A Beginners Guide to Toxic Mold

Black mold has caused a tremendous stir in recent decades.  Stories about black mold ‘poisoning’ children or causing fatal respiratory problems are rampant in the news.  However, how legitimate are these claims?  Is black mold as dangerous as people suppose?

The answer: yes and no (but mostly no).  Links between in-home molds and illness go back to the 1930s.  However, with nearly 100-years of suspicion, there’s not one case that has definitively demonstrated a homeowner dying form a black mold infection.  Likewise, no casual connection has been drawn by scientists, despite the numerous attempts to study the effects of black mold on the human body. 

So, if you suspect that your home for sale in Alamo Heights may contain black mold, what should you do? 

No Need for Panic

Truth be told, mold is just about everywhere.  Not only do fungi and molds thrive outside (as one would expect), they thrive indoors as well.  Every home has mold in it.  Places like sink drains, houseplant soils, kitchen sponges, damp walls, and showers provide ideal conditions for mold growth.

Any type of mold can be harmful to humans, specifically for individuals with preexisting respiratory issues, severe asthma, or particularly bad allergies.  With that being said, a little bit of indoor mold is normal and usually nothing to worry about.  Most of these growths can be taken care of in a matter of seconds with a bleach-water solution.  

However, when people spot mold in their homes, they tend to assume that have a black mold problem.  Black mold is a specific type of fungus (Stachybotrys chartarum) whose spores might cause illness or respiratory issues.  

It’s important to note that compared to other common indoor molds in San Antonio Neighborhoods, black mold is incredibly rare.  

So, the bottom line: if you believe you have a black mold growth in your home, remember these three things:

• All homes have indoor mold growths, black mold represents one type of incredibly rare mold variety
• All molds are capable of causing illness, yet only black mold seems to appear in the news as ‘dangerous’
• Of all reported cases of black mold illness, not a single death has been attributed to the fungi, and no connection has been drawn by scientists

Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claim that reports of mold-related illnesses are rare, and that a “causal link between the presence of the toxigenic mold and these conditions has not been proven”.

How to Prevent and Remove Mold

Now that we know that household mold is normal and that all molds can cause illness (but seldom ever do), let’s discuss what to do in the case you suspect black mold growth in your home.  

Black mold is unusual among household molds, as it requires constant high-levels of moisture to survive.  In other words, the presence of black molds may indicate a much larger and more costly structural problem with your home, such as a broken pipe, deteriorating walls, or roof damage.  In these instances, it’s wise to call a professional to ensure your home is structurally sound and that the leakage is resolved.   

After all, the easiest way to prevent mold growth is to make sure that it never gets any moisture to begin with.  Keep your house clean and well-ventilated, especially in rooms with running water and drainage (like the bathroom and kitchen area).  

If you suspect a black mold growth (which is usually observed as a black growth on the wall) calling in an agency to sample the growth is both expensive and likely futile.  Even the Environmental Protection Agency suggests that most cases of suspicious indoor growth don’t need to be sampled.  

Instead, find a pair of rubber gloves and create a bleach-water solution to wash the growth away.  To be safe, wear protective eye wear and a safety mask as well.  The bleach will usually neutralize the growth in a matter of seconds.  The CDC recommends using at-most one cup of bleach to one gallon of water.

If mold is found on softer, porous surfaces (for instance carpeting, drywall, or wood furniture) it’s best to simply dispose of the affected material.  Although it can be washed thoroughly, there’s no guarantee that the mold was removed.  

To remove growth from an exterior surface, a pressure washer is your best bet.  However, growth removal from exterior surfaces is normally pointless, as the potentially harmful spores will be released outside of your home.  

It’s important to note that there are no established standards for judging what is a ‘safe’ amount of household mold.  Remember, all molds can cause respiratory illnesses, but seldom ever do.  Although black mold growth in your home might be worrisome, most cases are inconsequential and can be handled safely in a matter of minutes.

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