Toxic Black Mold?

Toxic Black Mold?

“Toxic Black Mold” has been the villain in many horror stories in the news and on the Internet over the years. As professionals in the mold inspection and mold remediation industries, the most common questions we get asked are: “do I have toxic black mold?” or “is this black mold going to make me sick?” These questions are usually asked by frantic homeowners or distraught parents who have read these horror stories and whose minds automatically go to the worst-case scenario, and rightfully so thanks to the pictures painted in these articles. They are quick to tell of these terrible scenarios, but they often forget to educate the common reader on what this “black mold” is.

Let’s take a step back in order to get better understanding of the mold that has been haunting home owners and establish what black mold actually is, if it is in fact “toxic” and what this mold is capable of.

What is Black Mold?

The infamous mold that had been given the name “Black Mold” is Stachbotrys chartarum, also known as Stachybotrys atra. Stachbotrys has been nicknamed black mold due to the greenish-black color that it colonizes in. As reported by the Center for Disease Control, black mold can grow on cellulose-based contents such as fiberboard, gypsum board, paper, dust and lint and a constant moisture source (flooding, water infiltration, excessive humidity or condensation) is needed for it to grow.

Although Stachbotrys is the mold that is had been dubbed “black mold” there are other allergenic molds that can colonize in black. The only way to know for sure the genus, or type, of mold is to perform mold testing.

Is Black Mold Toxic?

Contrary to popular belief, “Toxic Mold” is not an accurate term. While certain molds, including black mold or Stachybotrys, are toxigenic, meaning they can produce toxins, the molds themselves are not toxic or poisonous. (Center for Disease Control, CDC)

Stachybotrys has the ability to produce the following toxins: Cyclosporins, Macrocyclic trichothecenes: roridin E, satratoxin F, G & H, sporidesmin G, trichoverrol, verrucarin J and Stachybotryolactone. Exposures to these toxins can occur through inhalation, ingestion or skin exposure. (EMSL Analytical, Inc.)

Many of the reports of Stachbotrys toxicosis are anecdotal and are still being researched.

In summary:

– The mold commonly referred to as “Black Mold” is Stachybotrys Chartarum
– Just because a mold appears black in color does not mean it is Stachbotrys
– “Toxic Mold” is a misnomer. Certain molds, including Stachbotrys, have the ability to product toxins, but mold in itself is not toxic
– The only way to know the type of mold present is to test
– If you have suspicions of black mold in your home, contact a professional