Black mold – often referred to as toxic mold or mildew is an increasingly common problem in many homes and buildings. When the correct conditions are in place these being – a surface which contains moisture which may be due to high humidity levels or dampness and the correct temperature this fungi will to germinate and grow in abundance. In appearance it looks almost “furry” however, it can also be described as looking “powdery”
Just like any living organism the mold needs food and moisture to survive and this is when the the black mold may begin to cause symptoms of ill health in humans. The symptoms are triggered by something known as VOCs – Volatile Organic Compounds. The mold produces these VOCs as it feeds on the surface on which it is growing and begins to break it down in order to get the nourishment it needs to flourish.
Anyone exposed to high levels of these VOC’s can experience any of a number of symptoms attributed to the black mold growth some of which can be very serious indeed.
Listed below are some of the most common symptoms of black mold induced illness:
1. Respiratory problems
4. Rashes on the skin
5. Loss of memory
7. Problems with blood pressure
9. Urinary tract infection
10. Damage to the lungs
11. Allergies – itchy or running nose, eyes etc.
12. Difficulty concentrating
This list shows just some of the illnesses where the symptoms can be attributed to exposure to black mold.
It goes without saying that should you find yourself suffering from any of these symptoms you should get medical advise immediately. However the best way to ease or eradicate your symptoms caused by black mold is to eradicate the mold itself from your home for good.
As I have said before black mold needs moisture to grow and the moisture within our homes can be caused by one of two things high humidity or dampness or a combination of both. In both instances you need to take action immediately.
High humidity is caused by excess moisture in the atmosphere. The number one cause of elevated humidity levels in a building is quite simply lack of ventilation. As we go about our daily tasks we generate moisture and steam for example when cooking, bathing, perhaps using a tumble dryer to dry clothing, or hanging wet clothing to dry around heaters – the list is endless. The problem is without enough ventilation the moisture in the atmosphere builds because it has no escape, then as the temperature cools moisture begins to settle on cold surfaces as water droplets this is condensation. The wet surfaces such as window frames, walls etc. are then prime targets for the germination of black mold spores.
Dampness is usually caused by an underlying problem with water leakage. Poor property maintenance can lead to water seeping in through roofs, into basements, through cracks in walls or from leaking pipes. A constant drip will over time cause a huge amount of damage and the damp or wet surfaces create ideal growing conditions for black mold. Remember different species of mold will grow under different conditions.
The first step to getting rid of back mold and the symptoms of ill health it can cause is to identify the actual cause of the problem.
If your problem is due high humidity levels it is relatively easy to sort out. Simply open a few windows! This is the simplest and cheapest solution but maybe not the best one in the middle of winter. However there are other relatively cheap alternatives, for example:-
1. Install extractor fans in your kitchen and bathroom which are directly vented to the outside of the building – NOT into attic space or basements, do that and you will have BIG problems in the future. These will remove steam caused by cooking and bathing. Remember to keep kitchen and bathroom doors closed to prevent the moisture travelling throughout the house.
2. If you use a tumble dryer this too should have a vent to the outside of the building. These pieces of equipment produce huge amounts of steam so by doing this alone you will cut the humidity levels greatly.
3. Try not to dry wet clothing in the house – where possible hang it outside to dry. If you must dry it inside hang it in an unheated room, open a window and keep the door closed.
4. Dehumidifiers are a great tool in solving this problem. They may be a bit expensive to buy but where you have an ongoing problem they are well worth the one off expense. A dehumidifier will draw the air in through a vent remove the moisture and blow the dry air back out and you empty the container of water! Obviously this is a very simplified description of how it works but believe me it does work! The cost running one of these units may be another concern, the truth is they are really not that costly particularly if you purchase a model which has a humidistat fitted. This means it will switch itself on and off as required rather than running constantly. Another point to consider is that dry air is far easier to heat than moist air so you should be able to cut down on your winter heating bill!
If the cause of your black mold is dampness, the solution may not be as simple and you may have to spend fairly large amounts of money to remedy the problem.
1. The first thing to do is to establish why you have damp areas in the first place – if necessary use a professional builder or plumber to assess the situation and have the necessary work carried out on the building. You cannot begin to eradicate the black mold and the symptoms of ill health it causes until repairs are completed.
2. If the damage is extensive it may be necessary to replace wood, plaster, carpets etc. If this is not the case the next step is to dry the area out remember – remove the moisture and the black mold cannot grow or spread. Opening windows in good weather will do the job as will the use of heaters. A dehumidifier is once again the ideal piece of kit. For large areas you can hire large industrial dehumidifiers. These will do the job much faster than heaters or open windows and many models have the added advantage of having air filters which should help remove any mold spores from the atmosphere
The Black Mold Clean Up;-
The task of cleaning any signs of black mold need not be an expensive one. However, you want it to be a non toxic one.
There are many natural ways to clean black mold from good old soap and water and elbow grease to solutions of tea tree oil or grapefruit seed oil. However there is a commercial mold cleaning kit which removes black mold quickly and easily and prevents its return. The kit contains two solutions the first is MOLDERIZER. This product is 100% organic so there are no harsh, toxic chemicals. It is safe to use on virtually any surface from walls and wood to carpets and rugs and will cause no harm to children or pets. The second solution in the mold cleaning kit is called SAFE SHIELD. When applied after cleaning with Molderizer it will act as a barrier and will protect the surface and prevent mold growing in the same area again.