The Infamous “Black Mold”

There is so much misinformation out there regarding black mold – even from supposedly credible sources – so, our goal is to provide information as accurately as possible about this often frightening topic and to help educate everyone on the subject.

Stachybotrys Chartarum is a species of mold more commonly known as black mold. Not all molds that appear black in color are Stachybotrys. Molds can come in a multitude of colors from green, blue, and yellow to brown, orange and many other colors and shades in between. There are many species of mold that appear black in color but most are not even considered to be toxic.

A microscopic view of Stachybotrys Chartarum
A microscopic view of Stachybotrys Chartarum

In order to grow, Stachybotrys requires a high level of moisture to be present, oxygen and a food source such as drywall, wallpaper or other material rich in cellulose and low in nitrogen content. Stachybotrys typically takes longer to grow than most other molds, but once it has begun to colonize it is aggressive and will often drive out other molds that may be growing in the same area.

Black mold growth is most often caused by leaks that go unchecked in places hidden from view such as the inside of walls, above ceilings and under floors where materials get saturated with water for at least a week or so before being discovered.

Stachybotrys spores are covered in a slime residue and appear as a ball or mass of spores at the tip of the conidiophore (the structure bearing the conidia or spores). Due to this sticky slime the spores are not easily dispersed into the air. However, when the black mold and material it is growing on dries out the spores can be more easily disturbed and become airborne bioaerosols.

Stachybotrys Chartarum produces mycotoxins, more specifically a mycotoxin called Trichothecene. The mycotoxin Trichothecene is highly toxic and much more difficult to destroy than some other types of mycotoxins as they are resilient to heat and ultraviolet light.

The mycotoxin Trichothecene can cause serious health problems and some symptoms of exposure might be (but not limited to):

  • Respiratory problems such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath etc.
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever and other cold or flu like symptoms.
  • Irritation of the mucous membranes of the lungs and sinuses.
  • Mental impairment, confusion, dizziness, memory loss etc.
  • Tiredness and chronic fatigue.
  • Skin inflammation, itchiness, rashes etc.
  • Immune system suppression, infections etc.
  • Hemorrhage (internal and external).
  • Damage to internal organs such as the heart, lungs and brain etc.

If you see obvious signs of mold growth in your home or workplace the only surefire way to know what you are dealing with is to have a sample of the mold collected and have it analyzed at a lab to identify the specific species.

However, it is not always necessary to have testing done, especially if the mold is clearly visible. Unless we are specifically requested to do mold testing we usually suggest bypassing the testing phase to our customer and putting those dollars straight towards the remediation. This philosophy saves the customer money and also brings the affected area back to a normal fungal ecology much quicker.

Testing may be necessary depending on the situation. For example, when other treatments have failed – a doctor may request an air quality test in order to better diagnose or treat a patient that is suffering with symptoms that could possibly be due to exposure to mold.

If you are a home or business owner concerned about something that appears to be mold growing in your home or workplace, give WingThree a call and we’ll do our very best to help you! Regardless of whether you are dealing with Stachybotrys Chartarum, Chaetomium, Penicillium / Aspergillus, Alternaria, Cladosporium or any other type of mold for that matter, we’ll get things back to normal for you fast!


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