Health Care and Black Mold

- May 16, 2014
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A certain toxic reaction in buildings of any type can occur when water damage takes place. If you are exposed to black mold, then the possibility of severe illness can happen. The term black mold strikes fear into the hearts of developers, real estate specialists, and inspectors, as well as building owners because of the expense, damage, and possible results of exposure and clean up. Certainly, black mold should be avoided at all cost and cleaned up as quickly as possible.

The term “mold illness” is a subcategory of biotoxin illness called Chronic Inflammatory ResponseSyndrome(CIRS). The proper definition of CIRS is:  an acute and chronic, systemic inflammatory response syndrome acquired following exposure to the interior environment of a water-damaged building with resident toxigenic organisms, including, but not limited to fungi, bacteria, actinomycetes and mycobacteria as well as inflammagens such as endotoxins, beta glucans, hemolysins, proteinases, mannans and possibly spirocyclic drimanes; as well as volatile organic compounds. The best discussion of the academic basis for this illness is found in the Expert Treating Physicians Consensus report published 7/2010.

Let start with some basic ideas: this illness is not an allergy. It is an inflammation within the body which is caused by an immune system that has gone haywire. More information can be found at this website:

The symptoms of black mold poisoning can often be difficult to identify, according to . The problems are usually so general that they may seem to be due to factors other than black mold. Because black mold symptoms can be so varied and so personal, you can have black mold poisoning with no symptoms, some symptoms or every symptom. Black mold does not cause problems in everyone.

When it does cause issues, it is often due to an allergic reaction to the mold, instead of symptoms of poisoning. Nevertheless, severe mold problems can lead to poisoning in some cases. If left untreated, the poisoning can be potentially serious. Here are some key symptoms:

·         Asthma symptomscan be caused by black mold. This can include shortness of breathe and a tightening feeling in the chest. The mold can also cause more frequent asthma attacks for people with asthma.
·         Flu-like symptomscan be caused by black mold. This can include fatigue, weakness, headache, nausea, fever and chills.
·         Irritated eye symptoms can be caused by black mold. This can include sensitivity to sunlight, burning sensation in the eyes and red eyes.
·         Respiratory symptomscan be caused by black mold. This can include sneezing, a runny nose, coughing, nasal congestion and throat irritation.
·         Skin irritation symptomscan be caused by black mold. This can include a mild to severe rash or hives.

Toxic mold grows in wet areas, particularly if there has been recent water damage. Many areas that see frequent moisture, such as the corner of an old and cracked shower, can grow black mold. The toxic fungi can result in serious side effects, especially for infants and young children. More info can be found at this site:

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Sensitive individuals should avoid areas that are likely to have mold, such as compost piles, cut grass, and wooded areas. Inside homes, mold growth can be slowed by controlling humidity levels and ventilating showers and cooking areas. If there is mold growth in your home, you should clean up the mold and fix the water problem. In addition to finding information a this site:, there are more tips listed here. 

Mold growth can be removed from hard surfaces with commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water. If you choose to use bleach to clean up mold:

·         Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners. Mixing bleach with ammonia or other cleaning products will produce dangerous, toxic fumes.
·         Open windows and doors to provide fresh air.
·         Wear non-porous gloves and protective eye wear.
·         If the area to be cleaned is more than 10 square feet, consult the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guide titled Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings. Although focused on schools and commercial buildings, this document also applies to other building types. You can get it by going to the EPA web site at
·         Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using bleach or any other cleaning product.

According to the CDC, here are some recommendations:

·         Keep humidity levels as low as you can—no higher than 50%--all day long. An air conditioner or dehumidifier will help you keep the level low. Bear in mind that humidity levels change over the course of a day with changes in the moisture in the air and the air temperature, so you will need to check the humidity levels more than once a day.
·         Use an air conditioner or a dehumidifier during humid months.
·         Be sure the home has adequate ventilation, including exhaust fans.
·         Add mold inhibitors to paints before application.
·         Clean bathrooms with mold killing products.
·         Do not carpet bathrooms and basements.
·         Remove or replace previously soaked carpets and upholstery.

Never attempt to dispose of toxic black mold on your own, according to Residential Energy Services Network. Improper removal of mold can cause the release of high amounts of spores and mycotoxins. This can lead to cross contamination throughout the interior of the home and increases the chance of health issues.

If you discover toxic black mold in your residence you should contact a professional and if required in your state, a licensed mold remediation company. The removal of mold can be very extensive. Improper remediation of a toxic black mold condition can lead to cross contamination and require additional remediation and cleaning. While remediation is being performed, arrangements should be made for the home to be empty of residence. Some mold conditions can require long term remediation leaving the home inhabitable.

Toxic black mold grows at a slower rate than most molds. It requires a food source to be extremely wet for up to 7-10 days before it can start to grow. Typically your average mold will take 1-2 days to colonize, but toxic black mold can take up to 12 days before colonizing. Toxic black mold in a home will typically grow in a place that is not visible to the occupants. Because toxic black mold requires extensive moisture for a long period of time, it usually grows in a place where there has been a hidden water leak.

Many times the cause of toxic black mold growth is a plumbing leak hidden within the walls. Other causes include: water heater and washer leaks, shower and sink leaks and water entering into the interior by way of a construction failure.  More info about black mold remediation can be found at this site:

If you want to be safe, it is highly recommend you hire a professional company who has experience working with mold removal. They can advise you on the best cleanup process to completely get rid of your mold problems. You can find them typically through referrals or online, and the company should provide a free consultation:

·         They will assess the situation at no cost to you.
·         They will help you find mold that you may not have seen. This is very important because if you miss even a little mold, you remain at risk for health problems
·         They have the knowledge and special equipment to safely remove mold without exposing you to further health problems.
·         They can advise you on techniques that will help you complete the job safely if you opt to do the work yourself.

The dangers of black mold increase during the cleanup process because you will be increasing your exposure to the mold. In order to avoid the health effects of black mold, it is necessary to take precautionary steps in order to prevent cross contamination and also minimize the exposure. Wearing goggles, a mask, and other protective clothing can help you to avoid exposure to the spores. More details can be found at this site:

As well, here are some additional resources on this topic:
Mold: Signs, Types of Mold, Clean-up, Effects on Health, Toxins, Mold Prevention and more

Mold and Moisture in Homes - Minnesota Department of Health

Mold: Standards, Hazard Recognition, Detection Methods, Control and Clean-up - U.S. Department of Labor

Molds and Your Home: What You Need to Know - New York State Department of Labor

Black mold is something that can be prevented, but when it is found in any type of structure, you should act immediately to resolve the situation—not only for economic and environmental reasons, but also for your own physical and mental health and wellbeing .

Until next time.
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