The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) categorizes mold as being under a substandard living condition. As stated by the CDPH,
"CDPH has concluded that the presence of water damage, dampness, visible mold, or mold odor in schools, workplaces, residences, and other indoor environments is unhealthy."
Therefore, once mold has been documented and mold is registered via an inspection and relevant testing, it is paramount that remediation and restoration is performed in the pertinent property to ensure it is restored to an appropriate standard. The CDPH further added that,
"Beginning Jan 1, 2016, the presence of visible mold will be added to the list of conditions in the California Housing Code, already including dampness of habitable rooms, that make housing substandard (Cal. Health & Safety Code §17920.3)".
If you believe there is potentially mold in your property, or residual or active moisture from a current leak or previous leak, it is recommended reaching out to a local mold inspector, environmental health inspector or industrial hygienist to assess the area(s) of concern.
Often, clients will express concern over various stains in a property, but will be unsure of the nature of the stain or if it is some type of mold growth.
This is where experience becomes paramount. Mold inspectors can typically deduce if the growth in question is a concern (based on how three dimensional it is, the color and the shape of growth), which would then segue into mold testing to see if there are toxic properties present, as well as if the mold is reproducing into the air.
The following considerations should be taken into account with potential mold growth:
1. Are the conditions conducive to mold growth? Mold requires nutrients (such as drywall), moisture and the right temperature to grow.
2. Is an odor present? When molds metabolize materials, they can produce volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which is what people generally report as being a musty odor in the property.
3. Are there visible signs of mold growth? Mycelia or mold growth can be present in a plethora of colors, not just black and green as most people believe. These colors could include a blueish green, green yellow, black, brown, orange and white. Water stains can also indicate potential mold growth (such as in a wall cavity) since this indicates an ideal environment for mold.
4. Structural damage. This could include peeling of wallpaper or floor swelling, since this can indicate a moisture problem.
Finally, sometimes there may be efflorescence, which is the white/chalky calcium deposit left by water (such as in a crawlspace or one bricks), this can be distinguished from mold due to the chalky texture.
If you are unsure about potential growth, it is always best to check with a certified mold inspector to confirm whether or not there is further concern in your property.
When reviewing details about Stachybotrys Chartarum, which is, in layman's terms, referred to as 'black mold', it is integral to cite information from reputable sources; such as academic journals and peer reviewed writings. Here three interesting points about Stachybotrys Chartarum from the Handbook of Toxicology of Chemical Warfare Agents:
Beasley, V., & Haschek, W. (2009) Trichothecene Mycotoxins (on-line) Handbook of Toxicology of Chemical Warfare Agents.
The following two points are derived from Clinical Microbiology Reviews:
Ghannoum, M., Kuhn, D. (2003) Indoor Mold, Toxigenic Fungi, and Stachybotrys chartarum: Infectious Disease Perspective. Clinical Microbiology Reviews. 16(1): 144–172.
Disclaimer: Content on this website should not be considered medical advice, and is not being published by a medical professional.
Here are 5 things to know about Stachybotrys, which is commonly referred to as "black mold" or "toxic mold" due to it's mycotoxin production:
1. The mold is generally slimy, which makes it harder to sporulate (reproduce, or spread into the air) compared to other molds. When the Stachybotrys genus is discovered in air samples taken in a property, high spore counts can suggest that this is a longer term mold issue in the property.
2. Mycotoxin poisoning by this fungus is referred to as Stachybotryotoxicosis (Nelson, 2001).
3. The Stachybotrys fungus is most notably found within buildings which have sustained a long term flooding issue, or general water damage from broken piping, roof leaks etc.
4. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, the most commonly reported symptoms related to airborne Stachybotrys exposure include: "allergic rhinitis (cold-like symptoms,) dermatitis (rashes,) sinusitis, conjunctivitis, and aggravation of asthma. Some related symptoms are more general, such as inability to concentrate and fatigue. Usually symptoms disappear after the contamination is removed." (FOH, 2017)
5. Exposure can be through ingestion, inhalation and skin exposure.
If you suspect you may be subjected to Stachybotrys in your property, it is advised to contact a professionally licensed microbial expert to properly assess the property.
FOH (2017)What is Stachybotrys atra? (on-line) Federal Occupation Health. https://foh.psc.gov/NYCU/EnvHM.asp
Nelson, B. (2001) Stachybotrys chartarum: The Toxic Indoor Mold. APSnet Features. Online. doi: 10.1094/APSnetFeature-2001-1101
The main molds of concern are those that are mycotoxin producing, which are the types of mold that generate an allergy in certain susceptible individuals. These molds, according to the Environmental Health Center of Dallas, are:
Apergillius/Penicillium, Stachybotrys (often referred to as 'black mold'), Chaetomium, Rhizopus, and Trichoderma. Once these molds are documented, one should refer to a health expert for further information, a diagnosis and potential treatment.
If a client determines that there is a mold concern in their property, based off an inspection and testing, the following steps should be taken with your healthcare provider:
Blood tests can be pursued to deduce the level of concern in relation to mold solubility in the body. Blood tests such as the following:
If those who are subjected to long-term mold exposure, and concerned about their health, doctors may suggest the following types of treatments:
The dynamics and quagmire of mold exposure is intricate and complex, especially since it is based on a case to case scenario. If you are concerned with mold exposure and the effects on your health, consult with a relevant health professional.
*This article is meant to be an educational piece, with referencing from reputable sources. The information here is not to be adhered to as medical advice or replace, nor surpass, any diagnosis or information disseminated by a doctor.
MOLD HEALTH EFFECTS BLOG AND RESEARCH