Something smells off in your basement. You begin moving boxes and then you notice it growing up your wall – black mold
. Oh no! You begin to panic as you realize that everyone in your house has been battling the cold and flu off and on for months. Now you can’t help but wonder if your home has been making your family sick
Relax: Not All Black Mold Is Toxic
If you have just discovered mold in your home, don’t panic – yet. Not every mold streak is toxic. If it were, we would all be in trouble. The fact is that most of the 100,000 species of stachybotrys chartarum (black mold) do not produce toxic mycotoxins. That doesn’t mean you won’t experience an allergic reaction though.
The good news is that in most cases, the mold found in your home is not toxic and will not cause dangerous medical conditions. The bad news is that if anyone in your family is sensitive to mold, even nontoxic varieties, it can induce allergic reactions. These reactions include respiratory problems; itchy skin; fatigue, headaches and even asthma.
Where Does Black Mold Come From?
No matter how often you clean, odds are you still notice small amounts of mold in your bathroom, basement, attic or laundry room from time to time. This is normal. Mold spores are everywhere, and there is no way to completely eradicate them. Most of the time they fly into your home from the air, on your clothing (or shoes) or even your pet. Normally they don’t cause a problem; unless they find a warm, moist area to settle in and reproduce. If left to grow unnoticed, mold can be difficult to get rid of.
A serious mold problem is usually the result of a leak or flood, which allows spores to grow unnoticed. Maybe a small leak goes unnoticed in the basement, allowing moisture to build up in the walls, drywall, fabrics (like stored clothing), books, etc. Mold spores are attracted to the moisture and will begin to grow.
Can You Clean Black Mold Yourself?
If you notice a small amount of mold growing in your bathroom, closets, or other area of your home, you may be able to clean it yourself using an equal mixture of bleach and water. Simply scrub the mold off of the surface (always wear a mask), and dry the area thoroughly. If the area is larger than ten square feet, be sure to check out the EPA website for some great tips on mold removal in both homes and commercial buildings.
How Can You Tell If the Mold in Your Home Is Dangerous?
You’ve noticed some type of black and green mold growing in your home. Now what? You can’t tackle the problem until you know what kind of mold you are dealing with. The only surefire way to determine if the black mold growing is indeed toxic mold is to send a sample to a laboratory for testing. Once you have the results, you can determine if it is something you can clean yourself, or if you need to bring in a mold remediation specialist.
How Mold Remediation Works
Finding mold in your home can be scary – especially if you find a lot of it. That is when bringing in someone who knows how to safely remove mold can be helpful. During the remediation process, a specialist
will determine the type of mold infiltrating your home, and then safely remove it while safeguarding the rest of your home; and finish by clearing the air of spores so that the problem does not return. Here are the basic steps to mold remediation:
- Inspection: During your home’s mold inspection, the specialists will determine the severity of the problem including what areas spores have infiltrated and what type of mold has been found.
- Containing mold growth: Mold can grow quickly under the right conditions. Plus it can move through the air, putting other areas of the home at risk. The first step to mold removal is to seal off the contaminated area to prevent the mold from spreading.
- Controlling Moisture: Since mold spores thrive in a moist environment, the next step to clearing the area of mold is to get rid of any leaks or other moisture problems.
- Cleaning the mold: Once the area is completely dried, HEPA vacuums can be used to remove mold spores form the area (including the air), while the infected surfaces are cleaned.
- Cleaning the air: Since mold spores move through the air, it is vital that home’s that have been infiltrated with black mold also have their ducts, furnace and air filters thoroughly cleaned to remove all spores from the home.
Discovering black mold in your home doesn’t have to send you into a tailspin. Remember, most species aren’t toxic and can easily be cleaned from your home’s surfaces without causing any health problems for those who live there. The key is understanding what black mold is and how best to remove it.