Black mold in your home, studio or performance space After mass heavy on the east coast of Australia many properties were pushed to their limits Some interesting information can be found at the disturbingly named website, moldpedia,
We have summarised the main points here.
Toxic Mold refers to several species of mold, a type of fungus, which has a dark green or black appearance. The most common species is Stachybotrys chartarum. It is often called “Black Mold”,
Mold usually grows on porous types of materials such as plasterboard, wood, carpet, and fabrics. Mold must have the right types of conditions in which to grow. Usually some type of water damage needs to occur with the area remaining wet for a long enough period of time, i.e. more than 48 hours.
These molds thrive in warm, moist environments, including baths, showers, toilets, kitchens, and basements. They can also grow on wood, dirt, or paper.
Many molds are toxigenic, meaning that they release toxins that can be irritating or even harmful for people who have pre-existing conditions. Called mycotoxins, they’re produced as mold spores, they eat, grow, and form colonies with other spores.
High concentrations of mycotoxins might cause mold poisoning even in healthy individuals depending on the concentration of mycotoxins, the amount of time exposed to them, and other variables.
Mold exposure can be harmful to anyone but especially so to young children. A 2012 study of 36 species of molds in 289 homes with 8-month-old infants found that infants and young children exposed to mold might be more likely to develop asthma later in life.
However not all mold that looks black is Stachybotrys and in fact most dark mold isn’t even toxic. For a list of symptoms that other molds can cause visit the Mold Symptoms page.
Toxic Black Mold Symptoms
Toxic black mold causes serious symptoms and health problems such as mental impairment, breathing problems, damage to internal organs and sometimes even death. The main groups of symptoms toxic black mold causes are listed below.
Mental and Neurological Symptoms from Toxic Black Mold
The trichothecene mycotoxins produced by toxic black mold are neurotoxic. This means they can kill neurons in the brain and impair a person’s mental ability. They also cause nervous disorders such as tremors and can cause personality changes such as mood swings and irritability.
|Difficulty concentrating||Shortened attention span|
|Dizziness||Memory loss & memory problems|
|Impaired learning ability||Hallucinations|
|Depression||Aggression & other personality changes|
Respiratory Symptoms from Toxic Black Mold
People in environments with toxic black mold are exposed mainly through breathing in toxic black mold spores and mycotoxins. Toxic black mold mycotoxins create irritation and a burning feeling in a person’s air passages such as the nasal cavity, mouth and throat.
The mycotoxins can even become lodged in the mucus membranes, sinuses and the lungs, which then causes a burning feeling, breathing problems and bleeding in the lungs.
|Difficulty breathing||Wheezing, coughing|
|Pulmonary haemorrhage – bleeding in the lungs||Pulmonary oedema – swelling of the lungs|
|Burning sensation in the mouth||Bleeding gums|
|Runny nose||Itchy nose|
|Stuffy, blocked nose||Nose bleeds|
Circulatory Symptoms from Toxic Black Mold
Toxic black mold mycotoxins can be breathed in, ingested, or absorbed through a person’s skin or eyes. Eventually the mycotoxins then find their way into the person’s blood. This leads to heart damage, problems with blood clotting and internal or external haemorrhaging.
|Irregular heartbeat||Heart inflammation|
|Damage to heart||Low blood pressure|
|Bone marrow disruption||Bleeding tendency|
|Blood not clotting properly||Haemorrhage – internal bleeding|
|Vomiting up blood||Bleeding in the brain and other organs|
Vision and Eye Symptoms from Toxic Black Mold
Toxic black mold mycotoxins that are in the air can enter a person’s eyes. The mycotoxins are cytotoxic (toxic to cells) and when they come into contact with eye cells, they cause inflamed and injured eyes and create vision problems.
|Eye inflammation and soreness||Red or bloodshot eyes|
|Eye damage||Blurry vision|
|Vision degradation||Jaundice in the eyes|
Skin Symptoms from Toxic Black Mold
Through the skin is one of the three main ways that toxic black mold mycotoxins enter the human body. There have been cases in the past where people have handled hay contaminated with toxic black mold and developed severe rashes and skin problems on their body where they touched the hay, as well as on sweaty areas like the armpits.
|Skin inflammation, rash||Itchy skin|
|Skin blisters||Jaundice, yellowing of the skin|
Immune System Symptoms from Toxic Black Mold
Toxic black mold emits chemicals that suppress the immune system. In fact, many immunosuppressive drugs are actually created from toxic molds. A person who is immunocompromised from being around toxic black mold will more easily get infections and sicknesses.
|Immunosuppression – immune system not functioning properly||Infections reoccurring|
Reproductive System Symptoms from Toxic Black Mold
Mycotoxins from toxic black mold are teratogenic. This means they can cause problems in the foetus during pregnancy which then leads to birth defects. Toxic black mold mycotoxins are also cytoxotic and mutagenic (cause cell mutations) and inhibit protein synthesis including DNA and RNA.
|Impotence||Foetal development problems|
Tiredness and Discomfort Symptoms from Toxic Black Mold
When a person is around toxic black mold the immune system may release a sedative called Chloral Hydrate. This is used as a defense to try to slow down the effects of toxic black mold. But this also makes a person tired and causes fatigue. Toxic black mold can also cause soreness of the muscles and joints.
|Weakness||Aches & Pains|
|Muscle Pain||Chest Pain|
|Abdominal Pain||Joint Pain|
|Malaise – general discomfort||Headache|
Other Symptoms from Toxic Black Mold
|Hair loss||Weight loss|
|Hearing loss||Liver disease|
Toxic Black Mold Causes Allergic Symptoms
Like other molds, toxic black mold is allergenic. The spores from toxic black mold cause allergic reactions such as breathing problems, sore eyes, runny nose, itchiness, sneezing and a sore throat.
For a more detailed list of allergic reactions caused by mold visit Mold Symptoms and Allergic Reactions.
Differing Toxic Black Mold Symptoms
Toxic black mold affects different people in different ways. Some people won’t experience symptoms as severe as what others experience. Children, the elderly and people with weak immune systems are usually the worst affected by toxic black mold.
Toxic Black Mold and Cancer
Experts suspect that toxic black mold can cause cancer, although there still needs to be more research. Some other toxic molds, like Aspergillus for example, definitely cause cancer though. The aflatoxin mycotoxins which Aspergillus produce are among the most powerful carcinogens.
Are Toxic Black Mold Symptoms Permanent?
Once a person is no longer around toxic black mold most of their symptoms should gradually decrease. Some of the health problems caused by toxic black mold are permanent though. For example, after a person has lived with toxic black mold their immune system won’t be as strong as it used to be, and they’ll be more sensitive to mold and mycotoxins in the future.
Mitigation and Removal of Black Mold
Whilst Black Mold will spread quickly if not addressed it is relatively easy to neutralize. Cleaning detergents, such as borax or bleach, or natural solutions, such as white vinegar or tea tree oil will generally be effective and specific mold removal products both as sprays and solutions such as are commercially available. Wear protective gloves and goggles when cleaning the mold and throw out any items that are completely contaminated. In extreme cases, you may have to call a professional to evaluate and eliminate the black mold. National Bodies include Mold Cleaning Australia and Mold Pro
These organizations can provide certified test results and subsequent removal of offending material if required.