Molds are various types of fungi that grow in filaments and reproduce by forming spores. Mold spores can survive under dry and harsh environments that can exist naturally everywhere. These spores travel through outdoor and indoor air, when the mold spores land on a surface where moisture is present, mold can then start to grow. Mold thrives in damp, warm, and humid environments.
On May 7, 1993, the New York City Department of Health, the New York City Human Resources Administration, and Mt. Sinai Occupational Health Clinic convened an expert panel on Stachybotrys atria in Indoor Environments. The purpose of the panel was to develop policies for medical and environmental evaluation and intervention to address Stachybotrys atria.
The panel was primarily concerned with Stachybotrys Alta because of its potential health hazards by producing potent mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are fungal metabolites that have been identified as toxic agents. The panel found that other fungi, aspergillus, penicillium, fusarium, Trichoderma, and memnoniella also produce mycotoxins that are considered toxic agents. Because of these other fungi and their ability to produce toxic agents the panel and the industry has generally accepted the position that all molds are detrimental to human health. Therefore the actions required for clean-up of mold are the same for Stachybotrys and all other molds.
Where is black mold found
Mold can grow in any location that has the right environmental conditions. These conditions require a food source, typically cellulose (wood, drywall) and water. In a building it can be found in wet locations like the kitchen, bathroom, and basement. In the kitchen you can almost always find some black mold under the sink on the wooden base. In the bathroom, it can be found near the toilet and near the bathtub and shower. A location very common but hidden is around and under the shower pan (the part you stand in when taking a shower) this is typically caused by poorly caulked seams or deteriorating caulking. Many of these problems are not discovered until you pay close attention or there is a much larger leak that requires the surrounding drywall to be removed.
What can American Abatement do
Black Mold Health Risks
Exposure to black mold can occur when airborne mold cells, mostly spores, are inhaled. We breathe in these cells every day, indoors and out. Usually, these exposures do not present a health risk. But when exposure is great, some individuals, particularly those with allergies and asthma, can experience illnesses that could be mild to serious or anywhere in between. The following is a description of the health problems that can be caused by exposure to mold.
Allergic Illness When mold cells are inhaled and land in the respiratory tract, the body’s immune system’s response to those invading cells can cause allergic illness. The immune system tries to destroy the mold as it would an agent, like a flu virus, that might cause infection. In a relatively small portion of the population (about 10 percent of people in the U.S.), the immune system overreacts and causes an allergic response that results in symptoms such as runny nose, scratchy throat, and sneezing. Most of us know this allergic illness as “hay fever” or “allergic rhinitis.”
Asthma is a lung disease in which the airways that carry oxygen to the lungs can partially close, causing breathing difficulties ranging from mild (such as dry cough) to life-threatening (inability to breathe). North Carolina is in the midst of what is being called a worldwide asthma epidemic. A recent survey of North Carolina middle school children revealed that 10 percent had been diagnosed with asthma and another 17 percent had asthma symptoms that had never been diagnosed. More than half of asthmatics have respiratory allergies, often to mold. Molds can trigger asthma episodes in sensitive asthmatic mold species can cause respiratory infection when the live mold invades the tissues of the lungs or respiratory tract. This is not a significant risk for healthy people but can be dangerous for individuals with severely weakened immune systems.
Toxic Effects Very large doses of certain molds, whether inhaled or ingested, can result in poisoning caused by toxins, called mycotoxins, in the mold cells. It is not clear whether an individual can receive a high enough exposure to mold growing indoors to experience these toxic effects.
One particular type of mold that has been recently highlighted in the media is Stachybotrys chartarum (also known as Stachybotrys atra). Stachybotrys is a greenish-black mold that grows on materials with high cellulose content (drywall, wood, paper, ceiling tiles) that are chronically wet or moist. It is one of several molds that can produce mycotoxins under certain environmental conditions. The health effects of breathing mycotoxins are not well understood, but we do know that most molds can present some health risks, such as allergic reactions. Therefore, any mold growth in a building should be cleaned up, regardless of the type of mold. For additional information on this issue see Questions and Answers on Stachybotrys chartarum and other molds on the National Center for Environmental Health website.