Black mould, the most infamous mould of them all. It’s very name strikes fear into most home owners.
However, you might want to rethink what you know about it.
Black mould is one of the most hotly discussed topics at the moment.
And as with most popular topics, there is a lot of misinformation.
So, we’ve complied this guide to help you understand what you actually need to know about black mould (and what myths you can safely ignore).
As well as our advice on what to do if you find it growing in your home.
Let’s dive in.
First, A Quick Background On ‘Black Mould’
Contrary to popular belief, ‘black mould’ doesn’t just refer to one species of mould.
It’s actually a general term used to describe any mould subspecies that appear as black throughout their lifespan.
While thousands of species identify as ‘black mould’, the most famous of them all is the Stachybotrys Chartarum variety.
This species has the ability to release mycotoxins, a toxic substance that can cause a variety of respiratory, dermatological and eye irritations as a result of prolonged exposure.
First identified in Prague in 1837, Stachybotrys Chartarum has grown to become one of the most well-known (and feared) mould types.
In addition to Stachybotrys Chartarum, other subspecies that can identify as black mould include Alternaria, Aspergillus, Cladosporium and Auerobasidium.
Did you know? Due to their toxicity, some black mould’s have even been used as a component in biological warfare in the past. First utilised in the Vietnam War as a biological weapon known as ‘yellow rain’, and then later in the Iraq-Iran war and Soviet Union.
Common Black Mould Myths – Busted
There is a lot of confusion and fear surrounding black mould.
So, before we dive into the actual health concerns of black mould, we thought we’d clear up a few myths first.
Myth 1: Black Mould Can Kill You
While black mould can certainly make ‘at risk’ individuals very sick, exposure to it is unlikely to kill you.
And for most healthy individuals, short term exposure to black mould is unlikely to even make you sick.
Myth 2: Black Mould Can Cause Cancer
While long-term exposure to black moulds can cause serious health concerns, there is no proven link between black mould and lung or other cancers.
Myth 3: Black Mould Is The Only ‘Toxic Mould’
Despite black mould being the only mould referred to as ‘toxic’, almost all moulds can be dangerous under the right circumstances.
Other moulds that can have a harmful impact on your health include Aspergillus, Penicillium, Chaetomium, Fusarium and Alternaria.
To find out more about the types of mould that do pose a risk to your health, read our article here.
How Do You Know If you’re Dealing With Black Mould?
Black mould typically presents as a black, dark brown or greenish-black slimy film. However, this appearance will largely depend on the species you’re dealing with.
Apart from its colour, some common signs that indicate you could be dealing with black mould include:
- A lingering, musty smell
- A wet, slimy texture
- Mould growth in patches or small circles
- Mould growing on or near building materials like drywall and wood
While these can be good indicators of black mould, the only way to know for sure if the mould you’re dealing with is dangerous or not is with a professional mould inspection.
So You’ve Found Black Mould – These Are Your Options
If you find black mould, you’ll want to remove it as quickly and effectively as possible to stop it from continuing to grow and spread.
Quite simply, your options for removing it are.
1. Try Removing It Yourself
For small spots or patches of black mould, it is possible to remove these yourself using remedies like vinegar or commercial mould removal products. View our guide on how to remove mould here.
DIY mould removal treatments only act as a temporary solution, as the mould will continue to return if the cause of the problem is not remediated.
While these DIY treatments may work on small spots of mould, attempting to remove patches of black mould larger than the palm of your hand without a professional is not recommended.
Doing so can lead to a disruption of mould spores, allowing them to spread throughout your home or property. When homes have a high count of mould spores in the air, the mould will continue to return time after time.
It is for these reasons that MouldMen does NOT recommend DIY mould removal remedies as a complete solution to kill mould, rather only as a method to prevent and remove small patches of it.
2. Hire A Professional Mould Removal Company (recommended)
As we’ve mentioned, DIY mould removal methods are not only ineffective for mould growth larger than the size of your palm – they also put your health at risk.
In these cases, professional treatment is always recommended.
Professional mould remediation services will not only be able to safely remove the mould from your home, but identify the type of mould and what’s causing it as well.
To find out more about the cost of professional mould removal and what is involved, read our article here.
If the cause of mould is from matters out of your control like water damage or flooding, tenants should contact their landlord to request a mould removal service. Read more about responsibilities for mould in a rental property here.
The Good News: Most Mould Remediation Companies Offer Free Inspections
These inspections are thorough and effective, often saving you thousands in the long run by catching a mould infestation early.
A professional mould inspection will involve a technician coming to your house and inspecting your property to determine the cause and extent of the mould growth and providing you with a quote and outline of the services required to remove it (for good).
3. Just Do Nothing…
While this can be a tempting option for many, doing nothing when you come across mould in your home can pose risks to you in the long term (both to your wallet and your health).
The cost of professional removal is low in comparison to the long term damage mould can cause.
Not to mention, you’re also putting your family’s health at risk in the process. Let’s take a look at the health effects of black mould when infestations are left to fester.
The Health Effects Of Black Mould – The Fact From The Fiction
As we’ve mentioned above, black mould won’t cause cancer and is unlikely to kill you. But it can pose a risk to your health if left to grow and spread.
Some black mould species fall into the ‘toxic mould’ category, meaning they can produce potent toxic spores called mycotoxins. This is often the reason why black mould is commonly referred to as ‘toxic black mould’.
Exposure to these mycotoxins for even a short period of time can cause a variety of respiratory, dermatological and eye irritations in vulnerable individuals.
Current research suggests that exposure to black mould is no more dangerous than any other type of toxic mould.
While mycotoxin producing black moulds can be harmful, the truth is that for most healthy people, exposure to black mould in small amounts is unlikely to make you sick.
What Are The Symptoms Of Prolonged Black Mould Exposure?
As we’ve mentioned, there are hundreds of species of black mould that can affect everyone differently, often resulting in no symptoms at all.
However, in the case of prolonged exposure, such as living in a house or sleeping in a room with a mould infestation, constantly inhaling mould spores can cause a variety of health concerns in almost anyone.
Symptoms of mould exposure can include:
- Respiratory discomfort
Prolonged exposure to black mould is a more serious concern for those with asthma, allergies or weakened immune systems. These groups often experience more severe symptoms – commonly referred to as ‘black mould poisoning’.
What About Black Mould Poisoning?
Black mould poisoning is a term commonly thrown around on the internet to describe the symptoms associated with overexposure to mould’s mycotoxin spores.
However, black mould poisoning as a condition lacks any official diagnosis, with a 2017 study revealing reports of black mould poisoning are often just a result of media hype and mass hysteria.
Now you know the actual health concerns of black mould, you might be wondering how to prevent it from occurring in the first place.
Let’s take a look.
Prevention Is Better Than Cure When It Comes To Black Mould
Some of the most effective ways you can prevent black mould from growing and spreading around your home and property include:
- Using a dehumidifier, especially in above average humidity climates
- Ensure your bathroom is well ventilated
- Keep all areas of the home dry
- Circulate the air regularly, especially in dark, naturally damp areas
- Clean and dry any flooding, spills or water damage promptly
- Regularly clean out external drainage, guttering, downpipes and eaves
- Fix any leaks or plumbing problems promptly
Be Vigilant In The Following 4 Areas
Black mould thrives in moist, warm environments or damp areas that have naturally high levels of moisture or have been subject to water damage.
For this reason, it is important to be vigilant for black mould in household areas such as:
- Bathrooms. With high levels of dampness, moisture and condensation, bathrooms provide the perfect breeding ground for mould
- Kitchens. High levels of condensation and humidity from cooking make mould a common occurrence in kitchen cupboards, behind appliances and around taps.
- Ceilings. Poor ventilation, lack of natural light and a damp environment provide the perfect conditions for mould growth on the ceiling.
- Fabric. Fabrics easily absorb moisture and are often made with a blend of organic materials, making it easy for mould to take hold.
- Carpet. Moisture can easily become tangled in carpet weaves, making it difficult to inhibit mould growth.
Worried About Black Mould In Your Home?
If you come across black mould growing in your property or are concerned you might have a hidden infestation lurking, it is important to take action immediately to avoid larger problems arising.
Booking a free inspection is the first step in returning your home to a safe, mould-neutral state. The MouldMen team will inspect, treat, and provide you with a Mould Management and Prevention Plan. Call us on 1300 60 59 60 or click on the link below to book your free inspection today.