mold?

What is Toxic Mold?

August 01, 2020

Believe it or not, there is always a little mold present in your home. Whether mold is present in the air or on any number of your home’s surfaces, the question is not if your home has mold but how much, and of what type. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), certain forms of toxigenic mold can prove hazardous to health. These forms of toxic mold have been shown to be a cause of health conditions including upper respiratory tract issues, asthma, and, in more extreme cases, even memory loss. 

With toxic mold becoming the grounds for numerous health concerns and even lawsuits in recent years, many homeowners are asking the question, “what is toxic mold?”. At DIY Mold Test, we know that the first step in fighting against the presence of toxic mold in your home is knowing exactly what it is. Today, we will be explaining what toxic mold is, how to know whether or not your home is affected, and what you can do to combat toxic mold in your home. 

Defining Toxic Mold

Toxic mold is a form of toxigenic mold, meaning they are able to produce toxins. These toxins are known as mycotoxins. It is important to make a distinction between mold and these more harmful forms known as toxic mold, however, as the toxins produced (mycotoxins) are what make all the difference in the risk of health hazards. 

Most forms of mold, according to the CDC, are fairly harmless to your health. After all, as stated, there is a little bit of mold in every home. The difference is made when mold produces these toxins known as mycotoxins as they are what can cause health problems. Mold itself is not what is harmful in the case of toxic mold, but rather, the mycotoxins produced. 

There are over a thousand different varieties of indoor mold and, thankfully, a moderate amount of mold in your home shouldn’t cause much damage. Concern is needed, however, when these amounts of mold are left to flourish and multiply. This results in a high amount of mold and it is at this point that the mold can spread to the point of producing mycotoxins. Under certain conditions, mold is in the perfect setting to produce mycotoxins and determining this form of mold sooner rather than later makes all the difference. 

 

What Forms of Mold Produce Mycotoxins?

While most common forms of mold are relatively harmless, there are two forms of mold in particular known for producing harmful mycotoxins, classifying them as “toxic molds”. Let’s explore these two forms of toxic mold and discuss where they are most commonly found.

Stachybotrys chartarum

Stachybotrys chartarum is a form of toxic mold known widely as “black mold”. This toxigenic mold is easily recognizable as it possesses a greenish-black hue. Stachybotrys chartarum requires a particularly moist environment to be allowed to grow and is most commonly found in flood-damaged buildings and houses. The mycotoxins produced by Stachybotrys chartarum are considered potent and are known to cause health problems including:

  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Hives
  • Skin rashes
  • Itching
  • Burning eyes
  • Poor concentration
  • Memory loss
  • Increased irritability
  • Mood swings

The most disconcerting fact about Stachybotrys chartarum, or black mold, is that the CDC is unaware of just how commonly it is found in homes. This highlights the need to perform the necessary mold testing to ensure that this form of toxic mold isn’t present in your home. 

Aspergillus

While Aspergillus is classified as an entire family of molds, some of these Aspergillus molds are known to be toxigenic, producing mycotoxins less potent than those found in Stachybotrys chartarum but extremely harmful nonetheless. This form of toxic mold is most commonly found in moist areas, similarly to Stachybotrys chartarum. While less harmful than Stachybotrys chartarum, Aspergillus molds are far more common (as far as we know). Here are a few of the most common health problems known to be associated with the presence of Aspergillus:

  • Aspergillosis
  • Allergic diseases
  • Asthma
  • Atopy
  • Respiratory issues
  • Chest tightness
  • Heaviness in head
  • Itchy eyes
  • Joint pain

How Does Toxic Mold Get Into Homes?

Clearly, toxic mold presents its share of health issues. So, how do forms of toxic mold such as Stachybotrys chartarum and Aspergillus get into the home in the first place? In order to answer this question, we must know how mold travels and how it spreads. 

Mold travels in a number of ways but is most commonly thought to enter homes through open doors, windows, and through air conditioning, heating, and ventilation systems. It is also a commonly held belief that mold can be carried indoors via clothes, shoes, and even pets. Once mold is brought indoors, it finds a home in moist environments where it is allowed to flourish if gone unidentified.

Mold spreads by generating spores and these spores are a particular problem as, once allowed to form, they are able to survive for very long periods of time- even in harsher environments where mold would be otherwise unable to grow. Again, mold prefers moist, wet environments in order to lay roots and grow but spores get around this problem in a sense, causing mold to spread throughout the home. This makes mold hard to eliminate- especially when left undetected as it is able to grow in number and become more harmful over time. For this reason, detecting the presence of mold, toxic mold especially, is vital. 

How to Detect Toxic Mold in Your Home

Now that you understand what toxic mold is, harmful effects of toxic mold, and how it spreads, it’s time to talk about how you can detect it early on. After all, the earliest possible detection of toxic mold in your home can make the difference between harmful health effects and otherwise good health. 

Considering the fact that some of the most common forms of mold are relatively harmless, it is important that you have a method at your disposal to test for toxic mold. Mold testing solutions are one of the easiest ways to do this.

Mold testing kits work to make a distinction between the most common forms of mold and mold-producing harmful mycotoxins. Homeowners can use these kits to test the mold present in their home and detect whether or not they could be at risk for some of the health issues highlighted in this article. 

If you have recently noticed mold in your home or have suffered water damage, the time to act is now! Consider picking up a home mold testing kit for yourself and identify any possible threat as early as possible.




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