One of the most misunderstood issues we encounter is the truth about toxic mold. Most people have heard of the dreaded “Black Mold” and categorize it as a toxic variety. The truth is that there are thousands of mold varieties that are found throughout nature. We encounter them every day. Some are green, some are yellow, and others are in fact black. It is also true that some mold varieties will have a negative, sometimes severe, impact on your health. Those varieties may or may not be black. Read on to learn more.
So is black mold toxic?
About 25% of the population carries certain genes that are associated with mold illness. Certain molds produce Mycotoxins that find their way through your nose into your body. If you have a certain genetic makeup, your body may not be able to effectively rid your body of these toxins. Over time, the toxins will contribute to symptoms such as fatigue, headache, difficulty breathing, red eyes, sinus infections, and even poor concentration or mood swings.
While the most common black mold, Stachybotrys, can produce Mycotoxins, so can many other molds that are not black. In other words, the color of the mold really does not matter and can not tell you if it is “toxic mold.” The only thing that really does matter is how the mold is impacting your body. If it is making you feel bad then, yes, it is toxic.
What are the symptoms of mold exposure?
Among others, these are the things you may experience due to mold:
- Fatigue and weakness
- Headache, light sensitivity
- Poor memory, difficult word finding
- Difficulty concentration
- Morning stiffness, joint pain
- Unusual skin sensations, tingling and numbness
- Shortness of breath, sinus congestion or chronic cough
- Appetite swings, body temperature regulation,
- Increased urinary frequency or increased thirst
- Red eyes, blurred vision, sweats, mood swings, sharp pains
- Abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloating
- Tearing, disorientation, metallic taste in mouth
- Static shocks
- Vertigo, feeling lightheaded
How do I know if there is mold in my home?
While mold spores are naturally present in the air, any places in your home that have moisture, a food source, and oxygen will allow the spores to attach and reproduce. The most common areas that present a mold problem in a residence are 1) damp and humid crawl spaces or basements, 2) water leaks that have created dampness inside walls or under floors and 3) inside air conditioner ducts.
If you can visually see spores, or if you are experiencing symptoms that you would generally associate with allergens, it’s a good idea to have you home checked out.
Use the following checklist to help determine if you have been exposed to mold in your home:
- Do you notice musty odors?
- Are your air vents dirty when you look inside with a flashlight?
- Have you noticed water damage or discoloration anywhere?
- Has your home ever been flooded?
- Have you ever had leaks in the roof?
- Do you experience unusual shortness of breath?
- Do you experience recurring sinus infections?
- Do you experience recurring respiratory infections and coughing?
- Do you have frequent flu-like symptoms?
- Do your symptoms worsen on rainy days?
- Do you have frequent headaches?
- Are you fatigued and have a skin rash?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, an Indoor Air Quality Assesment from Branch Environmental can help identify the sorce of your mold or environmental toxin issues.