Toxic black mold, or Stachybotrys Chartarum, is a greenish black mold that flourishes in wet, warm or humid conditions. It can be found growing on any high cellulose surface, such as wood, drywall, wallpaper, insulation backing and cardboard boxes. Often when black mold is discovered in a home or office, it is the result of moisture from plumbing, roof or foundation leaks or water condensation from poor ventilation and temperature control.
Typically wet and slimy to the touch, Stachybotrys Chartarum can also appear sooty or grayish white depending on the amount of moisture available and the length of time it has been growing. Although it needs moisture to begin its growth, it can continue spreading even after the moisture has long dried up. Stachybotrys Chartarum is slow growing but hardy, and it will eventually crowd out other mold growths.
Where is Stachybotrys Chartarum commonly found?
Stachybotrys Chartarum grows all over the world and is common on wet items that contain high amounts of cellulose such as gypsum board, wallpaper, fiberboard, and particle board, among others. Chronic leaks and temperatures that are favorable to humans further encourage its growth, making bathrooms, kitchens, and attics the most common places where you can find it. Building materials that are exposed to rain or other moisture intrusions are also predisposed to the growth of fungus. Stachybotrys Chartarum is most commonly found on surfaces or areas characterized by high humidity and moisture levels that do not dissipate quickly.
Why should you be concerned about the presence of Stachybotrys Chartarum?
Indoor molds produce unpleasant odors and damage and even destroy the surfaces on which they grow. Though this somewhat diminishes the occupants’ quality of life, there are plenty of much stronger reasons why the indoors should be kept clean and dry.
Much like its counterparts, Stachybotrys Chartarum emits a mycotoxin which can cause a host of physical ailments in humans. Once the mycotoxin has been emitted, it remains stable for quite a number of years, thereby causing ailments long after its source has been exterminated. Both humans and animals are susceptible to the adverse effects of this fungus. The result is a suppressed immune system and allergic reactions such as cold and flu symptoms, memory loss, muscle aches, sore throats, diarrhea, headaches, fatigue, dermatitis, intermittent local hair loss, cancer, generalized malaise, and if prolonged, it may lead to death. More information about health effects of black molds can be found on our black mold symptoms section.
How do I confirm the presence of Stachybotrys Chartarum?
Easily confused with other common indoor molds, including Cladosporium, Aspergillus, and Alternaria, testing would be needed to confirm a Stachybotrys Chartarum growth. Reactions from the home’s occupants which might indicate possible exposure should not be ignored. A qualified professional should be able to identify it from a trapped sample from the affected surfaces. This fungus does not grow under lab conditions like other mold types; therefore, testing through methods that require its growth (like Petri dishes) might not indicate its presence. Instead, samples can be obtained through a scotch tape lift or an air test, which is then taken to a mycologist for testing. A good mold test should tell you what species and in what quantities you have in your house.
What should I do if the Stachybotrys Chartarum test turns out positive?
The action to be taken is largely influenced by the extent of contamination, but in most cases, the following should take
- The moisture source must be sought out and sealed. Standing water should be completely drained. Areas prone to condensation should be vented. Wet carpets and area rugs should be removed, cleaned and dried appropriately
- A clean up should then follow when the affected area is not occupied
- Should the infested area be larger than 3 feet by 3 feet, professionals from a remediation company should be engaged. The company should possess certifications from governing bodies such as the RIA, Micro, or ACAC, besides equipping their staff with the necessary protective gear and clothing. If they aren’t concerned with protecting themselves, they will not protect you and your family.
- A post-remediation procedure and testing should be carried out to establish whether the cleanup was successful and assess the building for re-occupancy.
- Mold inhibiting paints can be repainted on the affected surfaces to prevent regrowth. Dehumidifiers should be used in humid weather to rid the atmosphere of the excess moisture.
All types of mold growth have undesirable effects on a building’s structure and the persons that occupy it. However, Stachybotrys Chartarum has gained notoriety not only in the medical and scientific communities but also in the legal community. This is due to the huge number of lawsuits filed against landlords and home renovating contractors for exposure to the said fungus. Regardless of which of these molds you find growing in your home or office, they pose risks to humans and animals and need to be removed and remediated properly. Mold Badger is here to help. Simply fill out our mold removal quote form and receive up to 3 qualified mold removal quotes from verified professionals in your area.