Toxic Black Mold: The Truth
Black mold. In recent years, these have become buzz words striking fear (or at least serious concern) into the hearts of many. With all of the media hype, it can be hard to know what to believe about black mold and toxic mold. There’s a ton of misinformation out there, and the reality might surprise you. This article will reveal the truth about “toxic black mold” by exploring the following questions:
- Is all black mold “toxic black mold?”
- What’s the difference between black mold and “toxic mold?”
- Can other colors of mold be “toxic?”
- How common is “toxic mold?”
- What should you do if you think you have mold?
Here’s a secret: not all black molds are as scary as some would have you believe.
Is All Black Mold Toxic?
No. It isn’t.
In fact, despite media hype and what unscrupulous contractors might say, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the term “toxic black mold” has no scientific validation and is inaccurate. But we’ll get to that in a moment.
Out of the 1.5 million fungi in the world, about 20,000 are black molds. This would be terrifying, if it weren’t for the fact that the majority of these are not “toxic.” Out of the black molds that can produce toxins (called mycotoxins), the two most common are Stachybotrys chartarum and Aspergillus niger.
The Difference Between Black Mold and “Toxic Mold”
Not only are the majority of black molds not “toxic,” even the “toxic black molds,” Stachybotrys chartarum and Aspergillus niger aren’t toxic all of the time. According to the CDC, the term “toxic black mold” is inaccurate because, though some molds can produce mycotoxins, the molds themselves are not toxic. This distinction is important because the molds capable of producing mycotoxins don’t always produce them.
Put simply, the fact that mold can be “toxic,” doesn’t mean that it is. The presence of Stachybotrys chartarum or Aspergillus niger does not necessarily equate to the presence of mycotoxins.
Other Colors of “Toxic Mold”
“As long as we don’t have one of those two aforementioned toxigenic black molds (or if we do, as long as they aren’t producing toxins), we should be good, right?”
Let’s not go quite that far.
While not all black molds are capable of producing toxins, toxigenic molds come in many colors. Stachybotrys can look not just black, but also greenish (and slimy or sooty). Aspergillus niger looks either black or dark gray. Other molds appearing orange, white, pink, or brown can also produce mycotoxins. Even for experts, with just the naked eye it’s impossible to tell by appearance alone.
So Just How Common Is “Toxic Mold?”
Ok, so toxigenic mold can appear in many colors, and it’s impossible to know just by looking at it whether it’s producing mycotoxins, but how likely is it to occur?
According to the CDC, Stachybotrys “is less common than other mold species,” and its exact rate of occurrence is unknown. However, it is “not rare.” Complicating things further, the conditions necessary for mycotoxins to be produced are unclear.
Though it’s not as common as the media would lead us to believe, if toxigenic mold is not rare, and we can’t know exactly what conditions may or may not cause it to produce mycotoxins, what should we do if we find mold? Read on.
What Should I Do if I Suspect I Have Mold?
If you suspect you have mold, have had ongoing chronic health issues (particularly with uclear causes), a musty odor in your home or office, a recent flooding, or are in the process of buying a new home, you should strongly consider mold testing. Check out our resource here: https://moldbadger.com/testing-for-black-mold/mold-testing/. While there are some “do-it-yourself” options available, we strongly recommend a professional solution.
If the test results come back positive, regardless of the type of mold, it needs to be removed. Again, certain criteria will determine whether this is something that should be done yourself. Safety, containment/potential spreading of the mold, and complete removal/remediation are the top concerns. For more information, check out our resource here: https://moldbadger.com/toxic-mold-101/mold-remediation/
Not all black molds are “toxic.” The majority of them aren’t, and even the ones that can produce mycotoxins only do so some of the time. However, molds than can produce mycotoxins come in many colors, and according to the CDC aren’t “rare.” If you find mold or suspect you have mold, stay calm and have it tested. If mold is indeed present, regardless of the type of mold, pursue a proven remediation solution to ensure it’s removed properly and completely. Total removal and remediation not only prevents further issues for your home and for your health, it also provides peace of mind.