Black mold The story behind itScience 

Black mold: The story behind it

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Frequently associated with poor indoor air quality and water damage, Stachybotrys or black mold, is one of the most infamous forms of fungus that can be found in our homes or workplace. Although commonly referred to as a “toxic mold”, the United States’ Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) dismisses that terminology as a major misconception.

Mold damage after Hurricane flood.
Mold damage after Hurricane flood. source; wikimedia.org; author Infrogmation

A high profile series of deaths in the early 1990s that were originally linked to black mold is blamed for the negative reputation it currently has. The death of two infants and several other children as a result of a pulmonary haemorrhage had initially been blamed on heavy exposure to Stachybotrys. Further studies and investigations stemming from that diagnosis was performed by the CDC, who failed to find any link between the deaths and the presence of black mold. However, the label of “toxic mold” encrusted itself to the name and hasn’t been shaken off since.

Whilst certain molds are indeed toxigenic, it means they can produce toxins and are not physically toxic. The CDC explains that the hazards that are presented by the presence of black mold are the same as any other type of common household mold. That being said Stachybotrys still presents certain health issues, as do many other types of mold, with the CDC stressing that:

“excessive exposure to mold-contaminated materials can cause adverse health effects in susceptible persons regardless of the type of mold or the extent of contamination.”

Some of those issues you may face after prolonged exposure include allergic reactions, mycotoxin poisoning and fungal infections. Further health problems surrounding asthma sufferers has also been flagged as a potential consequence, whilst mold occurring in different locations can also have different issues depending on how they are ingested, through the air, via food or forms of clothing and bedding.

common food mold on grapes
common food mold

As far as food is concerned, it is very obvious when food has been contaminated by black mold – or any type, really – and it is recommended that you dispose of them with care. Linen or clothes may need to be rewashed or doused in bleach if not thrown out, whilst removing physical mold from any type of surface you may find it on will require the use of soap, water and bleach. To try minimize the risk of Stachybotrys finding its way into your home or workplace, it is recommended that you ensure you have optimal aeration and have any water damaged or water prone areas to be properly maintained.

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