While mold is everywhere, black mold is a particularly dangerous type of mold. Not everyone feels symptoms from exposure to this type of mold, but individuals with respiratory issues or immune system deficiencies should exercise caution. This type of mold has been linked to respiratory issues in humans, and therefore needs to be urgently dealt with. There are a few symptoms in particular you should look out for.
According to the CDC, symptoms of black mold include a congested nose, breathing difficulty and irritated skin or eyes — in other words, black mold exposure presents similarly to any other respiratory allergy in most cases. Those allergic to mold or those with asthma may have more intense reactions to mold, as can those who are exposed to mold in higher amounts, like farmers working with moldy hay. These more severe symptoms could include fever or shortness of breath.
Mold is not toxic, according to the CDC. Certain types of mold can produce toxins called mycotoxins, which have been linked to having negative health effects, mainly on vulnerable populations, like those with respiratory issues or weakened immune systems. These people can be more susceptible to fungal infections as a result of being exposed to mycotoxins, according to the CDC. While mold is usually caught before it grows enough to give people symptoms, sometimes mold hidden in locations like behind walls or under carpets can produce symptoms before it’s detected.
Mold spores are virtually everywhere, but they don’t grow and become a problem until they’re introduced to moisture. They can grow in a visible place, like near condensation on an air conditioner, or in a hidden place, like on top of a ceiling tile beneath a leaky pipe. Keeping moisture to a minimum is the best way to prevent mold spores from taking hold and growing.
If you feel as though black mold in your living space is affecting your health, you should see a physician to be evaluated and work to remove the mold as quickly as possible. The CDC does not recommend testing your living space for mold, as there are no established standards for what is an “acceptable” quantity. This is because mold’s effect on people is due to an allergic reaction, and different people react at different levels. Therefore if you have any mold that you suspect could be causing your health problems, you should work to remove it, possibly with a natural product if you have respiratory sensitivities.
According to recommendations from the EPA, you can remove mold from spaces smaller than 10 square feet by yourself if you want, but larger mold infestations (or any that are hidden) should be removed by a professional. Hidden mold poses a unique risk to remove. Moving or disturbing the mold can release lots of spores into the air. This degrades air quality and can spread mold to other parts of your house.
Since mold is really a result of a moisture problem, adding a dehumidifier to rooms with condensation or fixing leaky pipes can prevent future mold problems. If you choose not to hire a professional and get rid of the mold yourself, you can follow our guide to how to get rid of mold in your house.