Mold allergies can be tough to outrun. The fungus can grow in your basement, in your bathroom, in the cabinet under your sink where a leak went undetected, in the pile of dead leaves in your backyard and in the field of uncut grass down the road.
There are roughly 1,000 species of mold in the United States — many of which aren’t visible to the naked eye. As tiny mold spores become airborne, they can cause allergic reactions in people who have mold allergies.
Don’t let allergies hold you back from the things you love. The best way to manage your mold allergy is to see an allergist.
GET MOLD ALLERGY RELIEF
Find an allergist
Mold allergy symptoms can be similar to those of other respiratory allergies:
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
- Irritated eyes
- Itchy throat
Mold can also trigger or aggravate asthma symptoms.
If you suspect you might have a mold allergy, or if you have similar symptoms that continue to persist, consult an allergist. Allergists are specially trained to help you take control of your allergies and asthma, so you can live the life you want. They can conduct skin or blood tests that help pinpoint the allergy.
In the case of mold allergies, you may be able to identify the source of the mold by tracking your symptoms over a two-week period, along with where you’ve been. Exposure to mold allergies can occur just about anywhere — in the home, outdoors or at work.
Antihistamines and decongestants can help relieve the symptoms. Plan ahead and wear a dust mask — or take allergy medications in advance — if you’re going to be around potential sources of mold, such as when doing yardwork. Once you are finished, remove mold spores by rinsing your nose with a saline solution and taking a shower.
Another key step in controlling your mold allergies is to guard against mold in your home:
- Quickly clean up any spills or leaks to prevent mold from growing.
- Use dehumidifiers or exhaust fans — or crack open a window — to help reduce moisture and humidity in bathrooms or other rooms in your home.
- Regularly clean garbage cans and refrigerator drip pans.
- Regularly clear your gutters, and ensure that drainage flows away from your Healthhome’s foundation.
- Consult a professional, or follow the guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency, to clean up existing mold in your home.
Our job as your professional mold home inspectors is to alert you to possible environmental issues in your current or potential house. The inspection is intended to be a limited, visual, non-invasive inspection of the residential structure, with subsequent sample collection and data interpretation, to rule out potential sources of moisture and/or mold contamination. The inspector may recommend referral to an appropriate specialist for further investigation and warranted actions. For more information, read the EPA’s A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home.
Molds are part of the natural environment.
Outdoors they plays a part in nature by breaking down organic matter such as fallen leaves and dead trees, but indoors, mold growth should be avoided. Mold spores are invisible to the naked eye and float through indoor air. They can cause both health and financial problems. Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. They can cause hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash (dermatitis). More seriously, they may evade the protective mechanisms of the nose and upper respiratory tract to reach the lungs. In people with lung damage or serious underlying illnesses, mold may grasp the opportunity to invade the lungs or the whole body. The clean up of mold—or remediation as it’s often referred to—can cost many thousands of dollars depending on the degree of infestation.
- Moisture is the key to MOLD control. If MOLD is a problem in your home, you should clean up the MOLD promptly and fix the water problem.
- It is important to dry water damaged areas and items within 24-48 hours to minimize mold growth.
- If you already have a mold problem-ACT QUICKLY. MOLD damages what it grows on. The longer it grows, the more damage it can cause.
Red Flags Signs
- Visible signs of mold
- Mold smell
- Water penetration evidence
- Evidence of conditions that could allow water penetration
- Construction defects (bad flashing, poor caulking)
- Dirty and poorly maintained HVAC
- Improperly vented appliances
Where to look for Red Flags
- Foundations and grade condition
- Gutters and downspouts
- Window system conditions
- Deck, patio, and balconies earth to wood contact
- HVAC system conditions, staining and moisture, improper vent terminations
- Signs of interior plumbing leaks and water stains, loose, chipped and damaged fixtures, plumbing clean-out backups
- Loose wall paper, open cracks in walls
- Stains and discoloration on floors, walls & ceilings
- Splitting or bowing of siding material, spalling of masonry walls
- Inadequate clearances and ventilation
- Plants or trees touching house
- Improper installation of insulation
- Sky lights or solar tubes
- Dissimilar metal contact
- Absence of drip pans
- Polybutylene and ABS
- Damaged or improperly installed roofing materials and flashing
- Vapor sources such as showers, hot tubs, humidifiers, greenhouses, aquariums
If you think you might have black toxic mold in your home but cannot find it you should have a mold inspection performed.
The goal of a black toxic mold inspection is to find the black toxic mold colony and also to find and fix the moisture problem which caused the mold.
After the mold inspection you should have mold testing to identify whether the mold is black toxic mold. Mold testing can also help to find any mold the inspection might have missed.
Professional Black Toxic Mold Inspection and Testing
It’s best to hire a professional mold inspector to find black toxic mold.
Black toxic mold usually grows hidden behind walls, above the ceiling or below the floor. Professional black toxic mold inspectors use tools such as a hygrometer to measure humidity, fiber optics to look into wall cavities and moisture meters to find potential areas for black toxic mold growth.
The Black Toxic Mold Inspection Process
All rooms of the house including the attic and basement should be thoroughly checked for signs of black toxic mold. Black toxic mold can emit a musty smell so the mold inspector should take notice of any odors also.
Special attention should be paid to areas with water sources such as near pipes, sinks and the shower. The mold inspector needs to also know about any spots that have had a history of water damage, eg from leaks or flooding.
Signs of water damage to look out for are abnormal surfaces, eg warped walls or cracked paint. Small dark mold spots on walls or other surfaces can indicate black toxic mold is growing on the other side.
Careful attention should be given where there are materials high in cellulose such as drywall, ceiling tiles, cardboard or paper. Black toxic mold often grows in other hidden places like ventilation systems or under carpet. These spots should also be examined carefully.
If the mold inspection finds mold growth which looks like black toxic mold then don’t disturb it. Definitely don’t try to remove it yourself. You will need mold testing to confirm that it is actually Stachybotrys chartarum.
If the mold inspection did not reveal any mold you still have the option of mold testing to help find hidden mold.
Black Toxic Mold Testing
There are two main categories when it comes to testing black toxic mold. The first is testing to find hidden toxic black mold which you couldn’t find during the inspection. The second is to test mold you’ve found to determine if it is indeed black toxic mold (Stachybotyrs chartarum).
Finding Black Toxic Mold by Testing
Clues that you could have black toxic mold in your home include toxic symptoms and recent water damage in your home. If you suspect you have black toxic mold you can turn to testing to help find it.
It’s best get a certified professional mold inspection specialists to perform black toxic mold testing for you. They will take samples of the air in your home for spores. They will also sample surfaces in your home to determine if there is a mold problem. Testing can help to locate mold problems by telling you which areas have more mold particles.
If it’s not practical to have professional mold testing you can perform some mold testing yourself using mold test kits. These are often sold at places like hardware stores.
Black toxic mold spores are heavy and so they don’t become airborne easily. Also black toxic mold does not always release spores. Therefore if you find any black toxic mold spores during testing it indicates a serious problem. For these reasons you should perform a thorough mold inspection whatever the outcome of the testing.
Identifying Black Toxic Mold by Testing
If you have found what looks like black toxic mold the next step is to identify the species through mold testing. This means a certified mold specialist will need to identify the mold under a microscope. It’s best if a professional mold inspector also collects the sample of the mold. They should be able to properly sample the mold with minimal disturbance.
You might want to collect the sample yourself and then send it away for testing. You should first talk to the mold testing service for advice on how to collect the sample. One common method is using tape lifting then sending the sealed tape sample for testing. It is very important to disturb the colony as little as possible during sampling. This way you can avoid releasing spores and mycotoxins. The mold testing lab may also be able to tell you if there are mycotoxins in the sample.
If the test results confirm that the mold growth is toxic you will need to talk to a professional mold remediation specialist who is experienced in black toxic mold removal. You should never try to remove black toxic mold yourself. You could contaminate your home with dangerous mycotoxins in the process.