Black Mold: Health Risks, Prevention, and Removal

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Black mold in the home can cause serious health risks, especially for those with allergies, asthma, or other respiratory issues. Fortunately, taking steps to prevent and remove black mold growth early can help protect your family and home. Keep reading to learn more about black mold health risks, prevention, and removal!

What Are the Health Risks of Black Mold?

Black mold, or stachybotrys chartarum, is a fungus that can grow and spread quickly in humid conditions. Exposure to mold can cause varying symptoms in individuals who are allergic to mold, or those exposed for a prolonged period.

Black Mold Health Risks WIN Home Inspection

Mold Asthma and Allergy Symptoms

  • Coughing
  • Postnasal drip
  • Sneezing
  • Dry, scaly skin
  • Itchy eyes, nose, or throat
  • Nasal congestion
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness

Mold Symptoms in Non-Allergic Individuals

  • Cognitive impairment
  • Neurological complaints
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Balance difficulties
  • Brain fog
  • Swelling and circulation issues
  • Digestive complaints
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness or vision changes
  • Anxiety
  • Muscular or joint pain

If you are experiencing symptoms related to mold growth it's important to contact your doctor, and consider having a professional Mold Test and Inspection of your home.

Preventing Black Mold in Your Home

There are a number of steps home owners can take to reduce risk of mold growth and protect their family and investment.

Control Humidity

Black Mold Control Humidity WIN Home Inspection

Appropriate humidity levels vary based on the time of year and climate. A good rule of thumb is to keep humidity below 50% in the summer and under 40% in the winter. In most cases, a dehumidifier can be effective to reduce excess moisture and humidity in the home.

Clean Surfaces Regularly

Cellulose-rich dust and dirt can promote mold growth in the home. Keep living spaces free of these by cleaning surfaces with a non-toxic cleaning solution. Allow the area to dry thoroughly after each cleaning.

Maintain Good Ventilation

Proper ventilation circulates indoor air, and can even help reduce humidity when vented outside of the home. Use an exhaust fan or place fans close to an open window or door to remove air from the home.

Use an Air Purifier

Air purification, such as a traditional HEPA filter, can help reduce exposure to airborne mold spores within the home. Make sure to change the filter as directed to prevent the growth of mold on the filter itself.

Black Mold Identification and Removal

Identifying Mold in the Home

Black Mold On Wall WIN Home Inspection

If black mold is already in the home, it will often look like fuzzy gray, black, and sometimes greenish spots. Knowing common areas for mold growth and checking them regularly can help catch mold early. Here are a few common places black mold can be found in the home:

  1. In the shower and bathtub, especially in places like behind shampoo bottles, washcloths, shower curtains, and in tile grout
  2. In and under the sink in your bathroom and kitchen
  3. On or under old food in refrigerator and pantry
  4. In damp or musty fabrics
  5. Around windows and window sills
  6. In humid areas such as laundry rooms and kitchens without proper ventilation

Not all places mold can be found are easily visible to the naked eye. Some areas, such as inside HVAC vents, chimneys, crawlspaces, and attic insulation can be prime locations for mold spores to collect and grow. If you suspect mold in your home, contact a professional home inspector to help identify the source of moisture and any underlying damage to the home.

A professional inspector can also perform a mold inspection or mold test to check for hidden mold, and provide recommendations for remediation. Technology like Infrared Thermography (IR) can also be used to identify moist areas behind walls and in ceilings by reading the heat signature.

How to Get Rid of Black Mold

If you find mold in your home, consider calling a local mold remediation professional to help clean and remove mold. If taking steps to remove mold yourself, make sure to follow proper safety precautions.

  1. Wear protective gear— Before beginning the removal process, reduce risk of allergic reactions and health hazards with proper protective equipment. Wear a face mask or respirator, as well as a wear a long shirt and rubber gloves.
  2. Seal off the affected area— Once you are wearing protective gear, tape off the doorways and vents with a plastic sheet. This will help keep mold spores from traveling throughout the home.
  3. Remove moisture source— Start by disposing of materials like towels, clothing, and furniture that have been affected by black mold. Next repair any leaks or sources of moisture that can cause mold buildup. Keep the area as dry as possible to prevent the black mold from returning.
  4. Wash away mold and disinfect the area— Use hot, soapy water and a sponge to remove black mold from any affected surfaces. After all visible mold is removed, use a disinfectant like bleach, or other chemical solutions formulated for mold to remove any remaining mold spores. While these chemicals are in use keep children and pets away from the area.

Remove used cleaning materials— Immediately throw away any materials used to clean the area and wash your hands and clothes to prevent further exposure.

Whether you’re buying, selling, or are concerned about mold in your current home, contact a home inspector with knowledge and experience in mold inspection. Click here to find a WIN Home Inspection expert near you, and one of our expertly trained home inspectors can assist you. You can also call (800) 309-6753 or email us at inquiry@wini.com and one of our experts will contact you promptly.