What Is Black Mold And Where Does It Grow?

Of all the types of mold that can grow in your house, "black mold" is the most dangerous. It can cause a variety of health problems, and can even be deadly if it isn't taken care of. Knowing black mold basics and where you can find it can help protect you from this dangerous mold. 

What Black Mold Is

When people say "black mold," they're usually talking about the toxic kind, even though there are many types of mold that look similar but don't pose a threat. Specifically, "stachybotrys chartarum" is the species that is dangerous and potentially lethal.

The mold itself is not directly dangerous. The mold produces trichothecene mycotoxins, and those are only usually released when the mold is disturbed by movement or a breeze. You may still be able to smell the mold, but that doesn't necessarily mean you're breathing in harmful toxins.

If you do come into contact with any of the spores, however, they can cause multiple symptoms.

  • Itching, sensitive skin and rashes
  • Neurological problems like dizziness, headaches and blurred vision
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Constant sneezing and coughing, sometimes with blood
  • Anxiety, panic, shock and depression

Where Black Mold Comes From

Like most types of mold, it travels by spores that drift on a breeze or catch onto people, pets, clothing or other objects. If you have mold in your house, it's because the spores came in from outside somehow. You can attempt to lessen the likelihood of mold by keeping a clean house and doing laundry often, but it's unlikely to stop it all. However, unless your home provides a good environment for mold, the spores won't grow even if they're inside.

Where Black Mold Grows

Black mold needs a little more moisture than other species of mold to grow, so you probably won't find it in as many places. You're also less likely to see it unless there has been heavy water damage; small spills and leaks aren't often enough to attract black mold.

However, if there is enough moisture, many housing materials provide a great place for black mold to start growing. You're especially likely to find it on wood, ceiling tiles, dry wall and paper products. Carpets, wallpaper and insulation also provide a good home.

Because black mold also likes dark environments, you're likely to find it on the inside of your walls, underneath carpet and in attics. If you can smell the mold but can't find it, it's probably in one of these places. Mold can start growing inside walls if there was a flood that dampened the drywall, but it can also be in the wood or insulation in your attic if you have any type of roof leak or high humidity.

Mold Removal

If you do find mold in your house and suspect it may be black mold, call a professional like American Flood and Fire to remove it immediately. You shouldn't need to pay to analyze to see what type of mold it is; any type of mold should be removed from your house regardless of what kind it is. If the professional believes you are dealing with black mold, however, he may recommend things you can do to lessen the chance it will come back, such as setting up a dehumidifier or repairing any leaks.