What is Black Mold (Stachybotrys)?
Mold growth is a type of Fungi that produce long tube‐like structures called hyphae. When these hyphae grow, they develop into visible masses known as “colonies.” Depending on the type of mold and growth conditions, these colonies can have a wide variety of shapes, sizes, textures, and colors. You may have heard about Toxic Black Mold in the media or from friends, or a contractor. The word toxic, in the description, has caused mold growth to be as something feared. Stachybotrys is a species of mold that is usually accompanied by others including, but not limited to, Aspergillus & Penicillium, and Chaetomium, which is usual as Stachybotrys is a slow growing mold and many others are more common and faster growing. Although today, there is no set governmental standards for mold levels to indicate problems; it is a universal industry standard that any amount of Stachybotrys that is found in air or surface sample tests is cause for a failed post mold remediation verification air test, or on an initial assessment can indicate the need that professional mold remediation be carried out due to potential health risks.
Mold releases spores into the air. This is mold’s way of reproducing. Mold spores will travel in the air in search of more nutrients to thrive and grow. When these mold spores find a nutritional source, they land and colonize. Eventually you see mold growth. The spores themselves are invisible to naked eye. Some species of mold, including Stachybotrys, carry mycotoxins on their spores. These mycotoxins can be responsible for health issues. Stachybotrys Chartarum is the species of mold growth that describes Toxic Black Mold. Because this type of mold can release mycotoxins in an indoor environment, which can lead to serious health complications in compromised individuals or persons with the HLA gene. Trichothecenes (Satratoxin G and H, Isosatratoxin F, Roridin A, E, H, and L2, and Verrucarin A and J.), Ochratoxins (Ochratoxin A), Aflatoxins (Aflatoxin B1, B2, G1, and G2), and Gliotoxin (bis (methyl) gliotoxin) Mycotoxins are particularly important because they are known to be highly toxic and are produced by species such as Stachybotrys (“black mold”), shown to be present in mold contaminated buildings. While the more serious health issues come from extremely high levels of spores, it is an example of how mycotoxins should not be treated without concern. Mycotoxin Testing
Black Mold Symptoms
There are usually more molds, than Stachybotrys molds when there is a mold problem present: and, so, many of the symptoms of black mold present in a home or business can similar to any other type of mold. When indoors you may notice strange odor or smell; or, you might see visible mold, elevated humidity levels and/or excessive moisture within building materials. People might experience allergic-like symptoms such as dry/itchy eyes and throat, headaches, trouble breathing, increased mucus and/or other respiratory issues. Stachybotrys has also been associated with rare complications such as convulsions and hemorrhaging due to its ability to release mycotoxins in the air. In the same vein, is also possible there may be little or no symptoms due to the indoor air quality and still have black mold present. This is because Stachybotrys is not easily airborne unless disturbed, which makes it of paramount importance to have an inspection done if you suspect mold.
Symptoms of mycotoxin exposure: (examples)
- Dry eyes
- Sore Throat
- Trouble Breathing
- General discomfort
- Stomach pain
What Does Black Mold Look Like?
Most people know what mold looks like, but for the average person, determining if mold is in fact Black Mold (Stachybotrys Chartarum) by your eyes alone is not easy. For a professional mold expert, it is easier to identify a mold as Stachybotrys because of its distinguishable MOLD appearance in its mature state. A slow growing mold, Black Mold can be thick in context and black in color. Yet, if you do not know the various types of mold, it may not necessarily look much different from other mold species, which are black in nature. The only way for us to say with certainty that a specific mold is in fact black mold, is for us to take a sample for laboratory confirmation.
Inspection & Testing for Black Mold
A qualified and experienced professional mold inspector has been trained to know all of the places where black mold grows and have the knowledge and background to find all instances of mold. An experienced Mold Inspector knows black mold is not easily airborne unless it becomes disturbed, which is why surface sampling (not just air sampling) should be done when visible growth is present, to ascertain whether Black Mold it is present. Using a swab sample is the only way to confirm for sure that Black Mold is present. H.N.S.T. suggests you have mold testing performed after remediation to ensure the mold problem was handled properly and the indoor environment is in its normal state.
Where can you find Stachybotrys?
Stachybotrys is found in cellulose rich materials that has been saturated such as from a flood or water damage. Stachybotrys mold is a tertiary colonizer and can take as much as two weeks to germinate. Examples of materials rich in cellulose include:
- Ceiling Tiles
- Paper products