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“Black mold” refers to several species of mold (which is a type of fungus) 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 like 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.
While being around mold may cause minor effects like a stuffy nose or coughing for some, it can cause stronger reactions in people with asthma, mold allergies, or weakened immune systems.
Learn the effects of mold exposure, treatment options, and steps you can take to reduce mold in your home.
Mold can affect people in different ways, and it often causes no symptoms at all. The following symptoms are common if you’re sensitive to mold. The symptoms may be more severe if you have a true mold allergy:
People with weakened immune systems may also be at higher risk of a skin or lung infection.
Mold exposure may particularly affect children, as well.
A 2016 study found that high levels of mold in homes and mattresses were associated with asthma in school-age children. The study suggested that mold may be a risk factor for children’s asthma.
This idea holds that the health effects are a result of black mold releasing toxic compounds called mycotoxins.
However, according to research from 2017, there’s no evidence that exposure to black mold causes particular health conditions.
Furthermore, while a variety of molds produce mycotoxins, they’re primarily dangerous for humans when eaten in high quantities. Research from 2019 states there’s currently no evidence that mycotoxins in the air cause disease.
There are no proven tests that show when or where you may have been exposed to mold. However, 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 small amounts 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, such as fluticasone (Flonase), reduce airway inflammation caused by mold allergies. Shop for Flonase online. A solution of warm, distilled water and saline can also help rinse your nasal passages of mold spores and remove congestion.
- OTC medications. Antihistamines, such as cetirizine (Zyrtec) or loratadine (Claritin), reduce your immune system response, minimizing airway inflammation. Shop for Zyrtec and Claritin online. Decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), help keep down swelling due to allergic reactions. Shop for Sudafed online.
- 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 build up your body’s immunity 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
- Look for spots or clustered growths, especially in warm, moist rooms. You may be able to identify mold by a musty smell. Experiencing asthma attacks or allergy symptoms in your home may also indicate there’s mold.
- Look for causes of mold growth, such as a leak, water damage, lack of ventilation, or old food, papers, or wood.
- Resolve any issues causing mold growth. Throw away anything affected by mold or contributing to mold growth.
Removing mold from your home
- 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. Shop for protective masks online.
- Open all doors and windows to increase ventilation.
- Remove any objects from the area that haven’t been touched by mold growth. Throw away any other items that can’t be cleaned.
- Cut away and replace mold-damaged drywall, ceiling tiles, and carpet.
- 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.
- Make sure the water problem is 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 keeping mold 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. Shop a selection of dehumidifiers here.
- Use an indoor air purifier with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration, 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. Shop a selection of HEPA air purifiers here.
- 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 first.
People with asthma, allergies, or immune system conditions are especially vulnerable to mold, regardless of its color.
But 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 grows out of your control.
If you think your health is being affected by mold exposure, speak to your doctor or allergist.