This fungus often lurks in flood-damaged homes and other damp buildings, growing insidiously between the walls. By the time the black mould’s growth is visible to the naked eye, less accessible parts of the building are often already contaminated. Here’s some information for anyone concerned about possible exposure to this toxin-producing fungus.
Tiny and toxic
Black mould is known among scientists by the name Stachybotrys chartarum. The fungus itself isn’t toxic but it produces a substance that’s naturally poisonous to humans and animals.
In some cases, this fungus can be deadly. Indoor air quality experts have found that this mould is potentially responsible for the death of newborn babies.
Here are some medical conditions caused by the toxin produced by black mould, as noted in the entry on “poison” in Encyclopedia Brittanica:
- Stomatitis: an inflammatory disease of the mouth
- Rhinitis: an inflammation of mucous membranes in the nose
- Conjunctivitis: an inflammation of the inner surface of the eyelids
- Blood-clot failure and other blood abnormalities
- Neurological disturbances
There is some dispute among scientists about whether exposure to black mould directly causes various diseases. Still, exposure to moulds more generally is known to cause asthma attacks and allergy attacks. These conditions can be severe, especially for children and people with existing respiratory issues or troubled immune systems.
Speedy breeding around the world
Black mould can be fast-growing. Once removed, it may begin to return within 24 hours when the conditions are ripe. It’s known to be more common in tropical environments, but is also highly prevalent in Nordic countries. It’s a globe-trotting fungus that can show up in any climate.
Also known as mildew, mould spreads as its spores circulate invisibly through the air. Landing on a given surface, the growth will spread when conditions are damp and dimly-lit. A musty or “earthy” smell often betrays its presence in basements or root cellars.
Just say “no” to black mould
There are steps you can take routinely to keep away black mould:
- Ensure no leaky pipes or blocked exhaust passages (from a dryer, stove or bathroom) are allowing excess moisture to build up
- Check your windows and door frames for any gaps in the weather-stripping or caulking
- Use a dehumidifier in rooms where moisture tends to build up, or open a window to air the place out
- If mould does begin growing, scrub it away with a chemical mould-control solution or by using natural alternatives like vinegar, soap and hot water. Make sure to protect yourself with rubber gloves, goggles, and a dust mask
If you suspect your mould problem goes beyond what you can see and scrub away, call the pros. In the South Ontario region, Healthy Environmental offers professional inspection and remediation services.
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