Black mold can trigger symptoms of allergies, like stuffy nose or coughing. People who are immunocompromised may experience more severe symptoms.
Mold is a type of fungus. “Black mold” refers to several species of mold that have a dark green or black appearance. One such type is Stachybotrys chartarum.
The color of a mold isn’t associated with how dangerous it may be, according to the
Furthermore, no evidence links black molds, including Stachybotrys chartarum, to particular health conditions.
Molds thrive in warm, frequently moist environments, including baths, showers, toilets, kitchens, and basements. They can also grow on wood, dirt, or paper.
Mold may grow even more plentifully in humid climates or if you use a humidifier indoors.
Regardless of color, all molds should be removed from buildings and homes.
Learn the effects of mold exposure, treatment options, and steps you can take to reduce mold in your home.
Allergies are the main health issue molds can trigger.
While being around mold may cause minor effects for some, like a stuffy nose or coughing, it can cause stronger reactions in people with asthma, mold allergies, or weakened immune systems.
It’s important to address myths some people may have about black mold. One common rumor is that black mold releases toxic compounds called mycotoxins that cause health issues, like memory loss, headaches, and infant pulmonary hemorrhage.
But according to a review from 2017, there’s no evidence that exposure to black mold causes particular health conditions.
Furthermore, while a variety of molds produce mycotoxins, these compounds are primarily dangerous for humans only when eaten in significant quantities.
A 2019 review of research into this topic states there’s currently no evidence that mycotoxins in the air cause disease.
Mold can affect people in different ways, and it often causes no symptoms at all. You may experience the following common symptoms if you’re sensitive to mold. These symptoms may be more severe if you have a true mold allergy:
Particular molds may also cause an asthma attack in people with asthma and increase breathing difficulty in those with a chronic respiratory disease.
People with weakened immune systems are also at a higher risk of fungal infections in general, which can include lung infections due to molds.
Mold exposure may also particularly affect children.
There are no proven tests that show when or where you may have been exposed to mold.
But your doctor may check for mold allergies by reviewing your symptoms and performing one of the following tests:
- Blood test. Your doctor takes a blood sample and then sends it to a laboratory to measure the number of certain antibodies, which can indicate your immune system’s sensitivity to different mold species.
- Skin prick test. Your doctor takes a small amount of mold and applies it to your skin using a tiny needle. Your skin will break out in bumps, a rash, or hives if you’re allergic to that type of mold.
Treatment for mold allergies and exposure symptoms may include:
- Nasal sprays or rinses. Over-the-counter (OTC) nasal corticosteroids, like fluticasone (Flonase), reduce airway inflammation caused by mold allergies. A solution of warm, distilled water and saline can also help rinse your nasal passages of mold spores and remove congestion.
- OTC medications. Antihistamines, like cetirizine (Zyrtec) or loratadine (Claritin), reduce your immune system response, minimizing airway inflammation. Decongestants, like pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), help keep down swelling due to allergic reactions.
- Montelukast (Singulair). This oral medication reduces mucus in your airways, which decreases symptoms of both mold allergies and asthma.
- Allergy shots. Your doctor may recommend getting regular shots with small amounts of allergens to get your immune system used to them over time.
Keeping clear of mold is the best way to prevent it from triggering your asthma or allergies. When you can’t avoid it, treatment can help manage your symptoms.
It’s best to hire a professional to help you identify and remove mold, especially if you’re allergic or vulnerable to it.
You should also consider hiring help if the mold covers more than 10 square feet or if it’s hidden behind wallpaper, ceiling tiles, or other areas.
Here are some steps for identifying and removing mold.
Identifying mold in your home
- Appearance or dark spots or clusters. Look for spots or clustered growths, especially in warm, moist rooms.
- Musty smell. You may be able to identify mold by a musty smell.
- Allergies or asthma. If you experience asthma attacks or allergy symptoms in your home, that may also indicate there’s mold.
- Potential causes. Look for causes of mold growth, like a leak, water damage, lack of ventilation, or old food, papers, or wood.
Removing mold from your home
Resolve any issues causing mold growth, and throw away anything affected by mold or contributing to mold growth that you can’t clean.
- Wear protective gear. As you’re dealing with the moldy area, cover yourself with a mask, gloves, goggles, and rubber boots. If you’re cleaning a lot of mold, you can also wear disposable clothing or a mold-resistant suit.
- Ventilate the room. Open all doors and windows to increase ventilation.
- Sort and discard. Remove any objects from the area that haven’t been touched by mold growth. Throw away any items that can’t be cleaned.
- Replace moldy housing materials. Cut away and replace mold-damaged drywall, ceiling tiles, and carpet.
- Scrub and disinfect. Cover and scrub nonporous surfaces affected by mold with bleach, a fungicide, or detergent and water, then dry them. Don’t mix cleaning products together.
- Address any water issues. Make sure any water problems are fixed and the area is dry before you renovate the room.
You can’t prevent all mold, but you can reduce the amount in your home. Here are some do’s and don’ts for managing mold and keeping it from growing indoors.
- Clean your home regularly, particularly areas like bathrooms that may be prone to mold.
- Leave doors and windows open and run fans for ventilation when you bathe, shower, cook, wash dishes, or do other activities that can increase moisture.
- Use a dehumidifier to keep indoor relative humidity (RH) below 50 percent.
- Use an indoor air purifier with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, or install an appropriate high-efficiency filter in your furnace or ventilation system. This won’t remove the source of the mold, but it may help reduce allergy symptoms.
- Fix leaks in your roof or walls to reduce moisture.
- Make sure your rain gutters are clean and not blocking water drainage.
- If your home is flooded, clean and dry it within 48 hours to prevent mold growth.
- Don’t leave old books, newspapers, or wood sitting unused for long periods.
- Don’t put carpet in rooms like bathrooms, kitchens, and basements.
- Don’t ignore leaks from pipes or groundwater. Fix them as soon as possible.
- Don’t paint over mold. Clean the area and allow it to dry before painting.
People with asthma, allergies, or immune system conditions may have immune reactions to mold, regardless of its color.
On the other hand, there’s no evidence to show that mycotoxins in the air from black mold cause disease.
It’s possible to prevent mold overgrowth by keeping your indoor humidity low and your space clean. Keep an eye out for small growths, and do something about mold before it spreads.
If you think your health is being affected by mold exposure, speak with a doctor or allergist.